The James Dobson Nightmare
When answering a question concerning salvation in a recent Focus on the Family magazine, Dr. James Dobson wrote: "God will not force Himself on anyone." (Focus on the Family, December, 1994, pg. 5.) Hold onto that nightmarish thought, if you are able. Dr. Dobson is not alone in this, but he will serve as an example.
A distraught father had written Dr. Dobson concerning his teenage daughter.
The girl was rebelling. Caught up with a fast crowd, she was mired in sin. The
father had cried, pleaded, and prayed. Now he wrote Dr. Dobson. Is there
hope? My God, is there hope for my daughter?
Dr. Dobson's answer, capsulated, was: It is up to her, my friend. If she
accepts Christ, there is hope. If she does not, well, God will not force Himself
Clean words; neat words; well-manicured theology, painted red to hide the
dirt beneath the nails. Like those who pretended to see the Emperor's new
clothes, Dobson's readership nods like sage puppets. No one questions it. We,
however, must read between the doctor's lines and expose the bitter roots of his
words. Were Dr. Dobson to bare the bones of this orthodox monster, this is what
we would read:
Sorry, my friend, but, unless your daughter comes to her senses, she is lost.
If this is to be, then your tears will mean nothing, for not even the perfect
blood of Jesus Christ can save little girls who do not first love Him. Your
precious daughter, I regret to tell you, is inches from eternal torment. The
soft, golden hair you once stroked may be minutes from an eternity in the claws
of Satan. I know that sounds harsh, but I must not shrink from telling it to
you, for I am a minister of the Good News. From what you have told me, your
daughter's salvation is quite doubtful. I'm sorry. Your daughter, of all people,
needs God's blessed force. But God will not force Himself on anyone. He's a
polite, eavesdropping God, a hopeful spectator in His own creation, waiting in
the wings to see if we will like Him. He leaves these important decisions to us,
my friend. I, myself, was wise enough to choose Him. Your daughter, apparently,
Is she sorry enough for her sin? Personally, I don't believe she is. But for
her sake, and for yours, I do hope things change. And soon. Good luck.
Crushing our well-walled world
Oh, Dr. Dobson. How were you saved, most knowledgeable sir? Your
theology answers the question. It seems you have made the truly wise and
remarkable decision to seek out and "appropriate" God's salvation for
yourself. This is remarkable, for you have defied two universal laws,
namely, 1) "Not one is seeking out God"—Rom. 3:11, and 2) "No
one can come to Me unless the Father draws him"—Jn. 6:44.
Think about this, Dr. Dobson, for it is a truth: Men seek out God after
they are saved, not before. I suggest writing that on a piece of paper
and taping it in a conspicuous place, like the front of your Bible. It will damage the opinion you now hold of yourself,
but the truth will heal after it hurts.
You did not choose God, Dr. Dobson; He chose you. Someday you will realize
that. Had God not forced Himself upon you, you'd be like the rest of the people—like
that man's daughter, for instance—whom you now believe to be too foolish or
stubborn to know what's good for them.
For Christ, while we are still infirm, still in accord with the era, for the
sake of the irreverent, died. Yet God is commending this love of His to us,
seeing that, while we are still sinners, Christ died for our sakes."
Infirm people are helpless, Dr. Dobson.
Sinners cannot save
themselves. Thank God Almighty that the Son of His love forced Himself into our
precious, self-sufficient lives to save us from ourselves. I would like
to ask you, Dr. Dobson: if you were unconscious and drowning at sea, would you
be offended later to discover that the Coast Guard forced itself on you with a
rescue craft and six frogmen? Perhaps so. It is human pride that does not need
to be saved, thank you. Don't call us, Mr. Savior, we'll call you. Yet Jesus
Christ called you, Dr. Dobson, He saved you, while you were yet infirm, yet
irreverent, yet in accord with the era. He died for your sake. He forced Himself
into your well-walled world, crumbling the confines of your crippled heart.
And now you can thank God that He did.
The power of the cross
How did God force Himself upon us? He sent His Son, Who emptied Himself of
His celestial glory to hang broken, bleeding, separated from His Father on a
cursed tree—for our sakes. We watched Him there. We saw Him look upon
those who had stripped Him of His last human garments and nailed Him to the
cross. His eyes moved among them, from the height of the cross, first to one,
then to another. His eyes possessed a tender fluidity, an unearthly love that
was not of men. Then, with anguished breath, through a tongue swelled from
thirst, He said, "Father, forgive them....."
Our knees began trembling when He said that. Why did He say that?
How could He say that? Had He really said that? We knew then, deep
down, that we were no better than the Roman soldiers, no better than the Jewish
priests who delivered Him to death. His words undid us. We had been content to
live our own lives, to go our own way, to seek scenes for our life that were
easily more joyous, more blessed, more personally satisfying than this bloody
hill. But then, we looked at Him.
Something about Him drew us. It was the Father, for none can come to Christ
unless they be drawn by Him (Jn 6:44). And when we looked at Him, He was
returning our gaze with those same eyes, fluid and celestial.
"God, no!" we cried, and it just came out of our mouths, we
could not help saying it. We could not take it back. We had betrayed our
weakness. Then we fell with an abandon foreign to us to the dust under the
cross, holding our wet faces behind our fingers, weeping uncontrollable tears at
the foot of the wood, heaving our shoulders against it. We could not have done
that apart from the force of the cross. The cross was of God, and God was the
cause of our falling tears.
While we are still sinners.
And thus did God, through His Son, force Himself upon us. He had done
something so deep, so wonderful, so unlike anything we would have done,
that, given tens of thousands of years, none of us would ever have dreamed it,
let alone accomplished it, let alone applied its accomplishment to our enemies.
He rescued us. He reached down through the veil of our stubbornness and
rescued us from ourselves. Thank God that He did. Without Him, what would we
have? We need Him still, every moment of every day. We cannot afford an instant
of self-sufficiency. What an ash heap of human pride is the saying: "God
will not force Himself on anyone." That is the lie of Satan. Yet how many
who claim the name of Christ believe and teach it.
No claim to competency
This prayer, then: Father, continue to force Yourself into our lives. If it
was up to us, we would not have You. We do not know what is good for us. We,
like the humbled Job, cannot arrange our case because of darkness. And as
Jeremiah said, under inspiration of holy spirit, a man's way is not in himself,
nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Continue to overrule and
override our foolish desires, our foolish ideas about how things should be. We
are nothing without You.
Cause us to lean not on our own understanding, or to imagine that we
could have done anything good apart from Your force. Cause us, in all
things, to give place to You as the One Who orders our steps. Even the great
apostle Paul said that You make us competent (Col. 1:12). This is wisdom
from above. Our competency cannot originate, continue or consummate
within ourselves. All praise and honor and glory to You, Father, the Force of