Is unbelief a sin?

I received the following question from a friend of mine on Facebook during the course of a conversation regarding salvation and whether or not all men are given the opportunity to be saved.

If unbelief is a sin and Christ died for the sins of all then wouldn’t all be saved?

The question of unbelief being a sin is a rather common one so I decided to address it here for the benefit of all. I imagine like several of my posts, I’ll end up referencing it a lot.

Unbelief is not sin, otherwise we are faced with a dilemma of charging to one’s account something they had no control over. Rather, what is a sin is all the actions we commit that are against the law of God. I believe it is critically important to reject the premise that what we are talking about is a person’s beliefs as if the person is heading to heaven if but for one thing, their intellectual acceptance of a set of facts.

No, the real picture I believe best fits the Biblical model is one of a slave who has no hope of escaping on their own. And then someone come in, beats down all the guards, sets the prisoner free, and opens the door.

All we have to do is walk through that door and we are free. In fact we all have the potential to be free and have done nothing whatsoever to contribute positively to our being free. The only thing we can contribute to our freedom is a negative contribution in the form of rejecting it all in favor of remaining in prison.

As Ken Keathley so eloquently put it in “Whosoever Will” (HT: Wardrobe Door):

Imagine you wake up and discover that you are in an ambulance being transported to the emergency room. You clearly require serious medical help. If you do nothing, you will be delivered to the hospital. However, if for whatever reason you demand to be let out, the driver will comply. He may express his concern, warn you of the consequences, but he will abide by your wishes. You receive no credit for being taken to the hospital, you receive all the blame for getting out.

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5 responses to “Is unbelief a sin?

  1. Ken's analogy is apt, except:

    1.) It's unclear whether you are in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
    2.) It's unclear whether you have a serious medical condition.
    3.) You don't get to find out the above things for certain until after you arrive at the purported hospital.

    Not to mention:

    4.) If you actually do have the serious condition, the doctors at the hospital you're going to put you in that condition in first place.

    • Well, in your formula you actually proove Ken\’s point which is that it is not lack of belief in a set of propositional statements that warrants our eventual state of seperation from God. It is our deliberate rejection of the sufficient evidence set before us.

      As for lacking evidence of being in an ambulance. Do you maintain that you are not wounded (ie perfect)? Or do you think you are broken but no one cares about repairing you?

      • "It is our deliberate rejection of the sufficient evidence set before us."

        You are not qualified to judge my motives in this way and my unbelief must not necessarily be "willful rejection".

        "Do you maintain that you are not wounded (ie perfect)?"

        I'm not sure what "perfect" would look like or why I must be perfect. And what is my wound and who inflicted it? I'm not aware of either.

        "Or do you think you are broken but no one cares about repairing you?"

        My family would care if I were broken and in need of fixing. But if there are supernatural entities who feel the same way I'd appreciate they at least stepping up in the manner as my mortal family would. None have to date.

        • I think you are being intellectually dishonest (which is, itself a sign of imperfection) when you say you don't know what "perfect would look like".

          As to judging your motives, I did no such thing. I merely pointed to your initial comment and the fact that you did not say "I've done a load of good works which merit my entrance into heaven". Again, the whole point of Ken's illustration is that all you can or are willing to contribute to your salvation is a negative contribution of a stubborn refusal to accept the evidence that has been presented to you.

          • "I think you are being intellectually dishonest (which is, itself a sign of imperfection) when you say you don't know what "perfect would look like". "

            You're entitled to your opinion but you're wrong here. Seriously, how would you define perfect? And the biblical concept of Heaven to me isn't perfect, what with me partying it up with god while people I knew and cared about burning in eternity. Unless your perfect god chooses to deceive about those cases. So much for the not wanting robots argument then.

            "stubborn refusal to accept the evidence that has been presented to you."

            That you keep saying this when it is untrue is just more evidence of you needing to construct a world where your god is worthy of worship, Because if he condemns people to hell for honest intellectual mistakes, then he's a bastard worthy of contempt.

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