Monday, June 09, 2008

The Curious Nature of the Human Ego

or Observations of Fallen Man's Obsession With an Incorrect View of Free Will Fashioned from the Fallacy That Our Choices are Not Affected by the Fall.

Sorry, feeling a bit like a Puritan writer with the title.

Having a Lutheran upbringing with a little Presbyterian thrown in, there are some times when even though my upbringing was not strong in the faith, I find myself in a bit of "culture shock" at the little Baptist church that God has called us to (especially since I find myself agreeing with around 99% of the "reformed" views).

This is a "basic" Baptist congregation, ie.: Not Southern Baptist nor Reformed Baptist. That being the case, there are quite a few people in the church who have a much different view on "free will" and salvation.

With the studying I have been doing, I have to agree wholly with the reformers that we are chosen by God, for His own reasons. The "elect" have no consultation, no choice in conversion. It is all God, changing our stone hearts into hearts of flesh. Being dead in sin before this regeneration, our "free will" knew and wanted nothing of God (for those who have issues with this summary, please study the book of Romans before writing any screeds in the comments).

Now many at our church believe that the "elect" are given a choice, that they have a say-so in their conversion. Where the "culture shock" comes in is the fact that in one breath they say they have a choice in their conversion, and in the next breath, they firmly declare that no one has the power to convert others through teaching or preaching the Word of God, only God can convert someone.

The first time I encountered this, it took every ounce of willpower God would give me to keep my jaw from hitting the floor. Giving God full credit for someone else's conversion but holding onto some amount of control over their own conversion just makes my head hurt.

I take great comfort in God's promises and in the example of Bethlehem Baptist Church (pastored by John Piper) that after ten years of steady work by God, doctrine that was even more jacked up than what is found in our church was corrected.

The Truth cannot be completely snuffed out, for there is no stopping God's plans. We just need to learn to trust, and wait on God.


the Humble Devildog said...

This is an interesting topic for me, because both sides of the argument don't like what I have to say about it, because I use, well...the Bible to justify my argument.

There is an interesting fine line Christians are to follow if they're to be a Christian. As Paul tells us, we are not responsible for any 'good' we do in life, because that's the Holy Spirit working in us, or through us. BUT, on the other side, there isn't a single passage of the Bible that condones, justifies, advocates, or even has not-bad things to say about just letting God handle things, and just 'let the Spirit work through you'. The whole "let go, and let God' theology is pure hooey.

With the exception of Jesus (who had the whole "I'm the Son of Man, and God Incarnate" thing going for him), every time a miracle was performed for the Hebrews, they had to actually DO something for the miracle to occur. What's even more interesting, in only a handful of times (Jonas is the only example I can think of) was a Hebrew told to go to a specific PLACE to do God's work. Every other time, the Hebrews went someplace, showed up, prayed to God, and then...DID SOMETHING!

David didn't just stand at Goliath's feet and pray him to death. David took umbrage at Goliath's posturing, and the Hebrews' cowardice, and trounced off to lay a whoop-ass of Biblical proportions (couldn't resist) upon Goliath, trusting the whole time that God would do whatever David couldn't do.

Peter got to walk on water, thanks to Jesus, but, Peter had to GET OUT OF THE BOAT in order to do so. Peter didn't just wait for Jesus to miracle his ass out of the boat. He got out on his own.

Joshua had the Hebrews march around the walls of Jericho for three friggin' days before God brought them down.

Many examples in the Bible, just like those. At no time in the Bible did Children of God EVER sit back and wait for God to miracle their butts out of whatever jam they were in. Each time, they did the right thing by God, and trusted that God would do the right thing, even if it didn't seem like the right thing to the Children of God! THAT'S the level of trust a Christian is supposed to have. I do the right thing, at the right time, and sometimes, even in the right place, and God will take care of the rest. I may not like how Gog decides to deal with ME, but, what God decides to do is, by definition, what's best for me, and everyone else.

Trust me, it's harder to do than to explain.

Eric, the Mad Monk said...

I think you might have misunderstood the point I was referring to.

I was not referring to the overall life, but the point of conversion/selection/election what ever word you want to use.

I was referring to the point when the sinful heart of stone is replaced by God so a fallen person can actually love God.

Paul is quite clear regarding this in Romans.

Actions after God has changed the heart are up to the person, but before God's work, mankind cannot turn towards God. They are dead in their trespasses.

the Humble Devildog said...

Oh, I did actually understand it. In fact, I've even said those words to you in past years. I was, tangentially, referring to how ingrained the egocentric view of Christianity is, today. People claim credit for things they had nothing to do with, and yet, tell others to not take credit for things they had nothing to do with.

The "let go, and let God" crap is merely an extension of exactly the dichotomy that you were referencing. Many, if not most, Christians who subscribe to "let go, let God" actually want to show off how devout they are by telling all and sundry about how much they consult God for everyday matters. The problem of Christian ego is not just confined to entreaties for Salvation. It has infested the American church for almost a century, now.

The Christians who claim that they (and they alone) became Christians on their own, while everyone else needs the Holy Spirit, are, almost always the same Christians who brag about consulting God about what college they should attend, what deodorant they should wear, what they should name their children, whether to part their hair on the left or the right...while never once being able to actually provide one Biblical example of someone else who acted the same way. Paul's condemnation of claiming credit for the Spirit's work was NOT just limited to issues of Salvation.

Believe it or not, the problem is best summed up by a secular quote (I can't remember who said it, but, I think it was Henry Ford): "I found that the harder I worked, the luckier I got." Christians should only do the right thing, at the right time, and God will take care of the rest. Ponder it, and you'll see that it does actually apply to the situation you presented, as well.