Friday, March 02, 2007

The Real Question

We had some friends over a while back, and I mentioned that I was studying Reformed theology. He replied, "that's like jumping off a cliff, you know." "Why do you say that?", I asked. I'm afraid to try to quote here, but he basically brought up the bottom line objection that if you believe that God chose to save some, then you'll eventually find yourself at the opposite side where He, by default at least, chose to send people to hell. I've been all the way through this and back around again. Here's what I've been thinking.

First, the real problem here has nothing to do with your theology being Reformed or not. If you have a problem with God not choosing people, thus "sending" them to hell, then, in my opinion, you have the exact same problem that I struggled with years before I'd even heard of Reformed theology. Why did God create people that will never be saved? Because, you see, in the end whether it was God's choice or man's choice, God is still all-knowing and knew when that man was created how it would end. Election just seems somehow more severe, less loving at first. But if you could truly see fallen man from God's perspective you would see a mass of people all plunging into the eternal separation from God that they deserve and the absolute rejection and rebellion against his authority that is an intrinsic part of human sin nature. When we see the holiness of God, we should be left gasping in horror at our filthiness and unworthiness, and yet, in love too amazing to be comprehended, God sent His own Son to be the propitiation for our sins. We find amazing grace, not coldness from our Creator. Now we look at the question. But first a couple of illustrations that came to me as I worked through these thoughts and seemed to clarify aspects of them.

If a king had a group of the worst of all criminals, indeed criminals who had committed their heinous crimes against himself, if he were to pardon one of these criminals, wouldn't we be shocked at his capacity for mercy and graciousness and love. Would we find him unjust if he never pardoned any?

I wonder if we have a bit of a Superman mentality when we think of God's justice. What if we were watching a film, and a bus full of people were about to plunge into a deep gorge. Suddenly, Superman swoops down, opens the emergency exit and saves two men as the rest of the bus crashes into the ravine. We stare at the movie screen in shock and maybe outrage. Why would he save only two when he was perfectly capable of lifting the entire bus and carrying it to safety? But what if we suddenly discover that the bus is full of Hannibal-like serial killers? Now we wonder why he bothered to save any at all.

Why create people that will never be saved? I have not found a humanly satisfying answer to that. Unless you can find great satisfaction in the unalterable fact that He does all things for His glory. And that, in knowing His character, we know that He does what is good and holy and just and right and loving. And that the real question ought to be, why did He ever come at all? Why save any of us? Especially me.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3: 3-7, ESV


Kim said...

Great post,Alicia!

I loved reading this...but,still,like you, I don't have all the answers. I just have to trust that everything God does is right and just...EVERYTHING.Period.

Thanks for this!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!! Yes, the better question to ask is, why does God save any of us?

So much to think through!!!