Paradigm Shift Questions
A couple that was recently introduced to ReKnew and several of my books recently wrote to tell me that they are in the process of embracing the warfare worldview along with the open view of the future. They said that they “realize that these things aren’t minor adjustments but are rather all-encompassing paradigm shifts in our faith-walk and theology.” And, as is to be expected, this “paradigm shift” has left them with “some startling questions.” Their questions were thoughtful and probing, which is why I decided to share them with you.
QUESTION: It seems like [with your theology] we end up with a God that’s trimmed down in size quite a bit. Is there anything he can still do for us? Can he still protect us or answer our prayers, or are his hands tied and is he saying: “Sorry guys, I’d love to help out but I can’t”. What is there that the Lord can/will do on our behalf apart from what he did on the cross?
ANSWER: You’re correct in surmising that, in a world that God has populated with free agents, there will be times when God has to say, “Sorry, I’d love to help but I can’t.” (The alternative is to believe he says; “Sorry, I could help but I don’t want to.”) And he “can’t” because free will is inherently irrevocable. But what God can do is: a) intervene to protect you and answer prayers insofar as this is possible (viz. insofar as it doesn’t involve revoking free will); and b) while God can’t unilaterally override a free agent’s will, God can influence it. While coercion is inconsistent with free will, influence is not. Look, I’m trying to influence you right now, and I don’t need to interfere with your free will to do it.
QUESTION: If God can’t interfere with evil choices, it seems He can’t dictate/interfere with good choices either. The sword cuts both ways. God only does what He does and people and angels/demons do what they do and never the two can/shall meet/interfere.
ANSWER: It’s true God can’t unilaterally stop an agent’s choice to do evil or to do good. But that doesn’t mean that God is not involved in both. I believe God is always doing the maximum he can do to exert an anti-evil and pro-good influence in the world. Moreover, the picture I get about the world from the New Testament is that, if God were not exerting his good influence, the world would be wholly given over to Satan and there would be no good in it. Hence, “every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights,” James says (1:17). So, when I am blessed by a good thing a person did, I thank them as well as God. All goodness, in other words, originates with God (but requires agents to act in accordance with it if it is to make its way into our experience). Perhaps this is why Jesus says, “there is none good but God”?
QUESTION: Knowing all that we don’t know, knowing the complexity of the interaction of an infinite amount of agents having free choices, knowing that the tiniest change in events (the Butterfly Effect) reshuffles all the cards, what can Jesus do in answer to prayer or otherwise?
ANSWER: a) God can unilaterally respond to prayers, so long as it doesn’t involve revoking the free will he has given to agents; and b) even when he can’t unilaterally intervene, God can influence free wills as well as any other variable within the dynamic system, including the flap of butterfly wings.
Photo Credit: Kachina Lee via Unsplash
Greg considers God’s intervention in light of human prayer, and discusses the covenant of non-coercion. http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0122.mp3  Swain, 40. Photo via Ted Van Peltflickr.com
“And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but when he was about to destroy it, the Lord took note and relented concerning the calamity; he said to the destroying angel, ‘Enough! Stay your hand.’” This powerful passage tells us why God sent the angel and why he changed his mind. If God…
Or for that matter is accommodation an accommodation? Greg talks about things that impact God. http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0407.mp3
“From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live.” (cf. Dan. 2:21) In this passage Paul is preaching to Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (17:18). His goal is to show them that, in contrast to…
Breno Peck via Compfight In his book Benefit of the Doubt, Greg argues that the lessons of the book of Job reassure us that God does not lie behind suffering, but he rather is a trustworthy friend who can handle our doubt and pain. If you’re in the midst of grief or suffering, we hope…
qthomasbower via Compfight Rachel Held Evans posted recently about The Scandal of the Evangelical Heart. Citing a comment by John Piper (“It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.”) she notes that when we approach the Bible in…