What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Monday, March 1, 2010

What Kind of Creatures Did God Create?

Lately I have been listening to comments from the two camps of the great soteriological debate (Arminianism and "Calvinism"). While I land in the camp of the latter, I am amazed at the lack of understanding of the issue of freedom that comes from both sides of the debate, but more so from the former. In this posting I want to share some thoughts toward this idea of what kind of creatures God created. The reason for this topic is that it will be a forerunner to the next posting on why I believe that Calvinism is not a fatalistic viewpoint. (Already I can hear the cauldron bubbling and the knives sharpening).

So what kind of creatures did God create that we should be able to debate the wonderful doctrines of grace? Really there are only four options. What I will do is list the options, and then comment on each of them. By doing this it will hopefully create a understanding of what true freedom means and then when I complete the final draft of the next posting, I will take the issue of freedom to its practical outworking.

What were the options?

Option 1. God could have created nothing.
Option 2. God could have created creatures who could not and would not sin.
Option 3. God could have created creatures who would sin but would be saved in spite of their sinfulness.
Option 4. God created creatures who could and would sin, but He would provide the way of salvation for those who call upon Him for that salvation (Acts 16:31).

Now, let's look at those options.

Looking at the
first option, we see that the option of God not creating anything was not the option that was taken. We did not just hatch from a rock or an egg. Those in the evolution camp, would see it differently, but from our standpoint, God created something. Which brings us to the next options.

Looking at the
second option, God could have created creatures who could not and would not sin, is what I call the cosmic chess piece model. It says that God created man, but the creature (man) was created in such a way where they would totally obey God's moral law. The reason they are not able to sin is because of the idea of a lack of freedom. In essence, the created individual is nothing more than a "cosmic robot."

What is the outcome of this view? It sacrifices the attribute of God's love in the process. God creating creatures who could not sin, only to be a cosmic automaton is not picture of a loving God is it?

Let's look at the
third option, God could have created creatures who would sin but would be saved in spite of that sinfulness. Let me describe this position. The person created by God has the total freedom to do whatever they want, good or bad. This position is a picture of the kind of freedom that allows you and I to do anything we want to do, with no moral restraint; and no matter what we did, God is a loving God who will allow us entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven when this life is complete.

What is the outcome of this view? This option is really a picture of anarchy. In an anarchical setting, is chaos and no moral restraint. The only moral restraint that might come around under this option would be the seeking to do what is good in our own eyes. This option is not only anarchy, but taken to its base, it could lead to psychosis. Are there any of God's attributes that are tossed aside in this option?

God is allowing us to do anything we want, which includes violating His moral law, God's justice and His holiness are cast aside. And while one can make the appeal for God being a loving God under this option, let me throw a caveat in and say that God's love is also sacrificed by His allow injustices to occur and all parties, from the offender to the offendee, are all in Heaven when life is over. Does this make sense to any of us here?

So up to this point, we have look at three options. Knowing that the first option is not a reality, we see the second option sacrificing God's attribute of love. The third option sacrifices not only God's love, but His justice and His holiness in one fell swoop. Is there an option where freedom stays in effect, and salvation can be provided all the while keeping in tact God's love, His justice and His holiness?

The answer is yes and that is with the
fourth option. God created creatures who could and would sin, but He would provide the way of salvation for those who call upon Him for that salvation (John 3:16-18; John 6:39-40,44; Ephesians 2:8,9; Acts 16:31).

Under this option we see that man is free but that freedom has a morally objective framework attached to it. This is where the problem lies for those who want to claim that "God is loving" and yet forget His holiness and His justice. That objective standard is the Word of God that has for us His prescripts for our lives. It tells us how we can know Him, and have an eternal relationship that is by His standards and not our own.

That way is by Jesus Christ and Him alone (John 1:12,13; John 14:6), not our goodness, not our right thinking, not our feeling rightly, nor our good experiences. It is through believing that Jesus Christ changes our being that we can do good works (Ephesians 2:10); understand that our feelings are not the only source of truth, and think the right thoughts (Philippians 4:8,9), and be saved. Apart from that changed life by God, eternal life is not possible. It is because of God's love (John 3:16; Romans 5:8); His holiness, and His justice (Isaiah 46:8-11; Deuteronomy 29:29).

This fourth option keeps
freedom in tact and provides for us the best of all the options to understand what God created. The big debate in this whole thing is what are the boundaries of that freedom when it comes to the doctrine of salvation. I will attempt to answer that in the next posting.

I pray as you mull over this posting that you will be provoked to thinking about your current position. If there is anything you have read that sparks a question, please know that there i
s another posting coming shortly but as long as the dialogue is civil, the question will be "entertained."

3 comments:

kablammm said...

We're free to fly when we obey an work with the laws of gravity [aerodynamics] . We're free to be healed when we obey the doctors orders an take the prescribed medicine or treatment , not any old med or treatment will work for specific illnesses or conditions . In medicine or aerodynamics , perhaps one design works better then another but in order to be ''loosed'' some work better then others , and in order for any of them to work at all [fast or slow] they need to follow ''the laws'' whether physical or otherwise , why does any old religion do in the spiritual plane when this simply is not true on the physical level ?

Rob Lundberg said...

Thank you for your question. The first thing is that when one says that any old religion will do in the spiritual when it is simply not true on the physical level, is an interesting question. Have you thought out the question before you asked it? The reason is not any old religion will do, because not all religions teach the same things. If you talk to a Muslim, you will find out that Islam is different from the eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. The me invite you to go back to your question and think what you are asking because C. S. Lewis has said that nothing is so self-defeating that is not understood when it is fully posed.

kablammm said...

Actually , I'm a believer . The point I was trying to make is that any old belief [religious or other wise] does NOT get the job done . Physical laws can't be broken , only cooperated with to achieve the desired ends . Spiritual laws [I believe] are just as fixed . Jesus pretty much point blank says He [an only He] is the way the truth an the life . The law of grace in Christ can't be ignored no more than the laws of gravity . An Rob , thanks so much for what your doing here on this site/blog , it's really helpful to me , and probably tons more people then you know ! peace john .