Friday, June 08, 2007

incredible

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There was a scene at the beginning of The Incredibles where a man sued because he had been rescued from an attempted suicide. My reaction when I saw it, was that it was unbelievable to think that a suicidal person had a legitimate complaint on the grounds that he did not want to be saved.

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Last night I was browsing through a book that should have never been published. In it, the author said:

"But it (irresistible grace) may also be seen negatively because it involves nonconsensual control; the will of one manipulates the will of the other."

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So, as I understand it, this person has the audacity to suggest that God has done wrong in saving some without receiving their permission first.

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This author, in the same book, asks:

"If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, can he in any way be vulnerable to his creation?"

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Well, yes. After all, Jesus died on the cross, right? But what I think he means is, can the omnipotent and omniscient creator be vulnerable

against His will to his creation? I don't see how that is possible. Not the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible, who is real, who's attributes are not subject to the creature's misconseptions.

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My reaction to this book: That's incredible! This person claims to be a Christian, and yet, does not seem to know and fear God. For his sake, I hope I am mistaken.
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Image by Javaburst

29 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

Okay, well. Was Jesus vulnerable to his creation against his will at Gethsemane?

I suppose there is a need to define "will." And do we also perhaps need to define "vulnerable"?

And must you make me think so darn hard on a Friday, and such a warm Friday as this no less? :)

Jen2 said...

whoa, wait....you a 5 pointer??
:)

Every Square Inch said...

That quote about irresistable grace exemplifies two things -

1. Given the depravity of our own hearts, grace had to be irresistible to save us...heaven would be empty of the human race apart from such grace

2. The human tendency to arrogance and misguided intellect. Unfortunately it reveals a man-centered theology (an oxymoron?) that's rampant in popular Christianity.

Since you chose not to reveal the book, I won't ask. ;-)

A Musing Mom said...

I hope the book was self-published. At least that could explain how it would get past an editor (unless it was a publisher with questionable theology as well).

We have a book on our shelves from the 80's that is so out there theologically, that we dare not get rid of it (aside from burning) for fear an innocent person would get their hands on it and thus be misguided. Then again, I think the burning should commence - there are innocent children in our home.

Thus I've ducked the actual question at hand (on the same grounds as LL ...it' Friday...warm...must not think...must nap).

Craver Vii said...

Good point, LL. (This post was less flirtatious than usual, eh?) How about if I rephrased it this way?

Was Jesus vulnerable to the will of his creation?

Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt. 26:39)

I confess J2, *deeply bowing* guilty as charged. :-)

ESI, your comment is a breath of fresh air, because you properly used the word "arrogance." I have heard too many man-centered theologians use that word for someone who's confidence in God is unshakeable.

I would be more inclined to give the book's details if I had a favorable review.

AMM, I don't think I have ever burned a book before. But if I had hamsters, I might give it to them, and let them chew the pages for bedding. ;-)

L.L. Barkat said...

Less peanut buttery too.

MamaToo said...

okay, perhaps everyone is right and the warm Friday-ness of this afternoon has eaten my brain... :)

I'm hoping the context of these comments, not just the phrases themselves, struck you as bad theology? They seem like harmless, maybe even thought-provoking questions of awe.

I feel like he speaks (in these comments you mentioned) of the audacious authority of God. It isn't a bad thing (in my opinion), nor lacking fear of the Lord, to note that God has not asked, nor need, our consent when He calls us to Himself. Grace demonstrates His desire to be glorified and worshipped. While we try to make Him all about us, He remains all about God.

That grace is shown to us prior to our own acknowlegement and receipt is the mystery of "coming to faith." (On this, I recommend reading some of Charles' Spurgeon's sermons on the Holy Spirit.)

Also, "can He in any way be vulnerable to his creation?" doesn't seem to be a harmful reflection: God chose to make himself vulnerable in His Christ. I think we see true faith exercised by Jesus, in "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Heb 11.1) Christ, the "author and perfecter of our faith" (Heb 12:2), lived with perfect certainty and unfettered belief.

Another way God makes Himself vulnerable is through His word. His perfect and holy will is only revealed to us through words that are often misquoted, misused, and misunderstood. This is indeed vulnerable, and seems to prompt our awe that He would choose this way of instructing us.

Maybe the author was not awestruck in the context of these comments. (I haven't read the book.) However, is there possibly more fear, wonder, and amazement there than at first glance?

MamaToo said...

yikes... that was too long for comments! Sorry.

just journaling said...

jen2,

What's a 5 pointer?

Craver Vii said...

Welcome MamaToo! Thanks for leaving a comment.

That was gracious of you, that you gave the author the benefit of the doubt. The author is explaining a position that I'm still trying to determine whether to call it heresy or just bad theology. The "endorsements" in the back of the book... well, I wouldn't buy any of their books. He had just summed up the more orthodox, or traditional, or approved "Calvinist" position (not his own) and then went on to explain its flaws, so that the reader might be swayed to this new theological position. That is the context. Hamster bedding!

For the record, his position was not Arminianism. I can be friends with Arminians, even though we disagree strongly on some things we consider to be very important. As for this man, if he were giving a talk somewhere, I would walk out.

That's heavy, I know. Things are usually much ligher here.

Craver Vii said...

Thanks for asking, Just Journaling! Since I don't know when Jen2 will revisit, I hope she doesn't mind that I field this one. She was referring to the five points of Calvinism.

Not every one who calls themselves Calvinists will adhere to all five points, but I do. And while I strongly believe these tenets, I do not wish to use this blog as a sieve to screen out those who do not hold the same views.

Whoa, it's late; gotta go. Maybe I can find a neighbor who owns hamsters and wants to save money on litter.

just journaling said...

Still not understanding but that's okay. I'll check into it later.

Stacey said...

Hey, so glad you can still be friends with people who don't adhere to five point Calvinism ;)

And as far as vulnerable to his creation, what about all the old testament examples of Yahweh and people like Abraham in Genesis 18:23-32, or Moses, or Jacob in Genesis 32:23-25. I'm not saying that God didn't already know the ultimate outcomes but he at least talked through the misconceptions - engaged in the conversations ...was "vulnerable" to the needs of those he loved.

(maybe I'm not saying anything different than you are but your question made me think of these examples)

HALFMOM said...

"But what I think he means is, can the omnipotent and omniscient creator be vulnerable
against His will to his creation? I don't see how that is possible."

Yes, because He, Himself, is the only one who has the power to both lay down His entire life and then to pick it up again - and willingly took the form of a bondservant - perhaps the author of this book never read Phil 2.

Now, about those 5 points, could they at least be listed for real? I would be interested to see what they are just because 1) I may never have thought through it 2)may be less Armenian than previously supposed 3) am lazy and don't want to look them up myself

Will miss you guys tomorrow - off to Oregon for a few days of business.

Eve said...

I have to agree with you, Craver, on this point (and maybe on a few others, but we'll see...:)

God cannot do anything against His will. His will is perfect and how can He do otherwise?

Craver, I'm not sure exactly where I stand on the 5 points. I'm probably 3/4 there.

My hang-up is that, though I believe Salvation is primarily a God thing, that He has also commanded man to have faith, to believe, to repent, etc.

So, even though we were born in trespasses and sins (spiritually dead), once He gives us eyes to see and ears to hear Him, we then have a responsibility to respond-though He gives us even the capability to do so. :)

I just can't find that fine line between man's responsibility and God's enabling. Perhaps I never will. I just know that the two sides exist, though it really is all God's doing...This could go on for days :)

Okay, that was real long....

Mark Goodyear said...

Interesting post and interesting comments. I grew up Armenian. But I like a lot of what Calvin said, too.

My favorite theologian? Chaucer--especially the ideas somewhere between the Knight's Tale and the Miller's Tale. (That movie The Knight's Tale is not at all like the story, by the way.)

The way I figure it, my brain is too little to understand the implications of God's omnipotence and omnipresence and general omni-ness.

Don't get me wrong. It's fun to think about. But I doubt I can really describe or understand those big big aspects of God in any way that is worthwhile.

Jesus, on the other hand, was flesh and blood. That I can think about.

(None of that is supposed to be any kind of attack on people who like to think about those things. I'm just not particularly good at it.)

Or maybe I'm too sleepy on this Saturday afternoon.

Eve said...

Jesus was/is flesh and blood-but God as well. I find that even more complicated!*grin*

Martin Stickland said...

I wish we could rewind a few decades before this politically correct mumbo jumbo etc came on the scene .. "stop the world I want to get off!"

jazzycat said...

Have you heard about the Episcopal priest that has become a Muslim as well. She has not renounced Christianity. She considers herself a Christian and a Muslim. Go to Doxobology for details.

L.L. Barkat said...

Mark, did you really grow up Armenian? For some reason, I thought you were a German guy. :) (Could it be those suspenders?)

just journaling said...

I have tried going on the link you posted for 5-points but it wasn't coming up and Eve said that she was probably a 3 or 4 out of 5...? I don't quite understand and I wouldn't know where to begin to look this one up.

Craver Vii said...

What can I say, Martin? This is a topic that I love to go deep into. And if you figure out how to stop the world, don't do it. There's this whole thing about gravity and centrifugal force and momentum that would cause an even worse mess, should the world come to a sudden stop. But then, there was that one time...

Stacey, you don't really believe God couldn't beat Jacob in a wrestling match, do you?

JJ, sorry if the five points link didn't work for you. Try this. Go to Wikipedia, and search "five points of Calvinism." Maybe I'll do a little more on this later.

Hmmm... a Christian (priest--no less) and Muslim... simultaneously. What is this??? Jazzycat, would you provide a link for this?

just journaling said...

Craver,
Thanks for your second time giving that particular link for the 5 points. That one hooked me up.

Calvinism vs. Armenian, very interesting. So you're a 5 pointer?

A good one to journal about.

Hey, wait a minute, Calvinism & Armenian, isn't that the comic book about the little boy and his stuffed animal?

;-)

Craver Vii said...

Funny that you mention that, because (also from Wikipedia):

"Hobbes in popular culture

* Hobbes, the tiger in Bill Watterson's comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, who often makes remarks on human nature, was named after Thomas Hobbes, while his companion Calvin was named after the Reformation theologian John Calvin."


So the tiger was not named after Arminius.

By the way, Armenians are an ethnic group. I still occasionally get the spelling confused.

just journaling said...

Okay, okay, joke's on me. Don't rub it in. I didn't know that they were related in someway. I tried to make a joke . . . ha-ha on me.

jazzycat said...

Craver,
Here is the link to the priest/muslim.....

http://www.olympia.anglican.org/publications/Voice/June2007.pdf

jazzycat said...

Look on page 9........

Craver Vii said...

Thanks, Jazz. I'll check that out.

Stacey said...

Sorry, I didn't answer your question earlier, Craver. Of course God could have kicked Jacob's butt badly. But I have always found the instances (especially in the Old Testament) where God seems to choose to listen (and even uses language like He is being swayed) by those who He chose to speak with.

Of course He is all powerful, but He somehow allows an element of choice and legitimate interaction (give and take) with us.

Make any sense?