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Featured Is God in charge of everything that happens?

Discussion in 'Christian Philosophy & Ethics' started by Luke631, Jun 8, 2019.

  1. Sound Doctrine

    Sound Doctrine Endure Sound Doctrine Supporter

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    To those who don't believe that God is in control of everything, do you know what Almighty and omnipotent mean? The Bible records these as God's one of many names and characteristics. He's God, and who are you who deny the power thereof? Paul says to turn away from such who do this.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  2. Meteorim

    Meteorim New Member

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    Could you show some scripture that defend this view? This is an issue which has been on my mind for many years now. I tend to agree with you. Mainly because the alternative is hyper-Calvinism, which says all things originate in God's will. Even the Fall of Adam/Eve was willed by God. Without getting too philosophical, what this leaves you with is that God is responsible for evil, which I do not think is the case.

    Take away free will and where is man's responsibility? Calvinists celebrate 400 years of Synode of Dordt in my country. This was one of the key points discussed: is salvation from God or does man have to do something himself? They concluded that God elected people from eternity and in effect doomed all other people from eternity as well.

    I believe evil is absence of good, so God creating people for hell cannot be true...
     
  3. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Ex 32:14: And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

    1 Sam 15:11: I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.

    In the NT we don't see God working in history in the same way as the OT, so there's no real opportunity for this.

    As to things working out in the long run the way God wants, the visions of the prophets, and Jesus' own statements about the end, would be impossible if God didn't have overall control.

    There is surely no logical problem with this position. Someone with sufficient power can often say "I will do whatever is necessary to make ... happen." That doesn't require them to take over all control of what everyone does.

    This position seems to me the most straightforward reading of Scripture. Just as Scripture surely speaks of predestination, and has plenty of examples of God making decisions of various sorts, but not full double predestination in the sense traditional Calvinism claims.

    John Leith, a well-known Calvin expert, concluded in a detailed study of Calvin's writing on the subject, that Calvin's primary concern with double predestination was pastoral. He wanted people to understand that everything that happened to them was under God's control, and was meant to help them in the long run. I'm very sympathetic with this, but I don't think full detailed control is necessary pastorally. I think it's enough to say that God is with them in their suffering, and will help them bring good out of evil.

    Indeed I think it causes pastoral problems to say that tragedies people experience were God's will. There's also a danger, which we see in places like Christian Advice here, for people to try tea-leaf reading of daily events to see them all as signs. This is a very unreliable way to determine God's will.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  4. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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  5. Sound Doctrine

    Sound Doctrine Endure Sound Doctrine Supporter

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    There cannot be God in control with exceptions. All things are predestined. Without predestination, there could be no prophecy. Do you think that with those Scripture quotes that God actually deviated from His plan which He conceived from before the foundation of the world? Absolutely not. And neither does man's responsibility determine his salvation, but by God's election. We are told what to do and what not to do that we may please God or know why we don't, but not as determining the condition of whether we are saved or not. Ephesians 2:8-9 - "8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast."

    "Woe unto them world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come: but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh!" - Matthew 18:7.
     
  6. Meteorim

    Meteorim New Member

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    Thank you for the scripture you quoted. They are indeed familiar texts, showing God can change His mind (anthropomorphically speaking ;)).
    I've read quite a bit of Dennett, a compatibilist, and I think compatibilism either weakens the idea of free will or the meaning of determinism. Although these concepts can mean very different things (in Theology sometimes just that man's will to do good has been lost beacuse of sin), I hold that free will is the possibility to actually choose freely, make up your mind without an external force deciding for you to do one thing or another. Determinism says that all is fixed, that fate or God fixed everything from eternity.

    I doubt if God's foreknowledge is the same as his for-ordination? And why could God not have created people with free will, and the ability to choose for or against God, for good or evil?
     
  7. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Right. But predestination (as understood by Reformed) does not operate by God acting as an external force. We say that people are free when they are able to make decisions based on their character and goals. To the extent that there's some external constraint, they're not free. But predestination is not a matter of God acting as an external constraint.

    People's wills aren't random. To the extent that they are, that's not freedom; it's madness. Sane people decide based on their character and goals. Those develop in complex ways, depending both upon our heredity, our experiences, those around us, etc. But those are all part of God's plan (in the Reformed model).
     
  8. Meteorim

    Meteorim New Member

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    Prophecy is not necessarily dependant on predestination, there are instances in the Bible where a prophecy is not fulfilled because certain conditions were not met. If God never deviates from his plan, why bother to pray? Unless man is a puppet created to play the part God has predestined for him. Which makes God responsible for evil. Adam and Eve tried to put the blame on each other and eventually the snake, but God still kept them responsible.

    Lastly God indeed offers salvation by grace alone. We cannot earn grace by good works. Still everyone must personally accept God's offer of salvation. Joshua 24:15: "...choose you this day whom ye will serve; ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." I read no coercion here.
     
  9. Meteorim

    Meteorim New Member

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    Then God planned all circumstances and in a roundabout way made our decisions beforehand? That still makes God responsible for man's bad choices.
    I would like to have a simple explanation for this all, but I haven't found one (yet).
    We can see God interfering with causal reality in the Bible many times. But in our own lives and in those around us it often seems there is just luck and bad luck. God chooses not to interfere most of the time, at least not in ways we can see. That makes unbelievers often say: where was God when this or that happened?

    God knows all the variables in the universe, that is a giant advantage compared to us. With innumerable possibilities in a genuinely free universe (not a giant clockwork), anything can happen. And that is exactly what we see. Millions of people die in wars, or in famine or by abortion. Diseases develop, people get born healthy or with limbs missing, stars are born or die etc etc. Could it be that God's knowledge of all this is not causally linked to all these things happening? (I'm asking myself this question also).
     
  10. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I think it's hard to maintain detailed foreknowledge without also detailed predestination. At least not unless you're a Deist. The problem is that Christianity assumes that God interacts with the world, not just through direct revelation and miracles, but through actions of the Holy Spirit. But if he has detailed foreknowledge, he knows the affect each such action will have. At the very least this seems to mean he controls salvation of all individuals, since he knows whether the way he works with them is sufficient to save them. But beyond that, he knows exactly what will happen, and what he would have to do to change it. I think that makes him responsible.

    So my sense is that he can't have complete foreknowledge unless he also has effectively full control of history.
     
  11. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Actually, on second thought. My argument isn't based on foreknowledge, but "middle knowledge," the ability to know what the result of an action is going to be before taking it. I think that implies that God has full responsibility. I was assuming that foreknowledge includes middle knowledge. I suppose it's possible that it doesn't.
     
  12. Meteorim

    Meteorim New Member

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    I was reading up on middle knowledge this morning before reading your post. It seems the middle ground between strict determined predestination and 'just' foreknowledge. It makes a lot of sense, even though some concepts are hard to grasp (such as difference between chronologically and logically prior events). Freethinkingministries.com has some very interesting takes on this, so does William Lane Craig.
     
  13. Sound Doctrine

    Sound Doctrine Endure Sound Doctrine Supporter

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    Give me examples of where PROPHECY was not fulfilled when it should have been. We bother to pray to please God.

    All that we say, think, and do is predestined from the beginning. God's plan is finished; it is merely playing out through time, but in eternity, according to God's perception, it is finished. The puppet criticism of election doesn't wash because God did give us a will, but it is against God. Because He is God, how can He not know all things? How can He not be in control of all things? If you do not believe He is in control, then you are denying His power and saying that man's will is stronger.

    Isaiah 45:7 says "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do these things." According to Revelation 13:8, it was predestined man would sin because it was predestined that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. He was slain for our sins before we were even created.

    We are not saved by grace alone. According to Ephesians 2:8-9 - "8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast." Let those verses tell it. I need not interpret them.

    As for choosing this day... Joshua 24:15, yes, God tells us to choose this or that thing and if we go against God there are consequences. If we do what God says, there is reward. We do God's will according to God's plan, not ours. "A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps."

    Romans 7:18 - "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." Our will is no good.

    Romans 9:18-20a - "18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?"

    God is in control of all things, like the potter over his clay. Romans 9:20b-24 - "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"

    Romans 8:28-33 - "28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth."

    No interpretation needed. Either one believes these verses or one doesn't.
     
  14. Meteorim

    Meteorim New Member

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    God can change his mind also. For instance the prophecy in Jeremiah 26 was not fulfilled, as we read that Jeremiah said: Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
    The story of Jonah and Nineveh als comes to mind.

    IF predestination is true; it does not necessarily mean that everything is causaly determined.
    It is partly a matter of how one defines these terms. Our will may be tainted by sin, and by that unfree to do absolute good, I agree. But that does not mean we have no freedom to choose.

    The Potter/Clay metaphor can also be found in Jeremiah 18:1-11. It is clear from that passage that God wants people to turn from their evil way. Not that the evil they do has been predestined.

    I have been reading about what early church fathers have said about this issue and the likes of
    Origen, Irenaeus, and also Chrysostom are absolutely clear that "Man has received the knowledge of good and evil”, and can therefor obey or disobey God.
     
  15. Sound Doctrine

    Sound Doctrine Endure Sound Doctrine Supporter

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    Paul was teaching the Romans from Jeremiah 18. The clay by itself can do nothing. No matter what verses you find in the Bible, in order to keep from contradicting the Bible, you cannot deny this fact. As for the church fathers, the only ones I respect are in the Bible; especially the apostles, but the Bible as a whole. The ones you refer to are just men, not canonically sanctified with direct revelation from God. As for the perspectives, looking from God's perspective (His words are spirit), He already knew and indeed controlled the choices men were and are to take, whether from Jeremiah 26 or modern day. The future shall happen according to the Scriptures, unconditionally. The conditional choice example you gave was predestined by God as to the statements made and the peoples' response to them. You have to look at yourself the way God does. He is the potter, we are the clay. The clay can do nothing of itself, but is made into vessels of honor or dishonor according to God's will, not man's choices.

    We are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves. The faith which saves us is the belief in Jesus, given to us by the Father as explained in John 6:37-40 - "37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."

    John 6:44 - "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."

    John 6:63-65 - "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

    God does all the work. Psalm 65:4a - "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causeth to approach unto thee..." This dovetails into the John 6 verses I gave you.
     
  16. Shahab

    Shahab New Member

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    Hi Luke631,

    God's relationship to his creatures is like your relationship to your own body. He feels them, knows them and understands them. Just like you feel your hand and feet. God is good, the creatures that listen to him and follow his orders are called good BECAUSE they listen to him. And that also applies to good feelings and sensations. For example if your hands and feet follow your orders you would be able to get food and eat them and reward them.
    Evil is the part that does not follow God's orders. Have you ever said something you didn't mean to or in a way you didn't want to? Or have your hands or feet moved in a way that you didn't intend to? You can try it. Decide not to move your right hand for a few hours and then see if it would make sudden movements without your permission. That is what evil is made out of. Creatures that do things that God doesn't want them to do. That is the definition of evil.

    You can consider the Las Vegas shooter as a painful part in God's body. God can move him around, he can destroy him, he can create obstacles in his way, he can control all of the particles in his body and force him to act like a good person. But in the end he won't be a good person unless he wants to. Every creature makes their own choice since God has free will and everyone is made of the same soul, that means they have free will as well. Eventually good people would be free to do what they please like the organs in your body but bad people become imprisoned and are controlled by good people like the bones in your body that are controlled by your muscles.

    Did all of this make sense to you?
     
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