Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Achilles:
I just read in one of your articles that before Jesus – God had sent many priests and prophets in an ATTEMPT to… And right there is where you lost me – a perfect and infallible being doesn’t ATTEMPT to do anything – if God is timeless and all knowing – why ATTEMPT to do something he knows will fail? Why would God wait to come down as Christ and not do that from the outset? It’s as if God woke up one day and said – you know – this isn’t working – I better go down there myself – if you want something done right – do it yourself – which is ludicrous… An attempt intrinsically implies a failure – how does an omnipotent being fail – the answer? It doesn’t – ergo – literal Christianity is hogwash
Thanks for the great questions, Achilles!
The reference is to the article, “Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?” In the section titled “The Long and Winding Fall,” I wrote:
God had sent many priests and prophets in an attempt to turn us around. Each time, it helped temporarily. But more and more, we just ignored God’s messengers.
When human history hit its all-time low, God saw that there was only one way to reverse the spiritual decline and save the human race from spiritual destruction and death. God had to come to earth in person, conquer the forces of evil that were engulfing the world, bring the spiritual world back into order, and reopen the channels for love and truth to reach people on earth.
This is precisely what Jesus was doing during his thirty-three years on earth.
First, about the idea that “literal Christianity is hogwash,” I wouldn’t put it quite that way. However, I agree that attempting to take everything in the Bible literally leads to many problems and contradictions. For more on this, see my article, “From Literal Slavery to Spiritual Freedom.”
And about the idea that God doesn’t attempt to do things, I see your point. It’s true that the reality of God’s action is much greater than that word implies. However, for our limited, human minds to see and grasp anything at all of the infinite, unlimited reality of God, it’s necessary to put things in limited, human words. Otherwise it would go far beyond our comprehension.
The reality is that God is engaged in a continual effort to achieve many prioritized goals—and yet will not violate God’s own goals, God’s own laws, and God’s own nature in order to achieve those goals.
If you’re scratching your head about that one, read on. If you want real answers, it will become clearer as we go along.
So let’s take up the two questions embedded in the conundrum:
- Can God—who is timeless, all-knowing, and omnipotent—fail to accomplish something that God sets out to do? (We’ll cover that question in this post.)
- Why did God wait so many thousands of years to come down to earth as Jesus Christ instead of doing so right from the start? (We’ll cover that question in the next post.)