A truth we must accept

God is merciful to reach out to rebellious creatures and He makes significant concessions to meet us where we live. His justice makes these concession necessary and His mercy makes them possible.

Should this truth affect the way we view the Bible?

Since the Bible addresses people and times that are violent and evil, we should not be surprised to find some really horrible things in it. The entire human race exists under the merciful concession of God. 

The fact of God’s concession started early in history and it set the tone for the ways of God with humanity. If we don’t pause long over this fact, we’ll likely misunderstand God and then misread the rest of the story of God’s dealings with humanity in the Bible.

Look closely at the way God’s concession is explained after God brought cataclysmic judgment against humans for evil early in human history.

“‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease’” (Gen. 8:21b-22, NIV).

We must hear truth this truth that, “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.”

This is God’s assessment of the condition of humans — it’s the second time He made it. He first lamented the condition of human hearts prior to His catastrophic judgment against the earth:

“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth…” (Genesis 6:5-7)

Since God’s flood judgment didn’t change the pervasive depravity of the human heart,  was God making a concession (in Genesis 8 ) to live with the inevitable grief and pain as things returned to pre-judgment conditions?

“Here is the paradox: God inundates the earth because of man’s sinfulness, and subsequently promises never again to destroy the earth because of man’s sinfulness” (The Book of Genesis chapters 1-17, NICOT, Victor Hamilton, p. 309).

Perhaps it would have been better to say that God “subsequently promises never again to destroy the earth in spite of man’s sinfulness.” This is a merciful concession that sets the tone for the rest of the story. You’ll likely misunderstand the story if you fail to place in under the truth of divine concession. 

Steve Cornell

This entry was posted in Atheism, Atheists, Bible, Bible from God, Bibliology, Hermeneutics, Interpretation of bible and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A truth we must accept

  1. Very merciful, to create sin, sinful people and then torture them for eternity. Yup, clearly merciful.

    • Create sin? This strikes me as the ultimate form of blame shifting. But I have some really good news. “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21).

    • God created humans with unconfirmed favorable orientation toward their Creator in a very good place. But God created beings of volition capable of making authentic choices for which they are held accountable. Human willfulness is central to our existence. How can we even discuss evil apart from some sense of punishable culpability. Please see my article, “The most plausible worldview” https://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/the-most-plausible-worldview/

      • Please, prove your first sentence. Thank you.

      • I am not sure what you mean by proof. Obviously there is no scientific proof (in the strict sense) available to validate or invalidate God as Creator. Other kinds of proof like historical or epistemological could be raised to establish logically plausible conclusions, but I actually think that the burden of proof is on the sceptic. If you have valid and rational reasons for rejecting the account as described in Genesis 1-4, offer them. And, be sure to offer me an alternative way of seeing reality. I’ve looked at most other world views and find the Christian one most plausible in connection with the world in which I live.

      • You claimed that…

        a) God created humans
        b) with unconfirmed favorable orientation toward their Creator
        c) in a very good place.

        We can skip a), as we both know, that you will fail here. But it would be nice if you offered some kind of proof that there is a “unconfirmed favorable orientation toward their Creator” everyone is born with. We can agree with c), but the conclusion I draw from c is simply that we evolved in that place to fit that place instead of assuming that the place was created to be good for us. Actually, it’s even better for bacteria.

        You can try to tell me that you don’t want to prove it, but then your whole argument is worthless. Making an argument does not mean making many claims and hope that no one proves the opposite.

        And yes, I’ve read about your “most plausible world view”. I don’t agree.

      • As anticipated, I didn’t find an alternative other than passing reference to evolving in our place. I am not saying that all people are created with the favorable orientation. According to the historical narrative, the first two humans were created this way. My reference is to the way the Genesis account describes origins. The rest of us are born with a nature incapable of pure goodness. As massive amounts of empirical evidence shows, every human from that time is born with a nature given to evil. It’s not that they are incapable of doing good (which I call the problem of goodness in the world) but that they are incapable of always doing good (some call the problem of evil in the world). You don’t have to believe in any religion to observe these realities. You merely have to be honest and perhaps humble enough to admit to them. But why are we evening talking about goodness and evil? Where do we get such notions? Why do we need laws and enforcements and punishments to keep the world from slipping into utter chaos? Certainly evolutionary biology (for all that it does offer) cannot adequately explain these metaphysical realities. The notion that I would fail at a) seems to imply that I would take as my alternative the absence of an intelligent source for the existence of humans. This is simply an irrational leap of faith I am unwilling to make (and one I never make in regard to anything else of design). Like I’ve said, I do not suggest that the Christian worldview answers all the questions in an airtight way but it fits reality far better than anything else on offer.

  2. “if you fail to place in under the truth of divine concession.” SORRY, I FOUND THIS POST HARD TO GET AHOLD OF AND I HAVE A FEW DEGREES.

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