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It always reigns

"God's in charge" - sure, so's a prison warden.

"God's got a plan" - mmm, so did Stalin.

Whatever pastoral comfort those sayings have (and occasionally they have some), the comfort does not come from the "in charge-ness" or the "plan".  Sovereignty, in some absolute sense, is meaningless.

Everyone - theist or atheist - reckons some power is sovereign.  Even if chaos reigns, something's on the throne, so to speak.  The key question is Who?

0 thoughts on “It always reigns

  1. codepoke

    Most people today are willing to accept that there's a "Who" out there, but they don't trust Him. If He has a plan, it's to glorify Himself and has nothing to do with us. He either moves us around like pawns in some unnecessarily sick game, or He's harmlessly sweet. They see the whole crucifixion thing as so much grandstanding, and don't trust His sacrifice any more than any other politician's in this day and age.

    It sounds like a variation of theodicy, and it is, but instead of being an intellectual argument it's a core-level distrust. They don't really care Who it is, and they know at a deep, unreachable level they don't trust Him.

    I'm at a dead loss for any verbal argument able to tickle modern rejection.

  2. Emma Bail

    I am again in Love your with your post.There are some hidden meanings in this post.Just see many people mostly who did not have faith in God are also feel that there is some power or "someone" but they not ready to accept this.They also feel the comfort that someone is there who bless him and care for him.I think this is the power of God( also with the people and in somewhere of them who are not ready to accept Him and His power.He is Just a Great.We are no one to talk about Him.He is almighty.

    God Bless,

  3. Rich Owen

    Been pondering this again this morning.

    Basically, substitute *any* of God's attribute's into that story....

    God is powerful - so is Barak Obama

    God is faithful - well, the Akazus "faithfully" implemented Hutu power in Rwanda..

    God is creator - Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann created a nuclear fission process

    and so on...

    Without the person of Jesus, the attributes of God are meaningless.

  4. Glen

    Hi Code, I mainly thought of this post with regard to pastoral questions. For myself, knowing that *Jesus* is in charge of this world and this week is what helps me. The very one who said "What do you want me to do for you?" to Bartimaeus, etc, etc. That's comforting.

    But it has application to theodicy questions. Such questions might sound like opportunities to logically justify the Omnibeing but actually they are questions about who rules - the Omnibeing? Nature, red in tooth and claw? Capricious deities?

  5. Dave K

    It strikes me that the question is a "who?" question, but it is also a "for whom?" question.

    God has a plan... for our good (Stalin had a plan for the good of an idea/himself/country?)
    God is faithful... to his promises towards us (not to a particular ethnic group, the profit motive etc)
    God is loving... to sinful human beings (not just to Westerners and not just to those who are good enough).

    I have been thinking a lot about this question recently.

    I am intrigued why you emphasis that only (?) "occasionally" God's sovereignty offers comfort. You have a lot more experience in these things than me. I know how it can and it can't provide comfort from personal experience, but do you really find that it is only "occasionally" helpful?

  6. Glen

    Hi Dave,

    Good point about the "for whom" question. It gels very nicely with that Luther quote you posted recently on Galatians 1:4. Vital stuff.

    In a sense I'm in the same position as you on the comfort provided by "sovereignty". It does and it doesn't in my own heart - this much I know. Saying "God's in charge" as a clergyman certainly silences the expression of a lot of grief when dealing with hurting people, but I'm just never sure whether people then put their pain in the "fatalism" bucket or the "trust God because I know He's for me" bucket. I hope it's the latter but who knows - we deceive ourselves on this one too.

    I'm also just painfully aware of how "God's got a plan" can be an entirely pagan (que sera) or Islamic (insh'allah) sentiment. And how often its use can reinforce unhelpful thinking anyway. I think I'd say sovereignty is only ever Christian when it's explicitly plugged into the gospel narrative (cross and resurrection and groaning while we wait). Romans 8 is always wheeled out as Paul preaching sovereignty into suffering - but it's a very full-orbed gospel Paul preaches in Romans 8, which includes a lot of groaning and hinges on the gospel logic of "He who did not spare His only Son..."

  7. Michael

    I think the statements "God's in charge" and "God's got a plan" can be meaningful, powerful and profound if and when the emphasis is put on the God bit.
    That's to say, "GOD's in charge, GOD's got a plan!" How amazing is that? The guy who loved the world- which hated him btw- so much that he sent his ONLY Son to DIE, has got a plan and is in control. That is not only comforting, but pretty exciting, right?! In fact, when someone is suffering from an illness, knowing that it's their Perfect Heavenly Father who's in charge rather than the chemicals inside their body is not only a refuge but also pretty mind-blowing!

    The comfort that He is in control comes from the fact that it is Him that is in control, not that He is in control, if that makes any sense? If we know that the guy who is in control loves us unconditionally even when we hate him more, then we can absolutely know security.

  8. Dave K

    Thanks Glen. It is so, so hard to do right. I'm sure I've done it wrong so many times. One of many reasons for long-term relationships... lots of second chances!

    In fact walking someone through Romans 8 once and catching the promises for now, but also the groaning for the promises that are still future was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and a rare occasion when I had no regrets for things said or not said. Deeply relational, hopeful and realistic. The Bible is brilliant!

  9. pgjackson

    Yeah, this is a challenge to 'christian greeting card' type usage of passages like Matthew 10:29-31 (sparrows etc.), Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, etc. The context indicates we're not talking about some indeterminate 'control' but a control with gospel contours, direction, etc. As others have said here, its the fact that it's the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who did not spare his only Son (and therefore will give us, with him, all things), that its Yahweh the covenant God, who has a sovereign plan for us, that is of real comfort and help.

    And yet, I don't think I'd go so far as to say that the 'in-control-ness' itself is somehow pastorally irrelevant. Love and commitment that is not sovereign, not able to work all things for our good, does not provide comfort in the same way either. 'Yeah this bad stuff is happening to you but God loves you, even though he is utterly powerless over these bombs that are going off in your life and has no purpose in them for you.' In the same way as 'Allah has a plan for your life' is not truly comforting or helpful, neither is 'Mars loves you.'

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