Pleased and Displeased Without Contradiction

II Peter 3:9 reads as follows:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

And this is scripture and it is true, but what does it mean about God? I have heard people say that this verse means that God has no control over who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. If it was up to God, no one would go to Hell, they say and then are left scratching their heads at the idea of omnipotence.

Becoming a parent has helped clear these thoughts up for me. My son is almost 2½ and while he is a sweet child, he is also a son of Adam and born into sin. Because of this, there are times where I see him being tempted and while it is perfectly within my power to remove him from the temptation or the temptation from him, more often than not, and for a multitude of reasons, it pleases me to watch him struggle, it pleases me to watch him fall, and then it pleases me to spank him. And it pleases me, because by faith, I believe that God is using this process in both my and my son’s life. But at that very same time that I am so pleased, it also displeases me that Gavin has struggled and that he has failed. But consider this: there is no contradiction in my pleasure and my displeasure. Instead they sit very neatly side by side and the one complements the other. And I am just a man. How much more complex must an infinite God be?

We cheat ourselves and God of something when we think of Him so simply. To me, it is no contradiction to say that God has ordained all things for his purposes, to say that He is not willing that any should perish and then to affirm Romans 9:20-23:

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

What say you?

A question about the scriptural basis for free will

Free will can be defined in a number of different ways, but lately the definition that I hear most often goes something like this:

Free will is the ability of a man (or woman) to choose what he will do or what he will believe, and while certain situations may limit the number of options he has at any given time (for instance, all men can not choose to be able to dunk a ball, or fly an airplane), there must always be at least two options (one of which may be the choice to do nothing at all).

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I do not agree with this definition. To those who do hold to this definition I would like to ask the following question:

From where in Scripture is this line of thinking about free will derived?

I will freely acknowledge that Scripture talks about choice, but it doesn’t define choice in such a way that each person must always have two options. When God called Abraham there was no requirement that the possibility of Abraham saying no existed, and it is not obvious from the text that God chose Abraham because God knew Abraham would obey. If anything it makes more sense to say that Abraham obeyed God because God chose him.

Any takers?

Blog of the Week (4/12 to 4/19)

Featured Blog: This week’s Blog of the Week is none other than the Thirsty Theologian. I haven’t been reading this site for evry long, but already I can see that it’s got great content, has frequent updates, and it’s moderator David Kjos has a wry sense of humor.

Blog Topics Covered: Reformed Theology, current events, quotes, trivia, quality essays on relevant topics, etc.

Frequency Updated: Multiple updates per week

Pros: Dislikes MarkDriscoll, extremely conservative, cynical, and did we mention he’s got a sense a humor?

Cons: Cynical, sometimes spells “rejoiced”, like this: “reioyced”, did I mention that he’s cynical?

Sample posts: Divinely Appointed Means, Food for Thought: Christian Tolerance

Christians and Science

There is a lot of talk today about the difference between science and religion, about the gulf between the Christian and the scientist, the chasm that separates faith from fact. There is a tone to the rhetoric that suggests that these two areas are not only incompatible, but that the Christian’s ability to view the world is inherently limited, and is therefore operating at a distinct disadvantage.

The heart of the idea that is being sold is that the scientist deals with the real world, with atoms and energy, with metals and chemicals, with universal laws and cold hard facts, while the Christian is left in the fanciful world of magic and fairies, of gods and miracles, of spiritual and invisible things that are only knowable through that slippery thing called faith. This idea supposes that the theologian who is studying the nature of grace is doing something fundamentally different than the astronomer who is studying the nature of the heavens.

The problem with this is that it is a lie.

Continue reading “Christians and Science”

Blog of the Week (3/18 to 3/24)

Featured Blog: This week’s featured blog (see how smoothly and naturally I pretend that Blog of the Week has been a long-running feature here at The Preacher) is none other than Scott Brown’s website, scottbrownonline.com. Scott is an elder at Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC and is also a board member at Vision Forum Ministries. If you don’t have Scott’s site bookmarked already, you should seriously do so now.

Blog Topics Covered: Reformed Theology, Puritan writings, the Home, book reviews, American history, church polity, etc.

Frequency Updated: Daily to weekly (Scott travels semi-frequently and sometimes a week or more will pass without an update. Such is life)

Pros: Consistent, high-quality content covering a wide variety of topics, plus, comments are disabled, giving you at least one site that is free from the pressure created by insecure bloggers who constantly beg for comments (why don’t you leave feedback?! why?!?)

Cons: Occasional periods without update. Potent, poignant Puritan posts pierce, prompting penitence. Read at your own… peril.

Feed Url: Get it here.

Faith and Works

Over at A Servant’s Thoughts, Frank Ritchie has a solid post about modern evangelism’s limp wristed approach to salvation. Do yourself a favor and go give it a read. Then come back here and let me know whether or not you’ve ever heard a sermon that was officially sanctioned by the Just-Say-A-Prayer Fairy from someone that you had always thought of as a fairly conservative Christian.

Reformed?

From a recent conversation with a Reformed friend:

When people would ask me what sort of church I went to or what sort of religion I was and I would say, “Oh, I’m Reformed”, they would smile and then frown and then look puzzled and ask, “Reformed from what?!?”

Does anyone else have any interesting stories about confusion caused by your faith, or about your own confusion regarding issues of faith?