Friday, October 10, 2008

When a Christian...

says, "That was a total God thing"

Everyone else hears: "Some things are from God and others aren't. And, oh yeah, we get to say what is and what isn't"

Example: Two friends are sitting in a coffee shop and one girl waves to a gentleman sitting across the way.

(True Story)

Friend 1: Do you know him?
Friend 2: Yeah I do, he is friends with my husband.
Friend 1: He's cute.
Friend 2: He's married. He just got married, and has a baby on the way too! It was really unexpected. In fact, his wife got sick, she was having these migranes and had to go on some medication that interfered with her birth control, and she got pregnant!
Friend 1: Wow. The headaches, that was a total God thing.

Everyone else thinks: What about the baby!? Just the headaches were part of the plan, but the baby was a shocker to Big Guy upstairs?

What we mean is: We really do believe that God is in control. Truly, and completely. But you have to forgive us, we just have an unfortunate list of phrases that makes everyone else think that we are a sorority, making t-shirts for "God Day!" I mean, if we truly believe that He is in control, then what is not "a God thing?"


Kristina P. said...

I don't think I've ever heard this phrase before! I will try to work it into every sentence.

Kristen said...

I totally agree! I hear the "god thing" thrown around all the time. I think we use it too casually.

Stephanie Fay said...

You're right on. As always :)
Love you!

Jeremy said...

I have a little bit of a problem with this one. God can redeem all things, but he doesn't will all things. oops, I mean unless you are john calvin. is that sacrilege? or heresy? maybe it's just my way of understanding a pretty jacked up world. wait what exactly were you trying to say here, you're kinda sneaky.

K and/or K said...

I think this phrase is like "Christian Superstition", if that is a category of anything. Maybe I just made that up to try and describe my thoughts about it. It also makes me cringe. But John Calvin and I couldn't me more different, and that has nothing to do with the fact that I am female. :-) It's these people you speak of boasting their religious speak answer to something whether its good or bad happening. Sometimes...well...things happen! :-)

Jeremy said...

im a guy, and i dont have alot in common with calvin either, other than the fact that at birth he and i (well, all guys) were given a roadmap to the world so that we never need to ask for directions =) This idea starts to fall apart, i think, when you visit a developing country (though there's plenty of pain here, too). how do you tell someone who wont be able to find food for their kids tomorrow that it was planned? However, you can tell them that it can be redeemed. (but i wouldn't suggest it as your first response). sorry, kind of a downer, but a good topic, because im aware that I'm also talking in extremes and there's more to be said in the moderate situation. nice work bonnie =)

Ali said...

it is a total god thing that you wrote this post!

I mean, turn right or get left.

I mean, life is fragile - handle with prayer.

Do you think that God is hearing nails scratching the chalk board?

Heather of the EO said...

Oh how I love this cinnamon place. What a great conversation.

God really shows up here.

It must be because you have God's favor. (I bet you get all the good parking spaces too - oooh, look, front row parking - God's favor!)

See? You got me started...

I'm not a fan of Christianese. Even though I'm all Christian and everything.

Bonnie Lewis said...

I know, I have a problem with it too. ha! I guess im struggling with the fact that often people decide what is "a God thing" and what is not. I mean, regardless of what you think of how much power He does or does not have, what makes us think that we can say what is His hand and what is not? Also, I think there is a difference of something being done by someone and something being allowed. I know, free will discussion right? I can go on and on and on....

It just cracked me up that in this situation the headaches, but not the baby, the advil curing, not the birth of a miracle was decided to be the "God thing". ha!

Liles Family said...

Different people probably mean different things when they say this, but I think that when I say that it "is totally a God thing" I am simply admiring something wonderful that God has done. I am not implying that other things are not God things. Sometimes God really touches me with something that He does, and to praise Him in it, I might tell some one about the "total God thing" that happened. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we are instructed to give glory to God in all things in our life, big or small. So, I don't think there is anything wrong with acknowledging something He has done. As a mother, I might tell my child, "great job coloring that picture!", but by my saying that, it doesn't mean that my child isn't doing anything else wonderful.
Also, in response to the comment about a mother not having food to feed her child..... I have lived in Haiti and I have seen this situation far too many times. However, if she were to ask me why God did this to her, I would respond by asking if she, or even I for that matter, deserve any better. What is so wonderful about us that we deserve to be able to feed our children? Nothing actually. We, as a people, are fallen and awful. I also look at a country like Haiti, and I am not surprised by the grim and horrible circumstances the country is dealing with. When the country gained it’s independence from France, instead of praising God for their deliverance, the people dedicated their new country to the Devil, literally. In the lives of most of the people in Haiti today, they practice some form of Voodoo. Yes, many of them go to Christian churches, but the overwhelming majority still believes and practices Voodoo. It is built into their culture and their lives. How can they be surprised that their lives are full of misery? Isn't that what the Devil is best at? Please don’t misunderstand me, that doesn’t make their suffering any less real. And my heart still cries for the babies that died in my arms of starvation.
To answer your question Jeremy, what would I say to a mother with no food to feed her child, I might tell her that God has been gracious to give me more than I deserve and then I would offer her what I have.

Motherboard said...

I love this saying. I am going to do like Kristina and use it every single day!!

What a great phrase!

I think that everything is a God thing. How can it not be when He is in control of ALL things??!

Brandon said...

I know this post wasn't originally about predestination, but that changed with the comments so I just wanted to add a couple notes:

God can redeem all things, but he doesn't will all things.

Is this a conclusion that was arrived at through a study of what Scripture says, or through your observation of life?

Hopefully we can all agree that the most horrific and evil event in human history was when man murdered God. We can then ask, did God will this to take place, or did He just redeem the sinful actions of people who hated Jesus and acted outside of His control?

Acts 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Scripture clearly teaches that God wills all things. He does not react to things outside of His control. To quote A. W. Pink:
Now, reader, it is just a question as to whether or not you will believe what God has revealed in His Word. It is not a matter of prolonged searching or profound study, but a childlike spirit which is needed in order to understand this doctrine.
The Sovereignty of God

"Also, I think there is a difference of something being done by someone and something being allowed."

There is a difference between someone acting directly and someone allowing something to happen. However, when we are talking about our omniscient, omnipotent God it ultimately does not resolve any of the tension. God is able to intervene if He desires. If you say He just allows things to happen, rather than causes them directly, you are still saying He is the ultimate cause because if He did not want something to happen, He wouldn't allow it. Thus whatever happens is His will.

The story of Job will give us a better understanding of the issue. In my ESV Bible, the heading they added above Job 1:6-12 is "Satan Allowed to Test Job." I think that is a good summary of what we read in v6-12. God points out his faithful servant Job to Satan. Satan says Job is only faithful because he has a great life. God allows Satan to test Job.

Then in chapter 2 we read:
Job 2:9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Again, this is a clear statement of God's sovereignty. Just because he allowed Satan to test Job does not mean that He is not sovereign and that He did not will for Job to be tested.

Jeremy said...

Hey I completely understand your ideas and realize that this argument is much older than either you or I. And anything we say here will be a rehashing of much more eloquent thoughts and words of others.

But just as a slight defense for the other side: I hope you would be willing to admit that a theology of redemption certainly is biblical. The biblical narrative is one that sees a creation that has fallen short of the perfect will of the father, and it follows his actions to ultimately redeem that which has fallen.

Even in the beginning when God says, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad you must not eat of it….”

Now that verse doesn’t have any of the buzz terms in it, but seems to connote that there is a way to go outside God’s will. In fact the entire Bible is filled with humans and God interacting in a dynamic way. It is a continual story of humans screwing up and God redeeming their actions. As a piece of literature, this is the major theme of Scripture.

So to answer your question, yes it is from life experience that I find solace in a redeeming God who can make new creations out of evil created by human sin. I have no problem admitting that, God is revealed in many ways. Of course, I may not be a biblical scholar, but I also feel that careful study of Scripture does in fact support this. In fact to simply slip into the an understanding of God’s role as the cause of all things, “evil” and good, skirts uncomfortably close to relativism, which is a problem, under careful study of Scripture. But, that metaphor is quite helpful to many people. I understand it and I recognize the biblical principles that get us there. But it is simply not the only valid reading of the Bible. Because the Bible also affirms that we are created in his image (my reading is that we are co-creators with him, since all that we know of him up until that point is that he is a creator) both in the Genesis story and in every story that follows, all the way to Revelation where all things are redeemed.

I will admit however, it sure is tempting to have it all figured out. It just seems that the Bible presents an omniscience and omnipotence that is beyond my ability to parse into a digestible theology. Once I have it all figured out, then I’m in the greatest danger.

Again though, these arguments have been had before, and they will certainly continue for years to come. But even more distressing, they will continue to play a part in causing divisions between people who prefer ideology over active lives of love and compassion. A life of choosing to pay attention to that still small voice and live accordingly. Now that is a “God thing.”

Brandon said...

Thanks for your thoughts Jeremy. I know that some people think talking about this is divisive, but I found your mockery of Calvin and God’s sovereignty to be much more divisive than an attempt to look at what Scripture says on the topic. In Acts 20:27 Paul said “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” He saw unity of thought concerning the whole counsel of God to be the unity we should strive for.

Yes, this has been argued about throughout history, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss it and it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t resolve it. People have argued about the deity of Christ for 2,000 years. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to discuss it or that the truth is too hard to determine. God has blessed us with various councils throughout the ages to help us (they are a guide, not a rule), like the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 (which is authoritative because it is in Scripture), in which there was “much debate.”

The Trinitarian nature of God was upheld and heresies defeated in the first several centuries. We benefit from that argumentation. Furthermore, Pelagianism, the idea that man is able to save himself apart from God was condemned as heresy in the 5th century at Carthage. Likewise, your view, semi-Pelagianism/Arminianism, the idea that God is not sovereign, was condemned as heresy at the Synod of Dordt in 1619. We are certainly free to disagree, but if you are not interested in arguing about it, you can rest on the arguments that have already been settled if you wish.

I certainly admit that redemption is biblical, but not by your definition of what redemption is. Redemption is not God reacting to things outside of His control. Some of your confusion comes from equivocating on the word “will.” God’s commands (you shall not eat, etc) are not the same as God’s decrees (whatever Your hand had predestined to take place). Thus, the fact that man disobeys God’s law, His commands, is in no way contradictory to the fact that He decrees all things. They are two separate issues.

We should not seek to understand who God is through our own experience. What happens when your experience says God is different from the God of my experience? We compare what we think with what God has revealed in Scripture. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” In Acts the Bereans are commended because they sought to compare Paul’s teachings with what was revealed in Scripture. Acts 17:11 “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

In fact to simply slip into the an understanding of God’s role as the cause of all things, “evil” and good, skirts uncomfortably close to relativism, which is a problem, under careful study of Scripture.

I don’t know what you mean. If you could explain or point me towards an explanation of what you are referring to I would appreciate it. I did not “simply slip” into my understanding of God, I arrived at it “under careful study of Scripture.” Isaiah 45:7 says “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

But, that metaphor is quite helpful to many people.

I’m not sure what you mean. Saying that God is sovereign, that He is the ultimate cause of all things is not a metaphor.

But it is simply not the only valid reading of the Bible. Because the Bible also affirms that we are created in his image…

Being created in God’s image refers to our reason and the fact that God’s law is written on all men’s hearts (Romans 1-2). It refers to holiness, not “free will.” 2 Cor 4:4 and Col 1:15 refer to Christ as being the image of God. Colossains 3:10 says ”and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” The image of God is not referring to our ability to create, it is referring to the faculties and revelation that God gave to all men concerning Himself and His law.

But even more distressing, they will continue to play a part in causing divisions between people who prefer ideology over active lives of love and compassion.

As I said above, I do not think that seeking to understand God’s Word is what causes division. Your reasoning here is exactly what the liberal Christians of the early 20th century said when they denied Christ’s deity. They were challenged by Bible believing Christians and their response was that what matters isn’t theology, but a relationship with Christ that causes us to live lives of love and compassion to humanity.

God has revealed Himself to us in His Word and it is our duty to understand what He has revealed so that we may believe it and then act upon that belief. I know this can be a difficult topic to understand. If you have not taken the time to study the issue in depth, I would encourage you to do so and I would be more than willing to help in whatever way I can.

Jeremy said...

thanks brandon. you seem to have it pretty well figured out. I'm not super interested in tearing apart each other's posts here, but if i have any questions in these "difficult topics to understand" ill make sure and let you know.

And thanks for all the philosophical buzzwords for me to go look up, here i thought that Pelagianism was something that got caught in your throat when the Santa Anas were on the move =)