Re: choking on RFEP -- prearrangement

From: <>
Date: Fri Apr 02 2004 - 19:32:38 EST

Howard Van Till wrote:

> HVT: Whether in full detail or only for selected details, the idea of
> divine prearrangement (a form of coercive divine action, as I see it) strikes me
> as extremely problematic. In essence, it is the problem of divine culpability
> for failure to prevent senseless & horrific pain and suffering. If God is
> both able and willing to prearrange certain events in a person’s life, then is
> God not responsible for failing to prevent the host of human tragedies that
> occur daily? Why, for instance, did God not prearrange that the four members of
> the civilian security company be spared from being slaughtered and their
> bodies dragged through the streets of Falujah? Talk of divine prearrangement of
> event strings that turn out good for us is easy, too easy. We like to give
> God credit for good things, don't we? But the unavoidable flip side of the coin
> is that we must then hold God equally responsible for things that are
> irredeemably evil.

I was starting to feel the same tension myself because not only would we
have to address the above utter willful rottenness of man & Co, we would
quickly descend into the issue of people who have been born with terrible
handicaps and history of senseless pain from disease, etc., into the pot.

If we push it further, I think we have to wrestle with whether there is any
free will in all of this if all the events around us are well-orchestrated so
that our response is determined.

However, to take an example from the Bible, I think Don is perhaps
thinking of Joseph in his image of the great choreographer. In this place,
we see that willful rottenness was used by God in a way that no one could
imagine. It would have been tempting to stop at the point that Joseph
ends up in prison after already having been heartlessly sold into slavery
and say this God stuff is a bunch of malarkey. But in the end, something
greater was actually working.

So part of the issue is probably the "all knowing" aspect of God. How
can he be all knowing, yet not in control of every molecule, electron
, etc.? As a fellow physicist, I can see your view as perhaps something like

the great thermodynamicist who "knows the trend of the system well", and
finds ways to tweak the parameters and depends on the __small__ exceptions
(i.e., the smaller-than-a-mustard-seed sized act of faith on the part of
to push things toward His purpose. Hence, a very tiny willful act of faith
be magnified into something meaningful or life enriching for far more than
oneself in this process.

I can see where Joseph's experience could be told as a life enriching
as opposed to a grand deterministic plan. The behavior of the Joseph's
was predictable, and I've seen enough abuse of power, and collective covering
up for
culpability, and the wicked getting more and more while the righteous suffer
in my life
to make me wonder sometimes. But with a little bit of trust in God, we can
still discover
that God still does great and mighty things even out of our seemingly
suffering. Judah's confession was also an important act of faith in that
story, so
God's influence could be quite intricate and intertwined.

By Grace alone we proceed,
Received on Fri Apr 2 19:33:21 2004

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