Living up to the Light that we have?


I wish to raise a difficulty for Libertarian Free Will. In my thread Argument from Humilty I raised an objection to equal opprotunity concerning salvation. Jason Pratt then raised up the issue of the responsibility for that which is known or as I call it “living up to the light that you have”:

Equal opprotunity as I see it works against the dispersion of the gospl via the church. If indeed the church is to envangelize the world but God deals with eveyrone according to what they know then NOT TELLING THE WORLD should not increase or decrease it’s chances to be saved.

If peraon A on the Island of Hawaii, during the time of Christ, died without hearing the gospel then Christians usually point to Romans 1. The traditional answer that I’ve been given through the years has been that God will judge them according to what they know (the law either being written on their hearts or being unruly, unlawful men).

But this proposes to me the following premise:

  1. The church cannot fail on it’s mission to evangalize the world since God has already done it through the creation which will not afford any man an excuse.

  2. No individual Christian has true consequences of hiding the light they’re supposed to shine because even if they should fail to shine the light of the gospel, Person A will be judged according to what they know.

Any thoughts?


Is it a matter of salvation or rewards? There are lots of ways to advance His kingdom and no one will lose their reward.

Opponents ask, why do anything if salvation is universal? My answer is because we are told to get the good news out - that’s why we’re here.

If a person is ashamed of the Gospel and that causes them to clam up - who can help them?


As an aside, I also believe Paul is saying in Romans (though not in chp 1) that God Himself works directly in all people, not only by mediation through what they might distantly infer about God from natural theology (whether philosophical or popular/pagan), but also spiritually to inspire the conscience as a testimony for what is right (against which we may rebel and so sin against however much of the light we have been helped to see, according to our capabilities–I understand this to be the point to most of the first half of Rom 2, and that this is a reference to the testimony of the Holy Spirit). Similarly, I understand most of Rom 10 to be talking about Christ Himself, the Logos of God (Whom we are also to be proclaiming, notice), being the first and foremost witness to all people in their hearts, with the aimed goal of Christ being to bring us all (whether Jew or Gentile) to the trust in God exemplified by our confession of Christ as Lord and as risen from the grave.

But even though I find God’s witness to all people more extensive in Romans than just what people may (popularly or philosophcally) infer about God and His characteristics from their natural environment, that doesn’t mean I think we should shirk from evangelization. In that thread you quoted me from (indeed in that comment, though after the quoted portion) I talked about a two-element action of God’s. One of those was to fairly judge us according to the light we have been given, not neglecting either the good or the bad we have done in relation to that light. The other element of God’s action toward us (as sinners) was to “act constantly toward cleaning us from sin in our lives”.

When we bring the gospel, cooperating with God (and if we are not cooperating with God, then we are the ones who are sinning!), we are helping to make these judgments more clearly manifest so that the evangelized will be better able to cooperate with God, too (or possibly not–for with greater capability comes greater culpability for rebellion). And when we bring the gospel, we are helping with the cleaning of the evangelized in many various ways: “Just as it is by grace that God will not be satisfied with the man being mangled in his soul but will act toward healing and cleaning the man,” (as I put it in that other thread), so are we expected to do the same as ambassadors and servants of the Most High.

Yet, not forgetting that we are only servants and ambassadors, working subordinately at the yoke with Christ the Unequaled Ox. :slight_smile: It is just as much by His grace that we are invited, and expected, to cooperate with Him in this as in all things. It is not that God inherently needs us, but rather that we are made distinct persons for the purpose of interpersonal relationship, and thus cooperation, with God: that love may, in one sense, ever be increasing along with the never-ending increase of God’s kingdom.

One consequence, then, of hiding the light we’re supposed to show, is that other people will be deprived of at least an opportunity to live as more loyal and productive subjects within the kingdom now. Another consequence, which should be of no small consequence to us :wink:, is that we will be rebelling proportionately against God by doing so. And so, if we insist on that, then it is we who will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there is the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth. (Though hopefully more of the former, which indicates penitent sorrow, than of the latter, which indicates impenitent anger.)

The two versions of the parable of the resources make this explicitly clear in different ways. The three men are expected to do business flying the flag of the Inheritor, representing Him publicly until He returns, i.e. doing the business of the Inheritor (in the Mina parable of GosLuke). And the one who hides his resource and refuses to do so, doesn’t only have his resource taken away (in the Talanton parable of GosMatt). He is given the punishment of those who refuse to have the Inheritor reign over them.