My friend from another forum, a protestant, is having a crisis of faith and asked our help sorting it out. We’re not theologians or anything even remotely close, just regular folk. Could someone here please field the following issue so I can help him out? This is what he said:
**I’ve been struggling in no small measure with my faith the last 6 months. As I’ve mentioned to Dem and Rev, I used to be one of those hard-nosed, hell-fire-and-brimstone, independent, fundamental, Baptist pastors that everyone loves to hate.
For personal reasons, I was asked to step down (not a mistress, no money, no altar boys) and leave the church. I can understand, since I was unable to lead - had no vision, no direction - and was full-blown into a faith-shaking examination of what I really believed - or even if I actually DID believe.
Enough intro… One of the questions/comparisons that I’m really struggling with I will share with you all, in hopes that I can get a good answer. I’ve looked at both liberal and conservative websites looking for a good answer; I can’t seem to find one that makes sense or doesn’t seem to make excuses for God.
I’ll copy and paste the KJ version of the verses with explanation.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pe 3:9)
This verse, in connection with several others of the same vein, seem to communicate that God’s driving purpose in dealing with man is man’s salvation. The New Testament seems to state over and over that God’s “will” - His “theleis”, or driving goal - is man’s salvation.
Normally, I wouldn’t disagree - except for a statement Jesus makes in Matthew 11.
“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” (Mat 11:23)
Here’s where I’m having great difficulty. I have multiple passages telling me that God loves mankind, that He gave His Son for mankind, that His overall driving goal in dealing with mankind is that mankind would be saved. Yet, here Jesus Himself states that He KNEW exactly what it would have taken for an entire city to be saved, yet He chose to withhold that information.
I’m supposed to trust a God who knows what a person needs to hear to be saved, yet purposefully withholds that one thing that will cause that person to be saved from an eternity in hell? If I’m told (or tell others, as I did for 13 years) that God knows what is best for us, that nothing that He allows or does is anything BUT the best for us - yet here is Jesus being recorded as effectively saying that what was best for the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah is that they burn for all eternity in hell?
I’m not trying to sound angry or rebellious or any such thing. My faith is teetering on the edge of dissolution right now. I feel like I’ve been constantly making excuses for God; I’m told to use the critically analytical mental ability that God has given to man, so long as the conclusions I come to are the conclusions I’m told to come to. I’ve patched too many holes…I can’t find enough theological duct tape to seal up the one I’ve just mentioned.
I can’t separate plenary verbal inspiration - I can’t accept mistakes in Scripture; if I do, where do I stop? I’m at a brick wall.**