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Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Other Christianity

I've argued on a range of doctrines for a few years in this blog. I've argued that God is sovereign, that He is absolutely sovereign, that nothing happens without His knowledge and plan. I've argued that God is omniscient and, as such, nothing happens without His knowledge and plan. I've argued that God is the First Cause, that He even initiates calamity and plans for evil which remains evil but that He uses for His good purposes. I've argued that the god of this world has blinded unbelievers, and that Natural Man is dead in sin, hostile to God, unable to respond rightly to God's call for salvation. As such, regeneration must precede faith. There is a Search function on this blog and you can look any of this up that you wish to find it. Or just click on some of the categories like Providence, Reformed Theology, or Sovereignty and Suffering. It's not secret. And, of course, I've recently argued that the one who is born of God is incapable of making an ongoing practice of sin without guilt, remorse, or repentance.

All of this is biblically clear to me and I don't even know how to go elsewhere. You'd think that wouldn't be true because I came from elsewhere, but now that I'm here, anywhere else is just plain irrational to me. Why? Well, let me describe the "other Christianity", my perception of what Christianity would look like if the stuff I wrote in the first paragraph were not true. You can see for yourself how pleasant I might find such a Christianity.

Assuming God is "sovereign" in the sense that so many mean it where God's "sovereignty" is sovereignly surrendered to Man's "Free Will", we would live in a terrifying world. God would be constantly mopping up after our mistakes and working at making all things work together for good. In fact, that would be, practically speaking, impossible. The only "good" then would be "Well, you made it to heaven" and so much of life would be "Yeah, that hurt a lot; too bad." That would be life without comfort. And it would make Man the god of this world. In reality, I supposed, the "sovereign God" who surrendered His sovereignty to Man's Free Will might remain "God", but in practical terms Man would be god and Christians would just have to deal with it.

There are those who assure us that God is not omniscient -- more accurately, that He cannot know the free will choices of human beings before they are made -- and, therefore, we're on our own. Oh, He's getting better. I mean, He's been following human choices for thousands of years and He's pretty good at anticipating, but some folks like Hitler or Stalin or, who knows, Obama(?) sneak through and make choices He didn't anticipate and you are all on your own while He tries to clean up the mess.

There are those who assure us that God never plans for unpleasant things or for sin. This, of course, is the natural conclusion of either the incomplete Sovereign or the lack of omniscience, but some are sure He's both sovereign and omniscient, but this stuff just happens. Evil, then, becomes the winner. God knew it was coming. He didn't plan it. He could stop it. But apparently the Ultimate Good is Man's Free Will. So either God is unable to stop these things because of His commitment to the Ultimate Good or He is unwilling to stop it for that reason. He could have produced a world without sin and it's His will that all are saved, but it's just not gonna happen. This is commonly held Christian viewpoint, and it terrifies me to think of a Sovereign God who is held hostage by Man's Free Will.

Perhaps the most common perspective is the "We choose Christ" perspective. It's the "God did 99.9% and you have to do the 0.1%" notion. How to reconcile all that the Bible says about Natural Man -- the unregenerate human -- with this idea is far beyond my capacity to fathom. Mostly dead in sin, pretty much hostile to God, inclined largely to evil, practically blinded, almost completely unable to understand, I don't find these descriptions in the Bible. So I'm stuck with trying to figure out how to align all of the absolutes listed in Scripture with the certainty that we have every ability to choose Christ all on our own as long as He does the wooing, the calling, the encouraging. It makes, in my mind, for a Christianity of supermen who overcame quite literally impossible handicaps of death, hostility, natural inclination, blindness, and all to come to the right choice after all.

And what about the "cannot make a practice of sin" concept? What if I'm wrong? Well, if I'm wrong, I know of no one who is born of God. If it actually means that we stop sinning as Wesley suggested and all we have to worry about are "mistakes", I suppose it would be an easy thought. However, I know of no Christian near or far, past or present, by reputation or by personal knowledge, who only commits "mistakes", whose only sins are "sins of ignorance". Not one. And that is the scariest Christianity of all -- the empty set.


Anonymous said...

After reading through your post a couple of times I'm questioning whether you're a Christian or not because you critique what's in Scripture as if you're an Agnostic.

Anyway, God is Good because He is Just and while He is Just, the causes of the world has Merit. There is a reason why World War I and World War II started and God let it happen. You sense that God is doing something new and has been since He came down in a man named, Jesus Christ.

This new thing that He's been doing takes quite the pondering but one with wisdom and reason will figure it out then love Him even more. Would you like me to tell you what this thing is? God is letting humans do what they are ought to do since they were created.

I can sense that God is tired of the man's selfishness and corruptness amongst their fellow man. God is tired of the same games that man play and this includes, politics. God is tired of having directly intervene in a sense but still intervenes in such a way that we don't even notice it.

Think the Civil War, this is a great example if you know your history especially re-reading Abraham Lincoln's journals. Watch Episode Three. It's good to read your blog, bro. Check out mine if you get the chance.

Stan said...

Let's see ... I "critique what's in Scripture as if you're an Agnostic." My post says that I agree fully with Scripture and disagree with people who try to make it mean something different than what it says. So thanks for the defining "agnostic" for me as "someone who is in full agreement with Scripture as written". I didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

I know some Agnostics who agree with Scripture they just don't believe its true if you get what I'm saying.

Stan said...

I know about "practical atheists" who claim to believe but live as if they don't. My post was about taking the Bible for what it says and how it would look if we don't.

David said...

This might be a case of not reading a bulk of Stan's blog, but it is quite clear he is neither an atheist nor an agnostic by any stretch of the imagination. It seemed pretty clear to me that this post was all about what Christianity would look like if those ideas were carried to their logical conclusion, not just left at the emotional level they seem to get left at without thinking them through. Stan clearly doesn't believe in items he listed, and he showed how scary being a Christian would be for those that do.