How would you answer this?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by TBLADY, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. TBLADY

    TBLADY
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    I had this sent to me by a friend who has questions. How do you respond to something like, since it does seem to make sense?

    Understanding God's Plan

    If you are a Christian, you are extremely familiar with "God's plan." This is the way that Christians traditionally explain things like amputations, cancer, hurricanes and car accidents.

    You can see how pervasive "God's plan" is by looking in Christian inspirational literature. For example, if we look in the book A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, we find this remarkable paragraph in Chapter 2:

    Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]
    There is also this:

    Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you.
    Under this view of the universe, God plans everything.
    Take a moment and think about what Rick Warren said. Rick said, "He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death." Let's examine one simple implication of this statement. What this means is that God pre-planned every abortion that has taken place on our planet.

    If you think about this implication for a few moments, you will begin to realize how impossible "God's plan" is. If the concept of "God's plan" is true, you can first of all see that God wants us to be aborting children. Every single abortion is planned by God, so God must be doing it for a reason. Second, you can see that both the mother who requests the abortion and the doctor who performs it are blameless. Since it is God who planned the abortion of the child (God chose the "exact time" of the death, according to Rick Warren), the mother and doctor are simply puppets who are fulfilling God's plan. You can also see that all the Christians who are fighting against abortion are missing the point. They are actually fighting against God's plan, and their fight is completely futile. God is the all-powerful ruler of the universe, and his plan is for more than a million children a year to die in the United States through abortion. Each one of those abortions was meticulously planned by God, so fighting against abortion is a totally wasted effort.

    If you are a Christian, what you are thinking is, "God does not intend for us to perform abortions!" But if you believe what Rick is saying, then you are obviously incorrect. God is actually the direct cause of every abortion on earth. If you find that notion to be uncomfortable, I would agree with you. Unfortunately, that is the logical outcome of God's plan.

    In order to better understand God's plan, let's look at one of the biggest global events that humans have ever witnessed: World War II. According to Encarta:
    The human cost [of WWII], not including between 5.6 million and 5.9 million Jews killed in the Holocaust who were indirect victims of the war, is estimated to have been 55 million dead?25 million of those military and 30 million civilian.

    In addition, according to Encarta:
    61 countries participated in WWII
    1.7 billion people participated in WWII
    75% of all human beings alive at the time participated in WWII

    World War II was obviously a major disaster -- perhaps the most horrific event the world has ever seen. It is safe to say that nearly every human being on planet Earth prayed to God that this war would end.
    And don't forget Adolph Hitler. He was evil incarnate, and Hitler is well known for the atrocious things he did. It is interesting to look at Adolph Hitler in the context of prayer, and understand how Christians try to reconcile an all-loving, prayer-answering God with such a hateful man.

    What I would like you to do right now is to consider this statement: "Hitler is part of God's Plan." Think about what Rick said:

    He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16] Rick also says:

    God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.

    If God has a divine plan for each of us, then he had a divine plan for Hitler too. It is when you stop to think about it deeply that the contradictions hit you.
    For example, simply think about what "God's plan" would actually mean. Since God is an all-powerful being, God's plan would, of necessity, need to be all-inclusive. Hitler and WWII would fit as one tiny piece in a supreme plan of massive proportions. Under an all-encompassing plan like this, the 60 million people who died in WWII all died for specific reasons -- each death had meaning -- and each death would have rippled through the world causing countless side-effects, also all part of God's plan. God's master plan would include everyone and everything, including Hitler and WWII.

    Now let's imagine that you say a prayer in this sort of universe. What difference does it make? God has his plan, and that plan is running down its track like a freight train. If God has a plan, then everyone who died in the Holocaust died for a reason. They had to die, and each death had meaning. Therefore, Holocaust victims could pray all day, and they would still die. The idea of a "plan" makes the idea of a "prayer-answering relationship with God" ridiculous. Yet Christians attach themselves to both ideas, despite the irresolvable contradiction.

    Think about what God's plan means for you personally. If the plan happens to say that you will get hit by a bus tomorrow, or that terrorists will blow you up, or that you will be shot in the head four times, then that's what will happen. It would be the same with any disease. If you contract cancer this afternoon and die three months later, that is God's plan for you. Praying to cure the cancer is a waste. God plans for you to die, so you will die. He has pre-programmed the exact time of your death. There is nothing you can do to change the plan -- no amount of prayer will help -- because your death will have meaning and your death will cause side-effects that are also part of the plan.

    Who will you marry? You actually have no choice in the matter. God has pre-planned your wedding in minute detail. Rick Warren says, "God knew that those two individuals [your parents] possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom 'you' that he had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you." Therefore, your spouse was pre-chosen by God for you so that you would create the children who are a part of his plan. You also have no choice in the number of children you will have -- God has pre-planned their births.

    In addition, this sort of universe means that Hitler is blameless. Hitler was not "evil," because Hitler had no free will at all. Hitler was simply an actor forced to play his role in God's plan. God planned for millions of people to die in the Holocaust -- he planned their deaths in exact detail according to Rick Warren. Hitler had to kill those people. Hitler was God's puppet in making that those millions of deaths happen right on schedule.

    In the same way then, every murderer is blameless. Since God has planned each of our deaths in exact detail, murderers are actually essential to God's plan. Why do we punish them? We should be rewarding them for doing their God-planned duty. What if you get raped tomorrow and get pregnant? God did that because he planned the exact time of that child's birth and death. God actually pre-planned your rape, and the rapist was God's puppet. Rather than hating the rapist, we should celebrate God's plan.

    Do you believe that murderers and rapists should be rewarded? Do you believe that Hitler was sent by God to kill millions of people in the Holocaust? Do you believe that God is the direct cause of every abortion on this planet? Do you believe that you have no choice in your spouse or the number of children you have? If you are a sane individual, then probably not. But that is what you are saying when you state that Hitler or cancer or anything else is part of "God's plan."

    The statement "It is part of God's plan" is one of those meaningless palliatives that, when you sit down and think it through using your common sense, makes no sense.
    Understanding the illusion of religion

    If you are a Christian, you have probably believed in God's plan your whole life. There's a very good chance that you own a copy of Rick's book -- it has sold over 20 million copies. Chances are you read chapter 2 of Rick's book and nodded your head "Yes!" through the whole thing.

    But now, if you are a normal, intelligent human being, you can see that what Rick proposes is impossible. If God has "planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death", what that means is that you have absolutely no free will. Humans have no control over anything. We are simply puppets executing the plan. It also means that prayer is absolutely pointless.
    So, on the one hand you have a religion that says, "God has planned the days of your life in advance." On the other hand that same religion says, "Pray to God and he will answer your prayers." One of those two statements must be false. In fact, both of them are wrong.

    Understand the illusion simply by using your common sense. As soon as you think about it, you will begin to see what is actually going on
     
  2. Magnetic Poles

    Magnetic Poles
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    What's with all the long articles all of a sudden. This one is a first post, without so much as a hello.
     
  3. rbell

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    So is the point of this to...

    -cast doubt on God's sovereignty?
    -slam Rick Warren/PDL?
    -Ask honest questions?
    -promote agnostic/atheist agenda?
    -have a fruitful discussion?

    I'll withhold judgement and my answer until I feel better about above. If you are legit, my apologies.
     
  4. TBLADY

    TBLADY
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    Oh sorry, hello.

    I didn't know there were rules on how to ask an honest question by an a unsaved friend
     
  5. amity

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    Generally, the custom is to start off with a short "I'm so and so from such and such a place and interested in thus and so. Howdy." type of a post and maybe a relatively innocuous question or two, and then jump in! That is pretty standard in dealing with people, actually, even in person. Also, in presenting a controversial subject, one usually prefaces it with a bit of an explanation and demurrer.

    But I never pay enough attention to those rules either, so welcome! Glad you are here! And I think your question is an interesting one.

    I actually went through a bit of a period of seriously questioning whether God might have ordained absolutely everything that happens. It wasn't too long ago, either. The Bible does say God created evil. Evil in that context, though, can mean a lot of things that aren't truly evil in the sense of being satanic, but just unpleasant, i.e., the bad times, cancer, death, etc. Yes, of course it is God's will that we all die. Some of us get cancer, some of us are murdered, all of us die. On the other hand, I do not believe that means that God wills people to commit murder, etc. The Bible plainly says "don't do it." How can God will that one person be murdered and not simultaneously will that another person commit murder? Great is the mystery of godliness. But the Bible does say very specifically that it was foreordained that Christ be crucified, and yet seems to impute a certain amount of so-called "free will" to Judas Iscariot, for example. So does this make God the author of sin?

    At any rate, the provisional answer I have come up with is that it does not. We are responsible for our own actions, even though any decision we make is circumscribed by events beyond our control, the full control being God's. I suppose this is because in every situation, no matter how dire, it is always possible to do the "right thing" whatever that might be in a given situation. There is always a right way and a wrong way to go. Nonetheless, the fact that the holocaust happened is sufficient to prove that it was within God's will that it happen. If it were contrary to His will, IOW if He had willed that it not happen, then it would not have happened. Is this saying that God caused the holocaust to happen? Not to me. He allowed it to happen, though, at the very least. So I don't believe that every last single thing that happens is predestined. But much is. We of course are wrong to expect that God is only going to allow good things to happen to us. God is not our lucky charm. God allowed, and perhaps even foreordained, that Stephen be stoned, that Paul be beheaded, that Peter be crucified upside down. It was not for their good, but for ours.

    I am sure I have expressed this rather poorly and will pay for it when someone else takes it to pieces. But it is very late, and this is the last official action of a long busy day. Can't do better right now.
     
    #5 amity, Mar 13, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2007
  6. pinoybaptist

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    One thing I am sure of, is, that, given all the things said pro and con Rick Warren, he is not an absolute predestinarian.

    I do not think Rick Warren even holds to the Doctrine of Grace, a.k.a. Calvinism, a.k.a. Election, a.k.a. a lot of negative names to some. In fact, I think he is a modern day Arminian who probably doesn't know it.

    And then, if there is such a thing as God's plan as espoused by Rick Warren and company, in fairness to them all, I believe it means, to them, something that is intended for "Christians" or those who have made an open profession of faith in Christ and have joined a church and know without a doubt that they are saved ostensibly because the Bible says so but deep down because they said so when they surrendered their life to Christ or said a silly little prayer after tearfully coming down the aisle to receive Christ.

    I think if you confront Rick Warren and his apologists with the possibility that Hitler was part of God's plan and the hurt he brought to Jew and Gentile through the war he started were all part of God's plan, they all would vehemently deny that and will probably be nonplussed to explain why that is not so.

    The same reaction will be elicited if you confront them with the possibility that 9/11 is part of God's plan for one and all, IED's and their makers are part of God's plan, and Bush bashing is part of God's plan for Bush, his defenders, and his detractors, including those on this board.

    And then if Rick Warren and his company are backed into a corner and eventually zip their mouths and unzip it only after careful examination of what they are about to spew out, then that is part of God's plan for them as well.

    It is starting to sound ridiculous, right ?
    Oh, well, gotta go to the gym, and if the treadmill breaks down and my feet get caught in it and I don't get to the weight I targeted and eventually the diabetes takes full control of my body and my blood sugar stays at a "normal" level of 160, or if I drop the dumbell on my foot and it swells and the doctor amputates I guess I'll have to ask Rick Warren if all those events were preplanned by the Almighty.:wavey:
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    The greater possibility (i.e., fact) is that someone has simply applied the logical processes of a depraved and darkened mind (Eph 4:17-19). The truth is that God has planned all the days of our lives. He declares it to be so, and therefore it is. He also answers prayer. Think about it. If he has declared all the days of your life, he has therefore declared the prayers and the answers to them.

    This is not really that hard, except for those who have a predisposition against accepting what God has declared to be true in his word.

    I would read Greg Bahnsen "Always Ready" on this topic. It is a good starting place.

    "Normal human intelligence" is a notoriously slippery phrase. Here, the person who made this argumet does not have "normal human intelligence." His "intelligence" is distorted by his sinfulness, and therefore cannot rationally approach this issue.
     
    #7 Pastor Larry, Mar 13, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2007
  8. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    Excellent point! The lost cannot possibly understand the ways of God, so their arguments and logic amount to nothing.

    It also does no good to argue with a lost person about God. Get them saved, then they won't want to argue. Well, looking at the BB, I guess that statement is false... :laugh:
     
  9. Jon-Marc

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    Some of the most disagreeable and argumentative people I've known have been professing Christians--including church leaders. In fact, I'm now in the process of looking for another church because of that very thing.
     
  10. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
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    Good afternoon TBLADY,

    Welcome to the board.

    In response, you've got some work to do. Your interlocutor has decided to rehash the good ole problem of evil. This has been mentioned before in the tradition and will be mentioned again. This person seems locked into the Enlightenment version of the logical problem of evil along with its smug epistemology, so besides pointing out the limitations of his presuppositions you can also provide some of the other defenses given by others.

    There are numerous answers to this depending on one's presuppositions. I recommend perusing wikipedia's entry on theodicy here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodicy Like all wiki entries it is flawed but free to access.

    You'll see some defenses old and new on there, and thankfully there's even mention of Yoder on the page.

    As to books, John Feinberg has his own response in "the Many Faces of Evil" as well as bringing up some ground rules and what not. He, though, argues that the problem of evil while packaged in the logical and evidential forms-really stems from experience. For this, philosophical answers will not suffice-that's why the old prescription to show people Christ is the only adequate solution (Dostoyevsky in his "Brothers Karmazov" is a wonderful example of this). James Crenshaw has also written a book called "Defending God on this." You can peruse Amazon and their reviews for what other people think of those works.

    For a fun, quick read on theodicy "blogger" Kim Fabricius has posted his thoughts here that take on a different approach: http://faith-theology.blogspot.com/2007/02/ten-propositions-on-theodicy.html

    BJ
     
    #10 Brandon C. Jones, Mar 13, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2007
  11. Steven2006

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    Of course it is impossible for us to have the intellect to completely understand all of what God knows, we are just simple man, His creation. How does anyone really expect the creation to understand everything about the creator?

    That said I do understand God has given us free will. So when man chooses to do evil, it is mans choice. If a baby is murdered in the womb mans sin did that, not God. I imagine God mourns for those babies. Now God all knowing knew before time, that would be the result of that child's short life, and it was written. That doesn't mean it was what God would have liked to have happened, but because he gave man free will he allowed it to happen. Nothing happens without God allowing it. Even Satan had to ask His permission to sift Simon like wheat. So just because Gods knew every hair on our heads and every moment of our lives beforehand, it doesn't means God is choosing for babies to be murdered.

    One thing I want to add. None of this means God doesn't answer prayers. Again it is hard for our little minds to understand all of this in context with each point, but God's word tells us that He does answer prayers, and it is important to have a strong prayer life. But then of course God would have known before who were going to pray and for what, so even when he answers our prays he knew we were going to do that. Nothing surprises God.

    I don't know if any of this has made any sense to you, but I hope it helped you a little. Just remember faith is the answer. Just have faith in God, that he is good, and just. Even if you cannot understand something, have faith read the bible, and pray about it.

    I will pray for you and your friend.
     
  12. TBLADY

    TBLADY
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    thank you everyone who resonded. I will try and sort through this when I can. We just had a death in the family, so it may be a while before I can study this more.
     
  13. rbell

    rbell
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    Sorry to hear about the death. May God comfort your family.
     
  14. TBLADY

    TBLADY
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    Thank you. Been so busy and it is hard to sleep :(
     

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