You clearly believe you know better, but are not demonstrating you understand much.
Well, since you’re clearly in the know, and no one knows as much as you do, I guess you’re right, and no one has any other perspective which could possibly be accurate.
Oh, since you used the phrase, I didn’t say anything about the mysterious ways of God. That’s all you.
But also, I have to wonder…
What is it that bothers you so much?
Here’s something for you…
Jesus said that the thief comes only steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life, and that more abundantly. John 10.
Here’s something else for you.
I’m a stage 4 metastatic malignant melanoma survivor.
I’ve lived with my cancer since 1987. That’s 31 years now.
According to the melanoma statistics, most people who get melanoma die within 1-2 years.
I was misdiagnosed in 1990, correctly diagnosed in 1997, and spent the next 7 years having 6 surgeries, 5 weeks of radiation therapy, 4 years of chemo, over 60 MRI’s of the brain, over 60 full-torso CT scans, 13-14 whole body PET scans, and various misc. diagnostics.
I then also had the opportunity throughout all that to attend college, and study math, and afterwards, I started a new career, and got a whole new life.
How did I survive all this, when copious friends, and family members died of various cancers, illnesses, diseases over the decades.
For all the doubts, for all the tens of millions of questions that CAN be asked, in the end, there’s only one thing which matters— how will we respond to the gospel of Jesus?
As I said, with regards to Jesus’ words on the cruelties, and viciousness of life—
Unless you repent, you too will perish.
Yeah, I don’t think fatalism is the solution here.
God created us with curiosity, and the faculty to learn to solve increasingly complex problems.
I also don’t think ordain is the correct term, when it comes to God’s Sovereignty, and foreordinantion of human beings.
In fact, there are only one group of people on earth whom the bible says are predestined, or fore-ordained.
It’s Jesus followers. Romans 8:29, and Ephesians 1: 11.
Moreover, the only thing we are predestined, or fore-ordained to is to be conformed to the image/likeness of Jesus.
No one else is treated in this manner.
You won’t find anyone else who is predestined, for anything, or anywhere, else.
Education, learning, knowledge, and understanding are quite important. However, wisdom is even more important.
Keep following Jesus. Please read 2 Peter 1:2-13, Titus 2:11-14, Isaiah 30:15, and chapter 54. Specifically vss 12-17.
So, Mr Buckley, there’s a very good question: do we believe that God ordains evil? In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with asking this question. I would shrink more from calling God the doer of evil than from worrying about doubt! “You doubt because you love truth.” It’s Ok to ask why and how God might be God and there still be evil, isn’t it?. At any rate, we must fight it with all our might–and I know that you think of what happened to Ms Dugard as heinous.
God created us with wonderful minds. It would be a double faced God that did not want us to ask questions.
Psalm 103, “As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.:”
Praise be to God for that! My parents were full of Christ’s mercy and compassion. I only hope that I can point my children to His true picture, Christ, as well as they did it to me.
I think this is why the topic of God’s sovereignty is so hard to wrap our heads around, because we don’t always know the extent to which he micromanages (or does not) every little detail in the world. Different prooftexts can give us very different answers. But @beaglelady has a point, because if we subscribe to the extreme end of the “God micromanages everything” view, it sounds an awful lot like we’re saying that God ordains evil, even the most vile and depraved crimes.
If a person is pondering whether or not God orders the kidnapping and rape of a child, he should be locked up. The kidnapper/rapist of Elizabeth Smart had weird religious views and claimed to an angel. Seriously, we can’t live like this. Even fundamentalists should know better.
It is possible that the environment can play a factor. There is so much exposure to micro, radio, xray, cosmic alpha beta gamma ray radiation combined with the amounts of chemicals we’ve added to the atmosphere and food chain that we can never know what synergistic influence it has imposed on man causing the reduction of quality and ability to reproduce effectively. We can’t compare your above rates to what rates were 100’s or 1000’s of years ago. Look at the rates of brain cancers from the introduction of aspartame in the food chain for example. People’s choices also have factors like fetal alcohol syndrome. Had the parent made different choices their offspring would be healthier. In short, don’t eliminate mans actions as the problem. It tends to be the common theme in theology and human behavior. My contention is that man has decreased the odds that were once really good.
We live in a fallen world due to original federal sin. This influences absolutely everything and in particular humans. I am not surprised by Zygotes not implanted, miscarriages.
Though processes may appear random from our perspective, God is sovereign over every cell in the universe, otherwise God is no longer sovereign.
Prov 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord”
Even a random outcome in the casting of lots to make a decision is determined by the hand of God. Every seemingly “chance” event — a flat tire, running into a long-lost friend, a roll of the dice, the luck of the draw, and others — has a place in God’s good plan, even if we are unaware of His ultimate purposes.
I think it depends on how we use the term “sovereign.” I imagine most Christians wouldn’t have an argument with the idea that God is ultimately in control of the universe since he made it. But the degree to which God uses his sovereignty to exert absolute control over every detail is not something we can always say for sure – I think both extremes can bring up a lot of questions.
I had to think about these things when I had a miscarriage last year. Did God make me have it, or did he simply allow it as part of a fallen, physical world, and walk with me through it and reassure me that evil and death are not too strong for him to ultimately conquer? In other words, I don’t think “sovereign” and “controlling” necessarily mean the same thing, though I hear them used that way sometimes. I absolutely believe that God has the prerogative to control anything – how much he uses that is less clear to me.
I agree that it is difficult to wrap our minds around. The one thing (of many) that the bible is clear about is the Trancendancy of God. He plainly states in Isaiah 55 that his ways are above, and beyond ours, and his thoughts are above and beyond ours.
This is also why we’re told that we need to choose whether or not we will trust/believe Him.
Ever read Job? To me, this is a really difficult text.
Here’s a guy, who is boasted by God, to the devil, about how great Job is… When the devil accuses God of basically buying Job’s loyalty, God literally hands over to the devil, and he gets raked over the coals in the most painful, and profound ways.
He loses his flocks, and servants in raids by marauders. His children are killed in a freak windstorm. When this first phase is said and done, Job blesses God. His wife curses him for not telling God where to get off.
Then, when you’d think it couldn’t get any worse, the devil again shows up, and accuses both God, and Job of giving everything, just to save one’s own skin. “Skin for skin. All that a man has will he give for his life.” “Touch his body, and he will curse you to your face.”
So, God hands him over one more time, and he winds up with some kind of infection, that results in boils— all over his body. To relieve the pain, he uses pottery shards to break open the boils, and covers himself in ashes (probably an ancient, then used remedy).
Then, to add what we later realize is insult to injury…
Friends hear about his calamity, and travel from all around the region, to console him.
So bad a state is he in that when they see him, they are dumbfounded, and sit there in silence, with him, for 7 days (better than most “Friends” we have today… to be sure. ).
After which, Job opens his mouth, and curses the day of his birth, begging it be hidden, and decrying the day he was born.
Then, to make matters worse still— his “friends” castigate him, accusing him of various sins. Why else would God allow so much misery to come on him if he didn’t have some secret sins…
After 5 debate/rantings/railings, between Job, and each of his “closest” friends, God shows up.
Notice in chapters 38-41. God never answers a single question. He simple says— where were you when I …!
I spoke of things I did not know, nor understand! I repent in ashes. I spoke once, yeah, twice, but I place my hand over my mouth, in shame.
So… Jaycee … I don’t understand it. I explained the simple of it in my initial post.
I do not think God’s Sovereignty is easy. I stated as much in my first post.
Again, which is why I find these kinds of discussions so difficult— people don’t read for understanding, they read to win an argument!
Tell you what though— spend 41 years reading the bible, praying, living with, instead of dying of… metastatic cancer, not having children, watching friends, family, and loved ones die all around you, while you barely survive what is typically a terminal disease.
I have copious friends, family, and acquaintances who’ve lived with, or died from some illness, disease, drunk drivers, etc… I’ve never understood their calamity. Some who’ve died were followers of Jesus, and others were not. Those who were— got to end their misery. They entered life, and are now rejoicing in the presence of Jesus. Those who were not, according to the bible, they’ve entered hell, and are living in misery. And eternity hasn’t even begun. Wait until the lake of fire. Ugh… massively major understatement of how inconvenient that one is. My mom died of lung cancer with met’s to the brain. To my knowledge, she was not a follower of Jesus. So as far as I know— she’s in hell right now. Don’t think I like that one for a single heartbeat. But, I know the reasons for why hell, and why we’re separated from God-- all detailed in the bible. And I know God is good, just, gracious, holy, true, and not to be trifled with.
I don’t subscribe to the extreme micromanagement view.
It’s not in the bible.
Sovereignty simply means that in the end, everything will come out exactly as God foreknew, and wanted.
So, if all that’s desired here is to win an argument, because of how uncomfortable the topic is— then it’s a loss. God will be the only real winner here. But if he loses even one person-- it’ll break his heart. Why do you think Jesus came and died? Each of us must choose.
I don’t believe in God’s Sovereignty because it’s easy. I don’t believe in it because it’s even pleasant.
I believe in God’s Sovereignty because the bible explicitly says he’s sovereign.
Moreover— he wouldn’t be much of a god, if he wasn’t sovereign. Nor would he be worthy of worship, adoration, and eternal praise if he wasn’t Sovereign. He’d be a weak, wannabe, who was too inept to have legitimate, and valid control over his creation— the devil, and his minions included.
YHVH is NOT the devil’s equal, antithesis.
YHVH created Lucifer, who one day decided to rebel, and tried to become God. Ezek. 28, and Isa. 14.
Ironically, God knew beforehand it’d happen, and yet still chose to create the being who chose to become the destroyer, and the devil.
No… I don’t think this is easy at all. But it is simple. And I do not think that the two ideas (simple, easy) are similar. I learned that one in my physics studies at the university.
As far as God ordaining evil… you might want to read Isaiah 45, and Habakkuk.
Some serious stuff in there that’ll curl the hair on the back of your neck, if not your finger nails. Isaiah 45:7 says the following.
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the LORD, do all these things.’
That was the NKJV.
This is the KJV
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
The HiSB bible says… (A hebrew/english parallel bible)
I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil. I AM YHVH, do all these things.
So… yeah… ordain evil? I don’t think so… CREATE Evil… it looks that way.
Keep in mind, that in physics, there are two attributes in nature which have no properties that can be described, except by a lack of something.
Light/darkness. According to physics, darkness is described by a lack of light.
Heat/cold. According to physics, cold is described by a lack of heat. And as heat is defined as energy affecting the motion of atoms, when you remove the energy, you’re reducing the friction between them, which results in cold.
It’s hypothesized that evil is simply the lack of good. And as God knows all things, he’d understand the nature of evil— he warned Adam to not eat the fruit, which would open the door to evil, long before Adam did so.
So, it’s a challenging thing to deal with these things.
If you’ve not read the book of Job— please do so. And don’t cheat, while tempting, when you get there, look very closely at chapters 38-41. God never answers the issues Job raised. He only calls him to the carpet for his folly. He does however nail Job’s “friends” for their ignorance/false beliefs.
Then read Isaiah 40-49, and Habakkuk God’s Sovereignty is profound.
Thanks for the thorough reply – yes, I agree that Job is a pretty difficult text – it’s been a while since I read the whole thing, but I recently went over Philip Yancey’s take on it in “The Bible Jesus Read.” Habakkuk is one of my favorite books, but perhaps because it has sections that strike me as more encouraging than in Job. I at least appreciate that it addresses evil, because Habakkuk asks questions that I think are very similar to what many of us ask when we look at all the evil in the world – especially his charge that God has made us like sea creatures, constantly devouring each other.
I suppose it’s inescapable that if we go back far enough, even evil beings have their advent in God – in other words, if everything comes from God, then that includes those who cause pain and suffering on earth. That can be hard to reconcile with the “good vs. evil” narrative that also runs through the Bible – it’s easy to wonder why God has to be in any kind of “combat” with the devil if he created him in the first place, or why he would create people just to send them to hell (whether one believes in ECT or conditionalism).
To get back a little bit more to the original topic, I don’t see that we could say for sure whether God “chooses” which sperm ends up with which egg (or similar things). Since he is omnipotent he certainly has the ability and prerogative to, but he also has the ability to wipe out all kinds of evil things and doesn’t – so I’m wary of making the leap from “God can control something” to “God must control it in every detail.” I guess I don’t see “being in control” and “personally micromanaging” to be the same thing. Who knows. I don’t!
a couple of ideas are brought up in this thread, which I do not see in the bible.
1- micromanagement by God.
2- ordaining evil.
3- God’s overwriting the free-will of humans.
These are not biblical.
God’s Sovereignty is an idea that is explicitly detailed in the bible.
A couple of weeks ago I posted on facebook, and said that I see the existence of evil as something used by God to show us humans just how vile and destructive it is/can be for the purpose of saving us from our sin.
It’s written in 2 Peter 3 that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
I.e., God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell/lake of fire.
God also WANTS people to repent/metanoia/change their thoughts about God, and agree with God’s ways.
Notice something in there… God wants, and God doesn’t want.
In Proverbs 6, there are 7 things that God hates… literally, actually… HATES.
God loves the poor, widows, orphans, broken hearted, and contriteful.
God loves humans.
But at the same time— he calls us to turn to him, from out sin. He doesn’t ignore our sin. We have to deal with it, on God’s terms, or he’ll let us suffer the consequences. And as someone who’s lived with this one… those consequences are not pleasant.
Going back to my initial post, Jesus told some folks who complained about how unfair, and at times, downright vicious and cruel life can be.
Instead of lamenting with them, and saying— yeah, that is pretty bad. Well, let’s just go kick some Roman a88, and light this place up… he says— unless you repent, you too will perish.
I don’t know about you, but in this narrative Jesus responded to, I see a very basic, and simple idea. Luke 13
1- there really are some things in life we can do nothing about.
2- there’s one thing in life we really do have control over. That’s the judgment on our sin. We can turn to God, from our sin, and place our trust in Jesus. We can come to God, and receive the adoption, as sons and daughters, through placing our trust in Jesus, for the forgiveness, and cleansing of our sin.
All this said… God is in the salvation, reclamation, restoration business, when it comes to human beings.
1- Hebrews 7:25— God saves to the uttermost, all who come to him through Jesus Christ.
2- Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. Luke 19:10
3- 2 Peter 3:9— God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
4- God’s sovereignty is throughout scripture. Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21
5- truth is of the utmost importance to God. Psalm 51:6, Jeremiah 1:10, 2 Corinthians 10:4-7.
I have long found it curious that Truth is so important to God that he made a way for us to know. He then promises to remove lies, to a rather interesting point—
I send you to the nations to root out, tear down, pull down and destroy, then to plant, and to build. Jer 1:10.
Casting down false imaginations, and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. 2 Cor. 10:4.
Part of God’s salvation plan for humans is to destroy lies, and falsehoods. To tear down false ideas, and beliefs about God. It so incensed him that he considered it idolatry. Exodus 20, and Hosea 4:6.
Don’t think for a single heartbeat that because you can wrap your mind around an idea that makes it true.
If it wasn’t for the bible, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, I’d be a deist. “God wound up a clock, and then walked away, and left it to run down.”
I’m also sorry that you suffered a miscarriage. In fact, I posted this thread because wife recently got pregnant and wanted to know everything about pregnancy.
I always knew that miscarriages occur. But I never knew they’re so frequent. We’re not talking about 1-2%, we’re talking about 20%! This means that if we have 10 pregnant women, two will walk away without a baby…
What’s even worse, you can never know for certain if you have miscarried or not. There are many miscarriage that are silent, or “missed”. Baby has died in uterus, while pregnancy continues ahead with all of the symptoms, tricking the woman she’s still pregnant.
If we don’t call this poor design, I don’t know what else could count.
As for the book of Job… I think this is one of the two books (the other is Revelation) that should have never been included in the Bible. The problem with Revelation was history - there were many arguments in the early church.
But the problem with Job is that the god in this book is a Straw man god. And we know very well that straw-manning is a logical fallacy.
Congrats on the pregnancy. I hope things go well for you both and that mother and baby are healthy. I went into “research mode” after getting pregnant with my first child too (though mostly having to do with labor and things like that) – there’s a huge learning curve, that’s for sure, and an awful lot of opinions on things!
Yeah… when I miscarried (after having two pregnancies/births with no major problems) I didn’t find out about it until 11 weeks – about three weeks after it most likely happened, and it took another week for the actual miscarriage to start. It’s hard to describe the feeling of knowing I’d been walking around with a child inside me, making plans for the future, never knowing that child’s heart wasn’t beating anymore, especially after seeing the heartbeat on an ultrasound around 7 weeks. I can totally understand questioning the design of all this. I can also understand that questioning coming from other parents whose children are born with defects or abnormalities that put their lives in danger, or even cause death right after birth. At the very least, it certainly doesn’t seem like something designed for a paradise-like Garden of Eden – it seems more in line with the reproduction of animals and plants – lots of waste. If we believe we’re different than the rest of nature, it can be easy to ask what that difference is when so much of the death out there seems built into us too.
I won’t rehash the opinions I’ve already given in this thread, and I’m not sure judging which books belong in the Bible is within my understanding, but I’ll just say that you’re not alone in asking tough questions about these things, either to Christians or to God. I have had to learn (or at least learn a little bit more – it’s a long, difficult process) to trust him in the midst of things that I don’t understand, and believe that he has beaten death ultimately, even though we still feel its sting every day here on earth, sometimes very personally.
Alright, so I’ve been struggling with this issue as well and this is a great opportunity to at least vent my thoughts (cracks knuckles). As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I hold that the process of birth is very sacred from conception to birth. I usually hold the view that the process of birth is very natural with certain rules established, but there’s room for some chance. I don’t think that the process of birth is particularly miraculous in any strict sense, outside of Christ’s maybe. All that said, 70% of zygotes still get spontaneously aborted and 20% are miscarried after implantation, so what happens to their soul? My view is that I maintain an agnostic position on when the body is “ensouled”, Orthodox have a vague understanding of what a soul is. In the back of my mind, I try not to believe that the zygotes that are spontaneously aborted have souls. Individual catholics and orthodox may say they are, but this is not a dogmatic teaching from either institution. The reason both are against abortion is because they believe the process of life must be respected from conception onward, because Christ went through that process. Therefore, the fact that nature is cruel bears nothing on us as Christians, we only have to make due with the time we have. If we leave early or late, I’m sure whatever awaits us in the afterlife will be fair given the context. By no means is this a resolved issue for me, but I do want to tell you where I’m at with this.
Welcome to the forum, Varton. It is good to have your perspective. Learning more from the rich traditions and theology of the Orthodox Church can only enrich our understanding.
While we try to avoid the issue of abortion here, feeling that the subject is beyond the scope of our purpose, certainly those issues of ensoulment and personhood are important, though like you, I feel that is beyond our knowing and is in the hands of God.