Isn’t the World Unsafe If God Doesn’t Control Everything?
If God isn’t in control of everything, the world feels unsafe. If the future is open and if things can happen outside of God’s will, what guarantee is there that there is a point to a person’s suffering? Maybe it’s all just bad luck.
My experience has been that many of those who honestly examine the evidence for the open view and choose to reject it do so not because the evidence is weak but because they fear its implications. It is true that according to the open view things can happen in our lives that God didn’t plan or even foreknow with certainty (though he always foreknew they were possible). This means that in the open view things can happen to us that have no overarching divine purpose. In this view, “trusting in God” provides no assurance that everything that happens to us will reflect his divine purposes, for there are other agents who also have power to affect us, just as we have power to affect others. This, it must be admitted, can for some be a scary thought. I am sympathetic to the reaction, but I also believe there are several considerations that can effectively address it from an open perspective.
Fear and Truth
First, how is the scariness of a view relevant to the question of whether or not the view is true? There is no reason to conclude that something is true to the extent that it conforms to our wishes. Indeed, the fact that the open view doesn’t conform to what we might wish were true actually provides one more reason for thinking that it is true, for reality rarely conforms to our wishes. If we are honest, our core belief in the world—manifested not by what we say but by what we do—is that it is sometimes a scary place.
Divine Control and Comfort
Second, I do not see how affirming an all-controlling God provides any real comfort in the face of the scary aspects of the world.
I would submit that your belief actually makes the world a scarier place. For one thing, if God controls robbers, for instance, and these robbers victimize godly and ungodly people alike (which no one can deny), then it might be that God has decided to have one of these robbers victimize your family. If God has decided this, there is nothing you can do about it. If God is the sort of God who is capable of ordaining such evils, then you can’t trust God’s character. If God controls all things, there’s nothing you can do about it if he has, in fact, decided this.
If God chooses not to control all things, however, then there is something you can do about it. As a morally responsible free person, you can make choices that maximize your safety and minimize your vulnerability against other free people who have chosen evil. The world is perhaps still scary, but less so than if the Creator himself had the kind of character that made him willing to ordain the robbery of your house.
Find Comfort in the Trials
Finally, and most importantly, in the face of a scary world, the open view offers the same comfort that the NT offers. With Scripture, the open view affirms that God’s character is unambiguously loving and thus he is on your side. He doesn’t ordain evil. This view affirms that, regardless of what happens to you, your eternal relationship with the Lord is secure (Rom 8: 31-39).
Furthermore, the open view affirms that Christ will be with us to provide a peace that “surpasses all understanding” whatever may come our way (Phil 4:7). It affirms that whatever happens, God will work with us to bring a redemptive purpose out of the event (Rom 8:28). The open view also affirms that God can alter your destiny, precisely because the open view holds that the future is in part not settled. Finally, the open view affirms with Scripture the central hope that when God’s kingdom is established, it will have been worth it.
The world is still scary. It is in a state of war, under siege by the enemy of our souls, and this is not a comforting thought (1 Jn 5:19). The open view grants this. Even God takes risks. But the world is less scary in this view than if we try to find consolation in the belief that everything that occurs is controlled by God and thus reflects his dubious character.
“[W]hen I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered…he will die. But when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, if a…
The basis of the classical view of God as pure actuality (actus purus) is the Aristotelian notion that potentiality is always potential for change and that something changes only because is lacks something else. So, a perfect being who lacks nothing must be devoid of potentiality, which means it must be pure actuality. I think…
I want to answer yes and no. God is all-powerful in the sense that God originally possessed all power. Before Creation, God was the only being who existed, and thus had all the power there was. He could do anything, and nothing opposed Him. But with the creation of free creatures, I maintain, God necessarily…
Andrew Stawarz via Compfight This reflection by David D. Flowers seemed like a good addition to Greg’s recent blogs on free will. Here David talks about the problem of evil and how it is that we can call God “good” in light of a world full of evil. He even quotes Greg extensively. From the…
Running throughout Scripture is the motif that depicts God as the ultimate ruler of the nations. On the other hand, the NT teaches that the ruler of nations is Satan. What do we do with these two apparently conflicting motifs? First, because OT authors tended to understand the creation along the lines of a king-centered…
Jesus’ ministry was a ministry not of resignation but of revolt. He was about revolting against the cruel tyranny of a world ruler (Satan) that was oppressing God’s people. He was about seeking to give back to people, and to win back for his Father, what the enemy had stolen and destroyed. He was about…