Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Theology of Bruce Almighty

Currently, even as I write this post I am watching Bruce Almighty. I have seen it before, but never thought much about it. It is on tv today, and am watching it with a purpose. I am watching it theologically.Obviously some things on the film are close to blasphemous, while others are not pertaining to goldiness. But a secular movie about God, even if it is starring Jim Carey, I believe there are reasons to watch it, primarily to see what the secular culture thinks about God.

Early in the movie, "God" was telling "Bruce" the rules of being God. There were two rules of being God.

1. You can't tell anyone you are God.
2. You can't mess with free will.

I am serious. That was in the movie. Let us quickly examine these two rules theologically.

1. You can't tell anyone you are God. Well, God messed up on that one. He revealed himself as Yahweh in the Old Testament. He told people who he was, He revealed himself. Jesus Christ himself said he was God in the New Testament. So, number is wrong. If God chooses to reveal himself, as he has...he certainly can do so.

2. You can't mess with free will. This notion is not just something for Calvinists and Arminians to debate. It is the secular view of God. God simply cannot mess with free will.

The Scripture says, "The king's heart is ike channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever he wishes." (Proverbs 21:1)

Scripture seems to affirm that God can interfere and does "mess with" man's free will, and that he is in control of man's free will to accomplish his purposes.

SO there you are...the secular view of God presented in Bruce Almighty is consistent with Arminianism.

36 comments:

Rick Beckman said...

Wouldn't "God" be violating rule #1 in revealing himself to Carrey's character?

And wouldn't "God" be violating rule #2 by forcing godhood upon Carrey's character (and ark-building upon Carell's character in the sequel)?

So if those rules *must* be obeyed by God, then God wasn't in the movie anyway.

Your observation has merit, though; people love them some free will, even (especially?) the secular world.

gordan said...

"People love them some free will"

LOL. Brilliant turn of a phrase, there.

And true, too. It's almost like it's beyond their capacity to not love them some free will. It's like a robotic sort of enslavement. Like they don't have the libertarian free will to choose to believe they aren't sovereign.

TheoJunkie said...

I concur. It was rather depressing, but not unexpected. Evan Almighty is similar in its theology.

(One caveat in my concurrence... I don't know the history of the movie(s)... I got the impression that it probably wasn't written by a "full blown" secularist, but by someone who grew up in a freewiller-type church as a kid)

Rhett said...

Josh,

Interesting that you posted this... I was thinking about this very topic a couple days ago.

Later,
Rhett

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Ah yes, argumentum ad cinematik: now that's compelling. These posts get funnier with every installment.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Thanks Josh, I am here simply to entertain you!!

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Thanks Josh, I am here simply to entertain you!!

Lol. No need to go to so much trouble; if that's your purpose in life, you can probably achieve the same effect with just shiny objects.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Well, I can't afford any shiny objects, so I will continue to post what I desire on our blog and let our readers decide what they believe is true. Your mind is made, my mind is made, but perhaps there are those who still want to search things out...and they need to hear both sides. Actually, i think our posts arent that hillarious, but are meant to educate people as to what calvinism really is. It appears that our frequent commentors still have some misconceptions they are clinging to.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Some people no doubt have misconceptions about what Calvinism is, and I don't blame you for trying to clear those up, but propagating an equally absurd misconception about Arminianism isn't the way to do so.

While not exactly an Arminian myself, I'm not aware of any seriously studied classical Arminians who believe that God couldn't subvert free will if He wanted to. And even if there are some, I'm pretty certain that there aren't any who believe that God is not allowed to reveal Himself as you cited in point 1. But since drawing vague correlations between theological systems and a fictional films now constitutes a serious religious objection, just wait I write my series on how Calvinist determinism is consistent with the Final Destination movies.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Again...a misconception on your part...when did I say that correlations between theological systems and fictional films constitutes a serious religious objection...I didn't. I was simply making a point that secular culture holds to the concept of free will. You assume to much JC, and that's what your problem is.

And I suggest you go read some more from Calvinists and Arminians, you would be suprised at what Arminians say of their own position and what Arminians say of Calvinism that isn't true....I used to be an Arminian, so did Rhett. You say you are not Arminian, well we were Arminians, and we know what Arminianism teaches and we used to believe it...So accusing us of misrepresenting what we used to believe is a bit absurd as well. Just sayin..

Andrew Esping said...

Good Post! I didn't bother to watch it after my friends told me the basic outline. I heard the second one "Evan Almighty" was even worse!

Andrew

J.C. Thibodaux said...

When did I say that you said anything? You merely assumed that. Don't think I can't read implications though, which is why I indirectly pointed out that some branches of secular culture also embrace determinism of some kind.

Thanks for the tip, but I already am reading up on Calvinist and Arminian theology. Free will aside, not sure what kind of Arminianism you previously embraced that was consistent with God not being allowed to reveal Himself, but I'm guessing it isn't very widespread.

Luke said...

John:And I suggest you go read some more from Calvinists and Arminians, you would be suprised at what Arminians say of their own position and what Arminians say of Calvinism that isn't true....I used to be an Arminian, so did Rhett. You say you are not Arminian, well we were Arminians, and we know what Arminianism teaches and we used to believe it...So accusing us of misrepresenting what we used to believe is a bit absurd as well. Just sayin..

John, with all due respect, I've seen your posts and have seen that you don't understand Arminianism. I've corrected you more than a few times myself. You may have understood the ends, but not the means.

It appears to be a tactic of yours to appeal to this idea that you were once an "Arminian," as though you have some huge insight into it. As I've shown in the past, you really don't.

A number of people here know me, and they know my past. I've spent most of my life as a Calvinist. I grew up in a Calvinist SBC pator's/missionary's family, received two degrees from a Reformed university, and have studied under such Calvinist scholars as Paul Feingberg (now deceased), John Feinberg, D. A. Carson, Douglas Moo and many the other Calvinists at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Now, if you're impressed, that's fine. However, I'm not impressed by your Cliffs-Notes understanding of Arminianism. No disrespect, but I'd reject many things based upon your understanding if I were you.

Luke said...

Sorry, my last post was addressed to Josh, not John.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

if you can't even get a name right...why should I listen to any serious thing you say? Actually...you havent corrected anything. You ramble about everything, but offer no exegetical, contextual evidence of anything. Sorry. You havent accomlplished anything...Perhaps you can join JC's blog and bash calvinism over there.

I have read some of the popular works by modern Arminians...Dave Hunts book What Love is This, Why I am not a Calvinist by Walls and Dongell, I have read the remonstrants proposed by the followers of Arminius, and this Christmas break I am going to digest The Other Side of Calvinism by Laurence Vance...also I have read Chosen But Free by Normal Geisler....and I believe I have comprehended their views...I am sorry you are dissapointed.

Luke...who are you..why are you commenting here...where do you come from...how did you change from Calvinism to Arminianism...and lets do some clarifying...Why people ask if I am a Calvinist I have to ask what they mean. I suppose it is the same with Arminianism..Some streams deny total depravity, while Arminius himself and Wesley did not. they would hol to prevenient grace...many of Arminius' followers denied total depravity and called it Arminianism...so can you please spell out your beliefs for us in regards to free will and sovereignty so we know actually what you believe.

Rhett said...

Looking back, I'm starting to think I was actually more of a Pelagian... An a very ignorant one at that.

Some might have a good case to argue that though the former may have changed a bit, the latter has remained pretty much the same!

:D

Luke said...

Josh:"if you can't even get a name right...why should I listen to any serious thing you say?:

Is that a mature response? It that what you want the world to see after what I just posted?

Josh:"Actually...you havent corrected anything. You ramble about everything, but offer no exegetical, contextual evidence of anything. Sorry. You havent accomlplished anything...Perhaps you can join JC's blog and bash calvinism over there."

You just sound really angry. You mention Josh over here and you keep posting about him over here. Perhaps you need to cool down a bit. Watch TV or something.

Josh:"I have read some of the popular works by modern Arminians...Dave Hunts book What Love is This, Why I am not a Calvinist by Walls and Dongell, I have read the remonstrants proposed by the followers of Arminius, and this Christmas break I am going to digest The Other Side of Calvinism by Laurence Vance...also I have read Chosen But Free by Normal Geisler....and I believe I have comprehended their views...I am sorry you are dissapointed."

Only one of those were classical Arminians. And besides, your present knowledge doesn't reflect much understanding, imho.

Josh:"Luke...who are you..why are you commenting here..."

My real name is Luke and I'm commenting here becacuse you want comments from people who are Arminians. Or is this a place where people who agree come to flatter one another?

Josh:"where do you come from..."

Now you're asking where I live? I don't share that information. I'm a Baptist and like Mexican and Thai food.

Josh"how did you change from Calvinism to Arminianism..."

That's a long story involving the studies in the classes I was taking.

Josh:"and lets do some clarifying...Why people ask if I am a Calvinist I have to ask what they mean. I suppose it is the same with Arminianism..Some streams deny total depravity, while Arminius himself and Wesley did not. they would hol to prevenient grace...many of Arminius' followers denied total depravity and called it Arminianism...so can you please spell out your beliefs for us in regards to free will and sovereignty so we know actually what you believe."

My beliefs are those of classical Arminianism, with a few minor exceptions not worth mentioning.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Classical Arminianism...again some would call Arminius' Arminianism classical Arminianism, while some would say the Arminianism of his followers is Arminianism, which is closer to semi-Pelagianism...so can you articulate clearly what you believe so I know what I am adressing...perhaps whenwe speak of Arminianism and Calvinism we have completely different streams of both in mind...It is possible.

I'm not angry, I just don't believe we are on the same page, and that can be frustrating, I just want to understand where you are coming from, and then perhaps we can discuss things biblically.

Luke said...

Just google the "Arminianism" and you'll get a number of good descriptions. I'm a Baptist, and my perspective is nearly idenitical to that of the original Baptists, so no need to consider anything involving Methodism (although, as a Calvinist, I did attend an Arminian college for the first two years). Sorry, but I don't have time to write a mini commentary. And I only post while I'm on the phone.

Luke said...

Sorry, I meant to say this above:

although, as a Calvinist, I did attend a Wesleyan Methodist college for the first two years

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

see...we have a need to clarify terminology...what in the world do you mean by original baptists...You can't say that, because you have general and particular baptists. There really is no just "Original" Baptist...it isnt that easy...and thats just it...googling Arminianism and Calvinism just doesnt cut it...googling things gets you a wide variety of sources that say just about anything. So I really need to know what you believe regarding depravtivty of man, free will, sovereignty more specifically, and perseverance.

Are you in school now?

Luke said...

Josh, you can read Wikipedia, for starters.

I didn't capitalize "original," as if it were a name. I meant the original modern baptists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Smyth_(1570-1612)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Helwys

No, I'm not in school.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

original and modern...hmmm...sounds like a contradiction...if they are modern baptist...then they arent original..come on dude...you know better than that.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

original and modern...hmmm...sounds like a contradiction...if they are modern baptist...then they arent original..come on dude...you know better than that.

Luke said...

Most encyclopedias and handbooks describing denominations distinguish between Anabaptists and Baptists, with Baptists being the organized movement that took place due to the Reformation. Those that do that say what I said earlier. Douglas, I believe, was the first one of the first in modern times to blur the distinction, and began calling them “modern” and “organized.” I referred you to a wiki article that used Douglas’ terminology, so I reflected that.

..come on dude...you know better than that.

Yeah, I’m really sneaky. ;)

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Actually the guys you mentioned are pretty much the first guys of the General Baptist movement...basically Arminian baptist..knowing that helps me know what stream of Arminianism you follow...thanks for that clarification...I really do...seriously...no sarcasm here.

Luke said...

Josh,

Not to be picky, but I don't "follow" any institution or creed or historical figure, although I often agree with such. You asked for some point of reference, so I gave you a couple that are in the ballpark. Anyhow, I don't think you were actually suggesting what I am trying to correct, but I wanted to make that clear.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

I understand your piety in saying you don't follow any creed, but all a creed is a a statement of faith, from the word credo...to believe. In actuality, everyone follows a creed. It may be a personal creed that one has made up, and he sort of has his own views on things, (which I think is dangerous), but we all follow a creed. Now to say that we follow a creed, say the Nicene creed or something, does not mean we believe a creed is equally authoritative as Scripture. It simplys means we agree with a particular creed. So don't be ashamed to say you follow a certain creed, because it just means you agree with it, and your views are in line with a particular statement of belief.

Luke said...

"True that," as they say. But I will never say "follow".

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

ok...no sense in arguing over uses of particular words...but now that I know you follow in the more General Baptist camp, perhaps we can actually begin some meaningful discussion. If in my critique of Arminianism, I am critiquing something that you disagree with, it may actually, and probably is a stream of Arminianism, but may not be what you believe, so let's just try to understand each other instead of bash each other...I don't like theological bashing, but I can go with meaninful God honoring discussion.

Luke said...

Josh, thanks for the attempt. I'm simply saying that I like the plain vanilla Arminianism of the founders of the Baptist movement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Helwys

I brought that up because I asked you to look up "Arminiianism" on Wikipedia, and there it describes some variations that are different.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminianism

The General Baptists who followed worded things in ways I would not, in some cases. I had the same objections concerning being identified with denominations or historical figures when I was a Calvinist, for similar reasons. The exegesis of the old theologians was based upon the limited knowledge of the time, so they tend to be more flawed in their exegesis than we (evangelicals) are today. Our knowledge of the original languages, culture and socio-rhetorical techniques has greatly improved, and will continue to do so.

(I typed this while on the phone and speaking Lao at the same time. How'd I do?)

Lagoan,
Luke

Luke said...

Dang, I see I didn't spell "Arminianism" correctly. Next time I'll speak English while on the phone.

Lagoan,
Luke

Rhett said...

How about waiting to write your comments until you get off the phone??

:)

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Awesome...Luke...you seem like a good guy..If love to talk to you outside of blogging...send me an email at servindalord@hotmail.com

Luke said...

Anyone can e-mail me at any time. The e-mail address is on my alleged blog. (FYI, since this is the Internet, I don't share information concerning my job, location, and things of that nature.)

Rhett said...

"(FYI, since this is the Internet, I don't share information concerning my job, location, and things of that nature.)"

Well, in that case, I bet you're a CIA operative. As a guy who's in the Witness Protection Program, I can truly relate. ;)