God's Deception for man?


#1

Dr. Talbott in your response to Craig I’m not sure I fully grasp the point you make:

I’ve always been under the assumption that God does not ever lie. Can you help me to understand this statement?


#2

You raise a good point, Auggy my doggy friend. Titus 1:2 implies that God never lies, and Hebrews 6:18 speaks of two respects in which it is impossible for God to lie. The implication of both texts is that God will never violate an oath, break a promise, act contrary to his own purposes, or in that sense act falsely; his very nature is such that he cannot, for example, both promise never again to destroy the earth with a flood and turn around and do so at some later time. Beyond that, we might think of a lie as a kind of deceit, where one asserts something that one knows to be false. Accordingly, were God to have spoken to Moses through a burning bush and have untruthfully told him that he was indeed Pharaoh’s son, that would have been a lie.

But in Romans 11:7-8 Paul also stated that God himself had hardened (or blinded) the non-remnant Jews for a while, and then went on to say: “as it is written, ‘God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see, and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’” Such words do not, in my opinion, imply that God was the ultimate cause of their sin, and one might interpret these words in many different ways. So my own words, “I have no doubt that,” uttered as a kind of concession, are probably too strong. Still, if a preacher or a prophet should speak the truth to an audience; and if God, as an expression of a merciful purpose, should actively prevent some in the audience from believing it for a while, this would not, it seems to me, constitute a lie.

The important point, however, is this: According to Paul, all of God’s actions towards sinners, even when he hardens a heart, blinds someone to the truth, or judges the impenitent, are an expression his boundless mercy towards them. That is the clear and unmistakable message of Romans 11.

Thanks again for your question.

-Tom


#3

Does 2 Thess 2:11 have any relevance here ?


#4

Yep!–though like with similar examples, the context indicates that these people were already delighting in injustice, not believing the truth and not even receiving the love of the truth for their salvation.

There’s a running theme across both sets of scripture that sometimes (though not always) God will act to ensure that someone who has already chosen sin will keep on going down that path until God’s purposes are accomplished (the Pharaoh being an archetypal example, but not the only one–Israel herself being another archetypal example!) This doesn’t necessarily mean those people are hopelessly doomed, only that once they volunteer for the role they may be required to keep playing it out until something good has happened.