Is God Necessarily the All-Determining Reality?

Roger E. Olson | 7/15/2018 | Staff
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Is God Necessarily the All-Determining Reality?

Occasionally I “meet” (including non-face-to-face meetings here and elsewhere) people who believe that the God Christians worship is what theologian Greg Boyd calls “the God of the blueprint”—the Supreme Being who is not only creator and sustainer and redeemer but also the one who theologian John Piper says “designs, ordains, and governs” everything that happens without exception.

Christian - Theologians - Philosophers - God - Order

First, there are Christian (and other) theologians and philosophers who believe that God, in order to be God (the being greater than which none can be conceived) MUST be that—the ultimate cause of everything that happens in the sense that whatever happens is God’s will and is rendered certain by God according to God’s “blueprint” for history.

Second, however, there are Christian (and other) lay people, untutored in theology, who also simply assume that God, if he exists, must be this all-determining being. I say “if he exists” only to indicate that in these people’s minds any other idea of God, say of a God who is NOT the all-determining reality, would be of a God who does not exist.

Somehow - Idea - God - Things - Divine

Somehow, however, the idea of God as determining all things to happen according to a divine “blueprint” has sunk deeply into both scholarly and popular/folk religion especially in America.

Although I haven’t heard this terminology for some time, insurance companies used to exempt themselves from having to pay for losses due to “acts of God”—earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. A popular song from the 1960s recently covered by a rock group talks about a girlfriend dying in a car accident. According to the lyrics “the good Lord took her away.”

Examples - Eyebrows - Audiences - God - Control

I could go on and on with examples. I often see raised eyebrows among Christian audiences I speak to when I say that God is “not in control but in charge.” I always go...
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