P.AllanPardon my doubts.  It’s just that sometimes my mind demands answers I can’t find.  I don’t doubt God or his existence or his being as the Scripture describes him.  I just don’t get certain things.

I recently read a blog by an Arminian.  Simply defined an Arminian believes humans have a free will to choose for or against Christ.  This stands in stark contrast to a Calvinist who believes God elects or chooses to save some.  Apart from God’s choice a person is dead in sin and unable to chose for Christ.  His nature is bent against Christ.

The blog I read criticized Calvinists for believing that by choosing to save “the elect”, God created the rest of humanity to suffer hell forever.  How, the blogger asked, can such a God be good?  I agree this is a question Calvinists must answer.  I’ve read some:  we don’t know how God could create the bulk of humanity for eternal hell and still be good because God hasn’t revealed it to us . . . God’s goodness in this case is a mystery beyond our capacity to understand . . . God is sovereign, so he possesses the right to do whatever he wants and call it whatever he wants—in this case, no one deserves to be saved.  God sovereignly shows mercy to some.

It’s here that the Arminian presumes to prove Calvinist theology wrong.  None of its answers sound satisfactory.  I have to agree.  How can we continue to proclaim “God is good” if we believe he chose to save only some and damn the rest to hell forever?

As I think about it, though, things aren’t better for the Arminian.  He believes humans can freely choose for or against Christ, thus for or against eternal heaven or hell.  But he also believes God knew beforehand who would choose what.  The Arminian may enjoy a bit more wiggle room, but his end result is virtually the same.  God created, knowing who would reject Christ and be doomed to hell.  As Jesus said in another context, “It would have better for that man if he had never been born (or created).”  Yet God created him knowing his eternal destiny.  How can such a God be considered “good”?

Suppose my wife and I had two children.  As they were growing up, we realized they were rebellious little urchins.  We decided to keep one to enjoy our luxurious lifestyle with us, but put the other in the state foster home system.  Would we be considered good parents?  Or suppose before we had either child we somehow knew the first one would freely choose to submit to our parenting, while the second wouldn’t want to have anything to do with us and would end up in prison.  Would we be good parents if we decided to conceive that second child anyway?  The analogy isn’t perfect, but is quite like God and his relationship with us, whether we lean toward Calvinism or Arminianism.

Of course, both systems contain many more points of doctrine than Total Depravity (man can do nothing to save himself–Calvinism) and Free Will (God has given man the ability to freely choose to believe in Christ or not–Arminianism).  There’s also much more to be said about this point.  But this is the question looming large in my mind right now.  Not which theological system is correct, but how God can be considered good whichever we believe.

I’m not losing my faith–just wrestling with what’s for me a tough question.  For now, I have to leave it with our infinitely wise God who can answer all dilemmas and explain all apparent contradictions.  And one more thing:  if you have any thoughts on this, I’d very much like to read your comments.

Let me end with a somewhat “simplistic” old Gospel song.  It mentions other experiences in life we question, but applies also to how God can be good and still have created many for hell or at least knowing that would be their destiny.

Trials dark on every hand, And we cannot understand
All the ways that God would lead us to that blessed Promised Land
But He’ll guide us with His eye, And we’ll follow till we die
We will understand it better by and by.

Oft our cherished plans have failed, Disappointments have prevailed
And we’ve wandered in the darkness, heavy-hearted and alone
Bu we’re trusting in the Lord, And, according to His Word,
We will understand it better by and by.

Temptations, hidden snares, Often take us unawares
And our hearts are made to bleed for some thoughtless word or deed
And we wonder why the test, When we try to do our best
But we’ll understand it better by and by.

By and by, when the morning comes
When the saints of God are gathered home
We will tell the story how we’ve overcome
We will understand it better by and by.

(You have to listen to this.  Well, you don’t have to.  It may not be your kind of music, but it’s mine.  Give it a click, then click on “Farther Alone” with Sandi Patty (the third video).  And rejoice in the understanding that’s coming!

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