Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

Ultimate Reconciliation and/or Free Will?

In Free Will, Universalism on November 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm

The ultimate reconciliation/free will dilemma has kept me awake many a night. This is currently how I come to terms with it in my mind, personally:

If God created humanity, then we will each and all naturally have an inclination toward our creator according to the universal law of, “If you make something, it has your hand on it. It speaks of you and is part of you….”

But since a love relationship requires a free choice, whether through creation or evolution or both, this world seems to be set up in a way to give us just that – free choices (within limitations, that is. As a human, we can’t become a tree, etc.)

The question then becomes, what is our greatest human inclination? Will we all eventually learn who we really are, which is the offspring of God, according to the Bible? Or do we have so much free will that some or many have the ability to forever turn away from our creator, ending in our ultimate destruction?

I think the character of God  as seen through the natural world answers this question.

If we observe the way this world works, we see that everything grows, even through pain and death. I think that the silent and behind-the-scenes mystery God uses tangible life to open people’s eyes.

God might not force people to love him, but if he has the ability to create then it logically follows that he must also have the ability to blind or to open eyes. Human cognition seems to be severely limited. When we are conceived, we are blind. When our eyes are opened, we then understand who we are and what we desire, and what will make us happy, etc., theoretically speaking.

In a healthy, functioning state of mind, are humans inclined toward beauty, happiness and freedom? That seems to be part of every human nature, which is said to be made in the image of God. Goodness brings us such things as peace and happiness, while evil causes us unrest and turmoil.

It seems that knowing God, or goodness, assimilates good things into our lives. We just don’t know this source, so we pursue the wrong direction (or temporarily give up) until we learn how and where to find it. We cannot remain in unrest or unhappiness for very long until we decide to change anything within our power to do so. Like the animal instinct to survive, we keep progressing (even when we appear otherwise.)

In other words, life is set up in a way that eventually leads us to our creator. And God has an eternity (many lives?) to accomplish this or wait for this to take form in all people – even one lost sheep.

When we look at the way this world works, if God created it, then we can see that nothing is ever lost or annihilated but only transformed. And everything keeps moving forward through an energy cycle of chaos and order.

So everything grows, even through the cycle of life, death and more life. In that case, it makes perfect sense to think that God will indeed one day, or in some unseen world, reconcile all things to himself.

“…to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace…” ~ Col 1:20

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  1. God might not force people to love him, but if he has the ability to create then it logically follows that he must also have the ability to blind or to open eyes.

    And you’re absolutely right! There are several examples of this in the Bible.

    * It was God who hardened Pharoah’s heart, and the hearts of his bondsmen, toward Moses and the Israelites.
    * It is God who has locked Israel in “a spirit of stupor” that continues even now.
    * It is God who has revealed himself to some but not to everyone (though he eventually will).
    * When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, he mentioned that there were things the Father had hidden from their eyes.
    * It is God who locks people up in stubbornness in order to show them mercy.

    There has to be opposition to his will to reveal what his will is, before it can be accomplished. God’s will is to save and reconcile everyone to himself, which he will do; in the interim, there is the false teaching of eternal torment, which is completely the opposite of God’s will.

    On free will itself, I believe we have wills, in that we make choices in our day-to-day lives, but those choices are always influenced by something. In order to have “free will”, there can’t be any influence in our decisions. Only God truly has “free will”. And let’s also think about the things we didn’t choose for ourselves: everything connected to our genetics (hair colour, eye colour, skin tone, skin type, etc.), where we were born and raised, when we were born, who our parents would be, our upbringing, and being born into sin.

    {found you through nakedpastor, in case you’re wondering}

  2. Scripture says every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord. It also says God never changes; actually to be more specific, the merciful aspect of God never changes. The judgment/wrath aspect frequently shifts over to mercy as a result of human intercession. It’s pretty safe to say that respect for human freedom of choice/free will is part of that goodness and mercy and not likely to change.

    Thing being, if it were to change, for God to remain good it would have to change in the direction of saving lives, not destroying them. “For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9:56, and note the context of the statement — the disciples wanted to flex their newly acquired supernatural “muscle” by calling down fire from heaven on the heads of those who rejected them. Sound like anyone we know? ;-))

    So that would be one way of accomplishing universal reconciliation, but let’s go with the idea that it doesn’t change, and that God retains His own freely-willed choice to respect the free agency of this race of sentient creatures made in His image. That can only mean one thing: something transpires to cause this eventual worship and proclamation of the supremacy and Lordship of Christ on the part of EVERY knee and EVERY tongue, to occur VOLUNTARILY.

    When that happens here, now, in our lifetime during this temporal time-stream, we have a word for it, don’t we? We call it “repentance”, and we recognize that it, along with faith, can only come to us as the gift of God, not as anything we can muster up from ourselves (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9).

    Now THAT … THAT is POWER. REAL power. The ability to draw all to Himself without coercing or manipulating a single one. True irresistibility, the earmark of a Love beyond our wildest conception pouring itself out, lavishing itself upon us, so that all voluntarily yield allegiance, of their own free wills, and joyfully and willingly so, to that love. That is REAL power. Power only the Maker of the Universe could own and wield — and wield properly and responsibly, without it corrupting Him or harming anyone else, for it is indeed Absolute.

    I have some personal theories about how this might play out, which touch upon the notion of the firstfruits (a.k.a. “144 thousand”), the mystery of God reaching completion (cf. Revelation 10:7 and other NT verses spelling out that mystery as Christ fully formed in us), and something Revelation alludes to as the Song of Moses and the Lamb. There’s other clues and hints scattered throughout as well — the parable of the Prodigal Son, the notion Paul had of filling up the sufferings of Christ, etc. Once you catch a glimpse of the destiny of His Body and Bride it becomes contagious and starts popping up everywhere!!

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