Admit it, just like every other American you have received an ugly sweater from your grandma. It is has become almost a right of passage. After all is that not why they have those ugly Christmas sweater parties? You open the box and make your best effort to be grateful, reminding yourself that with her poor eyesight she may have saw the splash of color and fainted dead away. How could you not love something so beautiful?
I have the perfect solution:
- Invent a time machine.
- Visit your family Christmas parties every year of your life.
- Make a thorough description of each ugly sweater.
- Go back to your present time and then convince yourself you actually want each and every one of those sweaters.
Other than step one (and let’s face it, step four), it is pretty simple, right?
Sound a little crazy? It really doesn’t matter what time you travel between, if you wouldn’t want the sweater when you unwrap it you probably wouldn’t want it even if you knew it was coming. Even if you chose to like each sweater, it would still be Grandma’s choice to give them to you and so you are still at her mercy.
With the release of his most recent book, Love Wins, Rob Bell and his theology have been a hot-button topic. Quickly after the book’s release prominent pastors and church leaders came out against Bell’s position on heaven, hell, and the eternal destiny of all people.
Being called a “universalist,” Bell firmly denied the accusation and affirmed his belief that in every human heart God’s love will win out in the end. What has been interesting about Bell and his teaching is that he sounds Scripture saturated, even with devoted study. Yet, with a well-rounded perspective firmly planted in a high view of Scripture, one can discern that Bell starts with his own agenda then redefines theological terms to both avoid heresy and appear stanchly orthodox.
The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wish I had known about this book when I was in high school. For much of my formative years I have struggled with seeing free will in the Bible, being taught about the “age of accountability” and told that it was very explicit in the pages of Scripture. It came down to a single decision: stand alone on the argument against free will or submit to the teaching of the church. Submit was what I thought was my only option.
Happy I was to find out more than a year ago that I was not alone: there are many people who agree that there is no free will in the face of God’s omnipotence. Not only that, but it is not a new idea at all. Martin Luther does a masterful job in this classic of laying out the teaching of the Bible and its very staunch view of God’s action in drawing us to himself as the only way to be reconciled to him.
Ever have questions about how some Christians believe that we do not have free will and that God is the one who calls people to become Christian? In the 1600s, Martin Luther wrote a book called The Bondage of the Will in which he describes the Bible’s teaching on our inability to choose salvation for ourselves.
In this excellent presentation by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt (White Horse Inn), he addresses concerns that are often raised about the bondage of the will:
- Do I have any choices I can make?
- Is there no point, then to evangelism and doing good?
- I thought that I needed to have faith in Christ and repent, that sounds like something that I do on my own.
- Where does the Bible say that I have no ability to choose God?