Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Taking Dictation

I am left to conclude that this is something of a hot topic. Traffic has been heavy on this blog, and the comments are spirited (and mostly Spirit-led). Still, there are those -- and I got your email I just can't respond to everyone right now -- who think God has pre-determined all of this. They think that, at least in a sense, we're all just taking dictation when we type our comments and are all just thinking God's thoughts after him.

Allow me to state my position clearly (in case you've missed it thus far): I do not believe that.

However, I do not subscribe to the theology known as Open Theism. I do believe that Greg Boyd and others have posed some very interesting questions. For example, does God ever change his mind? If he does, did he know he was going to change his mind? If not, why do we bother to bring our requests before him?

I know that some of this reflects in inadequate theology of prayer. It reduces prayer to a utiliatarian exercise, and perhaps prayer isn't a means to an end but an end in and of itself. Maybe the point is just to converse with God to get to know him better. But I don't think that's all prayer is. I believe James was inspired by God to write: "The prayer of a person who is living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with" (James 5:16b). I think Wesley was on to something when he suggested that there are things God may not do if we don't pray for them to happen.

I believe God knows what's going to happen before it happens. I do not believe God causes everything that happens to happen. I believe God is often grieved by the choices we make and allows us to suffer the consequences of poor choices. I think it is bizarre that we will go out to eat and order the "fried everything" platter, then ask God to bless that food to the nourishment of our bodies.

Surely, nothing is impossible for God, but still....

One more thing (and it's a big one): Back in January I was reading Steve Chalke's thought-provoking little book The Lost Message of Jesus. Though there were parts of the book I thought were over-stated, it helped me bring together a lot of thoughts that had been bouncing around in my brain for a long time. I'd like to bring something I wrote back then into the current discussion. Go read this, and let me know how you think all this works together.

How do the strands of our decisions, our prayers and petitions, God's sovereignty and Greek philosophy intersect?