Comments on “Inherited Religion?”

The comment section on my post titled “Inherited Religion?” is positively ablaze with flames. None of the retorts actually cover my answer to the objection I raised on inherited religion, which is simply that it is another mechanism by which God can predestine his elect. Thoughtful theological or philosophical rebuttals using Scripture would have been welcomed, but what I got is the empty rhetoric of skeptics and atheists.

Let’s take a look at some of the responses and see if we can sort this out. First up, these two from Stoo:

Wait, predestine his elect? So he’s already decided who’s saved and who’s going to burn? Or am I misinterpreting?

Oh this is some calvinism thing, right? Kind of depressing. You’d think god would at least want all of his creations to be saved, even if it doesn’t work out like that.

Yes, Stoo, this is “some Calvinism thing.” Although I started to pull away from Calvinism some time back, I have since returned to the fold of the so-called Young, Restless and Reformed (or, as I prefer, New Calvinism) movement. Other than my brief flirtation with Arminian theology, I have been pretty consistent as a Calvinist in all my writing. I have a series on it in the Articles tab.

So, yes, it is God who determines if you’re saved or otherwise, not you. I’m sorry if I ruined your misguided sense of individuality and your “I’m-the-master-of-my-own-destiny” feeling of arrogant pride.

Agnostic Bruce Gerencser, host of the blog NW Ohio Skeptics, has this to say:

Ah yes, The Bible says so, so you are wrong argument. (an argument we must accept by faith since there is no rational proof of Corey’s claim)

It is self-evident to all who are willing to see it, that most people adopt the religion of their tribe. (family, social group) People believe what those before them believed until confronted with beliefs/truth/evidence that challenges their tribal religion.

In Calvinism everything is settled. God has predetermined everything, including the fact that I am writing this comment. Thank you God. :) (and I was a Calvinistic Baptist pastor)

I surely hope that Corey is not going to try and argue against John’s book with the Bible. If so………it shall indeed be a wasted exercise. But, Hey maybe it will drive up this site’s visitor count.

I never forwarded the argument that “The Bible says so, so you are wrong.” I agreed that Loftus was right, and showed that it is consistent with the Bible. I also completely agreed with the fact that most people adopt the religion of their parents or culture. It was central to the point of my post. What I have simply said is that such a claim is not a valid argument against the truth claims of any religion.

I have never, at least no place that I’m aware of, said that God predetermines everything positively. There are some things he predetermines negatively, which means they arise naturally as a consequence of that which he has decreed. So the whole of God’s plan looks less like a completed novel and more like the text of a Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Pardon introducing an example of something seen as evil by most Christians, but it is perfectly consistent with what I’m trying to say.

A D&D adventure sets the scene up by explaining what the players see, and then accounts for a few possible scenarios in the Dungeon Master’s notes. The resolution of the scene is left to the player characters. So God sets our lives up, but expects us to live them out. His blueprint for so doing is the Bible, but we obviously don’t follow that very well. Some things don’t go according to plan, but this never trumps or circumvents God’s will. He still accomplishes all he sets out to do.

This post started getting way, way too long. So I will answer the other skeptics in future posts.

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on June 18, 2010, in Apologetics, Theology. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Perhaps inherited religion is not a valid arguement against christianity. So what then, Cory? So then all of us are wandering blindly, not knowing if we’re predestined or not??? (but of course we’re wandering blindly, it is the fun of being human with no ideals and absolutes). But according to you and calvinism, god determines that. So what am I? I find your stance incredibly aggravating in light of my deconversion.

    I thankfully inherited an open and skeptical mind… the same thought processes that pulled me out of the lies of christianity and the fear of dogma.

    …and as for you Mr. Tucholski, who says in regards to Stoo, “I’m sorry if I ruined your misguided sense of individuality and your “I’m-the-master-of-my-own-destiny” feeling of arrogant pride.”


    Cory, you’re an arrogant self-righteous pompous jackass and you don’t even see it. Yeah… not too far from Fred Phelps either… though more subtle. How long until you start bashing gays and minorities?

    • So then all of us are wandering blindly, not knowing if we’re predestined or not???

      What does the Bible say? Can we know we are saved? consider:

      For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:5-11)

      Practicing virtues that we internally know are good, together with faith in Christ, will ensure our election. As for your election, that is not for me to know. Only for God.

      If by “arrogant and self-righteous” you mean “convinced of the truth of Christianity and not afraid to speak it from the moutaintops,” then yes, I am arrogant and self-righteous. Your problem Mr. Fetherlin, is that you have left the fold of Christianity and embraced the postmodernism prevalent in American culture. In fact, much of your latter theology (when you still were a Christian) was already rife with it. Anyone who’s convinced of the absolute truth of anything in this culture is seen as “arrogant and self-righteous.”

      Define “bashing gays and minorities.” I have a few posts that some consider bashing gays, such as this one and this one. I’ve also countered the claims of a homosexual activist named Elizabeth Schmitz here, and an anonymous blogger who wrote for the now-defunct Odder Stories here. I don’t consider any of that “gay bashing.” Perhaps you’d be kind enough to offer your perspective.

      • Again, you base your faith on a book that you think is true because it says it’s true. Everything you state is ultimately based upon a book that is thousands of years old. You can come at me with your terms for what I am like postmodernism blah blah… but Cory you know for quite a while that I was a bible believing god obeying jesus worshipping fundy for quite some time.

        I too was “convinced of the truth of Christianity and not afraid to speak it from the moutaintops.”


        Throw all the scripture out that you want to back up your claims. You act as though it adds veracity to your statement. But really, it just emphasizes in your own mind what you already believe. Christians are like lawyers in that they’re going to find anything in their respective books to make their case and point of view look so much more truthful and appealing.

      • I’m not necessarily basing the entirety of my faith on a book. At the risk of sounding pragmatic, I’ve found that Christianity works. I’m basing my faith on my experience as well as on the Bible. I don’t see how God has failed to keep his promises to me.

        You could point to my demotion from management as a failed promise, but that was my fault. I wasn’t giving the job my all. While I thought that they were less yielding given my personal issues at the time, in reality the demotion has given me more time with my family and more time to write, which are my two greatest passions in life. So that actually helped me more than harmed me.

        You could also point to the severe depression that I went through as a failed promise, but that has taught me how loved I am on earth by many more people than I thought. That was actually a pretty great learning experience. I’m slowly learning how to get out of my unfortunate tailspin, but I’m definitely stronger for having gone through it.

        You might also point to my bout with cancer as a failed promise from God, but that gave me many Friday afternoons to discuss faith and God with my grandpa, which ultimately pointed me back to a saving faith in Jesus. Another thing that I’m stronger for having gone through.

        Besides all of that, God never once promises that we, as his faithful elect, will ever be safe from the woes of this world. Jesus gives us hope in the life beyond this one that it will be free from evil, and perfect in accord with what God had originally planned for this one prior to the Fall.

      • Furthermore, I find this: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall…” to be highly suspect. Paul indicates here that some works are indeed required to attain salvation.

      • I don’t believe works are required for salvation, nor do I think that Peter is indicating that they are in 2 Peter 1:5-11. Jesus himself said, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. . . . For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mt 12:33-34). It’s impossible to completely disconnect a person’s claims from their condition of heart, and thus, the works that proceed from them reveal where their allegiance lies.

        Works grow naturally from a saving faith–consider the oft quoted verse, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Most Protestant denominations quote those verses without verse 10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We aren’t created in Christ Jesus by good works, but for good works.

        Remember James the Just wrote that “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (Jms 2:26). If a person is experiences saving faith, the works will follow naturally.

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