Saturday, April 30, 2011

Could He? Would He?

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. -- Romans 1: 20-21

In our February post in Oikonomia, we discussed the attempts on the part of BioLogos Forum to harmonize the account of creation as revealed in Genesis with uniformitarian geology and the neo-Darwinian origin of species over millions of years by means of time, chance, and natural selection. This logic is based on the belief that our interpretation of the biblical revelation should be "enlightened" by the unfolding of new scientific understanding. We are not opposed to the integration of science and faith while recognizing each as a legitimate approach to understanding God's revelation. However, as we have noted, the BioLogos Forum operates from a platform that accepts evolutionary gradualism as the creative mechanism and bends the Scriptures to fit accordingly.

The questions raised by a "theistic evolution" approach to Genesis are numerous and we have raised many of them in the February post. We also noted how this approach leads to a seemingly endless series of assumptions about the intent and the authority of Scripture; and, even to the point of questioning the knowledge of the incarnate Son of God. However, the most fundamental question is, "Could He?" That is, "Could God have created the world as described in Genesis 1 and 2; and elsewhere in the Bible just as it is stated in the biblical text?" While there are many unanswered questions, it is obvious that there are an equal number of major questions that arise from attempts to make the Scriptures fit a naturalistic "origins science." We will address some more of these below (coming soon).

At the same time that many are asking "Could He?" in regard to God's creative work; others are asking "Would He?" with an equally perilous risk. That is, "Would a good, righteous, and loving God condemn to the everlasting lake of fire those who have not repented of their sins by the time of their death?" The answer according to Rob Bell, in his recently published book, Love Wins, is "No, Bell writes in Chapter 1, page 2:

Of all the billions of people who have ever lived, will only a select number “make it to a better place” and every single other person suffer in torment and punishment forever? It this acceptable to God? Has God created millions of people over tens of thousands of years who are going to spend eternity in anguish? Can God do this, or even allow this, and still claim to be a loving God?

There you have it. “Would He?” Bell’s answer seems to be “yes.” While he claims not to be a universalist (believing that all will be saved regardless of their spiritual state or desire to go to heaven), Bell claims that love will win in the end and that many will be saved as a result of God’s endless pursuit of His image bearers even after their deaths.

Rob Bell is not a theologian, but Love Wins is selling well as a result of its controversial nature coupled with an effective promotional effort by publisher, HarperCollins. If you'd like to read a well reasoned critique of Bell's logic, see "God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of Love Wins by Reformed pastor, Kevin DeYoung.

In 2011, with the “new enlightenment” continuing to exalt the supremacy of human reason over divine revelation, parade of questions with a long history continues-- “Could He?”, “Would He?” And, they date back to the oldest question of Scripture, “Indeed, did God say...?” (Genesis 3:1). How do you answer these questions--"Could He? Would He? Did He say?"

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