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

Murphy (
Sun, 16 Feb 1997 21:03:04 -0500

Bill Frix wrote:

> (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 does what God wants, but we can have confidence only that
God will act as God has promised. "Whatever is not of faith is sin."
God does not promise to feed or heal us miraculously, and does not
promise to save us outside preaching and sacraments.

> 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.

I am dubious about such claims. An undue hankering for miracles
is unhealthy.

> 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.

It always seems ungracious to challenge personal claims of
religious experience, & I am sure you had these experiences. I do not
believe that you are able to say that what happened was outside the
range of possible natural processes.

> (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).

I repeat what I said at first in this post: God can save people
without means but we have no promise that he will do so. Even when
Christ knocked Saul to the ground on the way to Damascus, one has to
take into account Saul's previous immersion in Scripture and his
encounters with the Christians he was persecuting as factors in his
conversion. Again, I do not doubt that you had this experience but I
suspect that you are not giving proper weight to a lot of your previous
experiences which led up to it.

> 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.

God doesn't _need_ sacraments, but he graciously chose to make
himself available to us in them and _commanded_ us to make us of them.
"Go and make disciples ... baptizing." "Do this in remembrance of me."
There are no such imperatives to watch movies.
The supposed antithesis between being saved by the blood of
Christ and sacraments is spurious, for sacraments are means by which the
benefits of Christ's work are made available to us.

> 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).

There is a serious category error here. God's action is at a
more fundamental level than any of the other actions of creatures which
you list here. This is the type of mistake which leads to people
thinking, e.g., that "creation" and "evolution" are two types of action
on the same level & that one has to choose between them.

> 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 tried to address issue this in an earlier post.
George Murphy