Friday, December 31, 2010
Thy Will Be Done
Bible believers hold that their Holy Creator is indeed Holy and their creator; musing on these immutable tenets of faith begs the question, can evil originate from God? From tohu a bohu (nothing) God spawned the foundational building blocks of the cosmos into existence. All our eyes behold are the corporeal elements whereas the physical is subject to the invisible laws of the universe. St. Basil the Great once wisely scribed
“You will thus find ... that the creation of the heavens and of the earth were like the foundation and the groundwork, and afterwards that an intelligent reason ... presided in the order of visible things.”
Every element is constructed so as to compound perfectly with other elements and synergistically fashion all material in the universe. Even the indispensable emotional make-up and psychological activity flow from such natural governances. Man's ability to process cognitive thought, their desire to love and be loved, and even the most fundamental impulse for self-preservation all flow from the Laws of Nature implemented by God almighty. We must also be cognizant that the mission of creation was undertaken solely by God. The universe was created void of unsought or impure influences. Creation is the handiwork of Solo Deo (God alone). It would seem the material universe is like a violin, and the laws that govern it are the notes on the stave. God is the virtuoso serenading Himself with self-scribed composition from His own assembled instrument. We, with our fellow creatures, are the unwitting and unresponsive melody sung by the celestial orchestra. If God puppeteers the hearts of men and astronomical flow then every action is the sole result of His pleasure.As John Calvin once said
“creatures are so governed by the secret counsels of God, that nothing happens but that what He has knowingly and willingly decreed.”
This manipulating melody may cause one to imagine that action, decision, birth or death, sin or salvation occurs by the will of God. Is a view of God puppeteering all we see in keeping with logic and biblical soundness?
As pious and scared as these psalms are perceived, they trigger a theological conundrum. If God originates all maneuvers is He the engineer of evil along with good? For although God bestowed on His creation a habitat brimming with love and spectacular wonders it shan't be disregarded that evil prevails in abundance. Few spiritually attentive mortals fathom fallacy in praising God for their capacity to love their fellow man and for the means to furnish blessing on those less fortunate. Whereas blame for their shortcomings are pronounced upon the heads of the perpetrator or at least, the bloody Devil! The noble few who sojourn to know the almighty through mysticism or scared texts are struck by the awesome power of God's holiness. The Bible itself makes bold statements in relation to God's character
“For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy” Lev 11:44.
But if God authors sin and goodness in heavy measure then such Biblical truths require redrafting for Biblical holiness has been abrogated. Even so, a person who lavishes every waking hours in prayer, study of scriptures and altruistic enterprises would find themselves as prone to evil as those who neglect spiritual ventures entirely. For when good and evil are the yearning of the composer of the universe those who seek after His will produce good and evil in the measure they exist. For if God forms either sinful or righteousness impulses and deeds al from the most humbled saint to Satan himself would be a servant of the most High.
As contradictory and appalling as such a theology reveals itself, it is wholeheartedly embraced by myriads. Attempts to conciliate this clash against orthodoxy is purposed by those who conjecture that being surrounded by patterns of evil generates greater glory to God. This response is advocated by John Piper:
The conjecture that God manages the devil makes Satan a devout servant; since Satan cannot disobey God, as God forcibly forbids such choice. Each action is obedient to God. The Devil may not worship God because God won't allow it; in this case God forbids worship in order that He can receive more worship? This is confusing. Piper also states that “God has ordained that Satan have a long leash—with God holding onto it.” Satan is now the devoted lap dog of God, the servant through whom God wreaks evil and all manner of abomination through his depraved minion. What an unthinkable departure from Christian orthodox understanding. It purposes an individual will witness such desolation and tyranny and pledge to dissociate themselves from said evil in favor of worshipping the author of the initial desolation. It would hardly take Socrates to discern how moronic and two-dimensional this speculation is. But can such a deal be justified if God is always content?
The Bible speaks of only God's handiwork and tohu a bohu. If all actions emerge from God and no power manifests from the Tohu a bohu then naught lives to controvert God's will. If everything is at the will of God then He can never be unhappy or disappointed. There are no external influences to contradict God's every whim.
As with all theological propositions the primary foundation for theories must emanate from scripture. Hence if God manipulates the entirety of terrestrial motions, the Bible would leave record only of God's infinite pleasure. Alas for God, this is not the case:
“And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”(Gen 6:6)
“And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” (Mark 3:5a)
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Eph 4:30), “Forty years long was I grieved with this generation,” (Psa 95:10a)
“Wherefore I was grieved with that generation,” (Heb. 3:10).
To be grieved one force must successfully contravene your desires, essentially something happens that you don't want to happen. If God is the be all and end all then no action can occur in conflict with Divine desire and no consequence can vary from that which God has chosen. How do we overcome this apparent contradiction?
A highly plausible theology purposes God devised a force that operates independent of His divine will. This force is capable of pleasing and grieving God yet independent of being manipulated by Him. It cannot be a force that compels holiness because that cannot grieve God and it cannot be a strength that coerces evil because that cannot please God. Rather something that can achieve both ends but tied to neither. God accomplished this incredible freedom through Free Will. God given free will enables us to choose our actions. It is the incredible mental procedure that sanctions us to bring to mind relevant information relating to a decision and to resolve upon said course of action based on the information. Incredible! Through this process one can choose to reject evil and follow God or vice-a-versa.
Hence it is our free will that enables us to follow Christ:
Rev 22:17b “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
John 7:17 “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
Josh 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Matt 23:37 “how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
Deut 30:19b “that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life”
I desperately want to conclude this article with an independent inspiration. Conversely, if my studies have proven one thing it is thus; I have had no unique theories, and each I surmise has been recounted finer than I can manage. Hence, I will draw to close with a quote from St. Clement of Rome that beautifully paints the magnitude and ability of the sensational gift of free will.
“But, you say, God ought to have made us at first so that we should not have thought at all of such things. You who say this do not know what is free-will, and how it is possible to be really good; that he who is good by his own choice is really good; but he who is made good by another under necessity is not really good, because he is not what he is by his own choice. Since therefore every one's freedom constitutes the true good, and shows the true evil, God has contrived that friendship or hostility should be in each man by occasions. But no, it is said: everything that we think He makes us to think. Stop! Why do you blaspheme more and more, in saying this? For if we are under His influence in all that we think, you say that He is the cause of fornications, lusts, avarice, and all blasphemy. Cease your evil-speaking, ye who ought to speak well of Him, and to bestow all honour upon Him. And do not say that God does not claim any honour; for if He Himself claims nothing, you ought to look to what is right, and to answer with thankful voice Him who does you good in all things.”
God Love You -- Rev. Sheen