Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Modern Legalism:

You have heard that it said 'you can't change someone.'

I say that it's the only way anyone has ever changed.


Erin said...

I agree with the modern legalists that you can't change people. From a Christian perspective, only God can transform a person's heart. And from a pop psychology perspective (or any good 12-step program), a person can't change until they have made up their mind to change. Other people can play a role by praying for them, being there for them, keeping them accountable (once they've decided to be honest about behaviors and try to change), and setting a positive example - but I think there's a real danger in thinking that humans can cause other humans to change.

I think you're attacking the idea that if you can't teach an old dog new tricks (or if only God can teach an old dog new tricks), then why even bother getting involved in someone's life and try to push them towards positive growth (or away from negative influences). And that's a valid criticism of the tendency to absolve all responsibility once we put God in charge. Just because we don't *cause* the change doesn't mean that we can't be God's instruments. God's tranformative power often involves people, at least in part. I think this is the point you're trying to make, yeah?

Kenny said...

In even the most predestined of matters, belief in God, Paul cites human agency as necessary. Rom. 10:14-15.

And responding to the idea that a person has to make up their mind to change, then perhaps you can be the person who causes them to make up their mind.

I'm not saying, necessarily, that you can change all people. But resting on the belief that we can't change them is usually just abdication of responsibility in a case in which we haven't really poured our hearts and lives into trying.

Ρωμανος ~ Romanós said...

I can almost dogmatize that you cannot change anyone, that is, convert anyone, by direct confrontation or debate. Why? Because modern man no longer knows when he has been defeated rationally in his struggle with the Truth. He continues to hold out and continues rationalizing, even after all logic has been abandoned. Anything he controls is always preferable to the Truth, because he cannot control the Truth; the Truth must control him. This is one aspect of man's struggle against God, why he is always opposed to his own good, why he clings for dear life to his death warrant, the flesh, his own personal, built-in law of failure.

On the other hand, I can also almost dogmatize that no good word, better yet, no good example, is ever wasted on the rebel soul, because God makes use of every good seed we plant whether we know it or not, whether we wait around to see the effect or not (we seldom do).

Let me be on the level. I said I can almost dogmatize. I really meant I can dogmatize, that is, I am certain of these two things, and of a third… that only God can change people, can convert them, because only He knows them each through and through, and only His timing and His methods are infallible, and unconscionably merciful. The good part is, He always makes use of us, and so, in a sense, we can change people.

What? Am I saying that black is white, and white black? Maybe. But maybe the Truth can only be the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. And that could never be put into words, as I've been trying. It can only be experienced… for oneself.