I have been thinking of the creation and fall of both man and angel. A question that has always puzzled me is: Why would God go through with it? In other words, the fall of man, in the Biblical-view, would have been foreseen by God. If I could foresee the fall of man that would be comparable to that of elves degrading to orcs, with all that unfolding misery and death, I would have probably not created them. But God went through with it, knowing what would happen. He thought it would be worthwhile for some reason. What was that reason? What did He see that I do not see?
It was actually the story of Pinocchio that gave me a glimpse into what God was doing in the creation of mankind, still foreseeing the Fall. I am not sure if it was intended that way or not, but the story of Pinocchio has remarkable parallels with the Gospel.
Pinocchio was made as a sentient being, one who was alive and who could freely choose. But his nature was not like Jepetto’s (the carpenter who made him); Pinocchio was of ‘wood’ and Jepetto was human flesh and blood. Jepetto’s longing from the beginning was to have a boy – a son – after his own human nature. Pinocchio, the alive but wooden puppet, was an interim stop-gap remedy. The goal all along was to have a ‘son’. Somehow that longing portrayed in the story (I saw it in the Disney classic animation) is so natural, so ‘normal’ that we hardly question it.
Pinocchio did not become a flesh-and-blood son. He failed in temptation and rebelled and went his own way. The innocent, but untested Creator-creature relationship that Jepetto and Pinocchio had was destroyed. Pinocchio was corrupted and was transforming into an ‘ass’ (of the donkey kind). Here is another picture of the Fall.
However, Pinocchio was redeemed and he was won back. The Fall to ‘ass-hood’ was stopped. But his salvation did not revert him back to being a wooden puppet. His redemption resulted in him becoming a real flesh-and-blood son of Jepetto – precisely what Jepetto had wanted all along.
God made Lucifer intelligent, beautiful and powerful, and he could have doubled these qualities into Lucifer’s essence. But no matter how many of these qualities God endowed him with, the chasm between the omni-Creator and that of his creature would remain infinite. A Super-Lucifer enhanced ten-fold would still have nothing that would compare him with God. God would still have no ‘son’, with the very ‘genes’ of God in him. Their natures would always be entirely different, the ‘wooden’ creature nature would always be infinitely removed from the Divine Nature.
With the redemption in the gospel it is different. It is not mere creation of enhanced but ‘wooden’ features – fundamentally remaining of different essence from the Creator. Read this invitation of the gospel:
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
The Gospel is not simply an account of a reversal of the Fall or a way of ‘getting into heaven’. If you think of it primarily as a deliverance from Hell you have missed the main point. It is all these – but they are the minor incidentals in the much bigger plan of God. His intent is to get ‘children’ – not creatures. If we think of the gospel as primarily ‘going to heaven’ it would be like thinking that having a dog in your house is the same as having a son or daughter in your house. It is not being in the same house that is the main objective, it is the nature of the person that is sharing the house with you that is the most important goal. A dog is fundamentally different than a human. You may share your house with it, but the dog cannot be your son. Children have the very genes – that is the nature – of their parents. This is a bond that reaches well beyond sharing a house (sharing a house is my analogy of God sharing heaven with his creatures).
In the Gospel, God is taking his fallen wooden (and becoming ass-like) Pinocchios and transforming them into his very own children. Then he will share his House with them. How does he do it?
“…We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6:3-5)
So God, in eternity past, planned and orchestrated the creation of man and angel. The Fall did not surprise Him – He foresaw its coming, but He also foresaw past the Fall, through the death, misery and sin – to the day when he would have Children – when his wooden puppets would return to Him as his own Kin. This was something of an entirely new order than created creature – even powerful, intelligent and majestic created creatures. The metamorphosis was going to happen through a union with created mankind and His Son. Paul caught a glimpse of what God foresaw in eternity past and wrote
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:18-19)
Glory will be revealed ‘in’ the children of God. And even now creation itself is waiting impatiently for that day!
People may reject the Gospel because they think it is not true. They may reject it because they prefer to remain autonomous and independent from God. Or they may reject it because they prefer their petty sins. But it is a real shame when we reject it for the mistaken notion that it is a very small and narrow vision. One Day the Children of God will be displayed in all their glory to the universe, the wooden puppets of old transformed by a union with Christ. God foresaw it all before Time began. He thought it was worth the tremendous price of redemption that He would have to pay. It is a shame many of us do not think it worth it as well.
Hey Ragnar, interesting post. However, I don’t think it is clear why God should have to jump through the same hoops as Geppetto.
As a mortal man, Geppetto was bound by the laws of nature — he was physically unable to produce a flesh-and-blood son all by his lonesome, but If he could have, he would have. He also did not know what kind of future lay in store for his wooden puppet. If he had known that Pinnochio would end up becoming a real boy, I’m sure Geppetto would not have had many qualms about making him; but if he had instead predicted that Pinnochio would become synonymous with evil and a corruptor of the masses, he would have abandoned the project (unless Geppetto himself was sufficiently selfish).
God, in all his nature-transcending glory, is free of these constraints. As far as it is possible for humans to become “like God,” He could have made us to be “God-like” children from the start. If I reject this statement, I must also reject the notion that God is omnipotent.
Moreover, you have already pointed out that mankind was not God’s first creation. First were the angels, including Lucifer. We could say that God, being all-knowing, foresaw mankind’s redemption and subsequent transformation into true God-offspring, and on that basis decided to go ahead with mankind’s creation in spite of the impending Fall. But Lucifer? He was created just to be evil, to lead mankind astray…and to be tossed into a lava pool or something at the end of days. In this light, Lucifer’s creation only makes sense if God either did not foresee his rebellion (not omniscient) or did not mind Lucifer’s future of evil (not all good).
On a similar note, it is also important to remember that Pinnochio was a single being, whereas mankind is an entire species of individuals — not all of whom were redeemed. Those who are not saved are condemned by their own choice, sure, but that choice was already known to the Creator as He knit their bodies together in the womb. Like Lucifer, they are destined for Mount Doom; like Lucifer, they were essentially created to suffer for eternity.
Does it seem like I’m harbouring some resentment towards God? I’m not. It’s not that I think God did a crappy job and is therefore not worthy of worship — it’s more that I think this conception of God is incoherent and therefore unlikely to be true.
Hi Justin. Good thoughts. No analogy is perfect, including this one. But I do not think it is a question of omnipotence being limited. Implicit in being ‘united’ in Christ requires that we choose that or not. No one, man or angel, had a choice in their creation as ‘wooden’ creatures. But to become sons we must be willing to be united with Christ. For ex. It is not an issue of the strength of a man to get a woman to agree to marry him. Even with unlimited strength, if it is to be a willing union, she must be willing or choose it – and the level of his strength is like a different axis than her will (I am thinking in terms of different axes like x, y, z etc). Even with more strength she may choose not to. God will not force anyone to be united with Christ – even if He has the power to do so.
Is God omnipotent enough to make a round square? Well, just because you can put ‘round square’ grammatically in a sentence it is still incoherent. What is a ‘round square’? In the same sort of way, having God force (by power) a ‘free union’ seems to me incoherent. Of course with this we bump up to the mystery of free will and predestination, and all I can say to that is that materialists as well as theists debate this within their own world-views and you & I probably will not plumb its depths.
I think when you talk of being more ‘God-like’ you are thinking of my hypothetically enhanced Lucifer, ie more power. But that just gets a stronger, smarter creature – fundamentally of different substance than Creator. I am not thinking of more enhancements, but a different state-of-being with respect to Creator which changes what we are.
Now your points on Lucifer not being redeemed (and much of mankind also) is well taken. I guess I can live with that because this is a result of choice on their/our part and God is honoring that choice. He gives us the dignity of having our choices count. And I think that in the end everyone, fallen and unfallen angels, fallen and redeemed mankind will reveal some (and different) aspects of the nature of God and thus glorify Him. I cannot prove it, but I do trust His judgment, that in the end, when all has been heard on these cosmic matters, God’s original choice that it was all ‘worth it’ will be vindicated. So I choose to place my faith there (and everyone must choose to place their faith somewhere).
I agree with you in most of what you wrote, but I still feel sad about the Real Pinocchio story, not the one adapted by Walt Disney, the original Italian one where the naughty friend of Pinocchio did not have any opportunity of redemption. Pinocchio is a wonderful story that makes analogy with the Biblical story of Creation and Redemption. I have a very different view from you in terms of Gepetto needing a son. Yes he wanted a boy as if it was a son, but indeed, he knew a cat and a fush will not be any use to him in helping him with the chores, that was the reason too! Gepetto in some way enslaved his iwn creation. This is paralleled in the Bible of the people from Jerusalem being enslaved.
There is no Redemption or Liberation without Slavery.