Is God a gentleman? The illusion of a Gentleman God
Facebook, blogs, and Twitter are interesting to me as a Christian. They are forums where I can read which doctrines fellow believers are thinking, saying, accepting and promoting. These forums afford me greater exposure to the believing, professing church than I ever would be exposed to otherwise. And it works in reverse too, anything I post will also be transparently exposed for other professing, believing church members to see and either accept or reject.
In one way it's great to see and experience the wider church, and in another sense it's sad. It is great for the obvious reasons. We tend to become myopic in our local assemblies. Visibly experiencing the wider church keeps us linked. It's a pure comfort to share the victories and Godly successes of others, even at a virtual distance.
"God is a gentleman. He would never interfere with our free will."
People who say this obviously never read their bible much. On the face of it, this wrong-headed statement is easy to refute. God is certainly not a gentleman. He is God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:5). He drowned the entire world for sin. (Genesis 7:21). He killed Uzzah for touching the ark. (2 Samuel 6:7) He Threw Jonah into a fish. (Jonah 1:17). He killed Ananias and Sapphira on the spot in front of the church, for lying. (Acts 5:5, 10).
In the less visible example, it is still easy to refute. Our minds are blinded.
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Worse, we are dead in our trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13).
We cannot freely "choose God". We should be grateful that He doesn't politely stand aside, never interfering with our free will, otherwise no one ever would be saved!
I searched for a credible and doctrinal essay to make the point about God not being a gentleman. I found a great one in Robert Bernecker's wonderful book, "Who's Your Father: Returning to the Love of the Biblical God." His Chapter 2 especially makes the point, gracefully, biblically, and firmly. PLEASE read the entire essay!!
For now, here are a few excerpts.
The Illusion of a Gentleman God
by Robert Bernecker
We sing songs such as the popular “Our God Reigns” with great enthusiasm and joy, and then we turn right around and teach that God does not in fact reign over the wills of humans, perhaps even in the very same church service. Do we believe he reigns or do we not?
From Genesis to Revelation, God freely interferes with human will to accomplish his own eternal purpose. Even the great sinful rebellion seen in Revelation 17 is said “to carry out God’s purpose” (v. 17). In regards to the choices and actions of the ten sinful, rebellious kings described in this passage, we are told explicitly that “God put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose” (v. 17), which in this case will be his inevitable conquering of these rebellious kings and people (v. 14).
The collective preponderance of these many Scriptures thoroughly dispels the notion that God is somehow a “gentleman” that is either unable or unwilling to turn the hearts and wills of humans (and thereby their choices) to accomplish his own purpose. In fact, Psalm 33:10 (NASB) teaches us the exact opposite: “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” We do not read that the Lord honors the counsel of the nations and carefully respects the plans of the people. Instead, we are told, “The Lord reigns, let the people tremble!” (Psalm 99:1). We should learn from Jeremiah, who declared his awareness of this glorious truth in Jeremiah 10:23: “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”
Contrary to much popular teaching of our day, our Father clearly can and regularly does interfere with human free will. To our great loss, we have drifted far from the historic confession of God’s sovereign involvement in every facet of his creation. In fact, Augustine made no effort to conceal his disdain for any such suggestions that would artificially limit God’s ascendancy, and he wrote bluntly that it was “blasphemous” and “foolish” to assert that God does not change the wills of men whenever and however he chooses.4 We must repent of such foolishness, and we should instead praise our God that he does change our will! Many who profess that “God is a gentleman” have probably never considered the consequences of a world where God, for whatever reason they may assert, did not actually influence, change, and interfere with humanity’s fallen will. How horrible indeed that would be!