I’m running through DaGoodS’s list of questions Christians hope no one will ask. This has become a pretty popular series, so I thought for a moment that C. Michael Patton of the Parchment and Pen blog copied my idea and did a similar series of his own, “Questions I Hope No One Asks.” So far, he has two:
I read the first post just to see if he mentioned the series on this blog as his inspiration. Alas, he either had the idea all by himself or decided not to mention me. Although I agree that “free will,” “God doesn’t love everyone,” “He’ll save everyone eventually” are all inferior answers, Patton’s own answer of “I don’t know” is equally insufficient.
As a fellow Calvinist, Patton ought to know that everything God does is intended to reveal his glory. God wishes to reveal all of himself to those he has chosen as vessels of mercy, and so in order to reveal his hatred of sin and wrath against unrighteousness, he has passed over many of his creations and allows them to suffer under his wrath.
That’s a sufficient answer to someone like me, who is confident of salvation and steadfast enough in faith to continue to run the race until the end. But to someone who is perishing, it is pure folly (to put it nicely). In other words, my answer satisfies believers firm in their faith but leaves unbelievers or believers who are questioning their faith thinking of God as a maniacal, merciless tyrant playing dice with the lives of people he ostensibly loves.
Yet my answer is still consistent with Scripture. The key is that the answer satisfies believers with a strong or unshakable faith (Rom 8:28), who are the people that God works all things out for. But to those who are perishing, it sounds like “folly” (1 Cor 1:18).
But what about those who are tottering on the brink of de-conversion? Well, God doesn’t really like the fence-sitters (Rev 3:16). An answer like that is bound to make you pick a side, not continue sitting the fence.
I’m not terribly comfortable with that answer, however confident I am that it is the right one. I don’t know why so many people have to be in the “perishing” category. It seems as though God could have created a system that revealed his full character and brought him glory, and resulted in more people saved. But, as I’ve pointed out time and again, the goal of this experiment called the human race was not to maximize salvation, but the glory of God.
The second question is a good one. I think that God intended the Fall to purposely create a system where only a few would be lavished with his mercy, while the remainder suffered his wrath. As above, that would maximize his glory. Again, the comfort level with that answer is minimal for me, however confident I am in the veracity of the answer. Satan is a part of God’s plan, for better or for worse. Patton seems to agree with the fact that Satan is part of God’s plan, at least in principle.
I think the answer to both questions really comes down to the fact that this life is all about God, not about us. God is ultimately free to do as he decides with us, and there’s really not much we can do about it.
As far as Patton’s inspiration for this series, I’ll continue to delude myself into believing that it’s me. That’s healthy, right?
I’m still researching some responses to DaGoodS’s remaining two questions that Christians hope no one will ask. But I wanted to put something up today, so keeping with the theme of questions posed to Christians, I’m going to answer two interesting questions.
A long time back, on Reddit, there was a thread collecting all of the questions that theists allegedly can’t answer. In a previous thread, I began to answer some of those questions. I would like to continue by answering two questions that relate to the eternal destiny of the soul.
The first question I’m going to break up into pieces so it’s a bit more manageable.
Guy is an adulterer without repenting and thus, goes to hell, right? Another guy kills a hundred people, without repenting, and thus, goes to the same hell, right? Now, do you think it is proportional to treat both guys with the same fate?
However, if they go to “different places” according to the gravity of their sins, do they go under authority of God? If so, does it mean that God actually determines the penalty, and not the Devil?
If I kill your whole family and by my last breath I repent, would you feel comfortable meeting me in paradise?
What most critics miss about Christianity is that “easy-believism” isn’t what is in view. After establishing that sin means certain death for the people who continue in it, Paul rhetorically asked the Roman church, “How can we who died to sin still live in it” (Rom 6:2)?
Most churches today practice Gospel Lite, telling us that if we believe in Jesus, then we get to go to heaven. Never do they peel away the layers of sin in our lives, trying to show us that we need to repent of our former selves and live according to Jesus’ teachings. Above all, we must practice grace and forgiveness. Not by becoming doormats, but by embracing the greatest of the commandments and loving God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength. Then, loving our neighbors as our own selves.
So, for the mass murderer who makes a deathbed profession, we have to ask ourselves, “How sincere is this guy, really?” He might just be trying to avoid hell by embracing that Gospel Lite prevalent today. If he isn’t sincere, God will know that and judge accordingly.
If he is sincere, and he is in heaven, then I will have my faith in God’s judgment to just and fair.
The bottom line is this: God does things at the counsel and good pleasure of his own will. He doesn’t ask his creatures how we would like to be dealt with, nor how he should deal with others. As he knows all, we should place some trust in his judgment.
In other words, just because a person once professed faith in Jesus doesn’t mean that he automatically gets the golden ticket and goes to heaven. There is a component of obedience that must be met as well.