Now that’s provocative. That’s also one bright seven year old.
What’s wrong with the lolly-bag illustration? Two things come to my mind.
1. Ambiguity. If the illustration merely says that you buy enough lollies so that all who will ask for one can have one – fine. But whereas we need to buy spares “in case a younger sister has snuck in”, God knows precisely whose younger sister is coming and can buy just enough. If the illustration also says that you actually spent your money buying a lolly that you know will end up in the bin – not fine.
2. A lack of correspondence with what is illustrated at some key points. Luther’s marriage illustration is helpful here. What makes the atonement just is precisely the union between the one who died and the one who is thereby redeemed. So the atonement was not God buying some lollies and then hoping someone would like lollies. The atonement was the wonder of a mutual transfer of guilt and perfect righteousness between two parties joined by faith-union into a covenant relationship.
1 + 2 = “Where’s the justice in paying for a sin that was never committed?” or “Where’s the justice in paying twice for the same sin – Christ pays and the refusee pays?”
(I’m sure I could put that clearer – but I need to get back to Old Testament homiletics.)
Besides which, Miss Cheng’s question remains unanswered. “Because people can refuse a gift if they want” is true, but we will all refuse such a gift by nature. None of us like lollies, because we have conditioned our taste not to. So we have to say “Because God does not graciously restore everyone’s taste for lollies”. But then the question remains: If God went so far as to secure someone’s atonement, why did he not give them the capacity to receive the gift?
This topic has been exhaustingly debated on the internet over recent months, so I’ll stop exhausting myself and anybody who happens to be reading. I’m just feeling disappointed.