“God Doesn’t Want Us To Be Robots!” (A Prevenient God vs. An Efficacious God)September 8, 2010
We’ve probably heard it said many times when Christians talk about how God loves everyone equally, he doesn’t want to force us to love him back, but rather gives us free-will to decide if we will love him back or not. God doesn’t want to force us to love him back. “He doesn’t want us to be robots!” Really? Romans 6 says we’re either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. I don’t see a problem with being a robot, but rather a problem with what kind of robot you are. It’s the typical mainstream Christian in America, or the Arminian prevenient gospel, that usually emphasizes the catch phrase, “God doesn’t want robots”.
By “prevenient” I mean that God is standing by anticipating and expecting us to want him bad enough, or for us to respond to him the right way. As a Calvinist I believe God is rather “efficacious” in that he wills to have me bad enough and he responds to me the right way. Instead of God waiting for me to make the right move, he fully brings to pass that which he intends from eternity, bringing about his plan, according to the pleasure of his will, and for his glory. Arminian Christians who are entrenched in the prevenient view of God usually act like God owes them something (a better self-image, more friends, easier life, more self-confidence, money, etc) because they did what He was waiting for them to do, namely, make him happy by choosing him and making his gospel a success. The trade off is that if they make his gospel a success then he’ll make you one sexy cool person.
As a Calvinist who sees God through an efficacious lens, I believe that because God has chosen me, I now owe him everything even while having a lack of friends, ease, self-confidence, money, etc during this 2 second long life. But do you see the shift? See the major man-centered/God-centered difference? Which view of God is more likely to make a Christian content amidst struggle? One who knows God made them his robot and wont promise them a sexy life, or one who thinks they chose to become God’s robot and so he now owes them a sexy life? I think the latter view is plaguing Christianity in America today, and is why many walk away from the faith, probably to prove they were never really in it, but thought they were because they were told by some “pastor” who gives a rip about the full gospel to jump through a marshmallow prayer mantra hoop so they get saved from an un-sexy life and a medieval dungeon-ous afterlife, rather then saved from God Almighty’s wrath due to their lawlessness.
But today I was thinking about this whole cliche Christian phrase “God doesn’t want us to be robots”. God doesn’t want to force us to love him! He doesn’t want robots. He wants real reciprocal love, right?
But here’s what I put on my facebook page today, which I think depicts the strangeness of the prevenient view of God.
(A prevenient God says to the unbeliever, “why are you frustrating my plan of salvation?” and the unbeliever says back to the prevenient God, “why are you frustrating my convenient life without you?”)
So here’s the conclusion to the matter: Both Calvinists and Arminians have views which force the unbeliever to be robots!!! Why? The Arminian view does because the indifferent unbeliever must force themselves to love God even though they don’t want to. Even if God knows they never will love him (which doesn’t make sense why God even created them within the Arminian view) they are still required to force themselves to love him back, or else there will be eternal wrath from this “all-loving” God.
This is why Brian McLaren, Carlton Pearson, and their counter parts have such jacked up theology, such as denying the doctrine of hell. It’s simply a ramification of trying to reconcile a prevenient all-loving God with a God who is also just! You can’t do it! It’s much easier to reconcile an efficacious God who has a purpose for hell, rather than a prevenient God who inadvertently creates hell, then inadvertently creates people he knows will end up there while simultaneously not wanting any to go there (huh?), and then goes “oops! They should have forced themselves to love me, even though I knew they never would.” Does this view of God sound familiar? It may be the view of “god” you’re used to getting from mainstream Christianity, yet have never seen that “god” placed under the microscope of scrutiny. Atheists make fun of and are confused by this prevenient view of God as well, which is the default view of God in American Christianity. They ask “why doesn’t God do what he knows he could to convince me to believe in him, since that’s all he requires for to not go to hell?” This is the Arminian clock-stopper.
But that’s not what God requires. He requires your sins to be fully crushed vicariously in Christ. Faith is simply an indication that this has happened. In the Calvinistic view, God makes us love him. More accurately, God restores us to that which we were originally intended, namely, to have a soul which desires him. God is not concerned with people empirically acknowledging him, but hearts being restored to love him. When Scripture refers to believing in God, it’s entirely different then mere empirical acknowledgment of God. Even if God showed up to all atheists on their own selfish terms, they would still hate him. They wouldn’t believe he is their Savior and Lord. That’s the Biblical difference that we need to make clear to atheists! Belief that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord flows out of a new heart, not mere empirical acknowledgment. Only the Spirit can do this to a Christ-hostile heart, and only for those whom Christ died.
Atheists who are in hell after a trillion years will have plenty of empirical knowledge of God, but their hearts will still be stone, not flesh. But hell is locked from the inside. They will still choose their punishment and want to have nothing to do with God, even after a trillion years of God’s just wrath. They hate God, and after a trillion years unto infinity they will ALWAYS hate him. Their sin of hating God is ongoing by virtue of their own will, thus their punishment. They will always be a slave to their sin of hating him. With restored hearts, God’s people will always be slaves to love him. What great news! That’s what we were created for. The only difference between us and them is a five letter word called “grace”, whereby the song “Amazing Grace” is our biography.
So both Arminians and Calvinists make robots of men. The major difference, however, is who is ultimately making us a robot. It’s either God or ourselves. No one can escape the problem!
If I had to choose one over the other I would go with God making me a robot rather then myself forcing me to love God if I really don’t (and if He knows I never will). He is able to fully change my heart of stone to flesh in order to love him. We are not good candidates for changing our heart of stone to flesh, nor does it do any good to force ourselves to love him if we really can’t and wont. But if you want Christ to restore your heart, it’s an indication that he has. In the words of Joseph Philpot, “here is my unbelieving heart. Take it away!”
NOW PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS!!!