Thanks for joining me. I’ve read some deeply disturbing articles lately about salvation, and I consider you a clear thinker. We don’t often agree, but I still find our conversations helpful. And (who knows?) maybe one day you’ll actually convince me of your views.
Hey! I enjoy our talks together. I’ve always said that you learn the most from those who disagree with you.
Let me start with the question of who is and isn’t saved. It seems that some Postmodern muddiness has crept into our thinking. And it shows! Evangelism is down. Baptisms are down. Preaching about hell is down.
Now, I’m the first to admit that we did some of that the wrong way, but Jesus talked about hell. Why can’t we?
You make a good point. But we’ve done it so badly over the years that even truthful preaching is sometimes taken as unloving. I mean, I wish it was true that God would save everyone …
Of course. What could be more obvious? I think of myself as a decent guy, and — yes! — I think it would be good if God saved everyone. I’d like to find a way to show that from the Bible, but I really …
I’m sorry, but you just aren’t making any sense at all. I mean, it sounds like you claim to be more loving that God! Do you really think that if saving everyone would be a good thing God wouldn’t do it?
Well, if you insist on putting it that way …
It is that way! God plainly does not save everyone. Therefore, it is good that not everyone is saved. Somehow. For some reason. In fact, if we were discussing God in a different context, you’d be the first to admit that — by definition — “good” means whatever God’s will is.
God’s wisdom is higher than ours. His justice is higher than ours. His love is higher than ours. God chooses to damn as he pleases, and whatever he pleases is “good” and the highest possible form of good, right, and just.
If we presume to want a higher good than God’s good, we diminish God and claim to be greater than he is. It’s very nearly blasphemy!
You’re getting a bit overwrought, you know. I wasn’t making a serious theological point. It’s just that I can’t bear the thought of people being damned.
Nor can I. The question is how do we respond to the thought of damnation. What we used to do is recruit and send missionaries, and plant churches, and talk to our neighbors about Jesus. Now we look for loopholes, hoping God won’t really do it — and (not coincidentally) relieving ourselves of any guilt from not doing a proper job of spreading the gospel.
You make an intriguing point. It makes sense at a superficial level that it’s good that there are damned people, as that appears to be God’s will, but if that’s so, why evangelize? Does God want there to be damned people?
Okay. You got me. Let me try to say this more exactly. For the same reason — free will — that God allows us to sin, God allows the damned to be damned. He doesn’t want sin to happen, but where there is no possibility of sin, there is no possibility of obedience.
We can only truly love if love is a choice, and thus not loving must be an available choice. In short, God accepts the inevitability of sin (and of damnation) in order to permit free will and so allow people to truly believe, to truly love, to truly worship, and to truly obey.
That’s a classic argument, and some Calvinists might not agree, but I do. But there is no possibility of faith if there has been no preaching of the gospel.
[to be continued]