Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"I'm sure glad that isn't me!"

An exchange I had with an Arminian on Facebook:

"I can't imagine being in heaven peering down at those condemned to eternal damnation and thinking, 'I'm sure glad that isn't me,' like the pharisee in the parable of the tax collector."

Suppose a person misses their flight due to a traffic jam. The plane they were scheduled to fly on crashes shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board.

Is it Pharisaical to say, "I"m sure glad I wasn't on that plane"? You can express gratitude that you avoided that fate without gloating over the fate of the passengers. Those are two separate issues.

"Yah, people here in this life would likely say "I'm sure glad I wasn't on that plane," human nature and all, but you cannot compare what a fallen human in this life would feel to what a fully sanctified soul in heaven in union with Christ would feel."

To begin with, I'd avoid putting words in the mouth of Jesus. I think it best to let Jesus speak for himself than presume to turn him into our mouthpiece.

In addition, you seem to think it's unholy for a person to be grateful that they didn't die because they missed their flight. By that logic, they shouldn't thank God that they are still alive. When, exactly, should a person thank God? If you're a cancer survivor, but someone else dies of cancer, it would be unsanctified to thank God that you didn't die of cancer? Given that every time something good happens to you, something bad happens to someone else, when is there ever a time, on your view, to thank God? Do you pray before you eat dinner? What about all the starving people around the world. Is it unholy for you to be grateful that you're not starving to death?

What does sacrificial love have to do with it? It's not as if the person in my hypothetical was in a position to take the place of another passenger on the plane. He didn't know the plane was going to crash.

Are you living under a bridge while paying rent so that other people can live in your home? 

Let's take a different comparison. Suppose a mother drops her child off at elementary school. Midmorning she receives a frantic phone call from a neighbor to switch on the TV. There's live news of a sniper at the elementary school. Preliminary reports of children shot. But police are withholding names of the victims.

If, after agonizing hours of not knowing, she finds out that her child was not one of victims, is it wrong for her to be overjoyed that her own child wasn't killed? She can be happy about her own child, and grief-stricken about the other children at the same time, can't she?

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