Amazed pt 2
It has been almost a year since I posted part 1 if you’d like to catch up or refresh your memory please go my last post “Amazed”
“God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth,…”
Does God get what he wants? If there is any being in the universe that always gets what he wants it must be God. At least the God I can think of. Anything less would demonstrate the powerlessness so often attributed to God by non-believers. As described in previous posts God being everywhere not only surrounding us but inside of us; knowing everything, the wisdom to make what he wants come to pass; and having ALL power, meaning the ability to make it happen and the desire to do so meaning He is ALL loving and does want ALL suffering to eventually cease.
One definition of salvation would be the end of suffering individually and ultimately the entire human race from the beginning of history up to the last grain of sand in the hourglass. My former belief in an eternal damnation of suffering and pain for all eternity would not allow for this broad interpretation of salvation. Only a few would be saved those who chose to enter the “narrow gate” would be allowed in. Allowing for a somewhat broader interpretation the Swedenborgians open up salvation for all those who live a good life and do the right things—no matter what religious tradition you belonged to—meaning acting out of love for your neighbor which equates with love for God as well. This would fulfill Jesus’ admonition to Love God and your neighbor. So far I have read many passages in Swedenborg’s works that tell me God has the desire for the salvation of all people but have not read anything which tells me ALL people will be saved. What Swedenborg’s interpreters do say is God will be with everyone in hell and will be loved by him as far as they are able to receive it. Which may eventually lead to some leaving hell but most will not and continue to suffer according to the consequences of their own choices.
Where does this disconnect come from. Why the apparent desire on God’s part but not his ability of fulfill that desire. Why can’t theologians find that God not only has the ability to SAVE ALL but will do so? To get around this conundrum theologians have said it is our fault. That the horde of people not finding the narrow path is because they just don’t want to. They choose not to enter the gate to the narrow road that leads to salvation. We are told in scriptures no less, people would rather live in darkness than come to the light. Will there ever be a time when everyone will want to come to the light?Is God therefore helpless to do anything for them. Now on this earthly realm it is painfully obvious that those we think need the most help adamantly refuse to be helped but will this continue after we leave the physical realm?
We are told our free will is the trump card foiling God’s desires. You see the fault is our own thus leaving God off the hook. But is this the case? Traditionally fundamental theologians who believed in the literal interpretation of the Christian Bible had to make room for all the passages which seemed to predict eternal suffering for all evil doers, God’s enemies. Before the rise of modern literalism when the church was in control of the lives of society, eternal hell was an extremely potent doctrine to help keep people in line, this form of emotional blackmail; i.e., bulling—is still with us today. How many of us who claim to follow Jesus, refuse to do wrong out of fear of punishment in eternal hell rather than out of Love of God. This type of motivation is just a subtle form of coercion. We are held in check by our fear. How is this different than being forced to submit to any despot against our will? For me there was this constant gnawing sense of failure and resultant fear. Every verse I read that had anything to do with hell would reinforce this feeling. Responding to alter calls was only a temporary remedy and never the solution. For me God’s “unconditional love” was always conditional. This is for those of us who are trying to do God’s will. What about the rest of humanity who Christianity has labeled the “enemies of God”?
Because of our refusal does God then reluctantly throw up his metaphorical hands and say, “What can I do, I’ve done all I can and now I’m at a lose. I just can’t figure this one out. I mean hey, don’t blame me I sent my son down to earth and you killed him I even raised him from the dead and still, nothing. I give up, you all deserve to suffer for eternity, I turn my back on the lot of ya.” I know this sounds simplistic but this is what my former belief boiled down to. If I abandoned God he would abandon me and close the gate for all eternity. I even thought hell was a completely separate place from heaven a place where God was not. My belief in eternal damnation not only made God powerless and also not omnipresent. As if there could be someplace “outside” of God. A place where God didn’t exist.
Is this the God we believe in? If so than I am an atheist. It is the God I used to believe in. I just hadn’t faced the limitations the doctrine of eternal damnation had placed on the unlimited God.
So I am wondering how is it even possible that my freewill will foil God’s will? This indeed would make me another being in the universe equal to or greater than God. Which by the way is what the ego/sin nature tells us we are. This ego/sin nature has us convinced we can go against God’s will and for centuries it has been codified in to our theologies. We have turned God’s gift to us—our free will—into the very instrument to foil God’s plan for the salvation of humanity. By allowing our free will to be this strong God’s plan becomes a sham.
Obviously I don’t agree with this interpretation.
Here is my simple solution to this seeming conflict between my will and God’s. My freewill is God’s will and it is precisely this instrument God uses to accomplish His ends not mine and He does this through His wisdom without violating my freewill or His desire.
God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
All the theologies I have read—not very many—tell me evil is the servant of God. That ALL things workout for the good. If evil is the servant of God then my evil choices somehow are working to accomplish God’s ends for the benefit of ALL. If ALL benefit then we must ALL be partakers of—eventually—the end of suffering.
God is inevitable, yes unavoidable and only good—meaning the end of suffering—will come of that encounter.
But how will this happen? What will make people who love only evil and hate God change their minds? Will God force people to bow the knee and swear reluctant allegiance to the conquering King? Or as some say everyone will be saved simply by the Grace of God because Jesus paid the penalty for ALL our sins on the cross. But both options violate our freewill which would then violate the very reason God gave us free will in the first place. God does want us to freely choose to bend our knees; i.e., recognize His preeminence in the universe and our lives individually.
Romans 14.11 is a partial quote from a passage in Isaiah 45.22-25, the following is taken from the Contemporary English Translation:
Again Romans 14.11 from the CEV
Something to keep in mind, in the spiritual world—in God’s presence—only what is truly in our hearts will be tolerated. Falsehood has no place in heaven. As Isaiah and Paul point out worship and praise will result when people bow the knee before God, even those who are angry enemies of God. This will be True worship from the heart not the feigned obeisance we see in this earthly existence. God will not force this, everyone will want to praise and worship the ruler of the universe.
But why would an enemy become a truly loyal subject? Through the process we know so well here on earth. It is so familiar like the air we breath that we rarely notice it until we need it. The “second chance”. Every instant of the day and with every breath we take we are given the opportunity to choose again. We really don’t notice it until we begin to feel the consequences of our decisions. The beauty of free will is the consequences we receive from the choices we make. This process then must continue throughout eternity until: “…everyone will kneel down and praise my name!”
“the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last” who has seen the beginning and the end has already witnessed this happening.
God does get what he wants and our freewill is not stronger than God’s will. Our freewill, in His wisdom, is the very instrument given to us by God to make this come to pass.
“Hey dude I knew all along you’d make the right choice, when everyone doubted you I didn’t. Way to go. I Love ya.”
What about Grace? You may ask. If you mean the Grace that allows everyone into heaven even those who don’t want to be there? A pointed out above this is a violation of our freewill and would surely result in the enemies of God remaining enemies. Grace is the entire process from beginning to end. It is all God’s grace. From the very first moment we thought that we could be separate from God until we come to know the impossibility of such a thought and surrender to him, is Grace.
The Holy Spirit’s job of leading us into all Truth—which is God—is constantly and gently whispering in our ear; “Choose again, my child. Its time to wake up from your nightmare. You don’t have to be in hell any longer.”