February 18, 2005

All the world's a stage. . . .

Here is a quote from Douglas Wilson's superb book, Easy Chairs, Hard Words. You really ought to read it for yourself, but I just thought I would post this as it made many things clear to me that had puzzeled me before. The setting is a young man somewhat confused on doctrine, talking to a preacher about how God can be in control and men not just be 'puppets.'

{Young man} "What do you mean it's like a play?" I asked.
{Preacher} I mean that God is the Author, and we are the characters."
"I know I have some objections already. But explain some more first."
"All right. We persist, in discussions of this issue, in talking as though God were a fellow-character in the play. But He is not. Our relationship to Him is not that of Macbeth to Duncan, but rather of Macbeth to Shakespeare."
"What does this help explain?"
"If an English teacher asked her students why Macbeth did thus and such, one answer could be that he wanted to be king, and so forth. The student could answer in terms of Macbeth's motivations and so on."
"Is another answer possible?"
"Sure. Macbeth did what he did because that is the way Shakespeare wrote the play. Now both answers are true-- but they apply at different levels. . . if the finite Shakespeare can produce, by his will, fictional characters who have all the freedom necessary for their 'level of existance,' then why cannot the infinite God create real individuals, with real free agency, without surrendering His control?"
"You are saying that because God's resources are infinitely greater than Shakespeare's He has the power to write history and create characters who have true freedom."
"Yes. . . without having His characters write the play."
Pretty cool, hmmm?

1 comment:

Tim said...

Very cool. "All the world's a stage, and the people are merely players." It reminds me of the book "Sophie's World." If you haven't read it I won't spoil it for you, if you have you probably know what I mean. And also something someone--I think it was C.S. Lewis--said, about God's time and our time. An author might write a paragraph, wait a week, and write another paragraph that (in the book's time) comes only a few seconds later. So God could have infinite time in one moment of our time.