Sunday, July 18, 2010

Another metaphor

For those whom God foreknew, these he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. Moreover, whom he predestined, these He also called, whom He called, these he also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Still trying to come with a way where this doesn't mean that God chooses some of his creation to be saved and some to be damned and there's nothing either can do about it.

Here's another metaphor for the will of God that I would like to see if it works. I think I read something similar somewhere a long time ago.

So, a tiny country has been ruled by a very evil dictator of the Hitler-Stalin-Pol Pot mode for a very long time, so long and oppressively that all his ways of thinking of acting which make him murder and enslave his people have entered into the fabric of the culture and society and become part of it. The neighboring king, who is much more powerful than he is and is also a good, just and compassionate person, decides that he can't in conscience allow this to go on. But there's a conundrum. He wishes to free, not kill, the people enslaved in this horrible country, but he also wishes that the the evil culture be entirely destroyed so as not to perpetuate itself in any future society that they might form.

What is his will?

1. He wants everyone who wants to to be able to live a just, free and happy life
2. He wants to destroy entirely everyone who is allied with or agreed with the murderer.

In order to accomplish both of those goals, he forms a plan to, instead of sweeping in with his army and killing the dictator and his servants (which would be everyone), secretly contact and subvert everyone in the tiny country. They will be told that a much more powerful king is going to come in and kill everyone with allegiance to the dictatorship, and that they have a choice to defect to his side right now and start training to be in his army. They will be told (which is true) that he is a master strategist, and if they trust him and follow his orders exactly, no harm will come to them.

This strategy allows him to achieve both goals, because of course their response and willingness to obey his orders shows exactly the extent to which they are on his side, and also if they do obey his orders it starts to train their evil culture out of them. So when he invades, he can be sure that 1. none of his army will die (because if they follow his orders they won't, and if they don't follow his orders, they're not part of his army) and 2. all the enemy will be entirely destroyed.

How does this help me with my Romans 8 problem? I was thinking it sounds like Paul assures God’s people that they were chosen, and, having been chosen, will be saved no matter what. Thus, everyone who isn’t saved wasn’t chosen, and was created to be sent to hell, essentially.

I think the metaphor can help me understand it differently. What Paul is doing is assuring people that if they decide to be on the invading general’s side and obey his orders, they will be free and safe. God’s plan is very good and if they stick to him, they don’t need to worry. (“Who he foreknew, he predestined, who he predestined, he called,” etc). But it is their choice to obey the orders or not. So God’s will can still be that everyone is saved (all are given a choice, and He wants them all to say yes), God can still completely protect His people (if they do what He says, they will be saved), and yet some can still be lost (not everyone will do what He says, if they still have allegiance to the evil dictator).

As a picture of the gospel, this is pretty legalistic and leaves out a lot. Also, I'm not sure how it addresses the "foreknew" and "predestined" parts of the verse... as if the wise general knows beforehand which citizens he can and can't subvert and doesn't even try to contact the other ones.

So I guess I am back where I started again; does God give everyone the choice to follow Him?

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