Let’s reset the premise. There are those who believe that God is going to achieve what he wants without our help or work or influence. Remember, if Allah wills the bullets will strike the invaders whether we practice shooting or not. The next step is the bullets may strike the invaders if we shoot the muskets or not. At some point the whole things is absurd. The admonition of young zealous future missionary Carey that if God wanted to convert the heathen He would do so without Careys help and without his help of anyone else. If God is all powerful His will be done. Luther lays that out in the explanations to the petitions to the Lord’s Prayer. God’s will is indeed done without our prayer, God’s Kingdom comes without our prayer, etc. There certainly seems to be a common sense issue here as well as a theological issue. We hear it in the hospital room. If god wants me he will take me and that is the way it is. So logic wonders why did you come to the hospital? The same premise applies at home, or on the road etc?
Are things ordained to happen a certain way according to what God knows and plans, or do things happen by chance or by accident? Obviously this is not merely an academic question, something for philosophers to debate, but something very real for us. It involves us and our moral responsibility. It involves us and our relationship to God. Should we seek help? Should we help others, or should we just let things go? Should we be merciful and help others in acts of mercy if God wills that people live in a certain situation or live in squalor? Should we mobilize a missionary force if God will that some remain in darkness anyway? The answer seems to be a matter of perspective. An article in one of my journals this thought is expressed. “From God’s point of view, from the divine standpoint, all things happen of necessity. In other words, nothing happens except that God knows and guides it. But, when we say this, we shouldn’t regard the necessity as a matter of compulsion. In other words, like we were saying before, we shouldn’t regard ourselves as, say, robots or puppets on a string. We have wills and we follow them (remember our discussion of the bound will?). On the other hand, we do all things as God knows them. Nothing takes God by surprise. Nothing happens outside of His control. On the other hand, since we have wills, (even though they are bound in the things above us) and since things actually are active in creation, that means from our standpoint things happen contingently. The car won’t start. Why? You neglected the battery. It rains unexpectedly. Why? Low pressure from wherever collided with whatever and precipitation occurred. You get sick. Someone else dies. These things can happen without expectation or anticipation on our part. So to sum up, Francis Pieper says it well: Scripture compels us to maintain both the necessity and the contingency. From the viewpoint of the divine providence, the necessity obtains; from the human viewpoint, the contingency.”
What does all that mean in the regular get up in the morning and have your coffee and go to work life that we lead? More to come.