Re: Question for George (was Re: Vast Majorities...)

Murphy (
Sat, 15 Feb 1997 08:24:26 -0500

Rodney Dunning wrote:

> When you write "God is doing these things," do you mean to
> imply that God is in direct control over everything that happens in this
> world (physically speaking)? Or does "divine action" refer only to the
> sacrements?

God acts in everything that happens in the world. {How to think
of God's "concurrence" with evil actions of people has always been
recognized as one of the most difficult questions of theology & I skip
that now!] God acts in word & sacraments differently - "spiritually" if
you wish - than in ordinary acts of hearing, washing, and eating &

> In another post you wrote that you would object to a symbolic
> understanding of the sacrements. Being from the Southern Baptist
> tradition, a symbolic understanding is the only one I've ever had.
> Frankly, I haven't given it much thought. If you don't mind my asking,
> why would you object to this? If this requires a REALLY long answer, feel
> free to refer me to a book or something.

The reasons are:
1) The language of Scripture - "This is my body", "Born again
[or "from above"] of water & the Spirit", &c.
2) Belief ( connected of course with 1) that God objectively
accomplishes and presents us with the saving work of Christ.
Luther's _Large Catechism_ on "Baptism" & "The Sacrament of the Altar"
would be a good place to look. Gritsch & Jenson's _Lutheranism_
(Fortress, around 1977 but I think still in print) is an excellent
modern intro to the Lutheran theological tradition.

> Thank you.
> Rodney Dunning
> e-mail:
> URL:
> voice: 910-759-4977 or 910-759-4980
> fax: 910-759-6142
> On Fri, 14 Feb 1997, Murphy wrote:
> > I responded to this in Don DeGraaf's post & just repeat briefly:
> > As far as _knowing_ is concerned, I reply simply that science works. We
> > can understand the "great majority" (99.99...%) of things that happen in
> > the world in terms of natural processes obeying rational laws. If we
> > believe that God is doing these things, we must understand the divine
> > action somehow to be in/with/through those processes.
> > This is the way traditional doctrines of providence have spoken
> > of God's actions in the world, & that view is strongly suggested by the
> > theology of the cross.
> > George