Or does God have a plan for most people to end up in Hell? According to Jesus, narrow is the path that leads to life and few find it. Since God knew how the situation would turn out before it happened how can it be that the majority will end up in Hell considering that God wants everyone to be saved and loves every human being?
God wants you to be blessed. You have every right to say, “No. I would rather be poor and wretched than to serve you.” Does that thwart his will? No, because he gave you free will. He will give you every chance, and your fate is sealed by your own choices.
Whatever God may be, it certainly seems He can be surprised, or isn’t that the take away from the flood story? Sometimes things don’t work out the way we expect. I take from that and the change in God’s nature between the OT and the NT that God, like us, is in process and still becoming. I’m not sure if Christianity thinks of it this way. Do you still have a concept of God, or like the God of the Noah story, have you decided to send a flood to end Him?
Personally I don’t think Hell is anything like a forever-fate to be avoided. I think one is either in hell or not at any given moment and it sounds like you’re suffering some of that now. Like God, we are in process and can’t be judged based only on our past. I think when we die what sets us apart from others is done but what connects us goes on. But no part of what we are will ever be in a static hell or heaven position. I don’t believe that is the way anything works.
Around here I cop to being an agnostic atheist too because the way I think of what has given rise to God belief is so unlike anything Christian. I’d hate to throw out any baby with bathwater. Hang in there, super big guy.
considering how Adam and Eve reacted, was he surprised? He gave them instructions he knew they would not follow. Did he fail?
If his plan is to give you free will so you can love him and come to him out of free will, he would know that some will not. The eternity you spend in hell for doing so is self inflicted and having tasted eternity I can envisage the pain and suffering one can experience there and what makes one repent and see ones selfishness eventually. The pity is that one can not get back the years of love one has rejected.
What plans? All are saved aoristically from eternity. That is inexorable. We miss the point in our anthropomorphic false dichotomies.
I’m not convinced God knows how things turn out before they do. Now being way smarter and having access to so much more than us, he can probably formulate some really good guesses but a few Christians recently have argued for open view theism.
 Basically, God is omniscient and that means he knows everything (that can be known).
 Free will choices of his creation, if they are genuinely free, cannot be exhaustively known in advance, or they are not free.
The idea is God does not possess exhaustive, definitive foreknowledge of future events as free willed decisions are something that can’t be absolutely known.
I know there are people that think God can go backwards and forwards in time. That is just highly speculative and really has no evidence to back it up unless you subscribe to inerrancy and find yourself needing to over interpret and force fit a bunch of theological statements about God’s sovereignty into a cohesive whole.
Then of course you have to dismiss the plain reading of certain accounts like God becoming concerned and locking Adam And Eve out of the Garden with the flaming sword Angel guy. If God knows everything exhaustively and can move backwards and forwards in time, there are no surprises.
But again, I think in making a free creation with genuine volition, God had to surrender a small degree of his own immense power in doing so.
I’d say God’s desires can certainly fail. If he genuinely desires all to be saved, is that really the case? Will absolutely EVERYONE be saved? God doesn’t want us to sin and mistreat one another but we do. So certainly his desires do not always come to fruition.
Not sure about his plans which he can work for. Also, didn’t God tell David one of his line would sit on the throne forever? If he actually did, we know that certainly didn’t come to fruition. Or was that a conditional statement?
Interesting question. I also always thought the imagery about the road being narrow is a good apocalyptic warning. I don’t see it as indicating actual numbers. The plain sense is on that side but for the Shepherd who will leave the flock to go get just one lost sheep, I think it only takes a few to be lost for the road to be broad. We know it’s easy to sin and temptation is all around us. I think that is the meaning of the statement. It’s very difficult to focus on and ground ourselves continually in God. The world gets in the way. I wouldn’t over-interpret that sentence into specific numbers about who is saved and who is ultimately lost. I don’t take that warning any more literally than I do a lake of fire or a place of actual eternal torment.
Great question. However, doesn’t NT Wright say this has to do with falling short of acting out the kingdom of Heaven on earth? Thus, we all fall short of considering our brother more than ourselves, etc. I agree this is hyperbole.
Regarding actual salvation, it seems that God is long suffering and willing to take anyone who repents. I think George Macdonald’s and C S Lewis’ version makes more sense (as in "Mere Christianity,: “Justice,” and “Great Divorce”). I’m happy to discuss in another thread. Some call it universalism. Thanks.
It is the same story since the beginning. God chose love and freedom over power and control. So God created life which means we make our own choices and are thus not simply what God has made us to be but are also what we have made of ourselves. So not everything is about what God wants. The simple fact is that sometimes people choose misery and will do what is self-destructive even when they know it is self-destructive. Adam and Eve chose to play the blame game and within only a few generations mankind was only thinking and doing evil continually which can only mean the misery of a hell on earth. And seeing this result, the Bible says that God was sorry He had created us.
It is the nature of love that love can be rejected. if not then what you have simply isn’t love. It is that simple. Love is not a means to power and control, and so chanting love wins doesn’t change a thing.
Indeed! Not only that, but sin pretty much destroys free will making us the slave of self-destructive habits. When that happens it becomes trivial to predict and manipulate us by various psychological buttons, making it easy to explain several passage where the Bible says God knew exactly what people would do and was in control of them. But the plain fact is that there is just as much in the Bible where God does not know what people will do and is not in control of them.
Well, we don’t have all information, as I see it. Did you know that you, assuming you are a Christian who worships Jesus as God, are choosing a Muslim Hell? You are worshiping a human prophet of Islam who just happens to be a Christian God. You may object in that you don’t believe the God of Islam is the true God so how can you be choosing hell? But this is exactly how atheists object to them “choosing “ a Christian hell.
I’m an Agnostic when it comes to Gods. I would be thrilled if there’s a God who is love out there but at the moment I don’t think any Gods exist so I identify as an Atheist, which to me is defined as “lack of belief in a God.”
Yeah. Yeah I mostly claim the atheist moniker on a technicality. I don’t think God as a separate entity makes any sense. Personal gods on the other hand might come one per customer for all I know.
Edited to fix annoying typos from texting. grumbles
Interesting observations. I think failure or not is defined by the objective. If God’s objective was for the people NOT to sin, then yes, he failed. Apparently, everything the snake said that would happen did happen (as Gen 3 confirms too, if you compare what the snake said with what the God Elohim later said happened in the Garden of Eden.)
It does seem to me that a Christian God did a lot of work for nothing, which is puzzling. I mean, lets consider (from an Evangelical point of view) what it take to get “lost” or condemned to Hell:
- Being born.
- Doing nothing.
That’s it. To save yourself, you must search out the right religion (Christianity) and find the right belief.
Now, what does it take to be saved?
- God has to incarnate his son, Jesus Christ.
- Christ has to die and be resurrected.
- This needs to be preached by the preachers and the news has to be spread to as many people as possilble.
- People must believe this, or become convinced that its true.
- Depending on the mainstream confession, a person must keep the faith or “truly believe” by keeping their faith to the very end of their life. If they deconvert before death, it’s game over for them.
And what is the end result? Few find the path tha leads to life according to Jesus! So, all this work is ultimately wasted.
But why should there be a plan of salvation to begin with? God himself is making all the rules, right? He himself determines what a plan of salvation should be and what it should look like. If he doesn’t want people to be in Hell, as he loves them so much, why not make justification automatic? He already did the work of paying for everyone sins? Why not make condemnation so difficult, that it would take a team of lawyers to figure out how to do it exactly (or at least similar to how salvation is obtained, which is by faith alone, or by repentance and faith, or by works as in Matt. 25 causing many devout Christians to live in fear for their own salvation).
There are Bible verses where Jesus claims to know what WOULD happen IF.
Matthew 11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Plus, Jesus knows the thoughts, unless thoughts cannot be known? As Jesus would have to judge people based on their thoughts and actions.
Good question. Ultimately, hidden conditions are what led me away from my Evangelical Christianity. Because if promises like John 3:16 can have hidden condition, then assurance of salvation is a myth. But then how could a loving God, not only create Hell but also not offer a sure way out of it? Also, hidden conditions explain away any false prophecies. Say you are promised eternal life for doing X, you do X, but don’t get eternal life. What happened? Did the prophet/preacher lie or was there a hidden condition?
I don’t take condemnations by an apocalyptic prophet so literally that I assume they have to mean Jesus had exhaustive definitive knowledge of the future. He is pointing out how bad the failure is of that location, not positively affirming he can tell the future. I just don’t see the language meaning that. You can also know what someone is thinking without being God. It happens all the time.
At one point Jesus doesn’t even know who touched his robe. Hard to posit EDF when you don’t know who touched your robe. But at any rate I think Jesus was 100% human while on earth and while his close connection and reliance on God may have allowed him to do some miraculous things, I ultimately think the Gospel authors jazzed him up a bit on some points.
Nope. The take away is that we screwed up, but God was prepared from the beginning to deal with it. Before Adam sinned, salvation was prepared.
In a way, that is correct. Sinners won’t burn in hell forever. Ever throw a leaf onto a camp fire? That is the result of the lake of fire for most. God doesn’t give the gift of immortality to use as a punishment.
Matthew 10:28, John 3:16-18
And we never will. If we had all information and could understand it, we would be God. That is why it takes knowledge, wisdom and faith. The first two clear away the dross and faith is for what’s left.
I wasn’t successfully indoctrinated. So even now when I’m more curious about what God/divinity is all about, all that lake of fire stuff just seems silly to me. But those who are told that stuff at a young age can really be traumatized.
The doctrine that bothered me as a kid was the rapture. Thinking that all the Christians could disappear at any moment can mess with your mind.
I guess you are lucky to not have inherited an anxiety gene. I was worried about going to hell since my early childhood. Ultimately the fear and confusing “salvation” doctrine drove me to atheism but I’d be lying if I said that the fear of Hell is gone.
Yep same here. Coming home to an empty house was scary.