Logical Gal and the beauty of a category error

29 Oct

I heard some good news this week – enunciated in a way that I can understand AND remember.

Good for goodness sake

And it was just the opposite of the song invoked in the photo above.  Whew!

One of my favorite preaching pastors, John Piper Link to his site, was explaining the concept of election and justification, Christian terms for being called into the Christian family by God.  He painted the scenario of a gal lamenting to her pastor that her past was SO BAD, that NO WAY could God forgive her enough to let her into His kingdom.

That’s when Piper described her as BOTH prideful AND incorrect in thinking that any condition could block God’s will.

At that moment…..drum roll Piper announced that God NEVER even considers one’s past life or actions in his selection of His children.  This gal was making a category error.  She was thinking that the two kinds of people were

  • the GOOD enough

and the

  • NOT GOOD enough

It is truly happy news to learn that she was not even in the ball park.

She was right on one account;  there are just TWO categories of folk.  All humans fall into one of these two groups:

  • those who belong to the family of God and are considered His adopted children
  • those who don’t belong to the family because God has not adopted them as His children

But HOW He chooses is a mystery. If we take His words as truth (and since He is God, by nature He IS Truth), then He has decreed who He adopts for His own reasons that have nothing to do with how ‘bad or good’ we are.  (Truth be told, NO ONE is ‘good’.)  Listen to what God teaches us through Paul’s writings in Romans 9: 10-13

  • when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”  As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Of course, we will probably trip over the verbs LOVED and HATED.

So as all good logicians and thinkers, we should CLARIFY THE MEANING of these two terms.


Clarify meanining

I’ll leave you to think through what God might intend by ‘love and hate’, but before you snort and feel frustrated, think about how we freely and loosely toss around terms.

  • I love movies….I love my dog…I love my children…I love God
  • I hate laundry….I hate Mondays….I hate terrorists….I hate it when I lose my temper


2 Responses to “Logical Gal and the beauty of a category error”

  1. Rock October 29, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    I love reading your posts! So many people I know think that faith cannot be logical, and that it is wicked philosophy and vain deceit to apply logic to faith. But belief involves thoughts and assenting to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and since logic is just making sense out of good thinking, and correcting bad thinking, what’s wrong with making sense out of what the Holy Spirit teaches us and correcting the bad thinking that creeps into our beliefs? Or when we say, “Jesus is Lord,” are we supposed to be only mouthing Scripture like a parrot, and have no idea what it means?

    As for how God chooses us for justification, you are right — its His all-powerful choice, and we cannot explain it. But we can say this for certain: there can only be ONE reason that determines His election — Himself! That does not remove the mystery (after all, He is beyond comprehension!) but it can tell us what does not determine His election– everything else! His choice cannot be caused by us, or by our prayers, or by our actions, or by the character, prayers or actions of others. For what is powerful enough to cause God, or to determine His Will? Nothing. It would be illogical to think that any creature could move Him to chose one way or the other, that any power could come BEFORE the all-powerful.

    A created power CAN help us get to Heaven — certainly Christ’s human actions and the actions of His Church are involved in bringing us to faith and redemption — these only come AFTER His election, since He alone made all created powers and set them in order and makes them effective. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127) So we can pray that God save the soul of a friend, but it will only be effective if God has already chosen to save that soul, given us the faith and power to pray for that soul, and chosen to give grace to that soul through our prayers. As my dad used to say, “Prayers don’t change God — they only change us. And this is what Jesus taught us, that the only prayer that works is one that says, “Thy will be done…” or “But not as I will, by as Thou wilt.”

  2. Maria November 1, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    Dear Rock – thanks again for your thoughtful and encouraging comment. I really appreciate the thought that God intentionally gives us the desire and faith to pray that someone will come to Christ. My dad died 8 years ago with no evidence of faith in Christ, yet my deceased mom and I had prayed long.

    May you continue to dig deep and grow in the knowledge of God!

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