Slippery Slope

Slippery Slope

Slippery Slope

Slippery Slope

This is a review of a famous sermon called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). You can read The Suicide Sermon for a synopsis of the sermon.

Let’s look at Edwards’ sermon intro…

Edwards chooses the phrase, “their foot shall slide in due time” from Deuteronomy 32:35 to demonstrate:

Unbelieving Israelites were always exposed to destruction.
This destruction was sudden and unexpected.
Unbelieving Israelites were liable to fall of themselves (not because of outside negative influence).
Their fall would take place at a God-appointed, specific time.

Like most sermons, we need to hold on to what is good and discard the rest. Here’s what is good about Edwards’ intro. Everyone is exposed to destruction, which can come quite unexpectedly. Sometimes people bring destruction upon themselves. Whether we find ourselves in the midst of destruction from without or destruction from within, we have a Savior who came to seek and save the lost (Greek – destroyed).

Now, regarding “Their fall would take place at a God-appointed, specific time” I have two reasons to believe this is true. First, God knows the end from the beginning. God sees our mistakes before we make them. Second, I have witnessed firsthand the practical application of this concept.

I knew someone who believed God had given him the verse “no weapon turned against you will succeed” as a personal promise. I witnessed God’s hand of protection on him. Sometimes, I marveled at the grace of God, because this guy was good at making enemies. But then something happened that made me realize his destruction was immanent — not that God was about to break His promise, though. A weapon turned against him would not succeed, but he was becoming his own weapon, like he had his own internal ticking bomb. And at the appointed time, God lifted His protection, and boom!

None of us is above falling falling down the slippery slope of moral failure. Thankfully, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The irony of Jesus’ words often go unnoticed. Who among the human race is not in need of a Savior?

Edwards says, “one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall.” This is so true. The part that we must never forget, though, is that the whole world is a slippery slope and every single one of us slips and falls. Let’s not stand up, covered with mud, and look around in judgment, saying, “Well, at least I didn’t fall as far as that one.”

Nearly everyone can recollect the first falsehood, the first profane word, the first dishonest act, after they have reached depths of depravity of which they never dreamed. (J.O. Peck, D.D.)

The problem with Edwards’ intro is that he takes the idea of destruction, within the context of unbelieving Israel, and equates it with eternal torment in hell. This is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin.

But begin I will… next week.

Related: Calvin and Arminius, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Now or Never, Donuts for the Duck, Duck, Damned, Amazed Exceedingly, and Picking the Petals Off of Tulips.

  • Mary Vanderplas October 6, 2014 at 5:11 am

    I agree with what you say about sin and the destruction that it brings being a universal condition and about the solution that has been given in God’s act in Christ. I have trouble with the idea of God appointing the time when sinful individuals fall. That God “knows the end from the beginning” and “sees our mistakes before we make them” doesn’t mean that he determines in advance what will happen. Nor, in my view, does the fact that a person eventually fell at his own hand, as it were, necessitate the conclusion that God chose a particular time at which he stopped protecting the person from destroying himself. While I don’t disagree that God acts to discipline and reprove us, I’m inclined to think that his wrath is expressed as the painful consequences that we experience when we live contrary to his purposes, contrary to the laws and commands he gave us to help us live genuinely human lives.

    I agree that we all are susceptible to failing morally, even despite our (sometimes) good intentions to do what is right and good, and that it is both foolish and wrong to stand in judgment on the other when we ourselves are also guilty and unable to help ourselves. And I agree that to use the text in Deuteronomy, a text which speaks (by way of warning) of Israel’s failure and the consequences thereof, to teach about an angry God who torments his enemies eternally is wholly unwarranted.

    • Alice Spicer October 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Do you believe God ever protects us against making reckless decisions?

      • Mary Vanderplas October 9, 2014 at 5:04 am

        It depends on what you mean by “protects us against.” If you mean that God sends things our way that warn us and make us think twice before we do something that would cause harm, then yes, I think that sometimes God does this. If, however, what you mean is God intervening to prevent us from doing what would cause harm, then no, I don’t think that God does this. I don’t think that God violates our freedom by intervening in or overriding our free choosing.

        • Lanny A. Eichert October 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm

          Mary wrote: I don’t think that God violates our freedom by intervening in or overriding our free choosing.
          Mary does believe, then, that a person can choose to refuse God’s grace in Christ and never be saved from everlasting torment. Why, then, does she believe God will save everybody since Jesus said they will not choose correctly according to His words in Matthew 7: 13 & 14
          Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
          Is Mary right and Jesus is wrong?
          He also made a like statement further in the same context Matthew 7: 21 -23
          Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

          She doesn’t really believe Jesus

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection. See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

    their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand

    God kills people when He has had enough of their sins and that’s their calamity. Since there is no redemption in and beyond the grave that’s certain everlasting torment determined by God upon them for their sins. God speaks very graphically in these verses, Deuteronomy 32: 34 – 43, drinking blood and devouring flesh in His vengence upon His enemies that hate Him.

    The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. {Psalm 11: 5 & 6}

    this shall be the portion of their cup

    The perfect literal Holy Bible ends with a populated Lake of Fire without remedy. You folks need to start believing it instead of fighting against Truth. Mary tries to think that his wrath is expressed as the painful consequences that we experience when we live contrary instead of knowing it is the punitive punishment from God’s hot anger against her unbelief. Wrath is HOT anger, dear Mary.

    God’s hot anger is against Alice, too, because she tends to believe in soul sleep when Jesus’ soul didn’t sleep between His death and resurrection as He said in Matthew 12: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. No, Jesus was as conscious as Jonah was; and Jesus died the death we should die for our sins. Alice will be just as conscious as Jonah in her death.

    • Alice Spicer October 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Sleeping or conscious? Scriptures support both ideas. How can this be? How can one be sleeping and conscious at the same time? The key to unraveling that mystery is in the question itself, particularly, the word “time.” Time is not constant. “At the same time” is a phrase that requires two perspectives, and since time can pass one way from one perspective and pass another way from another perspective, it is completely possible that one can be both sleeping and conscious, depending on who is asking the question and observing. Unfortunately, we can’t observe from any perspective other than our own, where motion and distance are too constant. We don’t have to have all the answers, Lanny. It’s interesting to speculate. That you are dogmatic about your view of time demonstrates how closed your mind is to learning anything new. Do you think there are spiritual concepts yet undiscovered? If so, what are they?

      • Lanny A. Eichert October 7, 2014 at 8:38 pm

        Alice, to build your hope on speculation is foolishness. You’re the one on the slippery slope that will put you right into the fire and brimstone of hades the moment you physically die.
        Psalm 11: 5 & 6
        Matthew 12: 40
        Time IS constant, you fool.

      • Stephen Helbig October 8, 2014 at 6:32 pm

        The key to unraveling that mystery is in the question itself, particularly, the word “time.” Time is not constant. “At the same time” is a phrase that requires two perspectives

        Dancing through the dimension of time
        Time is something that most of us take for granted. Have you ever thought about why, for example, there are 12 months in a year? ~ Why is it says, “30 days hath September”? ~ Why are there time zones and what’s with daylight-saving time anyway BEN? ~ Why are there 86,400 seconds in a day or is a Day likened to a Thousnd years (2 Peter 3:8)? ~ Can time stand still, (Joshua 10 :12)? ~ was the sun’s course truely completely arrested in accordance with a perfect literal bible

        Time is relative.
        See ~

        In our perfecting thru time let us see ourselves as in this great dance that exists with all the colors divided moving into rhythms with the all the colors combined together, :~ ALL IN ALL ~ (Think of a rainbow and the pure white LIGHT from which it arrives). Also in this dancing of our perfecting let us also come to know that, ~ “this dance” only seems to have a beginning and an ending, a birth and a death, when in fact the story of this dance and the sense of TIME it portrays are only shifts in perspective between the timelessness, which can easily be likened unto the TIMELESSNESS of our Creator and our birth with all of our experiences. In the ultimate steps of this dance ~ we move from semi-consciousness to full consciousness. ~ We become the BEGINNING, ~ (the gift of life), and the END, ~(the enjoyment of all things existing). And “KNOW THIS” ~ In the one immense moment of “NOW” our true timelessness can be found.

        p.s. ~ JUST FOR FUN ~ “Let’s say you are in plane flying westward around the Earth’s equator. At the equator, the time zones are a little over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) apart, so to cross one every hour, your plane would have to fly at over 1,000 miles per hour (1,609 kph).
        If you started flying at 12:00 noon, at 1:00 p.m. (according to your watch) you would cross a time zone, making it 12:00 noon again. This process would continue for as long as your plane could stay in the air: As soon as your watch passed 12:59, you’d have to turn it back to 12:00 again. For your entire westward trip around the Earth, the time would be between 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m.
        What you are really doing is maintaining your position on the Earth relative to the sun. You are flying at the same speed as the Earth is rotating, but in the opposite direction, so the sun is always in the same part of the sky. We know that at noon the sun is approximately overhead, so on this journey the sun would always be over the plane. In effect, you are chasing noon around the world. If you prefer sunsets, you could watch a perpetual sunset by departing on your westward journey just as the sun is setting.
        What if your plane could stay in the air for days, or even weeks? Would you stand still in time forever? The answer is that the time of day would always be the same, but the date would continue to change. The time would always be between 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m., but each time you crossed the International Date Line, it would instantly become 12:00 noon the next day.
        The International Date Line runs from the North Pole to the South Pole, through the Pacific Ocean. It is on the opposite side of the world from the Prime Meridian (which is in Greenwich, England).
        (This is really cool) ~ Before the establishment of the International Date Line, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first to circumnavigate the Earth, found that when he arrived back, he was one full day behind. His crew had kept careful track of each day in their journals, and it turned out that over the course of the almost-three-year voyage, they had seen one less sunrise and sunset than those on land.” ~ (Taken from an article “Can you make time stand still?”) 🙂

        • Alice Spicer October 8, 2014 at 10:21 pm

          I didn’t know that about Magellan. That is really cool, like you said!

  • You're Not a Spider October 19, 2014 at 2:46 am

    […] God, by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). Part one, Suicide Sermon, is a general overview; part two, Slippery Slope, is an analysis of the sermon intro; part three, Comparing the Messages of Edwards and Piper, is […]

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