The topic of discussion was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A quote from J. I. Packer followed, “To know that nothing happens in God’s world apart from God’s will may frighten the godless, but it stabilizes the saints.” My Calvinist friend then stated that God is absolutely and actively in control of all things and then followed up with how we must pray without ceasing and in all things trust in the Lord.
Suddenly – something clicked! I immediately wondered whether one believing God is in control of everything had to be a kind of idol worship if only because individuals are then absolved individuals of responsibility and decision making?
When I hear someone state that God is in control of all things, I try to follow-up with a question such as: Would it be fair to say that you believe God has instituted abortion laws in this country? Unfortunately, and all too often the conversation quickly devolves into a mishmash of fragmented statements such that, we’re not a puppet show, we don’t have God’s mind or knowledge to figure out the apparent paradoxes or how God does control all things through first and secondary causes.
Nevertheless, there are often numerous verses provided to indicate that God controls everything – including:
Colossians 1:15 by him all things were created
Ephesians 1:11 having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things in accordance with the plan of his will
Romans 8:28-30 And we know that God causes all things to work together
Psalm 139:16 And in your book were written all the days that were ordained for me,
Isaiah 45:7 The one forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating disaster; I am the Lord who does all these things.
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.
Pro 21:1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.
Pro 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Pro 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
However, these references are more allegorical within context and not doctrinal. Or the verse is referencing a specific group of people in which God may have invoked his sovereignty. Just because God brings about a “one-time” something to one group, does that infer God’s control over [every] thing all the time? It just seems obvious that God allows his creation to express … of all things … free will. To my earlier question, it’s difficult to accept that the killing of unborn kids is from a holy and loving God. However, I have no difficulty believing that man’s evil nature has led to abortion being legalized in this country.
Finally, many Christians will appeal to “God being in control.” However, in reality these same Christians fail to live according to “sovereign” creed if only because they do everything possible to direct events towards a more desirable outcome. The mantra of God’s control, I submit, has become an easy excuse for not holding oneself accountable, responsible or otherwise getting involved and has become an idol to show submission and justify ignorance and inaction.