Monday, January 18, 2010

Theological Wrestlings

I had a break down last week. I don't intend to open up a theological debate, so please refrain from going down that road. I just want to communicate that since I have started my journey through scripture, I have had to wrestle with a theological issue that I thought I had already issue that I would never budge on before.

John Piper explained the reformed theological position on predestination best at the 1997 Passion Conference in Austin, Texas. I encourage you to listen to this or read it so that you are not confused on what I am talking about. I would also like to add that I am not claiming my theological stance. I am simply saying that this is a topic I have previously held in a very closed hand. I knew what I thought and it wasn't ever going to change. Now, as I read scripture in its entirety, I have had to back-pedal a few steps and actually wrestle with some things.

I understand the difficulty of the idea. The idea of predestination completely contradicted the idea of free will to me. And the God I knew would never create people specifically for hell. That didn't match up at all with the characteristics of my God. My husband gently explains that the other side is that if God, foreknowing the decisions and ultimate eternity of the person, still creates them, it is essentially the same truth being played out.

In Genesis, Abraham and Sarah move to Egypt and Abraham instructs Sarah to lie and say that she is his sister, in order that he may live. Sarah is taken as a wife of Pharaoh and Pharaoh, as would be expected, sleeps with her. Because of this, a curse falls on his entire house. He finds out why and lets Abraham and Sarah leave. So my question is why wouldn't the curse fall on Abraham? He was the one that lied. Pharaoh wasn't doing anything wrong, as far as he knew, but his entire house was plagued. This doesn't seem fair at all.

In Genesis 27 Jacob fools his father into thinking he is Esau and steals his brother's blessing from their dad Isaac. Esau, of course, is mortified and begs for any blessing that may be left, but there were none. Jacob then goes through life winning one victory after another and being blessed abundantly. Esau's life looks much different. This seems so unfair to me. Why didn't the Lord come down on Jacob? Why, instead, did he get a life full of victory and blessing while Esau got the proverbial lump of coal? Why did God favor Jacob?

Romans 9 is what sent me over the edge. Paul speaks specifically about Jacob and Esau in verse 13, "Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'" Scripture called me out. This is exactly what I was thinking..."God wouldn't do that...that isn't fair." Then, in verses 21-23 reads, "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for his glory..."

Do you see my dilemma now?

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