Paul Derengowski, ThM
Yes, it’s true, and it has been a long time coming. Today, after coming under the conviction of several of my friends who had been talking with me, I decided of my own “free will” to accept their offer to become my parent’s son. We now have a “relationship,” whereas before we were just acquaintances. How I came to accept them is absolutely awe-inspiring. Let me share with you a few of the nonsensical details.
The journey itself actually began long before I was born. After all, before one can fully accept one’s parent’s invitation to accept them one must actually grant them permission to be conceived in the first place. That I did back in early July of 1959. But even before that I orchestrated just who my parents were going to be, where I would be born, and eventually live as well. What an empowering feeling to have such control over one’s decisions and destiny. It is the next best thing to being a god; a god in embryo, if you will.
My father was not the greatest guy in the world. A playboy who had a hard time holding his liquor, he had actually been married and divorced four times before I directed him to my mother, who was nineteen years his junior. Apparently my half-sister tried without much success to keep him married to her mother. Perhaps goddesses are less influential than are the gods in such matters. Whatever the case, I thought that he had learned a few good lessons from the School of Hard Knocks, and that by introducing him to someone as sweet and innocent as my mother, he would actually turn the corner and become a more stable human being. To my dismay it would be one match in heaven too early, as they would divorce less than two years after bringing them together. He would go on to marry his sixth wife shortly thereafter, and turn out to be that decent guy, remaining married to her over forty years until he died in 2004; so much for the influence of the gods.
My mother came from a poor, uneducated family. In fact, mother never graduated from High School. She was also a very small town girl, growing up in rural Colorado; it was all she ever really knew. Big cities were nice to visit, kind of, but because of her uncultured nature, they were frequently intimidating. They remain so today, as mom does not venture far from her small farming community in Wyoming. What she lacked in the profundity of the pursuit of worldly knowledge she had an abundance of in decency. Although she had her moments of weakness, like all humans do, she was no habitual liar or cheat, she worked hard at the menial jobs she could muster to take care of my brother and I, and she repeatedly tried to instill in us those qualities that often seem lost in contemporary society, where children are often treated as “friends” rather than children.
It was by my providence, though, that I moved my mother to the big city of Chicago where she lived next door to my father. It was through my providential influence that she became convinced by both my uncle and his wife to move to Chicago where job opportunities and advancement were greater than out in the rural countryside. Plus, she was single, and in their estimation the selection of possible marriage candidates in the small town were not all that great. So, I managed to move my mother from rural Colorado to suburban Chicago to an apartment where I had also moved my father just after his fourth divorce. Eventually she would land that grandiose job of emptying bedpans and cleaning up other unsightly messes at a local hospital, while he worked as an auto mechanic at one of the local car garages. Aside from all my persuasiveness, though, I could not get him to give up the bottle.
Although he was nine years her senior, they would one day hit it off in the community laundry room while doing the laundry. He was an opportunist on the rebound and she was an innocent shaking leaf in a big, strange environment. His average appearance was only outdone by his dominant and somewhat charming personality and humor. She was tall and pretty, but lacking in big city sophistication, which can have both its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage was that she was not a snob, but her simplicity left her in fear of broadening her horizons and knowing just what exactly she could accomplish if she would only try. They would marry after a short courtship, and I was on my way to coming into the world.
The night I was conceived I had it all planned out. The were both feeling amorous several evenings prior to my granting them approval to conceive me, but I was still mulling over what I had done to bring these two together. Perhaps it was the continuous drunken stupors of my father that soured my decision. Nevertheless, one night I finally gave in to the notion that it would be all right to go ahead and bring his seed and her egg together. Of course, they were given all kinds of specific instructions on where, when, what, how long, along with the directive that I was to be a boy, of a certain length and weight when I was born, and how many siblings I was to have afterwards. They followed my orders perfectly and nine months later, on April 10, I was born at Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago at 8:58 a.m. Dr. Melvin J. Nelson was the attending doctor. What a great doctor he was!
Things did not work out so well, though, especially after my brother was born 17 months later. Apparently he gave them some instructions that they did not like and shortly thereafter, they divorced. I would never actually meet my father, much less let him know face-to-face that I had accepted him as my father. Instead, I would have to do it posthumously, and that only after being notified that he had written me into his will some 44 years after he and my mother split. Although he will never know of my decision to accept him as my father, at least those around me know of my good intentions. One night I simply passed along a prayer to God to let him know. As far as I know God granted my request.
Mother, on the other hand, had to wait a very long time before I let her know that I had accepted her as my mother. She’s approaching 80 years old now and I would not let her call me “son” until day I gave her permission. For the longest time she kept giving the same invitation, week after week, month after month, year and year, until finally I accepted her invitation by walking into the living room one Sunday morning and let her show me how I could be her son and she my mother. Up until that time I, through my free will, managed to keep her guessing just what I would decide. She had absolutely no control over the matter, extending all the way back to the time when his sperm fertilized her egg. Sonship was all about me and the decisions I freely chose to make. Anything short of my granting her permission to call me “son” would have been a violation of my free agency as a human being and an act of coercion on her part. She was not going to force me to be her son, and I was not about to let her until I gave my approval. What kind of god did she think I was to be allowing her to decide anyway?
After that blessed morning of granting my approval, though, we invited the neighbors to stop over so we could tell them the good news. There’s nothing like confessing oneself before oneself to seal the deal of one’s decision. Again, it was such a rush of empowerment. Besides, it just sort of made things official. When the neighbors stopped by to hear of my decision, they all sat around speechless; nodding in approval, as if they could hardly believe what they were hearing, even though in 20/20 hindsight they had to have done the very same thing if they were really consistent with what they believed about filial relationships. Maybe they had just forgotten amid the look on incredulity on their faces. I mean, who could be a son or daughter to a mother or father without the son or daughter granting the parents the permission to conceive and bear them? There are none that I’m aware of at least.
Of course, by now you’re probably wondering if I’ve lost all my marbles. But, just stop and think about it. What has been proposed thus far is exactly what must have happened if one really, truly believes in all the “free will” nonsense floating around in our churches when it comes to inviting lost, unregenerate sinners to “accept Jesus” as their savior. The sinner must tell God that is it okay for him to bear them into his family; to let God know that He has met with their approval to be their Heavenly Father. All God does is sit idly by in anxious hope and anticipation that one day those whom He has created will accept his invitation to change their mind, of their own “free will,” which is “dead in trespasses and sins,” to become a son or daughter of God’s. God cannot simply draw the sinner unto Himself and convict and regenerate him by his Spirit, like the Bible says occurs when anyone is born of God (Jn. 6:65 cf. Jn. 3:5-6, 8), because that would be coercive of God to force His will upon the sinner’s, and surely there is no room in any truly loving theology where God could possibly do with his creation what he wills. He must submit to the “free will” of the sinner. “Free will” is everything when it comes to salvation. Even God must submit to it, otherwise God cannot be God. Right?
It is such unmitigated nonsense and heresy that has led so many people astray and caused so much mind-boggling confusion among those claiming to be Christians. On the one hand people are told they need to be saved or “born again,” even though the biblical reality of sin is rarely discussed or emphasized, much less the effects that sin has had upon the human constitution, nor is the sovereignty of God to bring salvation about. While on the other hand it is repeatedly left up to the sinner to make that decision which is assumed will bring the blessed “relationship” with God. All they need to do is utter the magically correct words and voila! Instant “conversion” from sinner to saint takes place, and all because the real magic of “free will” was implemented. The sinner saved himself, in other words. All he needed to do was accept the sovereign “invitation” and let God know that permission was granted to allow God to start calling the sinner his son or daughter.
The confusion has continued among Christians by implicitly leading them to believe that they are the saviors of mankind rather than God Himself. Whereas the sinner is left to wonder just what he must do to be saved, and how much, the Christian has taken it upon himself to not only “preach the word” and “spread the seed”—because “free will” has become so much a part of his thinking—he also believes that it is his fault if his neighbor refuses to “accept the gospel.” The Holy Spirit, in other words, has taken a back seat to the Christian as the one who convicts of sin. Therefore, when the failure to manipulate the sinner occurs, the Christian must devise more clever ways of creating an atmosphere of guilt, almost in used car salesmen like fashion, in order to prevent the next sinner from exercising his “free will” to reject the Christian all over again. Please note it is the rejection of the Christian, not the rejection of God. Since amid the “free will” and “invitation” confusion that too many Christians have bought into as part of their evangelistic strategy, the Christian has become the god that the sinner is accountable to. God is as afterthought, as He supposedly is waiting on the sidelines for the Christian to conclude his conviction maneuvers and the sinner his capricious decision-making.
Such silliness has also led to so many unwarranted alliances and compromises with those peddling other equally ungodly doctrines, resulting in a Church that is neither doctrinally sound, nor evangelistically healthy, when it comes to relating to the world in its lost condition. Instead of Christians being distinct in their doctrinal stances and refusing to compromise with the ungodly when it comes to theological beliefs, more and more Christians are eating at the tables of demons (1 Cor. 10:21) and contributing to the confusion. Such diabolical associations, where “common ground” is the new buzzword, rather than doctrinal purity, has demoralized an unprecedented number of Christians who would rather stay home on Sunday mornings, or just stay away from the “Church” altogether, rather than involve themselves with “churches” which cannot make up their minds whether to be biblically distinct or simply self-opinionated like the lost world.
Jesus said that when a person became a child of God that the process was similar to not knowing from where the wind blew (Jn. 3:8). He mentioned nothing about anyone having a free will to choose. There were no invitations extended. God was not depicted as someone waiting with baited breath. The wind, which is synonymous with the Spirit of God, merely blew from an unknown source to an unknown destination. And the only way anyone knew if the wind blew was to observe the results. Such ought to be the understanding of everyone naming the name of Jesus as their savior. Salvation is about what God decides, not what a sinner, “dead in trespasses and sins,” decides. God, based on His unmerited acceptance of the sinner, declares the sinner his son or daughter; it is not the sinner who accepts God as his father.
Nevertheless, for those who reject the idea that salvation is strictly of God, and wish to continue the silliness of thinking that the sinner is instrumental, through an act of “free will” to bear oneself into the family of God while still in a spiritual state of unregeneracy, then the invitation is open to them to hearken back to the day when they accepted their human father and mother as their parents. Remember the time and place when relationships were established, sexual intercourse was to occur, the date and location of the actual birth, and so on and so forth. Just take some time to reflect on what kind of “god” you were before ever entering the physical world.
Finally, concentrate on the moment when you uttered those heart-warming words, “I accept you as my parents,” as they streamed out of your mouth to the joy of those you permitted to bear you in the first place. And if you are not totally repulsed by such nonsense, then you may rest assure that you are either still living a life of spiritual confusion or that you are still “dead in your trespasses as sins.” On the other hand, if you understand what God has said about the subject, then you can truly say that you have been born of God, apart from anything you did or ever could do. You will acknowledge what God has done, not accept something that was never offered, as you lead a life of peace, security, and obedience, relying on what God has said, done, and will do, and not imposing upon Him something He never did say, never has done, or never will do.