Recently I came across someone referring to irresistible grace and regeneration as the ‘holy rape of the soul.’
First, as to origins of this phrase. It seems that somehow Jonathan Edwards is blamed for this phraseology. However, Edwards never uses the phrase in his works. Allegedly, a well known contemporary popularizer of Reformed Theology has quoted Edwards as having said that and that may be where the confusion stems from. The phrase seems to have been coined by the legendary Puritan Scholar Perry Miller (who as I recall was not a Christian).
Wherever the quote came from and whoever came up with it we ought to take the phrase out to the cow pasture, put a bullet through it and bury it. To equate God’s gracious act of regeneration with a violent sadistic criminal act teeters on blasphemy.
Here it is the case that in Adam we were genuinely raped. And then in our own sinful acts we were sodomized and raped over and over again so that we were the sex slaves of the sadistic devil. Gang banged by his demons. Given over to every imaginable perversity. Then, in God’s wondrous Grace the virginity of our soul is returned to us and we call that ‘RAPE’? It’s like saying that rescue from a gulag is abduction or that adoption out of the Manson family is kidnapping.
Secondly, rape happens when somebody takes something forcefully that isn’t theirs to take. What happens in regeneration doesn’t fit that description. From eternity past the Elect belonged to God. At the Cross Christ paid for the sins of His adulterous people that the Father had given Him. When, in effectual calling we are wooed to Christ, He is not forcefully taking something from us that isn’t His to take.
Thirdly, we are not captivated by Christ in irresistible grace in the way that a damsel in distress is captivated by some blackguard or brigand. Regeneration is all God’s work, but He draws us to himself in such a way that we want to come.
Fourth, I can’t imagine for the life of me, how somebody who has been traumatized by rape would hear that phrase.
To refer to effectual calling as ‘the holy rape of the soul’ is like talking about a good tasting excrement sandwich, or how wonderful the torture sessions were.
Let’s lose that metaphor.
2 thoughts on “Holy Rape Of The Soul”
I wonder what you think of John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 14, “Batter My Heart.” ? It ends with a rape of the soul. But he links it to chastity. The paradox is present.
Donne’s couplet in question,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
I think one has to understand the points of perspective in order to dissolve the paradox. We, as humans, will always be ravished either by God or by the devil. This is akin to Luther’s statement,
“Man is like a horse. Does God leap into the saddle? The horse is obedient and accommodates itself to every movement of the rider and goes whither he wills it. Does God throw down the reins? Then Satan leaps upon the back of the animal, which bends, goes and submits to the spurs and caprices of its new rider.”
So, man is always a ravished being. If we are ravished by the devil it is a ravishing unto corruption. If we are ravished by God it is a ravishing unto chasteness and purity. Man, having no free will, will thus only be a ravished being. Either we will be ravished unto purity or we will be ravished unto impurity.
Donne uses the “ravished” language but in my estimation he is using the language from Lucifer’s perspective when he uses that language. If he were to speak from God’s perspective he would have written instead something like,
Except you possess me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you keep me.
But that doesn’t make for as good poetry.
Thank you for stopping by Jayson