Here is a question: If you could know for certain the will of God, would you do it?
There is a famous scenario sketched by Anselm of Canterbury. He asks the reader to imagine standing in the presence of God. Someone tells you to look at something off to your left or right. God tells you in that moment not to look. Would you obey God, even if obedience meant the death of someone you loved? (Anselm ups the stakes to the destruction of all creation.)
This seems to me to be a fundamental question. If we knew what God’s will was, if we had certainty about it, would we obey it?
Traditional Protestant theology says we would not, at least not until we have had a new birth. It says our will is corrupted and incapable of obeying God. A sign of that corruption is that we do not even desire to obey God.
It seems to me at times as if contemporary theology takes as a given that we should not obey God if God does not meet our standards of righteousness and love and justice.
Of course, this whole conversation is skewed by the fact that we have revelation, but not often consistent interpretation of that revelation. So, we live in a situation in which knowing for certain that we understand God’s will is rare. Or, at least, it is rare not to encounter plausible or at least rational alternative interpretations.
But the practical difficulties do not eliminate the question. Indeed, they may make it more urgent, since only a sincere desire to know and do the will of God properly motivates our encounter with revelation.
If we knew the will of God, would we do it? No matter the cost?