Let's try an experiment.
I have put out there things that I figured ya'll didn't like, and I was basically right. Now, let's try putting something out there that I don't like, and see whether any of you agrees with me? Let's just say that I will spare you any doubt about why I don't like these statements. ;-)
From, to be told: Know your Story - Shape your Future by Dan Allender (FWIW, so far I give this book 2 stars. It has lots of potential, but fails to deliver on most its promises.),
... Evil malignantly grows from the freedom we possess to love or not love. Love would be meaningless if we didn't also have the option to not love.
If love is coerced, it is at best obedience that fears reprisal and at worst insincere manipulation to gain what the object of our love can give us. But genuine love arises in the complex interplay of desire and gratitude. I want and God gives. He gives so far beyond what I need that I am caught in the swirl of mouth-open awe and stunned gratitude. We write best when, in loving God and being loved by Him, we are thrown into the space of awe and gratitude.
The bolded sentences make my skin crawl.
Dr. Allender here is attempting to protect any of his readers who might be tempted to wander off into predestination. He is talking about God, and how he relates to us, and in throwing out the baby, he manages to throw out most of her siblings, too. But, at least he wastes the bathwater.
Love would be meaningless if we didn't also have the option to not love.
Find me a verse in scripture that says this. It ain't there, because it ain't true. This gets thrown around like it's gospel, but it's just common sense, like, "everyone knows if you sail too far you'll fall off the edge of the world."
Do you know anyone who has been abused by their parents? If you do, then you know that one of the most terrible things about helping the abused is that they love the one who abused them. They are confused by their own feelings, because they want, need, and love their worst enemy.
Do you know anyone who was not abused by their parents? Do you think they deserve commendation for loving them?
You are born with a love for your parents that you almost cannot break. I've seen it broken a time or two, but that's it. It is a love that is compelled by the accident of birth, and forced upon an innocent child before it is ever able to choose to love or not love. This coerced love is surely not meaningless. And we won't even talk about the "choice" a mother makes to love her newborn babe.
The first occurance of the word "love" in the scripture refers to the love of a parent for a child.
This love is compelled by simple genetics and hormones. There's no "choice" to this love. And yet it is strong enough and meaningful enough for God to use it as one of the strongest metaphors in His repertoire to explain His love.
If ... IF ... my love for Him is without choice, how is that less just, less true, less meaningful than my love for my mother and father?
If love is coerced....
So, just how is a baby coerced into loving his mother? It must be the crassest form of manipulation.
That baby has to listen to her voice for long months as his only lullaby in the womb. He has to come to know her every habit and gesture and rhythm as she moves throughout her day. Then, when he is born (the first time) he is forced to find his only nourishment at her breasts. What a cold-hearted thing for a selfish woman to do to an innocent babe. He was never even given a chance at a fair choice!
Why do we have to assume that our spiritual birth must be any different from our physical one? Why does it have to be free-will or coercion? Why is it not the most natural thing on earth for us to love our heavenly Father from the first moment we feel His warmth?
... it is at best obedience that fears reprisal and at worst insincere manipulation to gain what the object of our love can give us
Coerced love is neither of those things. The coerced love of an infant can only be a purely dependent love. Such love cannot rise to the level of manipulation.
The love of free will, on the other hand, must resist the urge to be manipulative. If we "choose" God, do we do so because we fear reprisal? Do we choose Him because want to gain heaven? I say not, but how often are we told to "sell" Him this way? How often are we encouraged to sell the benefits of giving our hearts to Jesus?
If love is not coerced, then it is almost certainly the result of an obedience that fears reprisal and is an exercise of manipulation that seeks to gain what God can give us.
Finally, Dr. Allender encourages us to find a space of awe and gratitude.
I find awe and that gratitude when I consider how powerfully He wooed me. I am amazed when I learn how irresistible His Love is, and thankful when I learn that He knows how irresistible He is.
Prov 30: 18 & 19
There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.
Those are mere shadows of the way of our God with His people.