Ok, let’s try to answer all 8.
I’m sure others can do better at answering, however, he’s my 2 cents worth:
It’s a 3m video and a publisher blurb about a book you haven’t read, I highly doubt you know what he thinks
I’m eager to read the book too, but not so keen on the fight. I’m thankful for Rob Bell clarifying but want to know details of the content first. Hopefully he’s an EU, than I can completely support him
I don’t deny God’s wrath, I just don’t think it’s implies ECT. Assuming Kevin means ECT here, I don’t think it makes sense of the Bible or the cross, and I often see it as impinging on the growth of godliness (Piper’s unloving “Farewell Rob Bell” tweet and many judgmental reactions to Rob Bell, sadly demonstrates this).
Again this confusion between wrath and ECT.
Sad if fear has to be the primary motivation, love is a much better motivation. Again not denying coming judgement, just don’t see it as ECT.
Far out, that is such a lame reason to forgive someone! The reason for leave revenge to God is because only He knows how to use wrath to bring people to repentance and reconcile them.
Jesus: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”. i.e. Jesus willingly suffered not because He thought God would reap revenge later, but out of LOVE!
Again, we are told to be holy because God is holy. i.e. we are told to imitate God, not because God is wrath. Quite the opposite, God is love, so we should try to be motivated by that love.
But we don’t need ECT to understand what mercy means.
Again we don’t need ECT to understand how wonderful heaven will be. Even just the contrast to this live is enough to know it will be wonderful!
Why did Mother Teresa care for people? Was it because she was constantly thinking about God’s ECT? NO, I’m sure it was out of LOVE.
God brings peace not fear that keeps you awake at night!
Not something I want to attempt at 9:00 pm on Sunday night (with thunderstorms expected in the area all night long.)
But I’m having to restrain myself from starting. A project for tomorrow most likely.
#1) Is he misunderstanding that Bell may indeed have some concept of wrath? I don’t know exactly where Bell is coming from, but this is the common stereotype of us that we aren’t imploring people to be reconciled to God. And exactly what does it mean to be reconciled to God? To have a fear of hell, have the right ideas in our head, or something more?
#2) I think it is helpful that we can trust God to be a good judge of things and to bring healing. I, personally, am able to love my enemies much more when I remember that I, too, am forgiven, not when I think about how God is going to get them in the end. It is helpful to think they too will be reconciled.
#3) We can be sure that God is going to vindicate us in the end by bringing total victory and dealing with things in such a way that people aren’t allowed to continue as rebellious sinners, but bow in praise and be saved. We can risk our lives for Jesus’ sake because of his example of love. The attitude of the saints, as explained by this person, doesn’t come close to the love your enemies approach Jesus had. I wonder if we aren’t missing something here?
#4) My husband, Gene, always likes to point out in that verse in Matt. 10:28 that Jesus goes on, right after, to explain that they should not be afraid. “29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.** 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
#5) Or he could believe, like Talbott, that God’s divine wrath is a key component of God’s mercy, both concerned for a person’s welfare.
#6) We probably should know what we are saved from, our sin, and how ugly that is. If we don’t realize how ugly our sin is, maybe we aren’t really saved?
#7) I usually find love is a better motivator for caring for people, but maybe wrath works too? Consequences, parental disappointment does work with children, after all. Most Christians don’t take seriously this warning that what we do matters, because they are covered by penal substitution and everybody knows belief in the right atonement is what really matters. I wish people would take more seriously how God cares for the least.
#8) God’s punishment, I imagine, will be horrible if there really is “gnashing of teeth.” It would not have to be endless punishment for us to be concerned for people’s outcome. Just light yourself on fire for a few minutes and you’ll probably want to avoid it A LOT!
It is interesting to contemplate how much God’s love vs. his wrath motivates us. I imagine wrath, or consequences, play a role, as God is like a parent. Isn’t this person’s main misconception that Bell does not believe in any wrath. I’ll bet he does, but I’ll have to wait, like everyone else, to read the book.**
Hmmm, okay, I think there’s a logical fallacy in here somewhere. He starts by saying that our motivation for caring for the poor is fear. It would follow that if we don’t share our material possessions with those in need, we have no fear of God’s wrath. But he also says “if we don’t share our material possessions with those in need we have no love.”
So if we do share our possessions with the poor, we have both fear and love. So either fear = love, or fear and love should coexist.
But, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19)
I also swear I’ve heard that first sentence used as a major criticism against Christians. (That we need to be afraid of a wrathful angry God to do good, but athiests/agnostics/etc. can do good without that.) And also it makes me a little bit sick to my stomach.
Ok, so you made me laugh here Beccca. Everyone can understand this, I think.
Very weak arguments in general. And in particular, the point isn’t whether we need to believe there are consequences for choices or whether there’s a hell at all where God holds the wicked to account for their evil. UR proponents can and do maintain this much. The question is whether such consequences MUST include ECT for the wicked. And on THAT point Kevin says absolutely nothing. He just assumes that there is no divine justice or wrath AT ALL if nobody suffers irrevocably. Can he please defend that?
KD: We need the doctrine of eternal punishment. Time and time again in the New Testament we find that understanding divine justice is essential to our sanctification. Believing in God’s judgment actually helps us look more like Jesus. In short, we need the doctrine of the wrath of God.
Tom: But he just assumes that ECT is the ONLY way to maintain a healthy view and relationship to divine justice, wrath, and sanctification. But we can be presently affected and sanctified by consideration of justice/wrath, etc., without ECT.
KD: First, we need God’s wrath to keep us honest about evangelism…Without the doctrine of hell, we are prone to get involved in all sorts of important God-honoring things, but neglect the one thing that matters for all eternity, urging sinners to be reconciled to God.
Tom: We need real consequences to choices. Wrath—yes, if you mean post-mortem consequences for rejecting Christ. Why MUST this be ECT and not some other form of temporary judgement?
KD: Second, we need God’s wrath in order to forgive our enemies. The reason we can forgo repaying evil for evil is because we trust the Lord’s promise to repay the wicked.
Tom: Yes, but this doesn’t entail ECT. A universalist who believes hell is redemptive can agree with KD here.
KD: Third, we need God’s wrath in order to risk our lives for Jesus’ sake. The radical devotion necessary to suffer for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus comes, in part, from the assurance we have that God will vindicate us in the end.
Tom: I’ve had a paper/essay sitting on the back burner about ‘motivation’. I should finish it up. But basically, a universalist can agree with KD here. You do NOT need ECT to be devoted and willing to suffer. If I know that in the end all accounts will be settled, all will confront the truth about their choices, and all will eventually suffer their way through that truth to embrace grace…THAT is perfectly sufficient to motivate our endurance.
But the larger point about motivation has to do with the supreme beauty and worth of Christ. Do we REALLY believe KNOWING Jesus is sufficient beauty and blessing enough to suffer for? Or do we also need somebody boiling forever and ever before we’ll suffer for the gospel? What are we really saying about our estimate of the beauty and worth of God if we require an irrevocable torment before we’ll suffer for God?
KD: Fourth, we need God’s wrath in order to live holy lives. Paul warns us that God cannot be mocked. We will reap what we sow.
Tom: Universalists don’t have to throw out the law of sowing and reaping. There ARE consequences for rejecting Christ. They just don’t HAVE to be irrevocably eternal.
KD: Fifth, we need God’s wrath in order to understand what mercy means.
Tom: There’s an important truth here, yes. But again, it’s being undeservedly saved from suffering the consequences of wrong choices that provides an adequate perspective from which to appreciate mercy means. It’s just not the case that the suffering necessary for this perspective needs to be irrevocably eternal suffering of some.
KD: Sixth, we need God’s wrath in order to grasp how wonderful heaven will be.
Tom: He means “we need ECT to grasp how wonderful heaven will be.” Yes, Edwards embraced this view (and others before him). I categorically reject it. Even Bill Craig admits that the bliss of the redeemed could NOT be perfect if the agonies of their loved ones persisted in conscious minds of the redeemed. Craig’s answer? God gives a lobotomy to the redeemed and wipes all awareness of hell from our memories and perceptions. What an awful thought.
KD: Seventh, we need the wrath of God in order to be motivated to care for our impoverished brothers and sisters.
Tom: Nothing new here. He keeps repeating the same fundamental point.
KD: Eighth, we need God’s wrath in order to be ready for the Lord’s return.
Tom: Again, nothing new. Points 8, 7, 4 and 3 (and even 1 and 2) are essentially ONE point—that without eternal conscious torment we cannot endure to become what God desires.
It amazes me how people condemn a book without having read it, much less seriously considered its content. So he is “saddened by the content” without having ever read it. Sounds like his sadness comes from assumption and not facts.
Maybe he “needs God’s wrath”, but I believe that it’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. I also believe that Jesus took upon himself the penalty for all of our sins. And I also believe that the wrath of God flows from His love for us, the wrath of a loving father, not a vengence-filled despot.
Notice that the passage he quotes does NOT speak of Hell/ECT. We do need to reason with others concerning righteousness and judgment - especially with other Christians! And consistantly in scripture Judgment is based on Works, how we actually live. By misinterpreting judgment to be the separation of believers and un-believers with non-believers going to Hell, the power of judgment is nullified for the believer; and the un-believer is empowered to dismiss belief in the Chrisitian’s understanding of God because it just doesn’t make sense that a “loving” God would suffer anything to be tortured forever. Shoot, we humans even are repulsed at torturing animals; we’ll even put down a rabid dog which we have no cure for. Also, the traditional doctrine of ECT affirms that God’s anger lasts forever, but His mercy is only a vapor.
So the reason we can forgo revenge is because we have a big God who will take out revenge for us! How un-Christian is that! The reason we need to leave vengence in the hands of God is because 1) God calls us to be like Him and forgive even our enemies, and 2) God calls us to not judge others, and 3) God knows that we don’t have enough information to make such judgments, and 4) God calls us to love one another and love covers a multitude of sins. We forgive others because we have been forgiven! Man, this guys understanding of forgiveness being based in revenge being assured by God is so messed up I’m almost speachless!
Also, when one goes back to when Moses wrote this, the purpose of not taking revenge is primarily because we have a tendency to inflict more vengence than is necessary or just. An eye for an eye was a call to justice, a call to stop the escalation of violence as in “a life for an eye”. It was also a call to mercy. Trust in God to make things right and don’t feel like you have to set things right.
Wow, this guy needs an understanding of love. Love is a much more powerful and lasting motivation than vengence. It is love that motivates us to give our lives in service of others. It is love that motivated Paul to say that he would be willing to be accursed, cut off from Christ, if it would result in his brothers being delivered from bondage and brought into the reality of Christ. Also notice that the scripture he referenced, Rev.6.10 does not say that these martyrs are crying out for their killers to be tortured forever; rather, they are crying out for things to be made right! This is eisegisis at its worse!
So this guy ultimately believes that salvation is based on works, on our righteousness. So this guy lives a holy life not because he loves God but because he fears going to Hell. And He uses such fear to control other’s lives also. And of course, I’d encourage Him to notice that it is “destruction” that is warned of, not ECT. If we give our lives over to sin, we will end up in the trash, our lives waisted and destroyed. This guy seems to also need to have faith in the Atonement of Christ and the love of God for us. But oh well.
God saving 100% in no way lessens the reality of 100% being lost. How does 100% of humanity singing “Amazing Grace” in any way lessen “Amazing Grace”? In fact, if on 5% sing “Amazing Grace” and the other 95% continue in rebellion singing “Oh the Hell with God”, how does that in any way magnify God!
Again, how does saving 100% in any way lessen the reality of what they are saved from? A lifeguard that saves 100% of the people who almost drowned on his watch, in no way lessens the reality of the watery grave from which he rescued them. In like manner, Jesus saving 100% of humanity who are born into this present evil age in no way lessens the reality of the terribleness of this present evil age. Jesus translating 100% from the kingdom of darkness in which we are born through no choice of our own, translating 100% into the kingdom of light in no way lessens the reality or terribleness of the kingdom of darkness.
This guy continues to affirm that salvation is dependant upon one’s righteousness, not upon the sacrifice of Christ. If one is good enough, caring for enough people then one can make it into heaven. If not though, one is assured of Hell. Man this guy needs a revelation of Love. It is love that motivates us to do good for others. It is love that empowers us to live righteous lives, not fear of Hell. This guy needs some serious help.
Ok, let’s try to answer all 8.
So one’s salvation is never really secure in Jesus. At any moment, if our lamps aren’t full and the Lord happens to come at that moment, then it’s to Hell for us. A person can follow the Lord all their life, but slip up and then die and boom they are burning forever. Wow, I would hate to be this guys son or daughter. If you slip up then you’d surely suffer wrath.
I think plenty of holes have already been found in Kevin’s commentary (borrowed from his book on why “we”, himself and the other author, are not “emergent”).
But what the hell, my turn.
As others have noted, Kevin’s main complaint seems to be that Rob is denying that God has any wrath. I don’t know enough about Rob’s theology to defend him on this, except that I’ve read where he affirms (specifically in regard to RevJohn) that we can have as much hell as we want. I’m pretty sure he affirms some other things that Kevin might find problematic (such as that we cannot have as little of God as we want!), and I don’t know that I would have put the matter quite like that. But Rob does apparently believe in the wrath of God including post-mortem.
Anyway I do!–and I am vastly much more familiar with what I believe to be true than I am familiar with what Rob believes to be true. So since Kevin is proceeding by means of (what he thinks is) a principle critique of universalism-generally, I’ll answer as the universalist I am.
No disagreement here; although I’m sure we disagree at least a little about what God’s wrath involves and means (and aims at).
The problem here, of course, is that there are plenty of times in the New Testament (and the OT, too) where justice has nothing at all to do with punishment, eternal or otherwise; and plenty of times when it indisputably has nothing to do with hopelessly eternal punishment.
More to the point, justice fundamentally and foundationally has nothing to do with punishment, in the relationship of the Persons of the Trinity. Maybe Kevin isn’t a trinitarian theist, in which case this won’t be so much of a problem for him. But if he is, then he will sooner or later have to agree that justice only accidentally (in the philosophical sense of ‘accident’) has to do with punishment; whereas essentially and so always justice has to do with the fulfillment of love between persons.
This makes an unspeakably huge difference in what kind of soteriology must be true.
No disagreement, except that I don’t believe we need a doctrine of hopeless wrath of God, and so of God’s hopelessness, in order to look more like Jesus. Wrath and judgment yes. Hopelessness, no.
I’ll quote his paragraph points in full for ease of reference.
I don’t disagree with anything in this paragraph; it works just as well if the hell of God’s wrath is hopeful rather than hopeless. Maybe better!–since a hopeless hell eventually involves not urging sinners to be reconciled to God.
This paragraph, however, is almost completely bizarre. The reason we can forgo repaying evil for evil is because we trust the Lord’s promise to repay evil for evil?? Surely that wasn’t Paul’s logic!–but notably Kevin doesn’t quite spell out the implications here. It certainly wasn’t the logic of Jesus on the cross. It practically denies the grace of God in salvation at all: can’t we trust the Lord to repay us sinners with evil? I mean with hopeless punishment? Oh, so we can trust God to either do that or to repay the goodness of His Son (also God Himself) with wickedness on the cross?–I mean with hopelessness on the cross? There was no hopelessness on the cross?! Then we can’t really trust God to repay evil for evil! Does this mean we now have grounds to repay evil for evil if we think God isn’t going to do it for us??!
The (so-called) logic on display here is even more twisted than that, however: we supposedly need the promise of God’s wrath against either our enemies or against Jesus (and wow did the Trinity totally schism there!), so that we can forgive our enemies?? And where has it ever been said that we need God’s wrath, rather than God’s love, in order to forgive our enemies!?
Certainly not at Rom 12:19!–which quotes from the Song of Moses at Deuteronomy 32. But the whole point to the Song of Moses was that God’s wrath was not hopeless vengeance on evildoers (both Jew and Gentile) but rather that some people (both Jew and Gentile) would have to be wrathed to the final extreme (until they are “neither slave nor free”, as the Song poetically puts it) before they learned thereby to stop rebelling and return in loyalty to God. Which the Song prophecies will certainly happen.
The scriptural key Kevin appeals to, rather than proving that his logic is valid and accurate as to details, turns out to undermine his attempt even more than a principle examination (if any more such undermining was needed). The reason we forgo repaying evil for evil, is because IT’S EVIL TO REPAY EVIL FOR EVIL!–and because God is good, including to sinners, even in His vengeance against sinners.
It would be wiser to take that as a warning of wrath against ourselves if we insist on not expecting and seeking forgiveness of our enemies, choosing instead to hold onto grudges forever. That is not God’s way; nor, therefore, should it be ours.
Curiously, Kevin doesn’t go the route that would have made the most immediately obvious sense in regard to his bolded opening statement: we need God’s wrath in order to risk our lives for Jesus’ sake and thus for the sake of the people in danger of the wrath of Jesus. (Unless the Father is supposed to be schismed in intention from the Son again.) Well, okay, that doesn’t actually make much sense; maybe that’s why Kevin decided to go with something else. But that would have been at least historically accurate to the motivation of much Christian evangelism, namely love for sinners (our love at least, if not God’s!–but usually considered God’s love, too).
Still, Kevin does say he’s only talking about “part” of the source of radical evangelical devotion here. And I can grant that the reassurance that God will punish and/or save those who persecute His servants, may help embolden people to suffer for the word of God. Like radical Muslims do!–oh…
That unfortunate example of the same principle in operation elsewhere, does introduce an important question, though: if people would not be quite so radically devoted to spreading the word of God and the testimony of God’s highest prophets, if they were assured God would save their enemies rather than (maybe?) hopelessly punish them–then what exactly would that say about such people?
Because to me it sounds like such people would be lazy to work with God, if God’s evangel would (or might) be totally victorious. And that sounds to me like something is wrong with such people, regardless of whether they are preaching an eternal gospel or something less than an eternal gospel.
Other than pointing out, as a previous commenter did, that Jesus immediately follows this up with the reassurance that we should not fear God (seeing as we are more valuable than the beautiful flowers which are here today and tomorrow are thrown into the fire), I have no disagreement with this paragraph, even as someone who doesn’t think Jesus was preaching hopeless eternal punishment.
At best, though, this is because as sinners we are rather willfully stupid! Including in focusing primarily on being saved from the consequences of our sins and/or being saved from God’s wrath, instead of focusing on being saved from our sins.
(While I wouldn’t argue theology from a hymn, as long as Kevin brings up Amazing Grace as an example of principle: not even one verse in Newton’s hymn is about being saved from a forthcoming hell or God’s wrath. They are all about being saved from sin, although there is admittedly one verse near the end that touches very indirectly on imagery associated with the coming of God in judgment. On the other hand it’s also true that Newton was a great friend of Cowper, and preached the sermon introducing this hymn probably for Cowper’s benefit. Cowper soon afterward returned to insanity–quite famously over the issue of whether he was truly of the elect or predestined for the hopeless torments of hell. Newton no doubt believed in such hopelessness, including Calvinistic pre-diselection, but salvation from that isn’t the focus of this hymn.)
Now, either this is a confession of weakness about how sinful humans have problems understanding things as sinners without X, or else it is some sort of principle that is supposed to apply regardless of whether someone is a sinner or not.
In the former case, the problem might be the sinfulness of the sinner!–namely that we need something sinful to believe, in order to believe in the good as well. That would be excluded if the latter is principly true; but the latter ultimately involves a cosmological God/Anti-God dualism, not supernaturalistic theism: love cannot exist without anti-love, the love of heaven cannot exist without the unloving wrath of hell.
It’s certainly worth noting that the description of the New Jerusalem, whether in Rev 21 or later, contains a lot more than a warning that the place of sinners is in the lake of fire and sulphur outside the NJ. The description also contains very powerful images of continuing hopeful evangelism for those outside the city; an evangelism primarily of Christ (as the light and the river of life) and the Holy Spirit, but which the Bride is expected to join in. If the Son and the Spirit and the redeemed and sanctified Church-to-come don’t need a hopeless finality to the punishment of the impenitent wicked, in order to grasp how wonderful heaven will be (much moreso to preach such wonder to those outside the city, exhorting them to repent and come inside), then why do we sinners today need such a thing?
Maybe the problem is with Edwards, for example, and not with the Bride and the Spirit and the Light and the Water at the end of RevJohn.
Again, that we unloving sinners might think we need such a warning, would say more about us as sinners not yet made perfect in love, than about whether God’s wrath is really hopeless or not. If God affirms wrath, and affirms that wrath will keep on continuing on the unrepentant, then how are unloving sinners as unloving sinners likely to affirm that same information? As a loving wrath victoriously seeking repentance and salvation from sin? As a loving wrath permanently defeated by sin? As a wrath that sets aside love or never loved in the first place? Which one makes more sense for unloving sinners as such to affirm regarding enemies and/or regarding sin?
All of which are, of course, aimed at lazy and/or uncharitable servants of God, not at those-people-over-there but at ourselves.
And while trembling at the warning of punishment may help keep us awake, what good will that be if at the judgment of the living and the dead we are told that, unlike God, we are unmerciful–such as in our ideas of unmerciful punishment?
This is a question that ought to be considered!–because, in the final judgment parable, those baby-goats, the least of the flock belonging to Christ, who were not interested in visiting the imprisoned (who in the reference list from Isaiah were imprisoned by God for their sinful rebellions against Him), become themselves imprisoned as the least of the flock belonging to Christ in sinful rebellion against Him.
So what are the sheep, the mature flock, supposed to believe and to do in regard to those baby goats, and their imprisonment in the day of the Lord to come? Continue being mature? Or become baby goats themselves instead?
(And should we be baby goats now, or mature members of the flock so far as possible?–even if being mature members of the flock means being counted with people who will be surprised to find out they were serving Christ after all!)
Except in the sense of finally wiping out that kingdom. Oh noes!–the kingdom of darkness may be wiped out!! God forbid!!!
I don’t think such proponents consciously realize that they’re hoping for the kingdom of darkness and sin to continue (and obviously annihilationists don’t have such a problem). But what else would a sinner unconsciously hope for?–either that the kingdom of sin would continue in triumph (even if the triumph is literally Pyrrhic), or that they can be saved from the consequences of their sins. Not be saved from their sins.
Oh my, there is so much to read and savor here!
The lengths we have to sink to in describing what God is not! Doesn’t it go without saying that God is not a vengeance-filled despot? It’s a shame this even needs to be pointed out.
The more I study scripture, the more ignorant, foolish, and even blaspheming that ECT seems. It fills people with fear instead of faith. I confuses the concept of salvation by grace. It nullifies the power of the passages on judgment. It nullifies the power of the word of God! I have to really use a lot of self-control to not go off on these… Well, anyhow, you get my meaning.
Ken Brown at C. Orthodoxy, with whom I’ve had a good discussion or two on universalism in the past (and who is at least as sympathetic to it as my friend Victor Reppert), chimes in with some good commentary on Kevin’s eight points here.
It’s much briefer than my entry , and makes a few good points I haven’t seen mentioned in this thread yet, so I recommend taking a look!
Thanks Jason. I like what Ken has to say too.
I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s commentary–great points!
The first thing that comes to my mind here is Jesus telling us that if we do not forgive our enemies, God will not forgive us. (I think Jason said this too.) You could argue that we need the wrath of God towards ourselves to get us to forgive our enemies! But hopefully love of Christ and following His example will suffice to teach us to forgive.
This point caught my attention particularly because I heard another Calvinist pastor say almost the same thing in the context of a sermon on “Love”. He said, “We can love our enemies because we know they will repent and be our brothers, or God will punish them forever in Hell.” Did Calvin use this logic somewhere, I wonder?
How can you say that “Love your enemy” and “Forgive your enemy” are the same as taking comfort in the knowledge that God will punish and torment them forever without reprieve?
Of course, it kinda works from a universalist perspective: If you believe punishment is remedial and carried out in love for the good of the evildoer, you can more easily love and forgive, knowing that our enemies are our brothers. The day will come when they are sorry for having done wrong and want reconciliation. Yes, “God will be our just judge” – faithful even when we are faithless, forgiving our sins when we confess them, driving our sin out of us with His holy fire!
So is he now teaching salvation by works? Fear of ET motivates us to do good deeds and care for others? Believing in Jesus is not enough, unless we do a sufficient amount of good work as well? And exactly how much is enough to ensure salvation?
As with the previous point, I can’t see how this fits into Calvinist theology. What happened to perseverance of the saints? The elect may lose their salvation if they don’t stay on the ball, good works all in order, ready to show the Master? Oh, I guess if they don’t stay awake and ready, it will just go to show that they were never elect in the first place.
Oddly enough, I heard this principle taught fairly recently as well (but not by a Calvinist.) It was in the context of the parable of the unfaithful steward who begins behaving badly when his master is delayed. The pastor taught that the steward is unfaithful because he doesn’t realize that his master may return at any moment. So we need to be aware that He’s coming back any minute, so we’ll be afraid to be caught doing anything wrong.
I was thinking that I suspect that the unfaithful steward had another deeper problem–that being that he didn’t love his Master and care for His ways. If we love our Lord, and he’s delayed in returning, I think our attitude ought to be, “Lord, I long for your return, but if your business delays you elsewhere, you may trust me to do everything just as you would have it if you were here. You can trust me to manage your concerns according you your desire, as best as I’m able.”
If we need fear to keep us in line, I don’t think we’re quite “saved” yet!
Thank you Sonia. I think you got to the heart of the unjust steward parable there. And a lack of love seems to be the main problem with the posts we are addressing. Which reminds me, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1John 4.19-21). Which applies to us too!
There’s something to be said for this line of thought in one of the other unjust steward parables, too, namely the most famous one that Kevin was referencing!–the parable of the minas/talents.
The mindset of the punished (lazy!) servant is exemplified by how he tries to flatter his master after the fact, and/or to excuse his laziness, by comparing him to a leader of rebel brigands. Kenneth Bailey tells us (in a couple of his works on Near Middle Eastern context to the Gospels) that back then, and even still now today, there are ways in that culture of flattering someone by trying to do that.
The Lord turns that back around, though: so, one of My servants thinks I am no better than the leader of a gang of robbers?! Let it be as you say!–I’ll treat you as the kind of person you would have Me be for your own convenience! (The point of course being that the lazy servant might learn better.)
Sherman, you’ve stated my own thoughts perfectly. I know that it’s merely a difference in belief, but how anyone can be content to believe these things about our God is more than I can imagine. I suppose that I was at one point in time, but I don’t even understand that… what the hell was I thinking!?