By Dave Armstrong (12-18-08)
Question on the CHNI forum:
2 Thessalonians 2:11 says that those who refuse to accept the love of the truth will be sent strong delusion from God. To what extent do we understand this? It is hard to say that God would be responsible for leading someone to delusion, but is it only because a person has ultimately rejected God's attempt to lead them to the truth? I guess my question is along the lines of if God can only do good, to what extent can He contribute to someone's delusion or the effects of it.
This is a typically pungent Hebraism for God allowing something to happen in His Providence. It really all hinges on free will. Man can choose to follow God and His precepts and commands or not. When we do not, we become more and more hardened. This is a recurrent motif in the Bible: "hardening of hearts" (see nine examples of it). Sometimes it is said that the person hardened their heart; sometimes that God did it. The latter is in the sense that I have described above (from the information we receive by comparing Scripture with Scripture and harmonizing all of the Bible). Man is responsible for his own sin.
God allows such people their freedom to rebel, which in turn entails the devil getting in there and making things worse (just as God allowed the devil to tempt Job). So in a sense to say that "God did so-and-so" when He simply allowed it to take place, is an assertion of God's overall Providence. God is asserting that He is in control. There is also a strong sarcastic element in this sort of biblical concept (that we see in Job and often in the prophets), as if God were saying, "okay; you don't want to follow Me and do what is best for you? You know better than I do about that? Very well, then, I'll let you become blind and deluded. See how well off you'll be then."
Strictly speaking, that isn't how God thinks or acts, but it was an anthropomorphism to help practical, concrete, non-philosophical Hebrew man relate at all to God.