amenWell, in a comment on Tuesday’s post Wayne made an excellent point, and while my series this week hasn’t been focused on his point, it is one that I believe is extremely important and that I want to address. In Christian theology, and I am utterly convinced in all truth, the Holy Spirit is active and works in the life of every believer, even before that individual becomes a believer. Every biblical theologian with a lick of sense (including Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Arminius, etc–my point here is major figures from each of the significant camps of Christian soteriology) accepts the doctrine that the holy spirit works in the life of the believer both after they are saved, to guide them in (as Paul puts it) working out their own salvation in fear and trembling, and before they are saved in initiating within them the ability to respond to God. In John 15 Jesus tells his followers that if they abide in him he will abide in them, and many theologians take this to refer to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the human soul. H. Richard Niebuhr, in his book The Responsible Self, makes the excellent point that a Christian should imagine the world around him as under the control of a sovereign God, and thus respond to every action as though it were an action in God’s design. This is not an argument that the believer should respond to sinners as though their sins were God’s perfect will for their lives, but that the believer should respond to sinners as though God allowed them to remain in their sins, and allowed those sins to affect the life of the believer, and thus should respond to those sins primarily as though he were responding to God’s hand in his life, and only secondarily respond to them as though they were sinful actions performed by sinful men.

The Holy Spirit is what Christians believe guides us towards and in this response. That if I am abiding in Christ then I can respond to all things as God would have me respond to them (i.e. as though responding to God’s hand in my life), and thus live out his calling to be holy, or wholly set apart for his worship through the of bearing his image to the world. Now, there are many mysteries here, not the least of which is that which has occupied Calvinists and Arminians through several centuries of sometimes vicious debate–the question of how the salvation of any individual may be both God’s choice from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1 and 2, etc) through which the individual was crucified with Christ, buried with him, raised with him, and ascended with him into glory, and be the individuals own efficacious choice (1 Peter 3, 2 Timothy 2, Matthew 23, etc) to repent of his/her sin, confess Christ as Lord, and submit to Him before which he/she cannot be saved. There are actually two mysteries here–1) how salvation can be both man’s own efficacious choice and God’s preknown, predestined will before creation, and 2) how man may both have been crucified, buried, raised, and glorified with Christ either after the individual’s own death (for those who lived before Christ), while the individual yet lived (for those who were contemporaries of Christ), or before the individual was born (for those who were born after Christ’s death), and not be saved until the individual repents of his/her sin and confesses Christ as Lord. These are things that don’t seem to work together, and yet we are told that they are true. Some have tried to reconcile them in various ways (which often leads to heresy of some kind as you must deny one truth to justify the other); attempted to use them to dismiss Christianity as illogical, unreasonable, or ludicrous (which only works if you have already dismissed on other grounds the concept of an omniscient, omnipotent, personal deity that is not bound by time); and some have accepted them as mysteries that are fundamentally true, but beyond our current understanding and thus knowable only to God.

So, here is your question: given these ideas 1) the indwelling of the holy spirit, 2) the unity and mystery of the faith, 3) the individual’s response to God in every action, and 4) the aid of the holy spirit in doing so, what does it mean to write fiction as a Christian?

Normally I would ask you to write a story of 1000 words. However, I have a feeling that 1000 words may not be enough for this topic. So, I’m going to ask you to either write a creative, non-fiction essay on the topic or write a short story of up to 20,000 words on the topic. Please don’t post these in the comment, but feel free to make shorter comments or to post links to your longer responses.

3 thoughts on “Philosophical Story Challenge of the Week

  1. When we are shown two or more truths that seem to completely contradict one another, the problem is probably our perspective. If God chose who is saved in a human fashion before the crafting of the world, then the people don’t choose. And if the people are able to choose then God must have left it up to us, right?

    But wait, think for a moment of a significant choice made by a character in any fiction you enjoy. Was that choice made by the character, or by the author? The answer is simple: yes. Both. The character made the choice, and the author made a character who would make the choice. From the perspective of the character (us humans), it has completely free will. From the perspective of the author, however, the author is the one working in free will. Which is true? Both, and they don’t contradict each other. Perhaps God making the choice AND us making the choice exists in the same way.

    As for the death, burial, and resurrection issue, consider that Christ died to forgive our sins, being called the Lamb of God. Why Lamb? Because the Jews for centuries had sacrificed lambs, being told by God that the shedding of blood was required to forgive sins. God told them to sacrifice the lambs. And then God fulfilled those sacrifices by sacrificing the Lamb. Thus, all the sins were forgiven by the one Sacrifice, even sins done generations before.

    When considering the perspective of the universe as a temporary construct by God to achieve one purpose: humans who have chosen Him over sin, and when considering that God made not only the worlds and stars, but time and space itself, it’s easy (well, if you can get there first) to see how these events separated by time may all be tied together.

  2. You could also throw in the concepts of God’s perfect Will and God’s permissive Will – are they both active at the same time?? Are they mutually exclusive? Did one end and the other begin? Is one an aspect of the other?

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