Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Is God On Trial?

One of the frequent statements made among Adventists is that “God is on trial”. Recently I posted the article refuting Clifford Goldstein article Judging the Judge. Some Adventists will even assert that this trial depends upon us, human beings for the vindication of God. Mark Finley said in Facing Revelation's Judgment Discoveries In Prophecy Lecture #9 Net 96:
“And Lucifer has charged before the whole universe that God is unfair, that God is not righteous, that God's way is not the best, that God's law is narrow and restrictive. So God is on trial before His own universe. And Satan has said that God is unfair, that God makes laws that can't be kept, that God does not desire us to be happy, that God is partial, that He plays favorites.”
In the next paragraph:

“You and I are evidence in the trial. As our lives come up before God in judgment, God says to the angels, "Could I have done anything more to save Mark Finley?"
Bob Pickle website says:
“Fourth, the idea about God proclaiming the truth about Himself is derived from Romans 3:4. In some sort of way, according to this text, God is on trial. During the judgment His character is being vindicated, and Satan's lies are being exposed. No, He isn't a vengeful tyrant. No, He isn't overindulgent. He has been loving, merciful, and just with every sinner.”
[This is a pretty funny section where Pickle tries to defend the Clear Word Paraphrase as being accurate in its representation of Daniel 8:14. Just last week I was at a lecture where a Greek scholar from Loma Linda University also pointed to this verse in the Clear Word Bible and his statement was something to the effect that here, referring to the Clear Word Bible on Daniel 8:14 was a clear example of textual corruption]

Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., in his article "THE TYPOLOGY AND THEOLOGY OF THE PRE-ADVENT JUDGMENT" offers a conflicted view if you read his captions but overall he is in the God is on trial camp.
“God Is Not on Trial. In a sense, the ones who are "on trial" in the investigative phases of the final judgment are not the saved or the unsaved, but God Himself. It is God's justice and mercy manifested in His decision to save some and condemn others that is being judged by moral intelligences…”
Then he says:
“God Is on Trial. Yet there is a sense in which God is "on trial" before His moral universe. For several reasons, God is willing and expected to give an account of His creative, redemptive, and punitive activities.”
This is one of the great contribution of the Seventh-day Adventist church, God is on trial. God is on trial before unknown moral intelligences; who we know nothing about. We have no knowledge that they are judging God or question God or God’s choices in who is saved and not saved. But we can be thankful that God is not on trial before the moral intelligences who inhabit our world. How do you think an Atheist would judge God, when he says there is no God? Or what about the Agnostic who says if there is a God He sure can’t be like the God of the Old Testament. God is not going to do too well in that type of trial. We already know the Islamic people reject the God of the New Testament, the writings were wrong and Jesus was not crucified or resurrected. Clearly those of us on earth have insufficient knowledge to judge God. We however can judge whether we believe in God or whether we choose to accept and trust God but we have no way of knowing if God is just or not in any trial type situation. We can believe it, we can accept it as a revelation of God about Himself but as the judge in a trial we are woefully lacking.

So the invention of the “moral intelligences” who examine the books of God was established. As the Bible says man looks on the outward appearance but God looks upon the heart. So in the trial the moral intelligences have to depend upon God’s own truthful recording of man’s thoughts. Unless of course we give these intelligences the same supernatural powers of God. But no matter how you look at it the judges in this type of trial are dependent upon God for all information used in the judgment. This would really invalidate this trial in the eyes of any questioning being. In all this it is hard to imagine that with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, that sacrificial love, that there are moral intelligences out there in the universe with questions about God. If there are however, the Bible gives us no indication of such and really since we have no Biblical basis for this alleged trial it is unwise to waste time on such speculation. As with the other views of the Investigative Judgment this view of God on trial is not held by most Christians.

There is a quote from recent book of collected essays by C.S. Lewis called God in the Dock which is good to remember when we start to think that God is on trial. The following is from Anchor for the soul:

“However, some people would rather think of themselves as being the judge of God. God is on trial. Listen to this brilliant quote by C.S. Lewis.

The ancient man approached God...as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God's acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.

Oh! How arrogant we can be! How could we think that we could be more loving than the God, who is love? How could we think that we could be more just than the very Being who defines justice? “

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

In a recent article posted at Lastgenerationtheology.org, Adventist Herb Douglass says this:

"Let’s remember that the ultimate purpose of the gospel is to prepare a people who can be trusted with eternal life..."

Later on he adds:

"It doesn’t take long in our studies to note that “Satan had claimed that it was impossible for man to obey God's commandments; and in our own strength it is true that we cannot obey them.… [But] when a soul receives Christ, he receives power to live the life of Christ.”11 And when that restored life becomes a forever habit pattern, “they have a right to join the blood-washed throng.”12

Men and women of faith will one day have the “right” (by the grace of God) to live forever! Potent words! Why? God can “trust” them! Why? “Character … decides destiny”13 and that has been the whole purpose of the gospel, of why Christ came to earth and died. Such men and women of faith help to place the universe “on an eternal basis of security.”14"

http://www.lastgenerationtheology.org/lgt/doc/3coo/dou-robe.php

The first statement claims that the ultimate purpose of the gospel is to prepare a people for eternal life. This claim is unsubstantiated by any Bible verse.

The second passage claims that Satan has argued that God's Ten Commandment Law cannot be kept, and that this claim is at the basis of Satan's opposition to God and the cause of the Great Controversy. But this passage likewise lacks direct Biblical support, relying instead on an EGW quote from Christ's Objects Lessons.

Now, it seems to me that both of these passages contain a certain logic to them. But as often as we've heard them as SDA's, they lack clear, convincing Biblical support.

And both of these statements are linked to the notion of God's being on trial before the universe and in which we are the test subjects.

Glenn

Herb Douglass said...

I am always enlightened by ccmments on many threads. Pure intellectual delight! In "God on Trial," (2004) I attempted to unfold the biblical theme of the Great Controversy. The cover ticker is "The Cost of Freedom in the Great Controversy." In several articles and other books, I have tried to trace this controversy through the Bible, using only biblical texts. It seems to me the fundamental question is: What is God wanting to accomplish in His Plan of Salvation? We have many choices, such as Calvinism, Lutheranism, Pentecostalism, etc.--all of which are projecting contrary solutions to the sin problem. Why the conflicts? They all follow seminar theologians who have different concepts of the character of God. And those concepts are usually based on prevailing philosophical principles. I choose to use the God Jesus identified as the Waiting Father and Himself as our Healer-Saviour (same words in Greek), In so doing, the biblical texts present the Great Controversy story and thus explains why Jesus came the way He did and why He died. It seems very convincing to me, uniting my head and my heart as no other biblical picture has done. Of course, no one is at the same place as another at any given moment, but understanding the "controversy" in biblical terms, clears up what my daily decisions should be and what kind of promises I can expect God to graciously fulfill. Cheers, Herb

meadbd said...

-------------------------------
There is a quote from recent book of collected essays by C.S. Lewis called God in the Dock which is good to remember when we start to think that God is on trial. The following is from Anchor for the soul:

“However, some people would rather think of themselves as being the judge of God. God is on trial. Listen to this brilliant quote by C.S. Lewis.

The ancient man approached God...as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God's acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.

Oh! How arrogant we can be! How could we think that we could be more loving than the God, who is love? How could we think that we could be more just than the very Being who defines justice? “
---------------------------------

As C.S.Lewis says, "Oh! How arrogant we can be!"
********************************

God has never been on trial...we are!
For God is the Creator, Sustainer,
and Redeemer.
The Gospel: that Jesus died for our sins and gave us life where we deserved hell, damnation, and death! Now THAT IS GOOD NEWS!
Let us spend more time praising and lifting up the blessed name of Jesus than showing(or trying to show) our great intelligence!

God is not interested in our becoming a better adventist, but becoming His child!

Bill Mead
john20.30.31@verizon.net
http://mysite.verizon.net/meadbd/index.html

Anonymous said...

God has put Himself on trial. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Our lives testify to the words of God. To say that “God is on trial” is one thing. It is twisted thinking to portray this as superior people judging an inferior God. Your C.S Lewis quote is not addressing God’s challenge to “try Me”.

Ron Corson said...

If you read the verse you quote you will see it has nothing to do with trying the Lord but acknowledging that the Lord is good and can be trusted.

(Psa 34:7 NIV) The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

(Psa 34:8 NIV) Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

(Psa 34:9 NIV) Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.

David@howtostudythebible said...

I find it very interesting indeed that "anonymous" believes there is no biblical evidence for some of the things he has against Herb's article.

You do not believe the ultimate purpose of the Gospel is to prepare people to be trusted with eternal life and believe there is nothing in the bible to even suggest such a thing.

Matthew 19:16 Jesus is asked how do I get eternal life… his response keep the commandments
Matthew 19:29- Jesus further says that those you sacrifice in this life will receive eternal life
Matthew 25 pictures sheep and goats with the sheep getting the ticket punched because of their attitude of service
Luke 10:25 has a lawyer asking him the same question as in Matthew 19 his response "you tell me" lawyer responded with love God with everything you are and love your neighbor as yourself. (loving your neighbor as yourself can be qualified in the Matthew 25 sheep and Matthew 19:29 sacrificial people John 15:13 also same spirit)
Jesus says that is correct do this and you will live (contextually eternally) John 3:15-16 also tells us believing (having faith) in the sacrifice of christ will produce eternal life.
Mark 1:15 talks about repenting and believing in the gospel, which is the good news of God saving man by faith in a nut shell.
Now by accepting that you live a life of Galatians 2:20; if you put it all together its clear from the bible the gospel prepares you to live eternally with God!
Now your second point was Satan never said we (as men) cannot keep the commandments or obey God it is found nowhere in scripture and therefore we get this idea from Ellen White. Genesis 3 at a minimum suggests you cannot trust God’s word/instruct. In tempting Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4 you get the idea that Satan is trying to distort God’s word again to get Jesus to sin. In Job Satan suggests that Job only follows God because it’s easy to, he won’t trust you if you etc. You get the point I am sure. Perhaps there is nothing in the bible that says “satan said “it is impossible for man to obey God’s Commandments” but Satan does in-fact state Man cannot trust God at his word, his word is instruction and if his instructions cannot be trusted then why obey them. It is pretty plain for me to see that Satan has an agenda to dispute God’s command in Eden on the basis of “living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” is tainted as God cannot be trusted and according to Paul all have sinned and fallen short… so what can we conclude? Man cannot as Satan would get you to believe keep God’s law because you cannot trust him enough to obey him and this as understood by Paul means EVERYONE SINS. But the remedy for this is again Galatians 2:20! THE GOSPEL; No Ellen White used for my belief Boss just the Word of God

Suzanne Ashley said...

What’s up with not using EGW quotes? She was a prophet and given many visions. The instructions given her are a GIFT to the church. There is no reason at all to be ashamed of this wonderful gift and intimidated to call to attention the instructions and guidance given to the SDA church and the clarification her writings provide in understanding Scripture.