Jerry Walls and the Unequal Distribution of Grace

Theology / Biblical Studies

Should Arminians believe in purgatory, or should Jerry Walls say that they create a major problem for the goodness of God? It sounds like maybe it’ll have to be one of those two options.

Jerry Walls is a Protestant who believes in purgatory. His version of purgatory (unlike some of the more punitive visions of purgatory that have been common historically) is, at least in part, a place or state after death that ensures that everybody has an opportunity to respond to the grace of God and be saved (it has other functions too, but this is the one that I am interested in just now). In short, it reduces the number of people who go to hell, which Walls envisions as a state of eternal torment to which God consigns people who reject his love. Purgatory is God’s way of ensuring that everybody gets “optimal grace.” Say what now? What’s that? As Walls put it in an interview:

In short, optimal grace is whatever form and measure of grace is best suited to elicit a positive response from us, without overriding our freedom. Because we are all different, the exact nature of this will vary from person to person. But the important idea is that if God truly loves each one of us, and truly desires our salvation, he will offer his love and grace to each of us in the way that is optimal to elicit a positive response.

Pretty clearly, not everyone has such grace in this life, and that is one of the reasons I believe in postmortem grace and repentance. What this means is that in the long run, everyone has an equal opportunity to be saved. In the afterlife, God can find ways in his infinitely creative wisdom to give everyone the best opportunity to respond to the gospel.

What this underscores is that no one goes to hell because of ignorance or lack of opportunity to be saved.

He’s probably right about something: “Pretty clearly, not everyone has such grace in this life.” That seems to be the case. There are people who have never, ever heard about Jesus and indeed cannot respond to him. We can appeal to the fact that everyone has a natural knowledge of God, which is certainly a biblical idea. But it’s also a biblical idea that everyone has a basic knowledge of what God requires, and that in spite of that, we all sin. So we need saving grace, and Walls observes that not everybody gets the opportunity in this life to respond to the Gospel.

Calvinists are aware that this is the case. They maintain, as Walls points out, that “some people get irresistible grace by which they will inevitably be saved, and others are completely passed over with respect to saving grace, and are inevitably damned.” This doesn’t seem fair, says Walls. “The unequal distribution of grace here is poses insurmountable problems for God’s goodness.”

But here’s what I want to draw attention to. Most Protestants don’t believe in Purgatory. Arminians believe that “prevenient grace” will do the job that Walls sees done in purgatory: namely, giving people the chance to repent and be saved. Briefly: People are sinners and they aren’t going to respond faithfully to God. So, Calvinists maintain that God steps in and saves some of them, transforming them so that they love him and come to him. Arminians, on the other hand, think that God gives people a special gift – something they wouldn’t have in their natural sinful state – that sort of enhances their fallen abilities to respond faithfully to God. That gift is what’s called prevenient grace (Calvinists believe in “prevenient” grace as well, on the proviso that it always does the job of successfully drawing a person to God). As Roger Olson described it, “it is an operation of the Holy Spirit that frees the sinner’s will from bondage to sin and convicts, calls, illumines and enables the sinner to respond to the gospel call with repentance and faith (conversion).” In an Arminian view, whether or not a person is saved depends on what that person chose to do, given that they have received prevenient grace to make them able to make the right decision. Crucially, prevenient grace doesn’t save people. Peoples still need to make use of that grace and respond in faith and repentance, because people, with or without prevenient grace, are still sinners. And so the problem of those who have never had the opportunity to respond remains.

Walls is not a Calvinist, and he has a place for prevenient grace to work for everyone. Not everyone hears the Gospel in this life, so giving them prevenient grace to respond to it is a bit like giving somebody a fishing rod in the desert. They aint catchin’ nothing! There’s no Gospel to respond to. But what if you take purgatory away. I’m putting words into Walls’ mouth here, but once we grant with walls the fact that some people just don’t get the chance in this life to respond, it seems that if you deny that there is a further chance to respond after this life (namely in purgatory), then you’re in the same boat as the Calvinist: People are sinners and God simply passes over them without even giving them the chance to be saved, so that the distribution of grace is uneven: Some people have heard the Gospel and others have not.

So actually, given Walls’ view that not everybody has had a chance to be saved in this life, Arminianism is in the same boat and subject to the same objection as Calvinism here: The distribution of grace isn’t fair! Of course, a Calvinist just bites this bullet hard: Nobody deserves eternal life, and God chooses to give it to some. If you don’t like it, talk to the hand. Now, Walls can say, of course, the Arminian who doesn’t believe in a second chance after death has a wider base of people who can be saved: namely all those who have heard the Gospel in this life. But still, there are some who, as Walls puts it, have not “had such grace in this life.” Based on what has happened in this life, Walls thinks, they can’t be saved. So Arminians have a problem that is surely only better in degree than the problem had by Calvinists, but which is the same in principle (assuming there’s a problem here, as Walls does).

Of course, some Arminians seek to get around the problem (again, if there is a problem) by adopting inclusivism: The view that you might know nothing at all about the Gospel and still be saved, based on some mystery of mercy and perhaps divine knowledge of what you would have done, had you had the chance to hear the Gospel. But Walls cannot take this line. If he did, then this argument for purgatory (namely that it provides an opportunity to those who have never heard, and who otherwise could not be saved) would evaporate.

  • So in the first place, even on Walls’ view, both Calvinism and Arminianism (provided Arminians don’t believe in Walls’ version of purgatory) result in an “unequal distribution of grace,” and an unequal distribution of grace poses “insurmountable problems for God’s goodness.”
  • Secondly, the most widely used defence by Arminians at this point (namely that those who have never heard can still be saved) must be rejected by Walls, or else this argument for purgatory fails. So Walls really must accept that Calvinists and Arminians have the same problem here (whatever other problems he might think Calvinism has).
  • Thirdly: Arminians, how do you get around the unequal distribution of grace thing? Do you just bite the bullet and say that if people don’t hear then they miss out? Or do you think that even though people lack repentance and faith, they can come to God some other way? Let’s hear from you.

Glenn Peoples

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{ 25 comments… add one }

  • Ross January 12, 2014, 7:37 am

    On this matter I am perennially unsure but in general I gravitate away from calvinism.
    So as to this question, I have always thought that salvation would indeed be available to those who have not heard due to the fact that death is not the end. How the individual reacts upon encountering God will still however depend (at least in part) on how they had previously responded to the revelation that was available to them in their life. Whether this occurs at the resurrection or in some kind of intermediate state doesn’t matter in this regard.

    I presume Glenn you are already familiar with Craig’s molinist solution? I.e God ensured that only those who would have rejected the gospel, had they heard it, never hear it. Or put another way, all those who would have freely accepted the gospel have already or will eventually hear it. What do you think? (I presume based on your Calvinism you reject it)

  • Glenn January 12, 2014, 12:56 pm

    Ross, obviously you reject Bill’s solution, since you think that everyone will have the opportunity to hear and respond to the message of salvation. And since it doesn’t happen in this life, it looks like you’re committed to what Jerry Walls is proposing. I don’t think that the way the biblical writers talk about the return of Christ and the resurrection leaves room for a second opportunity at that point. They seem very final about what takes place then. Paul thought that at the moment of the resurrection we would enter immortality and glory, for example, and Jesus in John’s Gospel said that the lost would rise to be condemned. So if you want to get around the issue of an unequal distribution of grace / opportunity in this life, you have to adopt a way for people to live on after they have died (and as you know, that’s nonsense to me) so that when they are dead they can have another chance.

    Bill’s solution in a way just bites the bullet: Yes there is definitely an unequal distribution of opportunity. But that’s acceptable, he says, because everyone who did not get the opportunity would have rejected the opportunity anyway. They would not have repented, even if they had the chance to do so. What he’s doing is presenting a logically possible scenario, so that if a detractor wants to say that God is being unfair, they’ve got to show that the scenario that he describes can’t be true.

    Of course the Calvinist rejects the solution he proposes, because as far as the Calvinist is concerned, nobody at all would freely repent because we are in bondage to sin. This is true whether people get the opportunity to respond or not. And if the unequal distribution itself is a problem, then clearly it’s a problem for Craig. I can imagine that Walls might say (but I don’t know that he thinks this) that Craig’s solution is a bit like a society where only an apparently random selection of people are permitted to vote. Unjust, you say! No, say the lawmakers, because they saw into the future and realise that those people weren’t going to vote. Needless to say, there are still those who will not find this defence entirely comforting.

    There’s also an interesting passage of Scripture which, if read through Arminian eyes, presents a significant problem for Bill’s solution, I think. In Luke 10:13, Jesus laments how reluctant people in his time were to believe, in spite of the evidence of who he was. Then he makes a comparison to a people who lived long ago: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” The meaning seems pretty clear: You people aren’t repenting even though I’m right here, working miracles, giving you the opportunity to do so – but these people from long ago, if they had this sort of opportunity, they would have repented.

    But they didn’t have the opportunity and they did not repent. So it sounds like Jesus thought that there were some people who never had the opportunity to repent, but who would have done so under different circumstances.

  • Blair Donkin January 12, 2014, 4:31 pm

    “But they didn’t have the opportunity and they did not repent. So it sounds like Jesus thought that there were some people who never had the opportunity to repent, but who would have done so under different circumstances.” This being the case then, where does it leave them or other such people? Sounds to me like the Calvanist would say, “well, that’s just the way it is”, where as the Arminian would as you point out, look for another opportunity for a response to grace. Here is a people who appear to not have had an opportunity to repent and so they didn’t but not because, had they had such, they still would not have repented and so were not offered it. Your article, the options discussed and the comment plus response don’t address the particular scenario raised here: “Bill’s solution in a way just bites the bullet: Yes there is definitely an unequal distribution of opportunity. But that’s acceptable, he says, because everyone who did not get the opportunity would have rejected the opportunity anyway. They would not have repented, even if they had the chance to do so. What he’s doing is presenting a logically possible scenario, so that if a detractor wants to say that God is being unfair, they’ve got to show that the scenario he describes can’t be true.” Isn’t this what Jesus does in Luke 10:13?
    Can you comment further please?

  • Glenn January 12, 2014, 8:17 pm

    “Isn’t this what Jesus does in Luke 10:13?”

    No I don’t see that happening, Blair. In Luke 10:13 Jesus didn’t say “everyone who did not get the opportunity would have rejected the opportunity anyway.” In fact he seems to be saying the opposite: That some people who didn’t get a chance to hear are actually people who would have accepted the opportunity, and repented. So if we think about grace and our response to it in Arminian terms (as Bill does), it would appear that the contention that everyone who would have repented gets the chance to do before they die is not a biblical contention.

    “Sounds to me like the Calvanist would say, “well, that’s just the way it is”, where as the Arminian would as you point out, look for another opportunity for a response to grace.”

    Some Arminians would do that, yes. Jerry, for example, does. But most Arminians do not believe in Jerry’s purgatory, so they don’t have that resource. Some Arminians might take Bill Craig’s stance and claim that the fact that some people never got the chance is acceptable – since they would not have repented anyway. But as for the remaining Arminians, I’m all ears.

    I think this is a problem text for Bill’s position and also a very curious text from a monergist (Calvinist / Augustinian) position as well. From a monergist point of view, the only thing that really makes a person repent is the work of the Holy Spirit working efficaciously to bring repentance about. So it’s strange to see Jesus say that these people would have repented under different circumstances.

  • Blair Donkin January 12, 2014, 10:22 pm

    Thanks Glenn. I’m not sure I was all that clear at the end of my comment. I agree with you that Jesus isn’t, in Luke 10:13, saying that everyone who didn’t get an opportunity to hear the gospel would have rejected it anyway, in fact the opposite. But that’s my point; isn’t Jesus pointing out that Bill Craig’s scenario isn’t logically true, which is what any detractor from it would have to prove as you say. Bill’s arguement says that, because the person would have rejected the gospel anyway, it doesn’t matter about an inequal opportunity for grace. A detractor may cry”not fair!” But, the challenge for them, as you put it, is to prove this unfairness on the basis that had the opportunity for grace been different, not unequal as we know it is (and as Jesus acknowledges in Luke 10:13), then they (in Bill’s scenario) might well have repented. Doesn’t Jesus in his statement play the role of the detractor to Bill’s arguement in what he says? If so, where the question is, where then does that leave such people? It seems to me, just following the arguement here, that there are those who are condemned, and had circumstances been different, they might not have been. This realisation (see Romans 10) seems to be the motivating factor behind mission, and yet we have the tension of Romans 9 preceding this. I hope others comment too as I’m very interested to see what they think.

  • Glenn January 12, 2014, 10:50 pm

    “isn’t Jesus pointing out that Bill Craig’s scenario isn’t logically true”

    Ah, got it. Yes, it does seem that way – that Jesus is saying that some who never hear might actually have done so if things had been different. It’s not that Bill’s position isn’t logical. It just seems that Jesus did not consider it to be true.

  • Ross January 13, 2014, 1:44 am

    “… They seem very final about what takes place then. Paul thought that at the moment of the resurrection we would enter immortality and glory, for example, and Jesus in John’s Gospel said that the lost would rise to be condemned. ”

    Your reference to Paul’s comment isn’t very relevant. This isn’t about whether we enter glory at the resurrection (which we do) but whether any who died not believing/knowing Christ will be among those in the kingdom of God. As for the second, I’m not sure what passage you are referencing. There is John 5:29 “…those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned etc” but that again doesn’t address at all the issue at hand. Saying the lost will rise to be condemned says nothing about whether among those who are not lost any repented after death. Of course the lost will be lost, that’s why they are so labelled. If any do repent after death they won’t be among ‘the lost’.

    Since I’m here I might as well go through other passages. Hebrews 9:27 “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” In and of itself however this passage just says that judgement, chronologically will occur after we die and not before. Hardly surprising really. Some also point to the end of revelation, when those whose names were not found in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire. Yet again however this passage merely stipulates that those who are lost, i.e those who never come to accept Christ, will be condemned. It says nothing about if some who are in the book of life repented after death.

    More generally it seems a strange view of God to say that God’s love for you arbitrary ceases at the point of death, after which point he will refuse any and all repentence. If however we say that one is completely incapable of repenting after death (unlike in life) we shall want to know why. If we respond that God makes it so then this case is really equivalent to the first, what does it change if God refuses to accept repentance or simply makes you incapable of repenting. Yet if God doesn’t make it so it’s unclear why this should, in principle, be impossible (unless of course Calvinism is true but that’s another issue)

    What’s more there are two interesting passages in 1 Peter. 3:18-19. “He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago.” Taking this verse at face value (before any convulated attempts to reinterpret it) it would appear Jesus preached to the dead, a strange thing to do to people incapable of repentance. Secondly a little further on 4:5-6 “But they will have to give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.” Again it appears the gospel no less is preached to the dead. (It should also be noted that the NIV inserts the words ‘who are now’ into the phrase ‘to the dead’ so it becomes ‘to those who are now dead’, however I checked and there is no such word in the greek)

    I do not claim that this is a biblical teaching. We would need much more than just a couple of verses to declare repentance after death a scriptural teaching. At the same time however we need in the same way more than a couple of weak verses, which do not in any case address the issue at hand in any explicit way, before we can declare it certain that repentance after death is absolutely impossible.

    Hence I conclude that repentance after death is indeed a possibility.

  • Ross January 13, 2014, 1:45 am

    Also quick question, as a Calvinist do you believe that Christians who do not believe Calvinism can be among the elect?

  • Nathan January 13, 2014, 2:28 am

    Ross: as a Calvinist do you believe that Christians who do not believe Calvinism can be among the elect?

    Of course a Calvinist would believe they can. It is by grace alone that we are saved. In fact I’m sure there are many Christians that you yourself disagree with but those same people you would consider saved (inasmuch as any of us are able to make that judgement). The beauty of God’s grace is that in his great mercy he includes saving those who lack the fullness of knowledge and understanding.

    Do you think that those who don’t subscribe to one/some/all of your views aren’t saved?

  • Nathan January 13, 2014, 2:50 am

    If however we say that one is completely incapable of repenting after death (unlike in life) we shall want to know why.

    … because they are dead. After that God raises them, condemns them, and then throws them in the lake of fire. That much the Bible tells for sure, so it seems to me you have it around the wrong way, and the opposite is more appropriate: if we say that one is capable of repenting after death, we shall want to know why.

    The way I see it, you need to show (at least) two things from the Biblical material:
    – That after death the dead person has the faculties to repent. Presumably God would need to give them this?
    – That there is an opportunity to repent after death.

    I can’t find either, but I’m ready to learn.

  • Ross January 13, 2014, 2:51 am

    That’s what I thought, but just checking.

  • Ross January 13, 2014, 2:55 am

    By after death I mean just that. Whether that’s an intermediate state or after the resurrection is unimportant.

    Also I maintain it that repentance after death is a possibility. I don’t argue that I know it is actual

  • Ross January 13, 2014, 2:59 am

    As to my quick question. I agree it is obviously yes. I think I asked a somewhat silly question, apologies.

  • Piers January 13, 2014, 4:01 am

    Simply put, I don’t know. As Will Willimon states, “…if there are limits upon the love and patience of God, or if there are no limits to the love and patience of God, those matters are in God’s hands, not ours.” I always find it strange that Christians want to say, “Surely not HIM, Lord.” I think we too often try to put boundaries around what God can and cannot do by our theology* – whilst Christ hangs out with the prostitutes and tax collectors.

    However, “I don’t know” and “It’s in God’s hands” for me are not the only answers. I hope that God’s grace will extend far and wide. Furthermore, I don’t think that this hope is baseless. As I read the scriptures there appears to be an apparent inclusiveness to God’s redeeming plan – that God is restoring ALL of creation, including us it would seem.

    I do though speculate on the fate of the unevangelised – and here I come to your questions. First, I reject your phrasing, “Do you just bite the bullet and say that if people don’t hear then they miss out? Or do you think that even though people lack repentance and faith, they can come to God some other way?” This is a false dichotomy. Any good Armenian I think would say, If the unevangelised come to be saved at all, it is still done through repentance and faith in Christ. There is no other name by which a person can be saved. Think of Abraham – he didn’t know anything about Jesus or what he did, yet it is what Jesus did that seemingly applies to him.

    So maybe in that there is a clue to those who have never heard the Gospel. With what they have, God judges them. Maybe, given their culture, intellectual ability, personal history, moral insight – God judges them on their faith and works, imperfect and noetically incorrect as they are. Still – any saving that is done here – it is done only through Christ.

    Alternatively, maybe they have a chance to repent before the throne (maybe something everyone shares – wouldn’t that get up our noses (Matt 20:1-16)), in an, “Ah ha – I see clearly now!” moment. I don’t think the Bible excludes such a scenario… maybe.

    These two possibilities I think would go some way to address the “inequal distribution of grace” concern. In the first scenario – we are being judged upon the same thing… and in the second, we have the same amount of revelation.

    But as I say, I am not sure, but I hope that God’s saving net extends further than mine ever would.

    *Not advocating a free for all here – just saying that God can surprise us all.

  • lotharson January 13, 2014, 4:57 am

    I think that there is a lot of common sense in the reasoning of Dr. Walls.

    I believe that God is perfectly loving and wants everyone to be saved. and will forgive everyone who sincerely desires Him.
    So I believe there will be many conversions on the other side of the grave.
    That said I agree that Calvinism and Arminianism face similar problems.

    The main one is that both teach that God cursed the whole mankind with a sinful nature, which means that God is ultimately responsible for human wickedness.

    If according to Arminianism, the only freedom of people is to believe or not in Christ, it is unfair for God to judge people for their selfishness or gluttony if their sinful nature made it inevitable .

    I consider it extremely unlikely that the author of Genesis bought that notion and believe that the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of that passage is the correct one.

    Now I agree that Jerry Walls does not present us with a compelling case, for God could reach the same end in many different ways.

    Friendly greetings from Europe.

  • Glenn January 13, 2014, 10:57 am

    Ross, the two biblical passages that I referred to on the resurrection are not “irrelevant,” it’s just that they do not make the argument that you were objecting to. It’s true that they don’t show that there’s no second chance after death. But that isn’t why I appealed to them. If you recall, I appealed to them in order to show that the biblical writers viewed the time of the resurrection as very final in terms of outcomes for people. The resurrection is when God’s people will receive their reward and be transformed in the twinkling of an eye etc, and the lost will rise to be condemned – that is the purpose of their resurrection. Clearly this is to say more than something trivial like “the lost are lost” as you suggest. In a biblical view of the resurrection, the lost will rise to be condemned, the saved will rise to eternal life, and that’s the resurrection.

    So my point was not that because this is true of the resurrection, it follows that there is no second chance after death. Instead my point was that if you’re going to posit a second chance after death, you’ll have to believe that it is offered before the resurrection – namely while people are dead (which is nonsense in my view, but I’m just pointing out why you’ve got to maintain this).

    And in fact, this is what you say. You confidently appeal to 2 Peter. It’s a little gratuitous, however, to assume that if anyone does not interpret this passage the way that you do, then they are reinterpreting it – as though your own interpretation is the default interpretation. This is definitely not the case. As providence would have it, I’ve got a partly-written blog on that passage sitting around, so I’ll finish it off and publish it. You may find it interesting!

    It’s interesting, however, that the commenters who (seem to) gravitate towards Arminianism (or at least away from an Augustinian / Calvinist view) have agreed that Walls is right, and the unequal distribution of grace / opportunity in this life cannot be allowed to stand and needs to be rectified after death.

  • Glenn January 13, 2014, 11:06 am

    “This is a false dichotomy. Any good Armenian I think would say, If the unevangelised come to be saved at all, it is still done through repentance and faith in Christ.”

    Implicit in my question is “in this life.” Either you think that people need to repent and have faith in Christ, or they don’t and there is another way (e.g. people don’t need explicit faith in Christ in this life because God will judge them based on what they know, or what they would have done if they knew etc). Neither option implies that there is some way other than Christ (so the “no other name” comment doesn’t quite hit the mark). The question only asks whether or not there is some way to receive salvation other than repent and faith in this life. The question was directed to those who do not accept Walls’ solution of a postmortem opportunity. But there isn’t a false dichotomy. Either repentance and faith in this life is required or it’s not.

  • Kevin Jackson January 13, 2014, 12:20 pm

    As an Arminian, I like Wall’s idea of optimal grace, but am not convinced it’s supported by scripture. I go the inclusivist route – Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and his drawing grace, everyone has opportunity to be saved in this life. For those who are unaware of the gospel, God holds them accountable for how they responded to the grace they did receive. That’s the route that John Wesley took also.

  • Piers January 13, 2014, 3:29 pm

    “But there isn’t a false dichotomy. Either repentance and faith in this life is required or it’s not.”

    Rahab had no idea of who Christ is, or what he was going to do for her. She never said, “Lord Father, forgive me through your son, Jesus Christ”. Yet despite this, she demonstrated faith with the knowledge that she had and acted upon it. So even though she did not have a correct knowledge of Christ, she is regarded as one of the heroes of faith – and this was in her life (not post mortem). Ultimately, I would say Rahab’s faith and repentance (turning her back on her own people) is credited to her through Christ, so it’s not through a faith and repentance apart from Christ.

    So Glenn, I think I may be pushing back on what kind of repentance and faith is required in this life. Does it require a correct understanding and intellectual comprehension of who Christ is and what he has done – or can it be credited to a person despite not having the right sort of knowledge?

    If it does require the right sort of knowledge of Christ, then how do you explain Rahab? If it does not require the right sort of knowledge of Christ, then can this line of thinking be applied to those who have not even heard of Christ?

  • Glenn January 13, 2014, 6:10 pm

    So it seems that you do accept the dichotomy, Piers. :)

    I guess the question of “what sort of faith” would need to be pushed all the way back to Jerry, because I’m taking as my starting point his claim that there is an unequal distribution of grace in this life, meaning that some people actually get no chance (or virtually no chance) for faith.

    You seem to be taking hold of the option that says: There is a way to be saved without knowing about Christ – or even about the religion God has revealed thus far. I say the latter because of your introduction of those who have not heard.

    Is this the way you’re going? It’s not a trap, Arminians can take that line. But Jerry can’t, because the fact that some people don’t get a chance, through not hearing, is art of what motivates his view that we need a post-mortem opportunity.

  • Piers January 13, 2014, 11:10 pm

    “So it seems that you do accept the dichotomy, Piers. :)”

    Yeah, yeah – I realised that when writing my response too :)

    And yes – that is where my current line of thinking is taking me (but I wouldn’t necessarily rule out a post-mortem opportunity too unless there is a good case against it). But that is just me…

  • Nathan January 14, 2014, 2:52 am

    I’m surprised that so many are willing to entertain Wall’s view as having a foundation. Almost everyone commenting here seems to assume that this problem of the “unequal distribution of grace” is a real problem, as if everyone merits a fair go at salvation in the first place.

    I realise this blog entry is based on Wall’s assumption that there is a valid problem, but just sayin.

  • Ciaron January 15, 2014, 7:53 pm

    Almost everyone commenting here seems to assume that this problem of the “unequal distribution of grace” is a real problem, as if everyone merits a fair go at salvation in the first place.

    I was thinking the same thing; as if anyone has a right to question how God runs his show :)

  • bethyada January 23, 2014, 2:57 pm

    A few thoughts about what people are saying here that I think confuses the issue.

    1. Comments about unequal grace imply that enough grace leads to salvation but I doubt that is the case. The amount of grace given by God is qualitatively different to our choice to follow God or resist him. The nature of love (and the grace by which it comes) is such that no amount of grace can prevent the possibility of resistance.

    2. Why does faith in God have to be direct? God can save those who have indirect faith in him. This does not necessitate a postmortem offering of salvation (let alone a purgatory), rather a postmortem explanation that Christ is the person they were seeking, be it ever so indistinctly.

    3. Necessity of sin is not a necessity of compulsion, we must sin; rather a necessity of inevitability, we will sin.

  • Blair January 24, 2014, 2:39 pm

    Bethyada, clear, succinct & precise as always. Excellent and important points. Much appreciated. I think you’ve expressed what I, if not others as well, struggled to.

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