Thursday, January 15, 2015

Inbox: Unreceptive Hearts

Qman comments on Spiritual Treachery:
“The most obvious reasons are that, being omniscient, both the Father and the Lord Jesus are well aware when men and women have receptive hearts and when they don’t, and they tend not to entrust valuable truth to those who care nothing about it.”

With regard to the above point, I have not yet seen you deal with the argument below (maybe I missed it) which is a typical, but fairly valid, response to the above from the Ag[nostic]/Atheist crowd. I think IC may have dealt with it in a different forum but I forgot.”
He continues:
“The timeline would be questioned. Did the non-receptive hearts come into existence with birth or only after a person has permitted that deterioration later on? In the former case the Ag/At camp will argue that God is clearly responsible for creating such hearts in the first place, if not by deliberate selection then at least by chance. In the second case, he could simply have willed to create persons and/or hearts that would be less likely to suffer corruption; in either case, his choice. Also, let’s not forget the environmental factors that go into shaping a person. Now obviously this somehow ties into the free will argument, except how is that synchronized with a timeline? I realize of course that this is simply a strategy of shifting the blame right back to our creator.

But would the Ag/At crowd have a somewhat valid argument?

Bernie has a few thoughts:

How to rationalize man’s free will versus an all-controlling God?

I know which way the Calvinist falls: there is no free will because God causes all, including the flawed hearts He will later condemn. I know which way the atheist would lean: there is no free will and there is no God, only material causes that conform to laws we are working to discover.

I don’t have an answer that will fully satisfy either camp because in large measure they are entrenched and unmoving. Time will eventually rebut both with far more eloquence than I can muster.

The best I can offer on short order is this: there is a vast difference between knowledge and causation. To this I add my own experience (which, not surprisingly, is the same image God uses again and again in scripture): In my home is someone that, in a very real sense, I made (my wife had something to do with it as well). He has my DNA, he carries my name, he is made in my image, he was (and largely remains) utterly dependent on me for his very existence. Without me he could not survive.

I chose to have this little invader in my home at a significant personal cost. I chose to have a son. I knew, even before he was conceived and with a metaphysical precision and certainty, that he would at times disappoint, disobey and discourage me. Unlike God I didn’t know the exact moments and ways he would do so, but I knew it would happen. In fact I can write this today confident that it will continue to happen tomorrow and beyond.

But my wife and I chose to have him regardless. Why do such a thing? Because is a tangible expression of love, he is an object of our intentional blessing despite his flaws. It is impossible now for me to imagine life without him.

When we turn to the Bible, we find that we are not infrequently referred to as God’s children. He’s telling us that His relationship with us is something like that of a father and child — though certainly far deeper. I suspect that part of being made “in God’s image” is the ability to choose and create from a free will. That’s something a materialist’s achingly narrow view of things prohibits and it’s something the Calvinist feels sure is an affront to God. But I do not accept either view and believe instead that God has planted in the midst of every family a reminder of the way we have been made.

The way God speaks of the lost is often flavoured with the tenderness of a Father who has lost a son — “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked”, for example. So too I think of Christ weeping over a rejecting Jerusalem, calling Judas “friend” while Judas betrayed Him, loving a rich young ruler who would choose material and temporal wealth over an eternal destiny with a loving God.

Again, knowledge and causation are two different things. I have no doubt — at all — that God knows what we will do with each breath we draw. Some will reject, some will repent and accept. This is exactly what we should expect to see if men are truly free and God is truly loving.”

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