Rachel Held Evans has a great guest post today from Elizabeth Esther about the will of God and the will of humans. She writes this:
It wasn’t until recently when I was reading about the persecution of Romanian Christians under Communist rule that something changed for me. According to the late Patriarch Theoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church, “Man has a very powerful will—so powerful that even God Himself does not break it. And by this [God] is actually showing that man is in the likeness of God. Without man’s will he could not make any progress on the way to goodness. So out of all the gifts that God grants the human being, we believe that freedom is one of the most important.” (Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer, p.126).
The entire post is great, and I encourage you to go read the rest.
While I used to believe that God forced His will upon us, it one day occurred to me that this was similar to rape. Even if it was out of His love for us, love (by definition) cannot be forced upon someone else. It can only be freely offered and freely received.
How does God win us over? The same way a man wins over a woman – through wooing, kindness, generosity, acts of love, tender words, service, self-sacrifice, priceless gifts, and sometimes, feats of strength. Yes, God is a show off. If you don’t believe me, have you watched a stunning sun set recently? Have you looked at a snowflake? Have you studied a tree?
No, God does not rape. He woos.
no doubt, God does not rape our will. His wooing is so marvelous yet we are all ahrdened toward Him. No, God does not change our will, He changes our heart into one that desires him and receives his affection. Our will changes in response.
Jeremy Myers says
That may be the best way of explaining irresistable grace I have ever read.
Even then, however, I personally have a tough time fitting this view into Scripture. For example, Scripturally, is there any difference between the heart and the will?
I just have a different view on all of the “predestination, election, free will, foreknowledge, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” stuff. Of course, much more study is required on my part before I even think of posting much of anything…
I accept that as a very high complemnt coming from such an avid reader as yourself, thanks. As I understand it the heart and mind are used synonymously in scripture to refer to the core of a man, the very essence of his physical being. The will are those things that proceed out of that core I.e. his thoughts, desires, and actions.
I have poured many hours and tears over an open Bible struggling with reformed teachings. I understand the struggles and frustrations you have with it. Maybe one day God will change one of our minds in this area. Till then, I love the tone of our conversations.
Jeremy Myers says
Just so I’m clear, you are reformed? 5 Point? I haven’t sensed this much in your blogs, and have always wondered.
I agree with you about the heart and mind being used synonymously. Where does ‘stomach’ come in? (Splanchna)
Anyway, I really enjoy talking about these things too. Eventually, maybe we could do a point-counterpoint discussion on them?
yeah, more like a 5 1/2 pointer. I take the limited/unlimited atonement view. I don’t blog about those doctrines directly much anymore. I’m sure the time will come when my studies level out again. Right now I’m focused more on ecclesiology than soteriology.
interesting question and after reading Dave’s article I’m not sure how to answer.
sure, we could do a discussion like that. Usually those discussions end up a big mess but with you I think we could both be productive and edifying.
Jeremy Myers says
Yeah, I don’t think either one of us is prone to yelling at each other. It is the comments that might get out of hand. I’m focusing a lot on ecclesiology right now too, so maybe we should put it off for a while. Keep it on the back burner, though.
I’m not sure I have heard of the “limited/unlimited atonement” view. I usually hear people refer to the 6th point as being the sovereignty of God or maybe double predestination.