Monday, October 13, 2008

A Respnse to "God is in Control, Pt. 2"

A friend sent me this blog post from one of her favorite writers. She asked me to read it and respond to it. My response is below:

“God is Still in Control”, Pt. 2 by G. Craige Lewis
The EX Daily Word for October 9, 2008

Genesis 1:28 – “And God blessed them, and God said unto them,
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:
and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,
and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth..”

Yesterday, we discussed the governments of the earth and how God is not controlling our political leaders, our voting process, or even our monetary systems. I received a lot of emails from folks yesterday that just seem to have fits about what I stated on this subject. Many were Barack Obama supporters and were claiming that he is God's man for this election, and others were just simply hurt because I dared to make the statement that God was NOT in control of our earth's political systems. Well folks, get a grip. First of all, God does not endorse men that are morally bankrupt concerning inclusion, abortion, same sex unions, and hate crime legislation. God destroyed nations over homosexuality and cursed generations over killing unborn children. When Jezebel tried to silence God's prophets, He destroyed her and her husband’s Kingdom! And anyone that believes that there is any other way to God other than Jesus Christ is a thief and a robber according to the scriptures and that man is ACCURSED.

I read the writing of G. Craige Lewis entitled “God Is Still In Control, Pt. 2. Mr. Lewis probably means well but what he has written is heresy. It appears to be a combination of several ancient heresies including “deus ex machina,” a corruption of Anselm’s teleological proof for the existence of God, and a brand of secular humanism known as "Semi-Pelegianism."

The first problem appears to be that Mr. Lewis doesn’t understand the historical meaning of the term “God is in control.” It doesn’t mean that God runs things like a foreman runs a job, telling everybody exactly what to do and when they must do it. Our understanding of the nature and character of God was given to us by ancient Hebrew prophets to whom God revealed himself. When they talked about kingdoms and empires, kings and emperors, they said that God Jehovah was in control of them.

What they meant when they wrote passages indicating God’s control over national and international events is that God is the author and executioner of ultimate ends or purposes, and that he, by his will and power, is able to orchestrate human activity, without violating free will, in such a way that his purposes are accomplished in the earth.

The Hebrew prophets never taught that God runs everything, or that God violates free will. The Hebrew prophets taught that while there is evil in the world, this evil does not ultimately supplant the will and purpose of God. God maneuvers, God moves, God arranges, God rearranges, and in every possible way God steps in, around, in front of, and behind the actions of human beings to ensure that his will is performed.

Old Testament theology is very straight forward on this point: the Almighty has purposes or an ultimate purpose, and he is powerful enough and wise enough to use EVERYTHING in the universe, (this means things in earth, hell, and heaven) to bring about that purpose, without violating free will. This is first year seminary instruction.

Moses declared that God used Pharaoh for his glory (Ex. 9:13-16). The story of the Exodus is the story of God being on the side of a weak and enslaved people, and against a mighty and powerful nation in what turned out to be an international economic conflict. Slavery is always about economics. The first Israeli-Egyptian conflict was over economics and theology. The Egyptians said to the Israelis, “You were born to be slaves, and slaves you shall be.” The Israelis answered, “Our God has said, “Let my people go.”

The testimony of Hebrew prophets is that God used the elements of nature (i.e. boils, bloodied water, frogs, flies, disease and death among livestock, darkness, hail, etc.) to such an extent that one million six hundred thousand former Israelis slaves marched out of Egypt as free men. The text says that when they left not “even a dog moved his tongue” in protest (Ex. 11:7). God was saying “I am in control.”

In Daniel chapter five, the prophet says as plane as possible, “the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will” (Dan. 21, KJV) This section of Daniel 5:21 is translated as follows by The New International Version: “the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.” This is not my interpretation of Holy Scripture. This is black letter on white paper. It’s what the Book says: God is in control of the nations of the earth. He sets over them or allows to be set over them anyone whom he wishes.

How can you say God is not in control of this world and of history, and have a Bible in your hand, a newspaper on one knee and a history book on the other? The person who does so either can’t read or doesn’t understand what he reads.

When God got ready to divide the Northern Kingdom of Israel from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, he caused Rehoboam to resist the advice of Solomon’s (his father) cabinet and Privy Council and take the advice of his age mates who would be in the new government. The kingdom split in two. Then the Bible records these words: “Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD” (I Kings 12: 15a, See also I Kgs 12: 24).

If God is not in control of this world we should get rid of the book of Isaiah because this idea permeates his writing;

Isa 40:22
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

Isa 40:23
He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
Isa 40:24
No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

Isa 45:7
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things. rsv

The most outstanding instance of this idea of God being in control of world events is found in Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire.

Cyrus is the Emperor who captured the Babylonian Empire, and afterwards decreed that the Jews could go back to Judah and rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem, sometime after 539 B.C.

Cyrus, being a pagan, worshipped many gods. He came from a culture that practiced abortion or infanticide (killing unwanted babies by exposure to the elements), and probably some form of human sacrifice.

Homosexuality was made popular by the Greeks, but was by no means confined to them. Cyrus knew of it and it was practiced in Persia and in Babylon after he took over.

The Emperor Cyrus was the first conqueror to allow conquered peoples to retain their religion and their culture. It was this tolerance that gave him the impetus to decree that Jews could go home and rebuild both Jerusalem and their Temple.

Now listen to what God calls a man that never knew Jesus, never accepted Jesus, and did not live according to our narrow rules of what we think is right:

“…Cyrus…is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please…” (Isa. 44: 28, NIV).

“ This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue the nations before him and to strip the kings of armor, to open the gates that will not be shut: I will go before you and will level mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD God of Israel, who summons you by name (Isa. 45:1-3, NIV).

If God called Cyrus his “shepherd” and His “messiah,” (the Hebrew word for “anointed”), and Cyrus never heard of Jesus, don’t you think he can use Barack Obama who is a Christian? Maybe he is not your kind of Christian but then maybe you are not his kind either. If God could use the ignorance of George W. Bush to get America into this economic mess and into a costly and unnecessary war, why can’t he use the intelligence of Barack Obama to get us out of them?

What we are going through now in America in our financial markets is as much the judgment of God as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He is sending someone to show us the way out. How dare we reject God’s deliverer based on such flimsy claims! But, like I said, the fight is always about economics and theology. The question is, “will your understanding of God permit you to enslave, destroy, and exploit other people?” Some people in the Church say God has called them to do it. I disagree.

Come on people! Let’s get real! The SOVEREIGN GOD of the Universe can use anybody at any time in any place to accomplish his purpose. If he can’t then he is not God with a capitol “G.” He is a little “g” god.

The Civil War was basically a church fight between those Christians whose narrow “Pharisee-like” view of the world allowed them to believe that God had ordained them to own other people, and those Christians who had a more prophetic view of human personality, and who could see that slavery was evil from the root to the fruit.

God used whites in the Church, opposing each other on either side, to bring the judgment of the Civil War upon America which resulted in freeing the slaves. This was something that Lincoln did not want to do, but God arranged the circumstances so that it was what he had to do, just as Pharaoh did not want to let the Hebrews go, but he had to. The fight is always about economics and theology.

This teaching smacks of “deus ex machina” because this is a heresy that says that God only comes at the final end and that in between the beginning and the end human beings are left to themselves and the devil to figure out how things work. The Bible doesn’t support this at all. The Bible teaches that God is at work in human affairs, even in human governments, for the purpose of bringing about his will.

This teaching resembles a corruption of Anselm’s teleological proof for the existence of God because it teaches that God evidently made the world but then he has walked off from it. It’s based on the idea of a watch and watch maker: if you see a watch you can deduce that there is a watchmaker somewhere. This is a teleological argument or an argument based on cause. The teaching in question postulates that God made the watch (meaning the world), gave it a good winding and walked off to let it run by itself. This idea cannot be supported ANYWHERE in SCRIPTURE.

This teaching resembles a brand of secular humanism known as Semi-Pelagianism because like Pelagius, (a fourth century British monk condemned by the Church), it teaches that man’s fate in the world is dependant solely upon man. It teaches that God is not active in the affairs of human beings, nation-states, and national and international politics. Further, it raises the power of Satan and man over the power of God in dealing with God’s creation and with God’s creatures.

This brand of heresy was used in the eighteenth and nineteenth century on Native Americans, but especially on African Americans to prevent them from rebelling or in anyway attempting to free themselves from bondage. It says “this is your God-given fate and there is nothing you can do about it.” I wonder where would we be if Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, and Rosa Parks had thought like that? They made a move for freedom because they believed that God was on their side and because they believed that He acts in the world. They were right because God does act in human affairs.

Gandhi was not a Christian. Christian Britain had been enslaving and exploiting India for more then 300 years. No one but God, the God of Israel, stepped in to show a little brown man, with no army, how to make an oppressor, who is a world power, let go and be glad to do so. God is at work in this world.

This form of secular humanism would have us divorce ourselves from God because “he is not interested in acting on the world stage anyway,” they say. God would have to be awfully selfish to create a world, send his Son to redeem it, and then not use his power to bring it to his ultimate purpose.

People of limited vision and small minds always attempt to limit God’s work in the world so that they can feel free with doing and saying what ever will limit people, put them in bondage, and make them slaves. Wherever the God of Israel has been worshipped in the world the oppressors have sought first to kill Him, or to kill His influence, or to kill the hope of His people, for they know when his people look to him and cry out to him, he brings liberation.

I have read other writings by this author and they were good and orthodox, especially the stuff about the preachers who have been exposed recently. But this present writing is pure heresy. Maybe he should stick to providing advice to the lovelorn in the genre of a gossip columnist and leave the interpretation of Holy Writ to those who have studied the nature and character of God.

God is in love with justice. God is not an invention of the American Conservative Right. He pre-exists them and He will not fit into their box.

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