Monday, October 09, 2006

The Rock that was Too Big to Lift, Part 1

Western culture is absolutely enamoured with its own ability to reason. Reason, we believe, is the tool with which the greatest mysteries may be solved. Coupled with science, reason has allowed man to probe the secrets of the genetic code, travel in space, cure disease, fly, develope internal combustion engines, make nuclear bombs, and, the penultimate example of human reason, "We think, therefore we blog."

Reason is a powerful tool, but I believe that it has its limits. That is no excuse to quit the field when faced with difficulty, but it is good to realize that our thoughts and the scientific method has limitations. The Scripture teaches that "as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). And again, "The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:25). This is not a "time-bound" observation, meaning that even though man has made great strides in learning, he has not yet touched the surface of God's knowledge, and he never will in this life.

There is an old quandry that pretends to be logical when it isn't. See if you've heard this one before. It begins with this statement being regarded as true:

1. God is omnipotent (all-powerful).

If God is all-powerful and can do anything, is it possible for God to make a rock too big for Him to lift?

If you answer that God cannot make a rock that big, then you seem to deny His omnipotence. But if you affirm that God can make a rock too big for Him to lift, then you are again denying His omnipotence. You have yourself an absurd situation and are seemingly caught between the proverbial "rock and a hard place." This question, while absurd, should eventually provoke a better question than the above. Specifically, "What does it mean for God to be all-powerful?" Much better question! The answer is . . . I ultimately have no idea what that entails. I await that revelation with much anticipation. I affirm God's omnipotence as far as I can imagine without being absurd, but the extent of God's power is not known to me. It is a grand mystery which I look forward to seeing in eternity.

The book of Hebrews brings up some seeming absurdities that Christians have wrestled with througout antiquity. Here is the first, though not the greatest. It begins with this Biblical (I believe) statement:

1. If a person is truly born-again, then they will certainly persevere to the end.

The quandry comes because the book of Hebrews seems to warn at least five times that a believer may abandon the faith and ultimately suffer damnation. The passages are: 2:1-4; 3:12-19; 6:4-12; 10:26-31; 12:25-29. Read without a "Baptistic" or "Presbyterian" bias, and these passages seem to teach that a believer can ultimately go apostate and lose their salvation.

I will argue that, no matter your current "state", if you abandon the faith, you will be damned. Period. I will argue that these warnings are genuinely directed at believers, the regenerate, and the elect. I will then argue that no elect, regenerate believer will ever be lost. Sound strange? I believe it is both logical and important to grasp this. Should be fun to work through anyway.

The second difficulty I want to touch on concerns Jesus in His humanity. Specifically, we will examine these passages:

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (4:15).

"Although He was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him" (5:9).

Jesus tempted? I thought that James said that God cannot be tempted? (cf. James 1:13). Jesus is God, right? And if Jesus is God, then He cannot be what's up with James or Hebrews? And what of Jesus learning? And suffering? And being made can you perfect perfection?

Hard questions every one, and every one of them good questions. I do not believe that it is coincidence that Jesus' struggles is so clearly portrayed within the same book that urges those to persevere who will ultimately do so anyway.

This post has gone on long enough, and so I will try to continue this tomorrow. We will begin by disussing what I believe to be the difference between things that are "possible" and things that are certain to happen. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Even So... said...

Looking forward to it...