Ignorance and Denial -- Thoughts from a Refined and Consistent Free Grace Theology Perspective
The RIGHT THING in the RIGHT PERSON
The right thing: faith
in the right Person: Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God
There has been much discussion concerning some form of responsibility to acknowledge Jesus as God for the purpose of a theological and/or logical condition for the reception of everlasting life. Some have argued that "ignorance" can be somewhat overlooked while "denial" of the deity of Jesus would preclude someone from receiving everlasting life, even if this person has cast himself upon the saving graces of the authorized and appointed Christ of God, Jesus of Nazareth.
I think that we all need a little more refined (pun intended) thinking on this subject. Let us test this ignorance versus denial distinction. How hard and fast are they?
Let us say that I was ignorant of the true *for the sake of argument* fact that my mom was an assassin for some secretive government agency. I am completely unaware, ignorant. In my ignorance, how free am I from denial? This is a tricky question with many swaying variables.
1) My 4th cousin asks me if my mom is a secret assassin for a secretive government agency. In my ignorance, I deny that she is.
2) My 4th cousin tells me that my mom is a secret assassin for a secretive government agency. In my ignorance, I deny that she is.
Both scenarios here show that there is no separating between ignorance and denial. In either case, ignorance of the fact produced denial. It is a hard fact to understand that God humbled himself to become a man. It is hard to understand how God can do that. It is hard to understand that God can be distinguished from Jesus of Nazareth if Jesus is God as well as God who He is distinguished from. It is hard to comprehend that if Jesus is distinguished from God yet is God how God can be two (let alone three) Persons yet be only one God! So when someone understands Jesus to have lived a life as a human his very first answer to the question, "Is Jesus God?" will be a denial of that fact because of his ignorance. Even when told that Jesus is God, his very first impression in his ignorance will be denial!
Maybe you will come back and say that the difference is that in #2 the denial is addressed to a specific assertion that such is true. I will give you that distinction. But it fails to be germane to this discussion, at any rate, for unless there is information to persuade me in either scenario that my mom is indeed an assassin, in my ignorance, I will deny it! Whether I am asked if my mom is an assassin, or am told that she is, if I am not persuaded that she is, in my ignorance I will deny it!
Let us add some more information to the #2 scenario.
Let us say that after my initial denial, my cousin said that she saw my mom talking to the CIA. And for the sake of argument, let us also say that I find my cousin totally trustworthy in her communications.
Is this enough information to convince me? There could be multitudes of reasons why my mom could have been talking to the CIA.
What if my cousin told me that my mom owns 3 guns, or that my mom has information about various terrorists on her computer. Would this be enough information to persuade me?
What if I agreed that the evidence was true but denied it had the same meaning as my cousin attributed to it?
Listen, there will have to be a whole lot of persuasive evidence to convince me that my mom is an assassin for the government! She is 66 years old, 5'4'', and doesn't move too quick. She lives in town with me and I see her often... So many other considerations and thoughts I have about my mom would preclude me from easy persuasion that she is an assassin for the government.
The things I know about my mom will act as a defense to me coming to the conclusion that my mom is an assassin. The evidence will have to be much stronger for me to believe that my mom is an assassin than it potentially would have to be for someone who doesn't know my mom as well.
Not everyone will come to the same conclusions about evidences and proof-texts. Are we going to shut the kingdom of God to people who haven't been persuaded that Jesus is God? If they are convinced that Jesus is authorized and appointed of God to be God's Christ, the Savior of the World, the Guarantor of eternal life to all who believe in Him, why would we consider this one as going to hell? He has believed in Jesus! And Jesus said, "Most assuredly I say to you, whoever believes in Me has everlasting life".
Why are you going to argue with the lost about their interpretation of the Bible concerning the deity of Christ? I am not saying that it will never be appropriate, but could you be doing more harm then good? Why not show Jesus of Nazareth to be the authorized of God, made to be both Lord and the Christ, the Savior of the world, the one appointed by God, the one ordained of God, to dispense eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it? Shall not the deep things such as Christ's eternal sonship, the Trinity, and the hypostatic union be things reserved as meat for those who by virtue of their maturity and experience be able to digest such?
In my last post, Is faith in Jesus of Nazareth Saving Faith?, we saw the scenario of someone who believed that the Bible was true but wasn't persuaded that Jesus was God. He denies that Jesus is God, because of, among many other things, the texts that clearly distinguish Jesus of Nazareth from God. It is not that he is denying certain texts used by those who say that Jesus is God, but he is under the impression that those texts have another meaning other than that Jesus is God. This could be likened to the above scenario in the sense that my mom talking to the CIA could have a number of legitimate meanings to it. What this person has done, has chosen to interpret those passages that seem to state that Jesus is God with the spectacles and understanding that in many passages that Jesus of Nazareth is distinguished from God, receives His authority from God, and has been appointed by God to be Lord and Christ. Therefore, he believes his interpretation of the Bible.
Sidebar: Those who are Lordship Salvation. I believe that most of you are sincere and honestly believe the Bible, ALL that it says. I would hope that you would afford me the same benefit. I wholeheartedly believe the Bible. What seems so clear to you in your interpretation of the bible is thoroughly erroneous in my estimation, and vice-versa. Just because someone ends up on the wrong end of the doctrine that Jesus is God does not mean that he doesn't believe the Bible! What you say is clear could be quite murky at best to some other guy.
If someone believed that the Bible was true, yet was not persuaded that Jesus was God, denying this fact, because this person attributed other meaning to the "evidences" of Jesus' deity than we would, based upon his impression of the scriptures that distinguish God from Jesus of Nazareth, whereby God endues Jesus with power, gives Him authority, and appoints Him as the Christ, yet, nevertheless, entrusts Jesus of Nazareth with his eternal well-being, his eternal destiny, who in his mind is God's Christ, authorized to give eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it, why would you say that this man is unsaved? His denial that Jesus is God did not preclude him from believing in Jesus of Nazareth for eternal life. His denial that Jesus is God did not preclude him from trusting Jesus for irrevocable eternal well-being. I think that in more ways than one that the above scenarios correspond to the circumstances of the disciples when they were born again. If one was to ask one of the disciples, "is Jesus God" shortly after they had believed that He was the Christ, the Savior of the World, they would have said, "No," denying this doctrine in their ignorance.
There is a lot more careful thinking needed on this consideration, and I am convinced that many of you are falling trap to the traditional paradigms that have stuck as unquestionable orthodoxy in your minds yet without biblical support.
If someone trusts in Jesus of Nazareth for eternal life, they will not ever be left disappointed.