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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A Logic Test

A friend wrote to me and asked about this concept. "Given 1 Timothy" ("This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:3-4).) "and 2 Peter" ("The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).), "it appears that it is God's will that all should come to repentance. Given the rest of Scripture, it is quite clear that this will not happen. Some will not come to repentance. Not all will be saved. Since Ephesians 1:11 says that God works all things after the counsel of His will and Psalms says God does as He pleases (Psa 115:3; 135:6), how do we correlate these two ideas? How can we have it as God's will that all should be saved and not all are saved?"

My friend postulates further. "It would appear that we have two options. Either it is God's will that all be saved and He's not willing to carry out His own will, or it is God's will that all be saved but Man prevents Him from accomplishing it. Either God is unwilling or unable. Either God fails to be Sovereign or Man overcomes God's will. Which is it?"

So, answer his question. Of course, there are rules. You can't simply ignore Scripture. "Forget about these verses or those verses ..." If you're going to go that way, you'll have to give a plausible explanation. And you can't stagger into incoherence. "God is sovereign enough to not be completely sovereign while being completely sovereign." If you're going to do something like that, you'll need to offer a redefinition of "sovereign" so that it doesn't mean the same thing that the Bible seems to mean by it. (That's fine as long as you provide a new definition and your reason for it.) By all means, use Scripture. Use the language. Use parallels, cross references, whatever. But don't use Scripture to contradict Scripture. If you're going to contradict another Scripture with Scripture, you'll have to explain why it's not a contradiction. And by all means use logic. "I don't think so" is not logic. A reasonable explanation would be helpful. You don't need to convince me. Just give a logical, biblical answer that someone else might find reasonable and useful.

The question is, then, two-fold. First, do we have a genuine contradiction here in God being Sovereign but failing? Second, if not, what is the reality? Give it a go. See if you can reason through it. And understand I'll not be easy in the comments.


Dan said...

There's a difference between "desire" and "will"?

Stan said...

Is that an argument or a question? :)

Dan said...

It's an argument only if it's not a stupid one. If it's a stupid argument, then it is not an argument at all but a question.

Stan said...

Nice tap dance. I didn't know you had it in you. :)

There is a difference between "desire" and "will". Ephesians 1:11 says that God works all things after the counsel of His will, and we know beyond that that God has desires that He does not seek to accomplish (for instance, human moral perfection, Jesus's lament about Jerusalem refusing salvation, etc.).