The grace and sovereignty of God, free will, heaven, hell, church, etc.,

The James Dobson Nightmare

James DobsonWhen 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 on anyone.

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 not.

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." —Romans 5:6,8

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....."

Cross of ChristOur 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 the universe.