Monday, August 3, 2009

Does God owe us anything?

Let me set this up…

First, it would seem according to conventional Christian (evangelical at least) logic that God does not owe us a darn thing since after all it was we humans who sinned and in so doing abdicated our right to expect anything from God. There is also this prevailing notion of the intrinsic nature of the creator/created relationship that suggests the superior unfathomable essence of the creator and the resulting inferior position of the created as feebly inadequate and incompetent to make demands. It seems illogical on the one hand to consider placing any expectations on God from our position of relative ineptitude. There is another even darker question that lurks under the surface here. How are we to make any expectations known to God let alone demand them from him without being able to enact some tangible justice for his failure to meet said expectations? In other words are we to assume power over God in the event of his unfaithfulness to these expectations which are owed to us?

Then, if we should speak of owing or the idea of debt we should remind ourselves that these concepts mean that an agreement has been struck between two parties upon which each party is obliged to honour the term set out therein. The key concept here is the agreement. If God owes us something it can only be that he and we have agreed that there are some terms that God is obliged to fulfill. Of course this naturally turns our attention to the covenant agreements which have been written in the scriptures. The former covenant seems to have been eclipsed by the latest one which loosely paraphrased suggests that God is obliged to provide humanity with eternal life in heaven provided we accept His demonstration of forgiveness of our own inability to meet our side of the covenant – which is sinless life. This at least is the conventional perspective. In Sum: God owes us nothing since we have failed to meet our side of the agreement yet he is willing to forgive that debt if we accept his sacrificial act of debt payment. Now heaven and eternal life are a gift we receive unmerited not an expectation we can demand to have honoured.

Now consider that…

None of us asked to exist. We did not begin our lives aware of our obligation to God so it is hardly possible to propose that we agreed to these covenant parameters. Since we are not party to this covenant the agreement would seem to stand null and void. Thus God does not owe us eternal life and we don’t owe him sinless living (if we are following the standard conventions of the Christian teaching). Both parties are off the hook. But perhaps not so quickly. God is still creator and we the unwilling created. He brings us into a world where we will encounter all these unmet desires and unfilled longings that he has designed this life to bear. He makes us alive to the goodness in life. A friend told me recently, “we are incorrigible hopers.” Merely creating us might not make God beholding to us but certainly placing us in the vibrant contradiction (love in the face of hate, hope in the face of despair, joy in the face of grief, and strength in the face of pain) that is our lives must make him responsible in some way.


Which brings me to other questions like: Is God meeting his obligations currently? Is there more we should expect? How does this expectation idea keep from becoming just another silly way for me to usurp God’s authority? I mean are the health, wealth and prosperity guys right all along?Please say it is not so...


jc said...

No. The health and wealth guys are wrong.

At the beginning of Christopher Hitchens 'God is not Great' book he has a quote that I think summarizes my belief.

Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound.
—Fulke Greville, Mustapha

So yes, if God is out there, I do think he does owe us something.

Increasing... said...

so to follow your line of thinking - If God does owe us something why not health and wealth?

jc said...

I was saying that because the prescription that they give does not work. I haven't noticed that they get sick less then anyone else or have been able to resist death any better than the rest of is.

If there is a God he at least owes us an afterlife that is not filled with eternal torment. It seems ridiculous to me that one would be created sick and yet commanded to be well. And for the sickness that you inherited you will be punished.

Increasing... said...

It would seem just as logical to argue that in the Creator(God)/Created(Us) paradigm that the Creator is not subject to the created's logic. In other words God gets to set up the world exactly as he intends.
I totally get your arguement against the health wealth doctrine.

jc said...

I suppose you could argue that God does not adhere to the same moral code we hold to or even the same logic. If this is true God's nature would be impossible to know or understand... even more then it is now. In order to solve one problem has a bigger one been created?