The third ask from My Questions For a Bible School Student was by far the most personal to me. While it poked a little at the common misguided idea that free will is God’s top priority, it wasn’t specifically aimed at debunking a doctrine. Instead, it is just a hard look at my personal eternal destiny.
Question From Me
It is written that God chose to directly reveal himself to Satan, demons, Moses, Judas and others who all maintained their free will to reject the deity. If God chooses the level to which He will reveal himself, but at the same time is the creator of seeking minds that genuinely require greater evidence to believe than He will provide… are such minds not unavoidably destined for hell?
Answer From Student (with my commentary)
“Scripture tells us that God has already revealed Himself through His word.”
“He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to live on the earth and to pay the penalty for our sin. John 1:14 says that the “Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us,” and then Jesus Himself says in John 14:6 that “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Hebrews 1:1-2 also attests to the fact that God has revealed Himself in the past through the prophets, but now through His Son. Even though the people in His day such as the Pharisees saw God revealing Himself in human form, they still chose to reject Him (John 1:10). In their “wisdom” they did not know Him (1 Cor. 1:21). He has revealed Himself equally to all men through creation as well (Rom. 1:20). Man who continually rejects God despite the fact that He has clearly revealed Himself is unavoidably destined for hell due to his own sin, for the wages of sin is death, and all have sinned (Rom. 3:23, 6:23).”
You agree with my premise… some whom the Bible claims were offered physical, direct evidence remained free to reject God. This would mean that God has the full spectrum of evidence available to him without interfering with his version of free will.
However, since I personally do not have adequate evidence to believe in the existence of a god, my “rejection” of him is conceptual and not personal. Unlike the privileged selected some, I do not have a chance to reject him on the basis of his merits. As I will be equally condemned as those who believe-yet-reject, have I not lost my free will on this matter?
Perhaps I would like to punish Jennifer Connelly for rejecting me, though she is unaware that I exist. (I’m right there on social media, Jennifer. Do a Google search.)
“There is not a distinction between the “intellectual” and the “common” man, for the gospel is not hard to understand; no greater evidence should be required.”
My question was not about understanding, it was about belief. The concept of the tooth fairy is not hard to understand. Santa Claus is not hard to understand. That does not make them believable figures to an informed adult.
You use the word “should”, but it is one almost entirely without meaning. Evidence is either adequate for an individual, or it is not. (I think of question 1, where the evidence of evolution by common descent is beyond adequate for 99.9% of scientists who actually work in the field day-to-day, but is inadequate for 40% of non-scientist Americans and you.) In such a world, who could determine a standard for “should”?
“Pharaoh leading up to Israel’s exodus out of Egypt would be one who you classify as a “seeking mind that genuinely requires greater evidence to believe.” It is clear that sin hardens the heart, for it is unmistakably clear that Pharaoh received great enough proof of God through the plagues, and yet still chose to be hardened by sins deceitfulness (Ex. 7-12). God created Pharaoh, and yet this leader of Egypt ended up rejecting God’s signs and drowning in the Red Sea in one of God’s great acts of salvation toward those who did put their faith in Him (Ex. 13-14).”
It is interesting that you bring up Pharaoh, as he is the same example I would use in this discussion. Exodus 9:12 states unambiguously that “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses”. According to the Bible, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, not sin. Pharaoh had no choice in the matter. Bible God picks and chooses.
“Hebrews 11:6 sums this up well, for it is only through faith that we are able to please God, and when we do He will reward those who earnestly seek Him.”
The last time I was at a church service, I looked around over the congregation from my seat in the balcony. I could not imagine that any of the worshipers in the building that day had earnestly sought God more than I. Than I do still. I knew most had not. I doubt I will see a reward.
“Ultimately, man will come up with nothing if he puts his trust in man’s wisdom in proving God, for 1st Corinthians 1 says: “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing”; “the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom,” and, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1 Cor. 1:18, 25, 27). Here is an interesting article on the matter as well!“
The article cites nature, purpose, and history as places to find God. Those are among the places I have found him to be glaringly missing… topics for further entries, perhaps.
My question was, essentially, about predestination.
Ephesians 1:11 tells me of my unlucky non-selection by God. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
Your answer focused on the idea that I’ve already received enough evidence, as if our brains have actual choice over what it chooses to believe. With what I currently have evidence for, I could no more believe in the reality of the God of the Bible than you could believe in the reality of Spider-Man. If someone threatened to immediately shoot you in the head unless you honestly and truly believed in your heart in the existence of Spider-Man, you could not do it.
I cannot control what kind of evidence will convince me that a god exists, and I cannot control what kind of evidence will be supplied to me of said existence. Since I cannot control either side of the equation, I have no choice in the matter.
Assuming my mind was created by a god, then he is in full control of both sides of the equation. The ball is in his court. If I burn in hell, it will be because a god planned it to be that way.
How would you have answered this question? How would you have responded to the answer? Where did I go wrong, or too far, or not far enough? Or miss the point? Let me know in the comments below.
Stay tuned for question #4.