Henry: But, God has come after you, through me. He did not leave you in the wilderness. He has sent me to call after you.
Charity: I don’t know if I can answer that call. I have not yet worked out if God is good or not, at least, the God you talk about.
Henry: What do you mean? Of course, he is good.
Charity: He may be good enough to save me, but is he good enough to save my mom? She’s already dead. She died when I was a teenager after months of treatments, enduring the best the doctors could give her. I watched her fade away minute by minute in that hospital bed, and all I had to cling to was God’s love. I believed in him. I trusted that as she faded here, she came alive in God’s good hands. But, Henry, she did not hear this ‘good news’. Is God going to leave her behind? Was my trust in him vain? Is God good enough to save her?
Henry: She may still yet be with God. You don’t know what she came into contact with in her life. She may have heard the gospel.
Charity: Don’t presume to know more about my mom than I do! What sort of arrogance overtakes you that you can pronounce some vague hope on her life using such an uncertain word as ‘may’. Either God is good or he is not. Either my mom is with him, and I was right to trust in his love, or she is lost forever.
Henry: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. You’re right, I don’t know your mom like you do. But, God is good. That doesn’t mean however, that everyone is saved. Your mom may yet be with him, but there will be some to whom God will say ‘leave me. I never knew you.’ Not everyone who calls him Lord will enter into his kingdom, Matthew 7:23.
Charity: Except those who do God’s will. I know the verse. I don’t know what that means anymore. It keeps coming back to ‘doing’ something but I don’t know what we’re supposed to be working towards. You say salvation is not work, but we keep bumping into these verses that contradict you.
Henry: It is frustrating. My verses keep backfiring. Hmmm… let’s leave working aside for a minute. It’s my earnest hope that your mom is in heaven. I wish everyone could be there but, it’s just not feasible. Given a world of free creatures, moral agents who make their own decisions without any coercion from God, some of them are going to choose wrong. God gives his highest priority to freedom, because without it, there is no love. You can’t make someone do something freely. God does not want heaven populated with human ‘robots’ who have no choice in their own destination. Those who freely choose to be with God truly love him. Without freedom, there is no love.
Charity: If God’s plan to save everyone is thwarted by human freedom, then God did not make a good world. And, by implication, God is not all good.
Henry: How do you mean?
Charity: I mean, in order for your God’s plan to be carried out, there has to be collateral damage. Some of us have to be damned for the rest of us to be saved. Yes, Jesus procured the means of salvation for all, but from the beginning he knew most of humanity would not choose to love him. But, he made the world anyway knowing they were destined for hell. You’re telling me, God couldn’t have made a better world? If that is true, then there was not enough goodness to create a truly good world, one in which no one was ever lost. – Think of it this way. Let’s say that only one human was sent to hell and the rest of us went to heaven. God could not create a world in which that man was saved. And let’s say he was the most vile of creatures. He killed millions of people, corrupted everything good around him, took his happiness in the torture of the innocent, and fulfilled every perverted desire in his heart. Everywhere he went he stank with the filth of sin. This man could not be saved and went to hell. But, the rest of humanity went to heaven. Given God’s limitations on what he could feasibly create, what else could we regard this perverse individual but as the one who took the fall so that we could be saved. It would be fitting and proper to toast him at every meal who took the wrath of God upon himself so that we might live forever. Someone had to be damned. God could do no better. The problem is billions of times worse when you consider that most of humanity throughout history has died without the accepting Christ into their heart. Poor them, they did not know the required set of beliefs or the proper name of God’s Son. As eternity begins, the ones in heaven should toast and poor libations to the ones who were damned instead of them. Them, who had nothing to do much with their salvation except emerge as the product of chance, a happenstance of geography, the luck of being born with a language that the Bible was translated in, the fortune of running into a person such as yourself, or the happy course of events that led to their birth into a Christian home. God simply could not order things so that all would be saved. Is this your God, only that good and no more?
To Be Continued…