On Christmas #2

Jason Brennan on the moral point of the Christmas story.

This is the second monolog in our series on Christmas. Visit Brennan’s homepage here.


Filed under Christmas

5 Responses to On Christmas #2

  1. Jesse

    I’m inclined to think that the following two responses by Stump and van Inwagen to problems of apparent Divine evil can similarly correspond to Prof. Brennan’s objection. I’m not sure if they work, but they’re probably the best responses out there. Also, I’d like to point out that Brennan seems to presuppose the Penal Substitutionary view of atonement, which is rejected by most intelligent Christians.



  2. Nathan

    I believe the difference is that god buys REAL lightsabers instead of these knock-off “laser beam swords.” Furthermore, this would provide evidence to the position that the true meaning of Christmas is buying stuff. ; )

  3. Sam

    I suppose the difference is that the story about God is told in the context of a community where guilt is a shared experience, i.e. there is a shared sense that things in one’s praxis or character are deficient, should not be so, and that this has something to do with one’s lack of focus on God or disregard for his commandments. Thus the action of God condemning rebellion corresponds with the feeling that aspects of one’s own character/praxis are not pure, giving the story an existential meaning.

    In the case of Uncle Theo, the story is told in the context of a community where moral indignation over the sins of leaders (Gadaffi etc.) is a shared experience. Thus the action of Uncle Theo banishing his kids from the garden and killing them corresponds with the disturbing reality of dictators and our disgust at their actions.

    The difference in the characters in the two stories is the reader and the questions and issues he or she is bringing to the text.

  4. First, Uncle Theo and God are two different persons, one human and the other Divine. So either you are going to assign to Uncle Theo the perfect status of Divinity or to God the mutable and sinful degradation of humanity and if either is done then you have destroyed your story because for God to no longer be God makes God no longer part of your story since he has become human and no longer God and for Uncle Theo to no longer be human but God makes Uncle Theo disappear from your story conversely.

    So what is really at heart is God himself and his actions. And what you are attempting to do is establish God’s justification or his justice based on his actions. The Bible teaches otherwise. God is not justified according to his actions, rather his actions are understood in light of his already existing justification.

    For example when the Bible says “God is love” then we must always understand within his actions God already begins with love, he is love, therefore we understand his actions in light of this and not attempt to determine if it is so by his actions. It may be a bit frustrating to learn that the method of judging God by his actions is not valid as it might be with humans but you must understand that God begins with his essence already assigned certain values. And you should not be unfamiliar with this principle.

    This axiom is true in every area of life. In math we begin with numbers having assigned values. And we understand varying problems and equations in light of their already assigned values. In science we know elements have certain properties and we understand their function by themselves or with other elements in light of their properties.

    Now this is true about God. The Bible declares God’s person to be just, this is the value assigned to God (by God in his revelation of Himself to us through Scripture). In fact the Scriptures declare God’s essence to be in possession of sovereignty, righteousness, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, love, eternalness, immutability, veracity and justice

    So when we read an account of God’s actions we do not read with the idea that within that story we must discover an action by God as if he must justify himself through his actions rather, because in his person he begins already perfectly justified, we understand God’s actions in light of this.

    You may not like that you must begin with the assigned values of Scripture but until you do you will not see Him as he has revealed Himself in Scripture and you will continue to mishandle, misunderstand be be mistified by Scripture. As well you will continue to classify God the same as Uncle Theo which makes Him disappear logically seeing you have rejected the Bible’s defintion for your own.

  5. Jon Marc

    There are several major differences. 1) Uncle Theo has a son and then apparently mistreats him by setting up his death. God, on the other hand, comes to earth, in his Trinity as Jesus, and himself dies (which I believe is the greatest conceivable act of love – God dying for ones he created). 2) Uncle Theo creates out of loneliness. God did not create people out of loneliness, he created out of love with no external necessity. 3) Uncle Theo kills all those he created. God rarely directly kills anyone. Using basically utilitarian reasoning (which is especially justified for an omniscient agent), the existence of death may be justified even if God is assumed to be an indirect cause of it. Really, death is not the ultimate evil as many perceive it, since the person is not extinguished, but rather commuted to another place/state.

    To sum it up, the allegory contains important flaws, and that is why the intuitions it generates are misleading.