It used to be that "acceptable people" were allowed in the front door, but the "less acceptable people" had to go in through the servants' entrance. You know ... we needed them around; we just didn't want them to be seen.
Immanuel Kant, in three separate works, carefully and persuasively explained that it is impossible to prove the existence of God. In the view of many, what Kant managed to do was to usher God out of the front door of the Logic House. You know ... "Sorry. We don't want you in here." Or, "There is no God." Now, of course, Kant never intended that, but that's how it worked out. We know that he didn't intend it because he later wrote a short book, Groundwork of a Metaphysic of Morals, that explained that while we can't logically prove the existence of God, if there is to be any morality, God was a logical necessity. (Did you follow that? It's not easy.) That is, if morality is to have any basis, any weight, any teeth, there must be a God. Thus, having ushered God out the front door, Kant let Him back in the servants' entrance. "We don't really want to see You, but we really need You around."
The sad thing is that many of us do this ourselves. We will block God's entrance through the front door of our theology and then usher Him back in through the servants' entrance. How do we do that? One example is in terms of God's Sovereignty. We give a head-nod to His Sovereignty, but when faced with the real question, we close the door. Is God actually in charge of everything? "No!" we will respond with certainty. That is, when bad things happen, that's not God. When an illness strikes or a tornado hits or a car accident takes away life or limb, that wasn't God. When you get robbed or someone hurts you, that certainly wasn't God. "No, no, God is sovereign" (because by now it has degraded to a lowercase "s") "only insofar as human Free Will is not involved. God cannot or does not contravene the Free Will." "Oh, and He also doesn't control natural events like those hurricanes or cancer ... that kind of thing." So we carefully absolve God of any responsibility in "bad things" by closing the door on His Sovereignty. Nebuchadnezzar said of God, "He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, 'What have you done?'" (Daniel 4:35) and we say, "Um, well, actually we do."
That's all well and good, perhaps, but, as it turns out, we're not actually happy leaving it that way. We're fine with the theory -- God limited by Human Free Will -- but we're not too comfortable with the practical outcome. So we borrow words from Scripture and pray "Lord, open their hearts to hear You" (Acts 16:14) without regard for whether or not they want to hear Him. We ask God to "guide the hands of the surgeon" without thinking about the surgeon's Free Will in the procedure. We pray for "traveling mercies" for folks even though we just said that God is not involved when traffic accidents occur. We "pray a hedge of protection" around people when we already declared He doesn't do that kind of thing. In other words, we're very firm in our theology that God is not "that Sovereign" but pray fervently that He would be. We are happy to let Him back in the servants' entrance if He'll just do what we ask, even when we already said we don't believe He does.
Just an example. I think if you consider it, you'll find it's true in many of God's attributes. Is He really Omniscient or only "mostly omniscient"? Is He actually Omnipotent or is it a limited edition of omnipotence? For some, they're perfectly happy to limit God in His justice or even His love if it violates their own perspective. But when it comes down to it, we don't actually want to worship and serve a God who is not actually all those things and more. "No," we tell Him, "You can't come in this way. You'll have to go around to the servants' entrance."
We expect unbelievers to ... well ... unbelieve. We know that those who are not people of faith have no faith. But that's not us. Or it shouldn't be. We shouldn't be undercutting God at the front door of our lives only to let Him in the servants' entrance to do those things for us that we most keenly require. We need to let God be God. That will likely require a realignment of our thinking, and likely more than once. Sometimes it is often. But we must allow God to be who God says He is rather than superimposing our own version. That's just idolatry.
''Winging It' Copyright 2018 © Stan Smith. ''Winging It' articles may be reproduced in whole under the following provisions: 1) A proper credit must be given to the author at the end of each story, along with their complete bio and a link to https://www.liveasif.org/ 2) ''Winging It' content may not be arranged or "mirrored" as a competitive online service.
"Find the Call" from