New Heavens, New Earth, New Robots

You have heard it said that genuine love is only possible when genuine disobedience/hatred is a legitimate option, and that’s why God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. This is a common answer, and satisfies many people. Look no further than Lee Strobel’s “Case for Faith“, where you’ll see a number of theologians drone on about this notion – without supplying any verses for support.

But in the new heavens and new earth where we possess new bodies with new hearts, there’s no mention of a new tree nor a new temptation. In fact, not only are we promised that we’ll never ever disobey or do anything that will jeopardize the eternal preservation of the saints, but we’re also promised that we’ll love God fully and completely (Ps 17:15; Isa 35:10; Isa 60; Isa 65:17-19; Isa 66:22-23; Eze 36:24-30; Zeph 3:9-20; John 3:16; Rom 8:28-39; Eph 2:4-7; 1 Thess 4:17. And don’t skip those Isaiah passages).

Really? True, genuine love and obedience without a legitimate option to disobey or hate God?
Let me guess: we’re going to be new robots in this new heavens and new earth?

Somehow, I don’t think so.

The point is, the premise is false, and as we all know, false premises beget all sorts of false conclusions. There are no verses that explain how temptation is required in order for devotion to be sincere, or that God is not interested in making robots that have no choice but to love and obey.  So at the very least, we should not say these things.

So why was the tree there? If the ability to love God is possible without a tree (ie, in the New Heavens), why do we need the tree in the garden? The Bible doesn’t explicitly say why, and we certainly don’t want to say that God caused or tempted Adam and Eve to sin (James 1:13), so we say that He put it there in order to get the ball rolling on His sovereign plan of redemption. (There’s probably a more theologically correct way to express the idea, and for every precise way to say it, I’m sure a theologian somewhere will disagree and prefer to express it some other more precise way.)

But the fact that God put it there in the first place makes Him look like something of a bad guy. And we don’t like that, so we invent this other (unbiblical) notion of how He doesn’t want robots that have only two options: love and obey. Curious, then, that the greatest command for people is now to love God and obey Him – the very thing God allegedly didn’t want those ‘robots’ to do.

More to come…