10/9/13 Edgar about 55
I found an older man named Edgar browsing in the book department at Target, and asked about his beliefs. Edgar believes strongly in a system of beliefs based on reincarnation, in which people judge themselves rather than being judged by God, and live multiple lifetimes in order to reach perfection. He had been born into a traditionally Catholic family, but at the age of ten his father had begun to teach him these alternative beliefs, and he has been studying and following them ever since. I asked what he thought might happen if he found he was wrong and that he is indeed judged by God. At first he didn’t even think this possible, since his idea of God is more of a power, like electricity, than a personality capable of independent thought or judgment. We talked through that, and agreed that an impersonal god would be more attractive to people – it would free us from the idea of being judged, and if we learn more about this impersonal force we could manipulate it for our own benefit like we do with electricity. But what if this was just wishful thinking, and there really is a day of judgment like the Bible tells us? Edgar thought that he would not be responsible for his false ideas about God, since he believed them so strongly. But is this true? Is Edgar really innocent of rebellion against God and would this just be considered an honest mistake? I don’t believe so. I would compare him to the Pharaoh of Egypt, who openly rejected God’s commands through Moses early on in the 10 plagues, but later was unable to obey even when common sense would say to do so because God “hardened his heart.” (Exodus 10:1) We might forget the Pharaoh’s earlier disobedience and feel sorry for him, thinking that he didn’t deserve to be punished, but at this point it was God who hardened Pharoah’s heart in order to accomplish His larger purposes. Like Pharoah, in the same way Edgar appeared to me to be so totally incapable of understanding Gospel truths that he couldn’t even think reasonably, and it would be easy to think his unbelief is more because the truth is hidden from him than the result of rebellion against God. At this point in his life it may be, but were there times when he was younger when he more consciously rejected and disobeyed God’s commands and the truths of the Gospel? As we talked I began to think that the hardness of his heart and his blindness to the things of God were hopeless, that there might be someone more receptive I could talk to. But is that for me to decide? Might God still bless Edgar with repentance and faith? No matter how receptive to the things of God we might seem to be, are not we all also beyond hope outside of the grace of God?