2008/06/01

Joyce Meyer Redux

A few weeks ago Joyce Meyer gave us quite a lot to think about with the statement:

If God is in control you don't need to know why..

Hat tip to Ann who helped us question how much control God has. Being crucified, after all, is not really the first thing you think of when you think of a divine being in control of the universe and everything. I let myself off the hook on that by just saying, Oh what an interesting idea... Leave it to our Ann.

But, later, after all of you had moved on to other things, Doxy came along and asked me for a legitimate opinion on that.

I'll admit that one of the things I like best about being an Anglican is that there's never really too much pressure to come up with answer. But, if I am honest, it is also sometimes an excuse to just leave things hanging and not articulate any position at all.

So, I thought about it. And then thought some more. Here is what I wrote to Doxy:

I've been thinking about this for a couple of days Doxy.

I believe that God is in control. I even believe that God, in Jesus, was in control on the cross. It was in not using the control he had -- and, in fact, giving it to others -- that Jesus' death became redemptive for the rest of us.

In writing about resisting evil Swami Vivekananda says this: "The one who from weakness does not resist, commits a sin, and therefore cannot receive any benefit from his nonresistance; while the other would commit a sin by offering resistance." Swami Prabhavanda explains that by saying that we must gather the power to resist; having gained it, we must renounce it.

I think that God has it. I think that Jesus had it. So does the Holy Spirit. It's a god-quality to have all power and knowledge and to also have control. But, the quality that runs parallel to that is the will to relinquish such power.

Now what that means to me in real life is that there are times when I -- not God -- have been granted control which is not really my own. The authority that Jesus gives us is not for us to use for ourselves, it's more of a trust. It obligates more than it empowers.

There is a temptation to take a fatalist approach and say "Oh, God is in control so I have no responsibility." But, the other temptation,the one which says we are in control, implies that we also set the agenda.

I think that it's in exercising control that has been given to us, and on behalf of an agenda that is not our own, that we find the right balance.

Thanks for getting me to think that through.

Lindy

And, in fairness to me, that IS an answer. It just seems real off-the-cuff to me. It's not something I've thought about very deeply and I would sure take some more grist for my mill if you guys have anything new to add.

Some of you may know that I was raised and educated by Baptists. The Baptists do believe that God is in control of everything all the time. That's pretty deep in me. Yet, it rings hollow in light of my own experience with God and what God asks of me. And then there's that nagging image of God hanging on a tree.

So, I am still in process on that. I am not sure what it means if God is not in control. I'm not too worried about it because, deep down, I believe that He IS! And that just makes it more difficult for me to think it through.

Oh God, forgive me when I accept the questions too easily and fail to wrestle with the gift of their difficulty. There's so much I don't know. But, I thank you... thank you, thank you, thank you, that it's never been about what I know, how much I understand. Lead me into what I need to know, and help me release the rest.

9 comments:

Ann said...

Thanks for taking this even deeper. It is a continuing issue for me to think about.

Diane said...

me, too.

One of my seminary professors challenged me re: the "God is in control"; rather, to say, "God is in charge."

FranIAm said...

Pondering and pondering - you have given us a gift here, with Doxy's help.

Joyce Meyer, it is hard but I guess she has too.

Sort of.

Off to reflect further...

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Lindy, please accept my apology for not replying to you sooner. I'm still dealing with computer problems, which means my Internet access has been sporadic, and has mostly been directed toward things I get paid for... ;-)

I keep turning this over and over in my head. I *don't* believe that God is in control. If I did, I'm afraid I'd have to be done with God, because He's mucked it up so badly...

Fortunately, I find process theology much easier to swallow. It doesn't require an omnipotent or even an omniscient God---just one that is continually creating, both with and for us.

I still struggle with the notion of Jesus' *death* being redemptive for us---for me, it is his *life* that redeems us.

Tonight I am tired, and June promises to be a hard month for trying to do any tough theological pondering---but I will think on this some more, if you are willing to continue the conversation. Thank you for taking my question seriously.

Pax,
Doxy

Diane said...

just add more to the mix, I don't believe Jesus' *death* was redemptive (though I'm not sure what the asterisks me, I'm going to use them anyway), but I do believe that his life/death/resurreection (the whole shebang, the whole story) is redemptive.

My professor used "in charge" rather than "in control" because he saw that phrase as being a kind of coercive power which is the opposite of the kind of power by which Jesus saves/redeems/transforms us.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I find my head hurts after trying to think on all this.

I find God to be just as evolving and growing as we are. Just look at the difference between the Old Testament where he was so pissed off with our species so often that he nearly wiped us out on several occasions. Then grew to love us so much that he came down here as his own son to redeem us all. That's growth!

As far as being "in control", I have to ponder that. Because I look at how much God loves to challenge us and try us and make us suffer for our own growth. As above, so below. Which means that God must like to challenge himself. And if he is already in full control of everything, where's the challenge in that?

Gotta think more on this one.

Lindy said...

Take two aspirin PresbyGal...
How do you know it was God who was changing? It seems to me that God has been consistent and we are the ones who change. Seriously, read that Antionelli book I mention in the next post.

Diane... I tried on the control/charge thing. But, when I am in charge of something I do have a lot of control. Except for sounding a little better I'm not really seeing the difference.

Don't worry Doxy. We all have to get paid. I am glad you're pushing me on this.
I used to lean towards Process Theology but I don't find that God very attractive, nor can I find that God in the Bible. God has consistently led us towards what will be Heaven. We are often not willing or able to be led very quickly but God's direction for us has been consistent. I do think that God is consistent in nature and that God's Spirit leads us as we are able. I don't think God mucked anything up. At least not in this creation. I don't think God has changed it's "mind" about anything either. God is consistently leading us as we are able into a kingdom called Heaven.-- Just what I think.

Right on Fran. It IS a gift to be able to think about these kinds of things. Thanks to Doxy, and Ann, and even Joyce. It takes all of us, even those who wear sparkly pantsuits.

I think Ann has a good approach. This isn't something we have to "solve." It can be an open issue. And anyone can change their mind if that's how it goes. A mind that can't be changed doesn't count for much.

So, feel free to post on this again. By next week we may all think something different.

Love,

Lindy

Diane said...

p.s. re: the control thing, I do think the "in control" thing had some negative implications re: abusers needing to be "in control"; we were doing work with victims of domestic abuse.

sharecropper said...

OOOOh, good questions. In control/in charge? I don't know the difference. I do know that God calls us to be co-creators in the ongoing journey of life. If we are co-creators, then who is in charge or control? We have been given free will, and, while I believe that God knows what's going on around this earth and everywhere, God doesn't control.

Nor do I believe that God has a plan for us, individually or as a group, except to be with us now and forever. What and where that forever is, I'm not sure I know. The scriptures certainly give some vivid descriptions, but then, the vivid descriptions are found throughout the scriptures - psalms - dash their heads against a rock - ooooh....not my idea of a loving God in which I can believe. But, I don't know. That's the end conclusion - I don't know.