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The Incompetent God

By Russell Croft from patheos.

Much is made of our free will, our ability to choose good or evil, to accept God or reject him. The adage, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?” is still said frequently at youth rallies, revival meetings, and on street corners, with the implication that the hearer needs to make a decision for Jesus in order to lock in the assurance of salvation.

On the surface it seems very orthodox, yet this “decision for Christ” takes the onus for salvation out of God’s hands and puts it into ours. He may want to save us, but what He has accomplished to this end through Jesus can only go so far. It is ultimately up to the actions we have taken or the decisions we have made. Salvation is completely dependent on our own abilities and efforts.

Is this right? Are we more able to effect our own salvation than God is? Is salvation that dependent on us? As much as God wants to bring us into salvation, is He completely powerless without our say so? Or worse, does He really only love a few of us?

Following the Script

A lot of Church culture these days certainly seems to hinge on our ability to procure salvation. Unless we have spoken specific words, or believed a set of doctrines particular to our chosen denomination, it seems we cannot hope to have the “fullness of the Spirit” or the acceptance of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is up to us to make the right choices, to follow the script.

This has carried over into beliefs about God’s favor. It is up to me to make sure my life is holy, that I am free from sin, that I have weeded out every impurity in my heart in order for God to draw near, for Him to pour out His Spirit on me, for Him to bless me financially, physically, and relationally. The Holy Spirit is a dove, resting gently on my shoulder, or so I’ve been told. Any impure thought or action on my part disturbs this sensitive Spirit, and it flies away, only to return once I’ve repented enough. Continue article.