The Bondage of the Will: An Exhortation to all Christendom


anastasis-resurrection-dead-hell
This post will primarily be a response to Tyler’s comment that the previous post on this site consisted of. A brief historical investigation surrounding the context of the piece I stole the title for this post from may help shed light on the passion I hope will come through.

[One quick note as a final point on the topic of the biases of the religious studies department at VCU: there is not a single full-time professor that is a professing Christian. All full-time professors in the religious studies department are either secular humanists or of other differing faiths.]

I want to put one more quote from Tyler on this post:

In reference to the other guy who posted here, Paul is an incredible orator and debater. He quite regularly makes atheists his unholy bitches on the record. He’s as committed to his faith as Stephen was, but he is smart enough to take you through an interesting dive into Judaism. His site can link you to some of the best arguments against the Bible on the face of the Earth, but the man is such an intellectual juggernaut that he builds a scaffold around the detractors, prays and then floats his way to the top.

The night I received this comment, I went to bed with the words “intellectual juggernaut” haunting my thoughts until I fell into my slumber. Sure, to an extent I was both flattered and encouraged by these words, but for the most part, I was deeply troubled and dismayed. I knew then that I needed to write this post.

This is to all Christians out there: I have known Tyler for over a year now, and consider him a dear friend and compatriot on this path called life. As he himself said in the comment, though, he is not a Christian, as most of my friends also seem to not be. We have had many, many talks. I have answered so many, many questions, read so many, many bible verses to him and for him and yet, he is not a Christian. Why?

It is true. I know a lot. I make it my business to know as much as I can about everything. I can theorize, postulate, formulate, philosphize, orate, debate, lecture, and preach with the best of them. I have read much, spoken much, debated much, and thought much. I can present the peculiar doctrines of the Christian faith in such form that little can stand up against it. I am indeed by all measures, forms, and fashions, an “intellectual juggernaut,” but what good has it done for Tyler? His soul now rests in the same state now that it did over a year ago. I have answered every question, withstood every refutation, stood in rooms surrounded on all sides by people differing in their beliefs from me in every way, shape, and form seeking only to see my demise, with him watching. I have presented the gospel in every way, with every scientific, psychological, historical, rhetorical, literary, philosophical, archaeological and spiritual backing, and to what end? None. As of yet.

My point in this whole post can be summed up thus: Christian, facts don’t save people, debates don’t save people, arguments don’t save people, intellects don’t save people, orators don’t save people, sermons don’t save people, philosophies and refutations don’t save people, nor do “intellectual juggernauts.” The Gospel of God by the power of the Holy Spirit through the atonement of Jesus Christ saves people. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16)

This Gospel of God has become so sweet and so precious to me in past year and a half, it pains me to see the affections of one I love so dearly, not turned to the only source of true delight in the midst of the inevitable sufferings life will bring. That is the Gospel. While we were yet sinners not seeking God, unrighteous not because of acts, but because of being; by nature children of wrath, who awoke every morning without God being their first thought, highest treasure, primary desire, most awe-inspiring thing, he sought us. He came and lived the life we were supposed to live and paid the price for the life we live now, so that those whose spiritual taste-buds are changed to have God and Christ be their sweetest desire, could be forever enthralled by Him, like 10, 000 sights of the supernova or the grand canyon. Not so that they could be delivered from pain and in that get joy and rest, but be given God Himself as our joy and rest so we can tread through the fires that all humans go through, not as a coping mechanism, but as a new being, rejoicing in all God gives them, good and bad.

Tyler, as I know you will read this, hear this: you are a vulgar, disgusting, evil man who has not only broken all the commandments of an eternal Creator, but also does not desire God, seek God, long for the grace of God to resurrect your dying soul and quench that eternal spiritual thirst for His life you know you need every time you ponder your life in the dark hours of the night before you sleep. Yet, though all this is true, God has found it to be His delight; His delight!; to see one such as yourself brought near to Him and have your affections changed so as to long for Him and receive Him as your joy and peace and happiness, that His “joy may be made complete in you,” that you may magnify his glory in this earth.

How can I say this with such confidence? Everything I just said is the story of my life. It is the story for every Christian walking this planet. It is the state of every Christian, at the point in their lives that their souls are called upon to see the revealed grace of God extended to them, to make them “white as snow,” and the make the only decision they possibly can: to long for God, and in that overflow want to obey Him. This is the Gospel that Jesus lived, breathed, and died. This is the Gospel that has saved every Christian since the dawn of time, from Abraham in Ur to Paul Burkhart in Richmond, VA to perhaps, Tyler Bass.

In summary, Christians, preach the Gospel, preach the Gospel, preach the Gospel! That is the only thing that can bring those we love to the only source and fountain of joy, peace,love, and rest they will ever desire, not our facts or knowledge.

Be not discouraged if you have not read every Lee Stroebel, Josh MacDowell, or C.S. Lewis book. Don’t feel useless or not “relevant” if people don’t call you an “intellectual juggernaut,” because those words will only haunt you as you realize the futility of all man’s wisdom, even that which defends God. How even that wisdom is only as good as God uses it to be. So desire that knowledge, seek it, but rely not upon it, for it is not the power of God for the salvation of all peoples. Only the sovereign work of God and the Holy Spirit can do that. So, preach what the Bible calls the “foolishness of God!” I mean, our savior died! According to the unChristian world, where’s the wisdom in that. It only goes to show you how this could not have been just “made up” by man. No human could ever come up with such a foolish story for a faith.

Only God could establish a story for redemption that was so wise beyond the perceptual framework of man that man would just have to push it off to the side and call it weakness and foolishness, when it has brought empires to their knees, for it is the power of God for the salvation of all those called to be His for His glory.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given Him a gift that he might be repaid? For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be glory for ever. Amen.”
–Romans 11:34-36

Regarding the seemingly bold statements made above about myself and my gifts. Christians, take note. I say all that in the Spirit of Paul when he said, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10) All that I have done, said, and lived before Tyler has not been I, but the grace of God within me. I take no credit for the gifts given to me, but I will in no way demean them for the sake of a post-modern misconception of what humility is. I have great gifts, but they are not of myself, nor for myself. They are for the glory of God for the joy of all peoples.

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5 thoughts on “The Bondage of the Will: An Exhortation to all Christendom

  1. Interesting. A couple questions: Did you take a survey of your entire Religious Studies department asking them about their religions? Does it really matter if they are Christian or not? Are you not entering class with bias yourself, when you know, or assume, that your professor does not wear a cross around their neck or quote the New Testament every other sentence?
    I have a very diverse group of friends… some extremely liberal, some extremely conservative; some aetheist, some “hard core” Christians. I don’t agree with everything any of them say, but I would never say that any of them are going to Hell because of their beliefs. I thank God for the freedom of thought and speech and will, and I believe that if the person is doing Good, then God will see that, regardless of the person’s faith. Do you think that everyone who does not accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior is damned?
    I have found that most of my non-Christian friends do not open up to Christianity because it is portrayed as a “closed” religion… as a “you’re either with us, or against us”… “believe or die” sort of thing. It does not seem very welcoming to them, and why should it when it is portrayed like that, or even how you described it? I think that for your evangelism to really work, there needs to be a greater connection to more people. arms need to open, hearts need to be understanding. I never really bought in to the “Fear of God” thing. I love God, I’m not afraid of God, and trying to scare someone into believing seems to be counter productive.
    You do have gifts. You are a good writer and thinker. More than that, you have great courage to say all the things you say with such passion and fortitude. That being said, you may want to try and study some other religions other than your own. Maybe you will see that though they all may be different in name, the basic principles of faith, hope, and love ring through all the religions.
    Anyway, this was interesting, different, but interesting. I hope your friend doesn’t take what you said too harshly.

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  2. one point to noelle:

    what is the point of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins if you can save yourself through other means?

    The cross is pointless then.

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  3. Wow, what a lot has been happening here since I last checked!

    A couple thoughts:

    I doubt Paul is implying that there is little to be learned from a Biblical course taught by an unbeliever, rather that it would be better to be taught by one who experientially knows the faith (in addition to professional expertise and study). Surely there is much to gain in learning the “facts” of Christianity from an outsider, but then if you had the chance to be taught the ways of the stars by a star itself, would that not be far richer than being taught by the greatest astronomer?

    This may seem a silly comparison, but you must understand that Christians believe that with redemption comes an entirely new life, new sight, a new dimension to reality in a sense–one that is not known to those outside the faith. I would argue that it is quite different than a cognitive-behaviorist teaching psychodynamic theory. But even then, I would rather learn psychodynamic thought from one who practiced it himself; I certainly am not gaining much in this regard from all the CBT’s running around ; )

    Hmph. I feel my argument has run away with me as I am not even sure of the exact point Paul was seeking to make. I only know that the responses suggest to me it was interpreted in a way that I am fairly certain he did not mean.

    Second thought, to follow up with “anonymous'” response to Noelle:

    Christians do not say that people go to hell because of their “beliefs” in the sense that you mean. The Bible teaches that sure, God does see the “good deeds” of each and every individual–regardless of the person’s faith, just as you say. God sees my good deeds and my bad. He sees my desire to do right, to be worthy, to be of value and purpose, to help others… but, regardless of my faith, that is, without my faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice in consideration, all of these deeds and desires are seen as dirt and scum–a pitiful attempt at righteousness. And God has spoken that He cannot commune with less than righteousness.

    Hm, I did not intend this to grow so long… there is so much more I could say, but I am struck with this simple question: how do we know God? How do we know what He is like and who He will or will not let into His presence? Paul is seeking to learn more of His character through what is known of human life–and I am interested to hear what comes of it. However, when one is speaking of One so much greater than our small minds, I am brought back to this question: has God spoken or not? I believe that He has, and I believe that the Bible is one of the most clear-cut sources of what He has said that is available to us.

    Faith, hope, and love–yes, these are true and good. But does not the object of said faith, hope, and love matter? I can tell you that when I have faith in myself, hope in myself, and love myself most, I quickly fall far away from true abundant life.

    I’m tempted not to even post this for these matters seem to require such careful thoroughness and I have not the time or energy. But I trust if I have left anything sorely needed, my friend Paul will pick up the slack. =)

    These are good conversations and thoughts. May God bless them and draw us all ever nearer to the Truth.

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  4. Pingback: Debates with Atheists (And Good News for Them) | the long way home

  5. Pingback: Some Hopefully Not-Crazy Musings on Calvinism & Predestination | Prodigal Paul | the long way home

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