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Friday, November 12, 2010

What kind of God 5

Is God in control?
Depends on what you mean by control.
One of my assumptions is that the way we talk reveals what we really believe. I shared some time ago that atheists frequently talk about evolutionary processes in terms that imply intentionality. It shows that at our core we do not think this whole big world is simply a chaotic accident. Likewise, when some well-meaning Christian lays down arguments that 'God controls everything' the act of doing that proves that they do not believe what they are saying. Here is why. If God controls everything then arguments are useless. You cannot change someone's mind by making a good point because there is no choosing. We are just puppets. The fact that we employ rational debate and argument shows that there is human choice. It implies that we can choose one thing or another.
So what about God being all powerful? Can't God do anything He wants? This is probably one of our great misunderstandings. We want to respect God (He is awesome and perfect) and it sounds bad to say God has limits. But God does have limits. Once God decided to create a specific kind of universe He imposed limits on Himself. He could have made a universe where babies were delivered by storks. He didn't. He created this world where babies come about in a different way. He could have created a world where a full human life span was two days (like some bugs). He didn't. He created this one. He could have created a hundred different worlds. Maybe He has. But we live in this one.
In this one there is cause and effect. In this one there are rules over matter. In this one human choices can create beauty, joy, disaster and misery.
Why does God let bad things happen? Because He has chosen to create a world where we all share in the creation process. Every detail of every moment is not simply handcrafted by Him. Yes, there are times when He intervenes, when He imposes Himself in a situation. There are other times when He is not active. The bible says over and over again that He does both. His big picture goals do not necessitate micromanaging ever aspect of creation.
I do believe God is at work in the world and leading things to His goals. I also know that God can cause at a different level, a deeper more foundational level. But in saying that I am also saying that the way it is often expressed ends up sounding like there is no freedom and God controls everything on this level. (More later) I think we need to take the real world we live in real seriously. I think God does. That is why prayer is so important. Sometimes God is waiting to be invited into our lives...

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