Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sound Familiar?

God wouldn't demand something of us that we don't have the capacity to do.

Makes sense, right? Fair. Reasonable. Just. Logical.

I wonder if you've ever heard someone make that argument. I know I have. And of course it's not a new argument. Someone else made it centuries ago. No less than sixteen centuries, as a matter of fact:
No one knows better the measure of our strength than he who gave us our strength; and no one has a better understanding of what is within our power than he who endowed us with the resources of our power. He has not willed to command anything impossible, for he is righteous; and he will not condemn a man for what he could not help, for he is holy.
Only problem is, that's not biblical. It's actually a logical extrapolation proceeding from unsubstantiated assumptions about God's nature and character. In other words, the premise is flawed.

I heard a conversation on evangelism and divine sovereignty in salvation not too long ago. Funny thing was, the most aggressive anti-Calvinist was the person who wanted to deal most with philosophical categories and least with the biblical text.

Maybe that was an anomaly. At the very least, it was ironic. But the more I thought about it, the less surprising it became.

By the way, the above quote [PDF] is drawn from Pelagius, whose teaching has been condemned as heresy throughout the history of the Church. One might argue that this particular statement is not precisely what was condemned, and it doesn't necessarily lead to full-blown Pelagianism. I'm just not sure what would stand in its way.


Bruce said...

This is not unlike another quasi-biblical line that Christians like to use: "God won't let you go through anything you can't handle."

Okay, I know 1 Cor 10:13, but just understand that he might bring some really, really hard stuff into your life, and that you're never meant to try to "handle it" on your own apart from the power of God, the support of the church, the hope of the gospel, etc.

Ben said...

Bruce, I would simply respond to you by quoting that verse (I forget the reference), "God helps those who help themselves."

Greg said...

"For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out."

Pelagius vs. Paul...tough call.

Eric said...

I'm with Pelagius: God would never say something like, "Lazarus, come out!"