Hey Sean, Thanks for this. I really appreciate your thoughts and I loved the video.
Regarding Tennyson, Yes, love has value, but I fear there are thousands, even millions of people who never have the chance to love… I have six adopted children. My oldest son was raped, repeatedly by his father and ignored by his mother until finally a neighbor took action. Then he was moved through THREE abusive orphanages until he finally hit a safe place at six years old and then he was mine. But we left other orphans there. I also adopted two handicapped boys from Ukraine. They were taken from their parents at birth and put in baby houses. They came to us severely malnourished and endured unimaginable neglect/abuse, mostly kept in a white room with six beds and a portable potty. No toys, no books, no TV, no radio, no touch, no stimulation, no nurturing, no love. They were headed to an institution where they would have been tied to their beds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of their lives, kept naked on a vinyl mattress with a cup of slop poured down their throats three times a day. Mine escaped, but we left other orphans there. Two of my sisters children were severely burned, as infants, by their families (BBC did a story about children considered “witches” who are hated/abused by entire villages). My daughter, adopted at four years old, had a 4th degree facial cleft and you would not believe the vitriol placed on her by the entire country. People scowled at her everywhere we went. We left other orphans there as well. Ours are the “lucky ones” and even so, I’m not certain that all the ones that escape are capable of love, having endured so much at such young ages and thus PTSD and attachment disordered. Of those left behind, most post-soviet handicapped orphans die before they turn 17 and there are thousands, if not millions in their orphanages, kept literally in cages/cribs, row upon row, babies and toddlers in constant spiritual and physical starvation. Sorry for the gruesome reality check, truly, but I’m not sure that everyone gets the chance to love or be loved, at least by other humans.
Regarding Romans 9, I had not considered that “clay” could be referring to nations. However, I’m not sure it matters—as in, it doesn’t seem any more or less loving to create vessels for destruction as individuals vs create vessels for destruction as individuals grouped into nations. Regarding Romans 9 as an affirmation to free will in Greg Boyd’s video, I get what he is saying and I like it, but he pre-supposes the existence of the “clay,” in the same way that we pre-suppose the existence of people. So, I was debating predestination/free will one day when I realized it doesn’t matter, because God chooses to create. What does it matter if God predestines someone to hell vs. creates them with free will while fully knowing they will choose hell? In either case, we have God purposefully creating a person that He knows will end up in hell and we are back to the beginning of Greg Boyd’s video. I know this is where faith comes in, and I can accept if that is the only answer. But, it is heartbreaking. To create and then condemn a large majority, however justly, in order to “make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy,” (who only require a narrow path) does not seem loving to me. Is faith in the midst of bewildering majority/minority metaphors our only answer?
Which brings us to the final question: How much information would we need to have to know for sure that simply because a person rejects God it was not worth their having the chance to choose Him and to experience the wonder of creation?
The point that it would be better if one had never been born actually came from Jesus (Mt 26, Mk 14). Fortunately, the verses are specifically about Judas, (which I had missed earlier, so that is huge progress, thank you). But, from other passages the idea that the benefit of enjoying creation/free will on earth is not “worth” the price of eternity in hell probably comes from 1. The idea of eternity in hell vs temporal earthly life. And 2. Our call to preach the gospel, which seems a little less compelling if hell is anything less than hell-ish (weeping, gnashing of teeth, eternal fire etc.). I could be wrong, but I think it’s a Biblical truth that the imagined benefits of sin are not worth the cost of eternal damnation. Not being sarcastic but truly asking, is that not the reason we preach the gospel in the first place?
Thanks again for your thoughts/teaching. It was actually very helpful. I hope you will respond again.