From Civic to Liberal Republicanism: John Locke and the Dutch

September 29, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 1:19 pm   Category: Calvinism,Ethics,Happiness,Life,Money and getting gain,Politics

This is the 4th part in my series whereby I roughly follow Jerry Muller’s Thinking About Capitalism, in order to bring socio-economic and intellectual history to Jonathan Haidt’s political taxonomy.  Here is the political spectrum that I have been working with:


Last post I discussed how Machiavelli, Hobbes and various religious thinkers contributed to the transvaluation of Civic Republican virtue into the modern “virtue” of self-interest.  This post will discuss the ways in which the 17th Century Dutch experience in general and – even though Muller strangely ignores him – John Locke in particular transformed the aristocratic Civic Republicanism into the middle-class Liberal Republicanism that would later form the very heart of the American constitution. (more…)

Discipline and Punish; Mercy and Justice

February 9, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 11:43 am   Category: Atonement & Soteriology,Calvinism,orthodox,Scriptures,Theology

The modern mind struggles to make sense of the atonement. At least mine does. The Book of Mormon insists that because of the atonement, mercy can potentially be extended to us sinners without compromising the demands of justice. In my experience, most attempts at clarifying what this means amount to little more than free-wheeling metaphors… not that I have done any better. In this post I would like to summarize Michel Foucault’s three different models of criminal justice described in his classic work: Discipline and Punish. It is my hope that his historical method might shed some light on the subject. (more…)

Omnipotent & Omnimalevolent

August 25, 2009    By: Kent (MC) @ 7:39 pm   Category: Calvinism,Theology

Certainly, the greatest theological problem that plagues most individuals in our generation is theodicy, or why a good and all powerful God allows for evil to exist. We as Mormons can be trite and say, “Well that’s easy, people have agency,” as if that answered every possible objection. Of course there are additional issues that agency doesn’t answer, such as natural evils. An all powerful God could probably make a world with fewer earthquakes, diseases, etc.

Anyway, I’m not super interested in directly answering the problem of evil in this post, rather, I would like to discuss a thought experiment. I really enjoy following the links of the sideblog at By Common Consent which are often humorous and witty. A few weeks (or months) ago they linked to a blog post by Stephen Law titled The God of Eth, which I found wonderfully effective in illustrating the weakness of our common responses to the problem of evil. Stephen turns our premises on their heads by offering a mental exercise wherein professors on the planet Eth are debating whether they can defend their basic beliefs that the God of Eth is all powerful and all evil. He has his characters try and explain and defend a belief in an all evil being who allows some good to come through in the world. You see, they have to deal with the Problem of Good. Here is a short sample of the dialogue.

“God made me do it” — On the motivation of the Fluffy Bunny Nice Nice Club

May 9, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 6:13 pm   Category: Calvinism

Ok I spent about on hour on the phone with everyone’s favorite anti-Mormon, Aaron S, today. It was a follow up to my last post about his motivations for being such a zealous anti-Mormon (aka, card carrying member of the Fluffy Bunny Nice Nice Club) which have long baffled me. My goal was to try to figure out how he reconciled his anti-Mormon zeal with his Calvinism. (If you are in the mood to be bored for an hour you can listen to the discussion here.)

The obvious disconnect between Calvinism and missionary work of any kind is this: Calvinists teach that God predestines all souls to heaven or hell before He even creates them. Therefore the story of our souls is over before it starts. Therefore missionary work won’t save anyone since the outcome is determined regardless of the hard work of anyone. Therefore, why bother?

My paraphrase of the answer from Aaron: God made me do it. (more…)

A zealous anti-Mormon explains his motivations

May 6, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 5:29 pm   Category: Calvinism

My favorite evangelical anti-Mormon, Aaron Shafovaloff, recently published the following explanation of his zealous anti-Mormonism (I have replaced his bullets with numbers for easier reference):

Some of you might wonder why those of us in the countercult ministry keep on keeping on. We persist because:

1. we love the Mormon people
2. we want our Mormon neighbors to have a warranted assurance of permanent and comprehensive forgiveness and secured eternal life
3. we are not of this world. Jesus prepared us (read John 15) for a negative response from those who are of this world (more…)

Worshiping the Bible

October 1, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 12:02 am   Category: Calvinism,Mormon Culture/Practices,Personal Revelation,Scriptures,Theology

I have long suspected that some of our creedal Christian friends have inadvertently begun worshiping the Bible itself in place of, or at least in addition to, the living God. Recently Aaron Shafovaloff (of the Fluffy Bunny Nice Nice Club) seems to have confirmed that suspicion for me in his case at least.

We were discussing how he knows the Bible is the word of God over at his blog and he kept saying things that made no sense at all to me. I kept asking things like “Did God tell you it is true or not”? And he kept saying things like “No, not in the way Mormonism talks about this “yes” answer.” Well his last comment finally started clearing up this issue for me. Here are some of his quotes: (more…)

On the *actually* amazing grace described in Mormonism

July 22, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 3:37 pm   Category: Calvinism,Theology

My recent conversations with Aaron Shafovaloff, a devoted evangelical Christian and devoted critic of Mormonism (AKA devout member of The Fluffy Bunny Nice Nice Club(1) ) have reminded me of an important theological point: In Mormonism the grace and mercy of God are far more sweeping and robust and “amazing” than grace is on the evangelical view. (more…)

The advantages of bad theology

July 18, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 12:34 am   Category: Calvinism,Theology

I occasionally spend a little time debating the fine folks at various anti-Mormon(1) sites. I have recently come to the conclusion that there are some advantages to believing certain popular but awful creedal Christian theologies. I am specifically thinking of the horrifying variety of Calvinism that one particularly well read critic of the church named Aaron described to me. Here are some highlights of what his theology looks like as far as I can tell: (more…)