Does God coerce people into loving Him?

No, “coerced love” is an oxymoron… but most people who ask the question already know that, so why do they ask? In my experience, as soon as I say, “God will save everyone”, people assume I’m saying God will have to use coercion to make that happen. However, if the person is a Christian, I’d want to ask them, “Did God coerce you into loving Him?” I suspect the answer will be “No”, so why do they think God has to do something different when it comes to other people?

They might object, “It must be different, as most people reject the Gospel that I’ve accepted.”

Only God really knows someone’s mind but I think that the reason that most people don’t want to be saved is that they are currently not fully experiencing their “choice”** of “independence from God”. God is blessing the rebellious in this age with “sunshine and rain” (Mt 5:45, cf Psalm 145:9, Luke 6:35, Acts 14:17, aka “common grace” ), patiently giving them an opportunity to turn to Christ (2Pet 3:9)—ideally today (2Cor 6:2).

However, for those who insist on being Prodigals (Luke 15:11-32), they will use up their inheritance (common grace) in the foreign land (this life) and end up with nothing in a pigpen (hell), where they’ll become hungrier and hungrier (perishing), until they realise even being a servant for the father (God) would be far better than the pigpen. Amazingly, not only will God accept their return, He forgives, washes, and restores them so that they come-of-age and begin to act as sons and daughters ought (I explore this in greater depth in Are only Christians children of God or is everyone??).

Withdrawing undeserved common grace isn’t coercion, it’s simply allowing someone to fully comprehend the reality of what “independence from God—Truth, Beauty, Love, Goodness, Joy, Light, Life, Mercy, and Justice” is actually like. The Bible repeatedly says that it won’t be a nice experience, and sometimes we get a taste of that now in our own lives. History is full of examples of what starts to unfold when people discard God.

I think one of the reasons God gives us our lives now is that He wants to spare us hell—learning the hard way that cutting off the branch that holds us up is catastrophic! There is a real opportunity for people to heed what God has already kindly revealed.

** I said “choice” but I think desiring “independence from God” only occurs when someone mistakenly thinks that there’s something worthwhile outside of God. When someone discovers there actually isn’t anything worthwhile apart from God, to continue on that path would then be irrational, especially as the further they went from the Light, the darker it became. A will that is enslaved to sin always rejects God, conversely a will that is freed always chooses God as it truly knows that is the only worthwhile path. Therefore, whenever God frees someone’s will, they start being in harmony with Him—the eternally and infinitely Free Will.

You could argue that I was not a free agent [when I converted], but I am more inclined to think that this came nearer to being a perfectly free act than most that I have ever done. Necessity may not be the opposite of freedom…

C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, 224

"Ram It Down" by Judas Priest

3 thoughts on “Does God coerce people into loving Him?”

  1. Amazing Alex – Most people are ‘blinded’ by the evil one and the enslavement to sin is because we love darkness, more than light. We are (were) dead in our tresspasses. Until people are ‘convinced’ of sin, righteousness & judgment, then they cannot see and only God – the Holy Spirit can do the convincing.

    Also, because man places sin at different levels – the man that is addicted to drugs & breaks into homes is deemed criminal and ends up in prison; but a highly repespected businessman could rip off his workers blind, defraud customers and avoid laws about taxes, environment, ethics e.t.c and we deem him a hero! One has a higher chance of ‘Meeting Jesus’ now because of his ‘coming to his senses’ and the other, his pride is cemented! God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a deliberate misinterpretation and strawman of the argument. Obviously sidestepping the question that poses such strife in the Christian philosophy.

      Follow the reasoning here:
      God created heaven and hell.
      God created us including our feelings.
      God says if you don’t believe and accept me then I will punish you for eternity.
      God scares us into believing in him and we have the gall to say we did the believing not from coercion but from our love of him.

      What kind of sack of crap is that? Some serious Stockholm Syndrome right there. God is an abuser and we think he is something to idolize? I want a God worthy of my worship, not a foolish entity that prefers to punish his creation.


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