Re: Seeking God's will in physical phenomena

From: Mervin Bitikofer <>
Date: Tue Dec 06 2005 - 18:42:56 EST

> <>Why not divine God's will by using 'chance'? In Acts 1:26 the lot
> was cast (after prayer to know God's will) to determine the twelfth
> disciple. And there is a good bit of Old Testament precedence to
> determine God's will in the (what I assume to be random) process of
> casting lots. Why do we not take this option seriously in our
> 'enlightened' times? How many churches today choose their leadership
> in such a way -- (there probably are exceptions that actually do). But
> obviously the Bible times crowd took quite seriously that God would
> intervene to make his will known in this direct fashion. Of course,
> one could point out that the Spirit had not yet made its debut in the
> tongues of flame -- maybe no lot casting was needed after that. On the
> other hand Peter & Paul (both Spirit-filled men) might have resorted
> to this in their disagreement over John Mark or their other
> disagreements. But they didn't.
> Maybe today we're more inclined to line up our thinking with Solomon's
> Ecclesiastes 9:11 (911? I can just see conspiracy enthusiasts scooting
> to the edge of their seats) "...the race is not to the swift, nor the
> battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to
> men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and
> chance happen to them all." More likely -- we are more comfortable
> with God's will showing up in a revelatory way that is brought to the
> surface as we dicker with each other over scripture and in prayer.
> Could it be that we don't really trust God to intervene in this
> physical way any more? I'm not advocating that we start -- but I think
> it interesting to pose the question 'why not?' One of th e profound
> lines in the Lord of the Rings series is when Gandalf is ruminating
> over the 'chance' of the ring falling into Bilbo's hands '...chance,/
> if chance you call it/'. There is some Christian profundity in that I
> believe. I would love to see a theological study on the mathematically
> analyzed thing now called 'random'.
> --merv
> Karl replies:
> This is what a number of Reformation churches did. It was most common
> among anabaptist traditions, although Zinzendorf claimed it derived
> from Luther's commentary on Jonah. The lot (or similar substitute)
> was considered the best (only?) way to be assured of determining God's
> will. To apply it to our current obsession with ID, they might say
> that the only way to be sure that God is the Creator is if He
> incorporated chance into the process of creation and did /not/ leave
> his "fingerprints" anywhere! :-)
> After all, the House always wins!
> For a nice discussion, which also points out some of the practical
> pitfalls, see Elisabeth Sommer, 1998, Gambling with God: The use of
> the lot by the Moravian Brethren in the eighteenth century: Journal
> of the History of Ideas, v. 59, p. 267-286.
> Karl
> *************************
> Karl V. Evans
> <>

You lost me in the statement: "...the only way to be sure that God is
the Creator is if He incorporated chance into the process of creation
and did /not/ leave his 'fingerprints' anywhere! ". Would this be
like a rejection of what is now called 'supernatural' in favor of a
deterministic 'naturalism' in which everything that happens (& must
happen) is God's will anyway?

You catch me by surprise referencing anabaptist traditions -- I'm a
Mennonite so you'd think I'd know. I guess there are some Amish who
cast lots to determine who the preacher will be Sunday morning. But I
haven't experienced such a practice first hand.

Received on Tue Dec 6 18:51:44 2005

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