God and Choice Theory
Some questions have been coming in and I thought that, while I’m finishing up We Want to Feel Good, Pt. 4, you could wrestle with one of them.
What about God in the Old Testament and choice theory? He seemed pretty into rewards and punishments. People who argue with me argue about this. Nina D.
OK, choice theory community, what do you think? I have a feeling that 1) this strikes a chord with a lot of us, and 2) a lot of us have already thought about this topic. How have you answered this question? What are some of the bullet points that reflect your thinking?
When we are dealing with young children we still try to give them choices, but within a fairly limited framework. For the most part, we have to be somewhat controlling because young children simply don’t have the information and maturity to make informed choices. The Old Testament Israelites were essentially children, at least spiritually. When God rescued them from slavery in Egypt they were primitive, superstitious and ignorant, having been slaves for 400 years. They simply didn’t have the information necessary for making intelligent choices. God gave them freedom, they messed up repeatedly, and at some point, to keep them from destroying themselves, God had to put His foot down and draw the line. It took hundreds of years for them to get to the point that they could think about what they were doing intelligently, and even then they had a hard time making the right choices (kind of like us!). It is only after Christ came and lived as our example that God could expect us to actually understand what His expectations are for us. It would have been unfair for God to give the Old Testament Israelites the same freedoms that we have because they did not have the knowledge and maturity to handle it. It would be like us turning an 8-year-old loose unsupervised on the streets of New York and expecting them to be safe.
I have thought about how God risked being misunderstood as He worked with Israel throughout the OT. I agree with you that Israel was bent on destroying themselves and that at times He had to intervene, but out of love, not to control.
The OT view relies primarily on fear as motivation to do right –
The NT entirely on the power of love –
Which view a person chooses as their view of God is is reflective of that persons total faith – or lack thereof – in the power of love as a motivator for good behavior.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
Which view I choose also makes all the difference in how I relate to all of God’s children – good or bad behavior notwithstanding.
The idea that a person chooses a certain view of God is a really interesting one. I believe this is what takes place and that too often the results have been disastrous. We haven’t talked about this in the blog yet, but at some point I would like us to consider the question, “Are we allowing God to create us in His image or are we trying to create Him in ours?”
OK then, here’s my take on this huge topic….
Jeremiah (31:31-34) claims that the Lord “declares” there will be a “new covenant” where “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” No longer will it be necessary to “teach” or “say” “because they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest.”
We celebrate the fulfillment of this relationship with communion. “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20)
What this says to me is that Jesus “decentralized” spirituality.
Through him, our “hearts” and “minds” are all that we need for Kingdom Living.
The Jewish Mosaic Law is over.
There is heated debate on who are members of the New Covenant.
Jeremiah says “they will all know me.”
I like that.
Thanks again Jim.
I like that, too.