In Christian culture, we like saying stuff like “Let’s seek God”. I am not sure what that means. Should we check under the pews, maybe? Perhaps he’s hiding there. I didn’t know that God’s plan included a few rounds of hide-and-seek.
Or how about this – “we are waiting for you, God”. Waiting for what exactly? God showed up 2000 years ago on the cross of Calvary. I think we got our turns confused on the chessboard of life. It’s not us who are waiting on God. It’s God who is waiting on us.
We all want to see miracles from God. I think God is waiting to see some miracles from us. And the biggest miracle, perhaps, would be transforming our church subcultures from keeping us stuck in the mentality of sin-conscious pew warmers and instead treating us as entering into the ever-increasing glory of sons and daughters of the Most High God, walking in his majesty and splendor, and manifesting his love and power all across their cities, regions, countries, and the whole world.
In the previous post, we talked about how to differentiate between different active personal forces and their roles in the events that we consider.
How do we apply this to inform our theological worldview?
In the very beginning, God designed things in this world to function in a certain way. If you cooperate with the design, you will reap the rewards deriving from your understanding and correct usage of the system. If you go against the design, you will reap the penalty of your own ignorance. The law of gravity works to keep out feet planted on the ground and prevents us from floating in the air when we walk. We cooperate with the law, and we make it work for us. The very same law works when someone jumps off a tall building. We operate against the law, and now it works against us. Note how in both cases, it works the same exact way, but the results are different.
You can’t blame a designer for misusing his design. The designer is responsible for communicating his design; the user is responsible for familiarizing himself with instructions, and if the designer is accessible – with the instructor. Well, in our case, the design is well-described in the Scriptures, and the designer is very accessible, 24×7!
I want to consider the role of God as a system designer and engineer (or “designer”, for short). A correct understanding of that role is critical in correctly informing our theological worldview.
Let me start off with a simple example that illustrates people using just one agency variable to explain processes involving multiple agencies in multiple roles.
Before creation, God’s sovereignty was absolute and was only circumscribed by the parameters of his own character. At that stage, everything God created – and I quote – “it was good”. Unhindered by anyone else, and his plans uncontested by anyone’s free will, it took him 6 days to create this world (I am not going to argue here about literal years vs. year-epochs – the point of it is that the whole of creation fits in the first 2 chapters of the book of Genesis).
After God created a human and said “Have dominion on this earth”, now the decisions of humans, both individually and collectively, play into the outcomes of things happening on planet Earth.
Subsequently, humans were tricked into sharing their God-given authority with satan, and now we have 3 active agent forces. God, humankind, and satan. At that point God’s sovereignty is not absolute, since humankind can act on their God-given free will. Now not everything is good, and evil is introduced into the world.
Some Biblical ideas have implied links in the causal chain of reasoning that you have to explicitly reconstruct in order to properly understand the meaning. For instance, this teaching (elaborating on Exodus 20:12):
2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Notice that there is a gap of reasoning between honoring father and mother (cause) and “that it may be well with you …” (effect).
Let’s look at the primary text concerning the communion / Lord’s supper / partaking of the Lord’s body:
1 Corinthians 11
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Let’s begin by establishing the cause-and-effect sequence, as laid out in the passage, which is as follows: people act in a certain way, the result of that is them being weak and sick, and after that the Lord teaches them something. Rather than the Lord acting a certain way, and they are weak and sick as the result.
Let’s look at the verses in sequence.
When we read a scripture passage where the verbs are in the passive voice – we should never just automatically assume that the agent behind the action is God, unless the text clearly indicates that. In some passages like James 1:12-14, vv. 13-14 clarified that God wasn’t behind “man being tempted”, but you won’t get that helpful hint every time: