Tuesday, July 31, 2018

God is NOT in Control

Sorry to break the news to you, but contrary to several songs and a lot of bumper-sticker theology, everything does NOT happen for a reason, and God is NOT in control of everything.

I could be justified in coming to this conclusion just from the empirical evidence of the daily news. If God actually controlled everything that happened, would there be school shootings? Would rape ever happen? Would the Kardashians ever have become pop culture royalty? (Sorry, my humor DNA just kicked in.)

But I didn't want to depend just on human logic for something like this, so I went to BibleGateway.com and did some scriptural research.

The word "control" appears 39 times in the New International Version of the Bible. (That includes instances of "self-control" and other words that contain those seven letters in that order.) Of those 39 occurrences, only four have any connection to a non-human entity. 

Job 37:15 "Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?"

     -  This is part of an epic poem. There is no reason to take these words literally and imagine God in some kind of cosmic control booth pushing buttons and operating levers to determine when lightning strikes or where clouds travel.

Philippians 3:20-21 "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

     -  Seems like this is talking about the end of life as we know it...that part of the grand opening of heaven and eternal life will be God finally bringing everything under His control, including even what kind of bodies we have.

Revelation 16:8-9 "The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him."
     -  Again, more end-times language, and definitely not implying that God is currently in control of everything that happens on the planet.

And I've saved what is, no doubt, the most surprising verse for last:

1 John 5:19 "We know that we are children of God and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one."

     -  Here it is: the one verse that says anything definitive about Earth being under the control of a spiritual being, and it gives that title to The Evil One / Lucifer / Sataaaaan. The good news is, the commentaries I've read say this verse is more about emphasizing the distinctiveness of Christians compared to those who don't follow Christ than it is making a firm statement about who/what controls everything that happens. In fact, in several other English translations, the word "control" isn't even used.

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Truth is...none of this is meant to imply that God isn't in charge. He still causes all things to work out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), and Jesus still has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). But Yahweh is not some big puppetmaster in the sky. Bad things happen because humans have chosen to do their own thing instead of God's thing.

Bonus Truth...It seems that those who choose to either disbelieve in God or be mad at Him for not stopping things like mass shootings are the same people who would never want their actions being controlled by Him.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog. The one thing I would say is this. God created us with free will. If we have the freedom to choose what we want then God doesn't have that control...He, the one true God relinquished that control to his creation. But you said the most important statement, God is still in charge. He knows what He is doing.

    Thanks for your blog on this