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

Bill Frix (
Sun, 16 Feb 1997 17:42:04 GMT-5


I have been following this debate for a little as time permits but
feel I have to put in a few comments:

(1) God does what God wants. I have been seeing messages like ...
"God works through the sacraments ... " or, "God works through
natural processes ... ". Sometimes, sometimes not. God is not
limited to our understanding of Him or of His creation. In part,
Murphy wrote:
> If someone fires a gun at you, God will not supernaturally
> change the bullet's trajectory to keep it from killing you ("moral
> evil").
I agree that _usually_ God does not intervene, yet I have read too
many accounts by missionaries wherein God does supernaturally
intervene when it is His desire to do so, including causing bullets
to pass through people without doing them harm.

Second, God does not always use natural means to accomplish His
purpose. This I can attest to on first hand basis:
(a) I had a skin disease that the doctors said was incurable but shortly
after becoming a Christian, God supernaturally intervened and
removed the condition (without a relapse). You may say,
"coincidence ... normal recession," or whatever, but I was there and
felt it happen in my body.

(b) I was physically saved by God supernaturally intervening and
breaking the laws of physics: my (1 ton) car was spinning out of
control and headed toward a cliff on an icy road in the western
mountains of Virginia one January morning. The moment I prayed, the
car stopped its spin, reversed itself (a violation of conservation
of energy and momentum) and slowly moved to a parallel trajectory
with the road and which dropped me onto a strand of gravel which
brought the car under control. Coincidence again? Not by my
experience - all the events were precisely controlled.

(3) My spiritual salvation was not by normal means - I didn't have
someone "lead me" to Christ: God revealed Himself to me directly. He
spoke to me audibly, He comforted me physically and revealed His
nature and His love for me directly (He had to - I was very messed up
emotionally). If you want to know more, ask and I will tell you but
for now, know that I have seen God doing things the world and the
church says He won't do (but never in contradiction to His word)
without a concern about our approval or not.

There are more incidents and if you are interested, I will supply
more information. But these incidents show that God doesn't care
what we think about how He will do something - He does what He wants
to when He wants to (but He is not capricious about it).

(2) John Wesley called the sacraments a "means of grace" - like
prayer, fasting, Bible reading, and the like. We are saved by
Christ's blood, nothing else. The sacraments are means instituted by
God for our benefit (probably because we are so sinful and arrogant
that without them we will ignore Him). The sacraments are not the
means of salvation - they are not the means of maintaining our
salvation - they are not even the only means of our knowing God
better or being closer to Him (in His perspective - He loves us just
as much when we take communion as when we are in a movie theater).
So, the point is, God doesn't NEED the sacraments to minister to us -
He GAVE them to us for our spiritual and emotional benefit.

(3) Regarding
> 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!] ... If God "acts" in everything, including
> tornadoes, drunk drivers and such, then our theology can't ignore
> this. How can we say he does without a working understanding of how
> he does so, and yet still remains holy? Isn't it possible that
> these things just happen, and that God has no real involvement in
> them?

There are 4 sources of actions in the world: God's actions,
humanities actions, natural actions, and demonic actions (angellic
actions fall under the category of God's actions, for they are
ministering spirits sent out by Him to do His bidding).

To say God is the cause of _all_ actions is false. God is
providentially involved in all actions - nothing happens without His
knowledge and permission (see Job 1). But God is not the cause of
all actions (except maybe in an Aristotelian sense of the prime mover
of the universe).
Take the case of a person killed by a drunk driver. God did not cause
the person to drink to excess; God did not force the person into the
car and send him/her on their drunken way; God did not push the
other person in the drunk's way; God did not design the car to be
incapable of surviving a collision. Several of these acts are the
result of human failure (whether intentional, sinful action or our
inability to perfectly design products). The person being in the
wrong place at the wrong time is not a deliberate cause of God: I
know God hurts when He knows (His omniscience) we will be injured or
even killed by the actions of another. Sure, He can stop the
suffering, but to do so will require Him to remove free will. You
see, the truth is, we suffer _because_ God loves us.
I once talked to a searching individual on an airliner one evening
about this problem. As I said to him, think of your spouse, your
children, or even your pet. Suppose you could give a drug to your
beloved that would cause them to madly be in love with you. How long
would it be before you were disgusted with them. If they are a
puppet, the love they give is not love, it is the drug's effect.
So too, God so loves us that He desires us to love Him and come to
Him for our benefit and joy. Just like you would not want a
drug-induced love, so God does not want a cheap substitute for the
only thing He allows us to truly offer Him: our love. Hence,
free-will. Hence, the sin of Adam and Eve. Hence, natural disasters
(He gave the earth to humanity - we messed it up by consequence and
by design), human failures and inevitable consequences.

I've spent too long on this email. My point is, God is omniscient
(and suffers for it, John 11:35), God is omnipotent but has given
the earth to us (Psalms 115:16), and the freedom (and
responsibility) for it - we reap what has been sown by the sins of
our fathers (Adam) and ourselves and others. The good news is that
God is still in control and _will_ make all things right in His time.
William M. Frix
Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering
Box 3021
John Brown University
Siloam Springs, AR 72761
Phone: (501) 524-7466
FAX: (501) 524-7499