I refer you to my article: http://www.virtueonline.org/apologetic-theodicy-why-there-so-much-suffering. Will it point North? For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." For by grace you have been saved through faith. The girl I remember and embrace from many years ago was so wounded she temporarily lost custody of her daughter. III. Note that the temptations to sin will not go away as long as we are in these vulnerable bodies on this fallen planet. Generally, I try to avoid inter-denominational food-fights. and." Legions of atheists have written critiques on Mere Christianity, and I've not read any who can coherently answer the moral argument. Powerlessness is not a weakness, it's the wound the sets the journey into motion. IV. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV), This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. In the gap, I've read guys like Bahnsen and Kreeft who have done a lot to fortify the apologetic arguments made by Lewis so many years ago. What He is watching and waiting and working for is something that is not easy even for God, because, from the nature of the case, even He cannot produce it by a mere act of power. It lies completely independent of our moral ability; instead, it is a pillar of the moral order of God's universe. It can point to its true North; but it need not. Has it been easy? Article 10 says: The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith; and calling upon God. And yet, my goal is not to hash out Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism but to simply show how out-of-step Lewis is with Scripture, and even with his own church's formularies. There are other arguments that are far more ruinous to the atheistic position, such as the Transcendent argument, devastatingly employed by Bahnsen against Stein in 1985. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will. Eric Eagle is a geographer working in Darmstadt, Germany. You also wrote: "The very idea of a 'watching, waiting' God who cannot turn the needle of the heart's compass is entirely at odds with what is revealed to us in the Bible." I point this out because my goal in this piece is not to do a hack-job on the man or the book, but to simply highlight an area where Lewis, claiming to represent "mere" (or "essential") Christianity, in fact inserts something else; something that is out of step even with his own Church's formularies. Humans are responsible before God. Not so much wrong as only half the story, and the least important half at that. True enough. First posted at http://odgdevotionals.blogspot.de/2015/01/the-powerlessness-of-god-in-c-s-lewis.html, By Dr. Bruce Atkinsonwww.virtueonline.org Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world. So, I figured that when I arrived at the second to last chapter, "Nice People or New Men", I'd finish the book without incident. Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. One could argue that the weakest part of the book's first five chapters is the author's sole reliance on the moral argument as his foundation for God's existence. Will they, or will they not, turn to Him and thus fulfill the only purpose for which they were created? But the non-elect obviously do resist it, both by their choice and God's omniscient plan. Their free will is trembling inside them like the needle of a compass. Boy, was I wrong. But Lewis was not delving into ultra-nerdy apologetic stuff like epistemology and presuppositionalism. In terms of human will, of course, since the Fall, our capacity to choose what is right was broken-- but not totally so or the Law would be meaningless (see Romans 1:18-20 below). If anything, they are more like automatons when they are spiritually dead; unable to even recognize and choose the Good (Ephesians 2:1-5). And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Anyway, the book chugs along entertainingly and profitably, if not uneventfully. Author and host of the Unity Online Radio program 12 Keys to Freedom: A Path to Metaphysical Recovery, Ester Nicholson brings her personal experience of 25 years of sobriety coupled with a committed spiritual practice to audiences around the globe. For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." Box 111Shohola, PA 18458. God longs to nurture you. By Eric Eagle Special to virtueonline www.virtueonline.org January 22, 2015. I was hypnotized by the belief that one day this God would have mercy on me, and kick me down a reprieve from the incomprehensible demoralization of addiction—addiction to drugs, food, love and to the illusions that were running my life. Special to virtueonlinewww.virtueonline.org The niceness, in fact, is God's gift to Dick, not Dick's gift to God. And yet, I'd be remiss if I didn't identify this area as deficient. http://odgdevotionals.blogspot.de/2015/01/the-powerlessness-of-god-in-c-s-lewis.html, http://www.virtueonline.org/apologetic-theodicy-why-there-so-much-suffering. Well, there isn't room for all the texts - suffice to say, the accent of Scripture is not on the free will of man, but on the sovereignty of God: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. My life has been made new. Lewis fans. He already knows exactly what will happen. Once made alive by God, they are freed from spiritual death and now able to willingly choose the Good, albeit not perfectly, while mortal. Fortunately, after some time, I learned of Unity by the Sea in Santa Monica, California, where the late Dr. Sue Sikking became my teacher ... Continue reading. God is not holding your over a fire like a spider. As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. In his quote, Lewis is examining the "tails", or human side. Fair enough. Powerlessness opens a way for us to connect to the real power —the one power—God. There was a time in my life when the word “powerlessness” was my lifeline, a lifeline that I resisted until I hollered “uncle.” I was a broken and wounded soul addicted to drugs, seeking to push my way into wholeness over and over again, only to fail over and over again. And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger." God is painted not as Sovereign, in whose hand the "king's heart is...as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1). Through our committed spiritual practice of prayer, meditation and forgiveness, we take God out of the sky, out of the churches and books, and put God within our own hearts—where It actually is. VirtueOnline is the Anglican Communion's largest Biblically Orthodox Online News Service, read by more than 4,000,000 readers in 170 countries each year. No, as one theologian put it, God is a gentleman who will not force us. But even slaves have some degree of willpower to choose; it is just greatly limited. Joel Goldsmith, founder of The Infinite Way®, tells us that “we have been hypnotized by our cultural history into believing we are less than expressions of God.” I believe it is because of this false belief that we find ourselves in a life of struggle, pain, lack and limitation. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." In this case, it is C. S. Lewis' timeless classic, Mere Christianity. Being merely temperamental, they will all disappear if Dick's digestion alters. It is an important and necessary starting point on our spiritual journey. "Choose you this day who you will serve..." And note all the commands of God would be useless and absurd if humans did not have a modicum of choice (and thus responsibility). What we usually think of, when we say "free will" in the Christian context, is the moral ability to choose the Right or the Wrong. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? So what does Scripture say? Once made alive by God, they are freed from spiritual death and now able to willingly choose the Good, albeit not perfectly, while mortal.". Absolutely not, but it’s been so incredibly worth it. January 22, 2105. What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles (Romans 9:8-24 ESV), But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Though he has quite enjoyed working with the physical and spatial aspects of God's earth for the past 19 years, he secretly only does so to support his true interest: amassing books. It is difficult to square the "watching, waiting, hoping" God of Mere Christianity's Book 4, Chapter 10, with the God of Scripture and the affirmations of the various Reformed confessions. This is clever, though utterly unsupported by Scripture. Our limited logic wants to say that we cannot both accept the total sovereignty of God and also human choice and responsibility. Let's 'flesh' the issue out some more: In His wisdom and by His permissive will, in this age, the world (culture), the flesh (original sin), and the devil still remain and have their negative influence on us, enslaving humanity. But admitting powerlessness was the first step. And neither is God shy about this if we examine His "whole counsel" as we find it in the scriptures. The Powerlessness of God Have you ever been completely and utterly powerless? Will the needle swing round, and settle, and point to God? He cannot force it. There is a power that is benevolent and on your side. Lewis was just silly to depict God as anxious about anything. It presents no difficulties. But this is a needle that can choose. As it is, Mere Christianity is a fantastic piece of writing that brings much to the table and doubtlessly has been instrumental in many peoples' walk of faith, including my own. That is the question on which all hangs. This didn’t happen all at once. The Powerlessness of God in Mere Christianity. In the same way, God has allowed natural causes, working in a world spoiled by centuries of sin, to produce in Miss Bates the narrow mind and jangled nerves which account for most of her nastiness. Through my powerlessness, I am infinitely powerful and so are you. He cannot, so to speak,put out His own hand and pull it into the right position, for then it would not be free will any more. Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" To be sure, there is very little to quibble over in Mere Christianity and much to endorse. Lewis pretty clearly asserts what Arminianism affirms: the practical sovereignty of the free will of man, and man's moral ability - in his unregenerate state - to choose God. Through our connection to the Divine, we get to witness and experience the kingdom of heaven and behold all things made new in our lives. God can see to that part of the problem. When we no longer try to get God to do something for us, we allow God to operate through us. He writes: You cannot expect God to look at Dick's placid temper and friendly disposition exactly as we do. Now, let's look at what the 39 Articles of Religion say in their distillation of the biblical revelation. Military power for example, physical, political, economic, moral power, charismatic power. That same undependable young lady who couldn’t hold a job—who couldn’t stay sober for more than 30 days—is now a licensed spiritual practitioner, teacher, author, talk show host, inspirational recording artist and devoted mother and grandmother with 25 years of sobriety behind her. In the predestination/sovereignty versus human choice/responsibility debate, if I had to choose one over the other, then I would most certainly go with "heads"-- the sovereignty of God, that is, His perfect plan, His wisdom, His knowledge of each of us, His omniscience and His omnipotence to make sure that everything turns out according to His divine will. If nothing else, Lewis could have left the entire thing alone and simply said that the Church has differed on the extent and nature of free will; it's a mystery, and all that sort of thing, and he wouldn't have been wrong. We can get into the apologetics of theodicy here. Lewis further implies that any force exercised by God to ensure people make a certain choice is absolutely not an option, as it would make humans into automatons. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. How much of the sin and suffering in the world can be blamed directly on God (since He is sovereign)? Now you see why Calvinists are not big C.S. The author is not really guilty of being illogical (though I believe he is creating a false dichotomy), but rather of departing from Scripture. Romans 1:18-20: 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. It is within the context of our oneness with the One Power that true healing happens, sanity is restored, and the crooked places in our lives are made straight. There are different kinds of power and different kinds of authority. In the interest of convincing atheists and agnostics (which was Lewis' calling), Lewis was not shy about making them responsible for their choices. Now our choices are increasingly free. But I submit that the scriptures present both options as true. Additionally, the Westminster Confession of Faith handles "free will" thusly, which I find not to oppose Article 10, but rather flesh it out: I. God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined good, or evil. Powerlessness opens a way for us to connect to the real power —the one power—God. In fact, few are able to critique it at all without smuggling in principles of objective morality. And different kinds of authority: we can be forced into acquiescing to certain demands or we can be persuaded into accepting them. I certainly won't stop putting copies of it in curious non-Christian friends' hands. © Virtueonline 2014 all rights reserved.570 Twin Lakes Rd.,P.O. He is waiting and watching for it both in Miss Bates and in Dick Firkin. Powerlessness is powerful. There are few things more toxic than a chronic fault-finder, always on the lookout for parades on which to rain. Learn more at www.EsterNicholson.com. He intends,in His own good time, to set that part of her right. Devastated, I found a reputable child care center for my son and went to work. It wasn’t until I admitted complete defeat, admitted I was powerless, and realized “of myself, I could do nothing,” that I was able to tap into the power that had been available to me all along. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. It was never meant for us to pull over and park there, however. Incidentally, he is also far off the formularies of his own church (Church of England). 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. We can continually choose God... if we will. Both Calvinists and Arminians have a partial grasp on the truth here, they are just looking at opposite sides of the coin. It's the first time in over a decade since I've read (heard) the book. By no means! (Ephesians 2:1-9 ESV). If anything, they are more like automatons when they are spiritually dead; unable to even recognize and choose the Good (Ephesians 2:1-5). V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only. From this conscious union, we are restored to wholeness and can reclaim authority and dominion in our lives. It is not what He is anxious about. He can help it to do so. Application and appropriation of Christ's sacrifice are left up to us, and God really, really, really hopes we choose the right way. However, there are enough passages in scripture that indicate that God is patient and that He "stands at the door and knocks." It was designed to create such a state of surrender that we stop trying to save and change our lives from our limited sense of power. Though moot today, It seems like it would have been a more prudent decision for Lewis to acknowledge that Scripture creates an admittedly mysterious "third way" which is neither man-centric nor automata: individuals who are chosen by God and effectually drawn by God, out of their spiritual death, into new life in Christ - and yet, they are not automatons. Dr. Bruce Atkinson is a regular contributor to Virtueonline. I believed in a God outside of myself, a God that wasn’t available or friendly, and who deemed me unworthy. But that is not, for God, the critical part of the business. (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV), No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil. Is there injustice on God's part? What Lewis is doing here, ironically, is smuggling in a highly partisan doctrinal system called Arminianism (a descendent of the heresy called semi-Pelagianism, condemned at the Council of Orange in 529) into a book that purports to simply identify the basic, or "mere" essentials of Christianity. It is something they can freely give Him or freely refuse to Him. Get ready to come to the end of your own resources. I've left as much of the surrounding text around the quotation to give the reader context. And I will raise him up on the last day. In this scenario, Christ died to make salvation possible, but not actual. The Powerlessness of God in Mere Christianity, By Eric Eagle January 22, 2015. Have you ever been in a situation that at any other time you would've had the ability to influence the outcome, but at that given moment you were powerless to influence of affect anything? Lewis handles things like Communion and Baptism rather deftly; refusing to get too caught up in one position or another.
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