Christian, Stop Telling Me God is in Control

There’s a similar refrain I hear from the lips of many Christians these days, whenever the subject turns to the growing dumpster fire in DC and the resulting unrest in our nation:

“Relax, God is in control.”

The words are designed as a conversation stopper; an iron-clad, sanctified mic drop, exempting them from further discussion on the matters at hand and supposedly assuaging all my fears in four simple words. 

The only problem is—it’s not true, at least not in the way they might like it to be right now.

In these days, with so much that is untenable and threatening and worrisome, tossing off a quick “God’s got it” is a subtle bit of heresy:

It imagines that God engineers election outcomes the same way as football scores.
It exonerates people from any culpability for a vote they perhaps now feel was regrettable.
It nullifies any concept of personal free will, by giving God ultimate veto power over us.
It excuses inaction in the face of other people’s present suffering.
In matters of injustice and suffering and evil—it essentially passes the buck to God.

But the story of the Scriptures, is one of this same God, granting Humanity the power over their choices; giving them the ability to be co-creators in this world by the decisions they make. Though God is all-powerful, God does not exercise that power to coerce us. We are not mindless robots simply performing the tasks we are pre-programmed to—we are fully responsible for the stuff we do and say and think. 

What this means, is that saying God is in control, while doing little or nothing to alter the planet in any meaningful way is spiritual rebellion. It is a willing abdication of our calling to be makers of peace and agents of goodness and bringers of justice here. It expects that God will clean up whatever horrible mess we make—and that our prayers alone will serve as the sole request form.

I don’t believe this is true and it isn’t Biblical. I don’t believe Jesus spent three years imploring people to love their neighbors as themselves, to feed the poor, to protect the vulnerable, to love our enemies, and to bind up wounds of strangers—if God had already written the script and we’re all just playing the whole thing out in flesh and blood without getting to improvise and change lines.

And this all matters, because if we are indeed free to choose and responsible for our choices, and these decisions make tangible ripples in the world—then we had better get to work, Christians.

And that means far more than thoughts and prayers platitudes.

In the face of injustice, praying for God to move while remaining stationary isn’t admirable—it’s cowardice. It’s looking around at the frightened, hurting, wounded people in our midst and shooting up a quick 911 call to the Almighty and continuing on with our day, instead of rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty by stopping other people’s bleeding.

God is love.
God is good.
God is powerful.
But God is not forceful and God is not magic.
God works through the hands and words of the people who aspire to this love and goodness, and choose to exercise the individual power they have been entrusted with right where they’re standing.
Jesus is not beamed down from Heaven, he is incarnated in the flesh and blood of those who believe that other people are worth sacrificing for, that mercy is the greatest gift, that love is revolutionary.
God’s Spirit of redemptive power resides in the breathing churches of we who inhabit this place and seek to be sanctuary for those in pain. 

And right now, the ancient words of St. Francis are still the most dangerous prayer we can ever authentically pray: God, make me an instrument of your peace.

Because the truth, Christians friends: is that God is not in control of you. You are in control of you and God is asking you to be goodness and love in a way that tangibly changes the story we all find ourselves in. God is asking you what you’re willing to do to bring healing and cease pain and show compassion.

Your move.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy Now

Low: A Honest Advent Devotional Amazon Barnes & Noble Books A MillionIndie BoundChristianBook.com

265 thoughts on “Christian, Stop Telling Me God is in Control

    • The call to action and involvement in the world today by thinking Christians- commendable. Trivializing a complicated point of theology to do so- quite unfortunate as you become a shrill small voice instead of a still small voice. Your call to action is so needed but not the casting of the first stone by “one who has no sin.”

      • I absolutely agree with Bill’s comment. I found this to be alarming discount dollar-store theology. Explaining an all-loving and all-powerful God’s involvement in the world is an issue that has perplexed many great theologians and Christian thinkers for years. Further, it dismisses the reality of God’s sovereignty, which certainly *is* biblical. Respectfully, the quality of Mr. Pavlovitz’s thinking is, at best, undergraduate (I’m being kind here).

        • Chris and Bill,
          I feel that some allowance has to be made for blog format here. Sovereignty and “in control” are significantly different, and to go into such detail on the two will require an additional post (if not a whole book chapter) when John’s post is just a brief call to action regarding a damaging cliche.
          While the word “sovereignty” does not appear in this post, I feel that the spirit of it is there. God is absolutely the ruler of the cosmos, and no force can remove God from that throne, but God grants us the power to make decisions that shape the course of world events, and we’ve been trying to pass the buck with this “God is in control” business.
          I don’t always agree 100% with John’s views, but on this, I think he’s dead on: the “God is in control” cliche is a cheap grace imitation of the doctrine of sovereignty, and it ought to be nixed before it does any more damage.
          Also, let’s be real, y’all: no respectful statement has ever begun with the word “respectfully.” That’s more a cue for an ad hominem argument.

          • Tom the Bar Chaplain,

            My response to you has less to do with your answer than your nom de plume. I think bartenders often take a chaplain role. Are you one or the other or both? Thanks for making me smile.
            Peace,
            Lynn, the healthcare chaplain

          • Well put. John is a prophetic voice in calling out the apostate and disgraceful money-worshipping Evangelical movement. He is not a theologian. There are a lot of quibblers who seem to follow his work, who might be termed legalists or semantics depending on the vessel. Ok, I’m baiting them a bit with the language but I say Keep up the Good work John, the name of Christ is being trampled into the manure by the right wing.

          • God is in control of the whole universe,When it come to the world first of all you have to know the three things that it consist of and that is the LUST OF THE FLESH,LUST OF THE EYE AND THE PRIDE OF LIFE.These thing Satan is in control of and this is the same word as Kosmos Greek FOR world.For God so loved it because his creation was raped in it from the fall that He gave his only begotten son,And this was the only way out of that system .As Christians God is in control of our life read Isaiah 41:10,Psalm 46:1,Phil.4:6-7,1 John 4:18,Psalm 94:19,Lk. 12:22-26,Psalm 27:1,Rev 1:17…….

              • I feel sure Danny Samuel would say that God knew before there was a universe that you would make that post. Such belief, of course, conflicts with the idea of free will. If a creator knows in advance exactly how His (Her? Its?) creation will behave, how is that different from creating the entity TO behave in that manner?

                • Not at all the same, Marvin. Knowing something will occur does not mean you cause it to occur. I could give many examples and metaphors, but with a little thought you can easily see that God being timeless does not negate free will of his creation.

            • If The Lord’s creation was raped in the Fall, how did this happen? Did God have His back turned for a moment, or did someone sort of slip it past him really quickly before he was aware of it? How could this “Fall” be possible without God knowing, permitting, and approving of it? You seem, by what you have written, to think that God was impotent to prevent it, which has implications for the type of god in which you believe.

        • I believe it is your thinking that is undergraduate. John is calling out the immature theology of Christians who view God as a kind of magic talisman who is always on their side. He is describing the kind of Christian who seems to believe that Yhe Great I- Am causes their football team to win.

        • I find the Biblical description of God as a jealous, angry, and vengeful God a contradiction to an all loving God. In fact, those are considered faults in any human being. But, didn’t God call on Moses to act to free his people? It required actions, which is the point John P. makes. Sitting around and praying, saying it’s all in God’s hands, ignores the responsibility we all have to act.

        • It is amazing to watch tribalistic American Christians hurl their stones at one another.
          Bill and Chris accuse John of “casting of the first stone by “one who has no sin.” But, of course, John’s verbal stone is no worse than their own, and Jesus Himself cast plenty of stones at similar hypocrites such as the Pharisees & Sadducees. There is clear disagreement, and the question is: who is correct?

          Chris seems to presume some type of Aquinas-esque intellectual superiority when speaking of the profundities of Christian theology. But having a mind as great as Chris’ does not really matter, and the fact that he overlooks such a simple truth is what is amazing about tribalistic forms of Christianity. They speak in glorious theological terms of the speck in their brother’s eye while ignoring the log in their own.

          Who was in control when the “Christian” Efrain Rios Montt was receiving financial & political support from Robertson, Falwell and Reagan while carrying out genocide in Guatemala? That was not a casting of stones but smashing the heads of women and children with a hammer before throwing their
          bodies down a well. I am quite certain that Jesus was not responsible for killing 300,000 Mayan peasants. No, the people who committed the genocide were in control, and it is this horrible type of tribalistic Christianity that Pavlovitz condemns.

          Americans have millions of people in their jails because criminals were supposedly in control of themselves when they committed crimes. It’s more than amazing when American Christians use the God is in control excuse for self-absolution. And given that would-be Christians in the U.S. Congress have recently called for the carpet bombing of civilian areas in the Mideast shows how little they have learned about politics or repentance.

          Pavlovitz and the atheists further down the blog correctly identify the meaninglessness of such would-be theological profundity when, at the same time, these American Christians overlook the most simple and important truth of their professed Jesus: “The second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” These Christians worship an American God of War which feeds their lust for wealth and respectability. It is not Jesus who is in control of their wars and killing. And neither is He in control of the people who continue to choose policies which cause climate breakdown and which destroy His creation. I am sure the millions of American prisoners wish their Christian wardens would apply the “God is in control” excuse equally. But these tribalistic Christians use the excuse as a conversation stopper every bit as effectively as their white American president uses the “fake news” canard to divert attention from his locker room talk. Now maybe Chris can explain the ontological argument to us.

      • Hmm. I don’t see his article the way you do at all. It resonates with me perfectly…and I, too, find it difficult to listen to those who do nothing when they say “God’s got this. We can all just relax.” Not so.

      • I disagree with the assessment that there’s something “shrill” about the Pavlavitz’s message, here, no accusatory casting of the first stone. This blog post address a serious problem with Christians who see Trump as ordained by a God who is a convenient invention, one who has “anointed” Trump to “save” the world, and, in all the chaos, we’re supposed to believe that this God has our backs. This is a desperately critical time, and I, for one, am rather impressed by Pavlovitz’s restraint.

        • My response to those who say that Trump’s election was ordained by God is simply this: if you believe that, then you must also believe that God ordained the election of Barack Obama . . . TWICE. Otherwise, you are asserting that God is only “in control” on a part-time basis!

      • Then again, might it not possibly be the case that all of that ‘complicated theology’ has arisen as a result of Christian theologians insisting on asserting two ideas that are fundamentally at odds with one other (i.e., that God is “in control of everything,” yet people are also ‘free’ to respond (or not) to God as they choose?

        I’m not a Calvinist, but let’s give Calvin credit here for at least grappling with that irreconcilable tension through his theology of double-predestination! (I don’t buy it mind you, but at least it doesn’t gloss over the fact that Christianity has historically made wildly contradictory assertions!

    • Well said, John. Biblical prophets always smoked out the summa-Calvinists who use the God is sovereign to legitimatize their own corrupt use of power to victimize and oppress. It has happened since the 16th century when Calvin and his ilk burned or drowned anabaptists, centuries longer in medieval Catholicism, and even through Israel and Judah’s worst so-called “God chosen” leaders. When a prophetic word is spoken, those who are not interested, visionary, or courageous in being part of living out the kingdom of God today default to the “God’s got it” default.

      • Larry, I think you’re on the money, if you’ll pardon the metaphor. One of Sara Vowel’s books makes reference to a massacre of Native Americans by a devout group of colonial European Americans who reasoned that if it weren’t God’s will, He wouldn’t allow it. People can justify any atrocity by citing some Bible verse and the doctrine of a benign God in control of all, doing what is ultimately best for, well, white people.

    • Thank you! There is a thread of fatalism that runs through Christianity. I’m sure the reason for this thread being woven into the fabric of Christianity is varied, but it serves no good and needs to pulled out.

      I have never used the phrase, “God is in control,” when I pastor a sick person or someone who is mourning the death of a loved one. It is a pat answer that doesn’t engage in conversation, which is necessary to walk with people through their journey. These pat answers are given so pastors don’t have to deal with their own discomfort with the situation or their inability to answer tough question. I’ve discovered that people rather have silence and presence than trite and pat answers that never address the heart of the matter.

      Of course we pray for the changes we wish to see happen in our lives, the lives of others, of the nation, and in the world; and then we become the change and do what is necessary to make sure those changes happen. Prayer and action is one in the same.

  1. You hit another one out of the park, my friend. Prayer doesn’t change God; it should, however, change us.

    • I noticed he used zero scripture to back up his opinion I guess he has never really thought about the lords prayer … Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

      “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”
      ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:11-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬
      http://bible.com/116/eph.1.11-14.nlt

      • Oh please. This is hyperbole. How convenient to sit back and abdicate all responsibility for your neighbor’s suffering. Such an old and tired argument. So many Christians just love to justify apathy as long as things are going well for them…quote as much S rupture as you like but remember to retread the New Testament and see Jesus in action. What did He ask of us? What did He do?

        • Oh, Lulu, thank you for your reply to Brett (and others who follow in his stead). And Joe Catholic!

          Lulu, your answer, “Oh please. This is hyperbole. How convenient to sit back and abdicate all responsibility for your neighbor’s suffering.” is most helpful for me as I hear scriptural platitudes and answers that neither reach the pain or the problem, but are an easy out for those who might not want to reach into the deeper questions of faith and life. As the little boy who when told by his mama that Jesus was with him when he was alone in his dark bedroom, “but I want someone with skin on”, those of us who are grieving benefit most from real compassion and caring.

          Don says G_d is in control of everything, from football games, the weather and elections. I won’t argue theology, but say that I believe in a G_d that is more mysterious than concrete, one who would never send a tornado or allow a war to prove a point. I don’t believe in the bible, I believe in G_d.

          To the compassionate questioners!

          • If you do not believe in the Bible, how can you know God? You can NOT know God, unless you know the Holy Spirit, and let him live in you. Through the Holy Spirit, you can understand GOD’s word, the Bible, which you can then learn about God. To toss aside scripture, as if it’s irrelevant, is dangerous.

            • There are plenty of folks who don’t believe the bible is the “word of God.” Common sense tells me, though, that I did not create myself, so clearly there is a power greater than me…and greater than you. And this power has provided instructions within the honey bees, the acorns, the birds of prey….all living creatures know exactly how they are to live. Why would we be left out of that equation? Honey bees know (imagine!) how to make honeycombs in perfect little hexagons. Spiders make incredible webs, and they don’t need a set of blueprints to make them. WE have a conscience that guides us, (a.k.a. Good Orderly Direction, or GOD). THAT I can work with. Believing something simply because I was told it was true throughout the years in parochial school is not reason enough to believe it.

      • That’s great Brett, thank for citing the Bible. Now, can you also cite the meaningful ways in which you, like the Jews of the Bible, help our world be a better place for everyone?

        • Jesus commanded us to make disciples…and the world will not be a better place until the second coming and Jesus will reign. The Bible IS God’s Word and is absolute truth. If something disagrees with the Bible…the Bible trumps it and is absolutely correct. Yes we are to love our neighbor as ourselves…but the first is to love God with our whole heart, soul and mind. And when trouble comes…cancer, etc…the one thing we know is that God id faithful…because in eternity there will be no more sin…no more sickness…no more war.

          • Ah yes, the old ‘ The Bible is true because it says it is! ‘ argument. Circular logic at its trite-ti-est (yes, I Joss Whedoned a word. Sue me) The Bible is ultimate Truth only if you believe it is. There is not, nor can there ever be ( on this plane of existence ) proof that the Bible is the ACTUAL, LITERAL word of G-d. There’s no proof it isn’t either. That’s where FAITH comes in. The thing is, faith requires free will choice. That choice will be based on many factors that are personal to each person. It’s not the word of G-d to people that:

            *have never had knowledge of it in a way that would make choosing it possible (hearing it read or reading it directly).

            * have knowledge of it but don’t believe it is the word of G-d. There are many reasons for this, too many to try to name.

            * dismiss the idea entirely because they don’t care if it is one way or the other— also for too many reasons to name.

            There are those that dislike the reality of the preceding reasons but this is also irrelevant. What I truly don’t understand is the hostility some Christians feel toward those who know of the Bible yet do not believe in either the literal interpretation of the Bible or the Bible itself. You have the freedom to practice your religion, as long as you don’t impede anyone else’s civil rights, so why do you feel the need to interfere with someone else’s beliefs (or lack of belief) in the Christian Bible? Seriously, I’m asking. I only make one request. Please don’t list a desire to ‘save’ others from damnation. I don’t challenge the veracity of this desire, I’m just tired of hearing it. It is an incredibly arrogant stance and I won’t voluntarily suffer it. I believe in G-d, but I am not a Christian. I don’t need saving from G-d or a ficticious Devil. (Remember, G-d created everything, so if a mortal soul is in danger because of a spiritual being that could take it, that is ultimately God’s responsibility as well.)

      • Scripture? Uh okay let’s look at the entire Bible. God floods the earth because humanity messed it up, but I guess God intended that to happen?
        In Judges the people go through a cycle of falling away and being redeemed, but I guess God was in charge there too.
        The Babylonian exile, the fall of Jerusalem, the holocaust, nuclear weapons aimed to destroy everything, but… God’s in control- which seems to imply that God is complicit if not outright responsible for evil.
        I would consider the story of Joseph, who didn’t say God created the evil that had been done, but that God worked amidst the evil to produce good.
        The thing about grace is that we can deny it meaning we can work against God’s will.

      • Christians believe that God is revealed in Scripture, not that Scripture defines or limits God.

      • I am reminded that the writer of Matthew [25.31-46] states that you are expected to DO THINGS in order to please God. He spells out a laundry list of stuff you need to DO. I would say that the gist of it is that you should look into the face of any unfortunate and see God looking back at you, but Mat didn’t get into that kind of metaphor.
        Here it is:
        http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=363897974

    • “Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!” (Exodus 32:12 NLT).In his unfailing mercy, “the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people” (Exodus 32:14 NLT). Our prayers CAN change what God decides to do. Prayer is powerful.

  2. I’m glad people who fought for equal and civil rights over the decades and centuries didn’t say “Don’t sweat it, God is in control.”

    Perhaps God IS in control… of people with good consciences and voices… who speak up…

    • The missionary statement for my former parish used to be “we are the hands and feet of Christ in the world.”

      Seems to me I can pray that God is in control of me, my thoughts, words, and deeds. I can pray that God is control of the thoughts, words, and deeds of others but available evidence forces me to conclude that since God chose to create us with free will God also chooses to respect our exercise of that same free will.

      People who love God, be they Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, can also choose as individuals for God to be in control of their thoughts, words, and deeds, but again available evidence forces me to conclude that there are a great many Jews, Christians, and Muslims who do not ask for this.

      On the other hand, those that do are a mighty force for good in this world.

      • But Jews & Muslims are not guilty of the greatest sin of Christiandom. They do not proselytize. They are not missionaries. May the almighty forgive your arrogance & the destruction this practice has had on the peoples upon whom it was forced.

        • Forced?? by Christian missionaries?? Seriously? When Muslims require you to turn Muslim or die? Jews do not proselytize or send out missionaries because you must be born in to the Hebrew nation. They were however the first missionaries for Jesus as Messiah. The Almighty does not have to forgive us for our arrogance in becoming missionaries because we humbly bow to His will to “Go forth into all nations preaching the Gospel and teaching them” and the destruction was usually to the lives of the missionaries. The most destruction done in God’s name has been by crusaders of the medieval days and by present day Muslim extremists. and also, by the way, the greatest sin of Christendom is NOT to go when you are called. Not to believe when you are given the opportunity and NOT believing is the one sin you get Hell for. Refusing to believe, for whatever reason is the only sin you go to hell for, because by that action you have CHOSEN Hell over Heaven, Chosen Satan over Jehovah and Chosen disbelief over obedience. For self enlightenment, Try reading the Books of John the apostle and the letter to the Romans in The Book. Read the book of Miriam in the Koran and try to find the book about Mohamed’s mom in the Koran, Count the number of times Mohamed is listed in the Koran versus the times Jesus is mentioned. Which is listed as the Word of God?

          So whereas Christians do have to pray for forgiveness of their daily sins, and they can be guilty of arrogance, You have to actually know what is in God’s Word before deciding someone is going against what God actually says. Prayer DOES change the mind of God and God IS in control.

          • How easy it is for Christians to forget the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, when Christians murdered tens of thousands in the name of converting people to Christ…

            Be proud in your faith, but be careful that you don’t forget the many atrocities committed by man in His name.

            • Amazing how easy it is for us spirits temporarily inhabiting human bodies to forget that every religion, religious movement, culture, etc. has been guilty of having committed evil of some kind or another. And we must not forget that evil is also committed within these groups themselves. In our human manifestation, how many times have we hurt another, raged against another, annihilated another (whether emotionally, psychologically or even physically); whether by thought, word and then manifested in action?! None of us human beings are without fault. Most definitely not myself. Therefore, we are all capable of doing the most horrible of acts. We have history before us. We are still adding to this history as we go about our daily lives. It’s very easy to blame others – whether singly or collectively. I personally believe that we will get NOWHERE thinking and acting in this manner. I myself have been and still am guilty of this. I have to consciously make the decision to not allow my passions and prejudices to inform my actions. It is not easy, but I believe if we are aware of our own weaknesses and “negative tendencies”, we can then choose those “positive tendencies” that are also inside of us. It is easy to think we all have the “high and mighty ground”. But we don’t. None of us does. I am not a Christian, but I try to remember what Jesus said (and I’m paraphrasing here): The greatest commandment is this: Love God and your neighbor as you love yourself. For me, loving God, myself and others means being honest about both the light and dark within me and hopefully choosing love. It’s not easy, but I now believe life wasn’t meant to be easy, but to be lived to the best of our ability…and maybe enjoying some of those “easy moments” when they become “available”. Just my 2 cents worth. Peace!

          • Do not fall for the rewriting of history. The crusades were a result of the barbaric spread of Islam by the Ottoman Empire. They went forth to free and protect Christians being slaughtered and persecuted by islam

            • Funny how that ended with them slaughtering thousands and then occupying Jerusalem.
              Convenient that violence is always someone else’s fault.

          • When you say Jews must be “born into the Hebrew nation,” you are incorrect. Jews DO accept converts (I have known a few people who have so converted); they just don’t seek converts.

          • I’m not convinced that prayer changes God but it does change us. If prayer changes the mind of God then God can be manipulated by the whims of anyone and God becomes a idol of our making.

      • Thank you for your intelligent comment. God gave us brains. Free will. I wish I could copy and paste your comment to my wall.

      • People who live God, submit to him, and do his will. So, yes he does control us, but only with our consent, and on a case by case basis. You have multiple chances to submit to God’s will every day, in multiple situations. If we did that in every situation, we would not sin again. However, no one that I know , is capable of that due tonour sinful nature. However, unless you are born again, you cannot know what God’s will is, because you do not have the Holy Spirit speaking within you.

    • If god is in control of the people that speak up as you stated… that violates free will in my opinion. Hypothetically if what you say is true and god is speaking through people and they don’t know it they are surreptitiously used as tools/mouth pieces? Why does an all powerful god need a mouth piece/proxy… can’t this god speak for itself? If god can’t then god is not all powerful. Why always proxies?messengers/angels/son/holyspirit… just sayin’ 🙂

      • To the persons that claim that God is not in control, here aare just a few Scriptures that speaks very clearly to the reality of God’s sovereignty. Imagine, fallen, sinful, and finite creatures have the nerve to say that God isn’t in control. If HE isn’t, then please tell me who is??

        Proverbs 19:21

        Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

        Jeremiah 29:11

        For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

        Romans 8:28

        And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

        Joshua 1:9

        Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

        Isaiah 45:6-7

        That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

        Matthew 19:26

        But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

        Isaiah 41:10

        Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

        Isaiah 55:8-11

        For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

      • Being in control is different for God than for us. When we want to be in control we feel we HAVE to micromanage. we cannot see ahead so we have to react with every action. God has already seen the outcome of every free choice we make so His actions from His plans are more subtle than taking over our choices. He is in control. but He uses us as His hands for OUR benefit. It is a blessing to help someone. So if someone is having trouble in a state or country where you are incapable of going, Dont despair: God IS in control. If you live in an area that needs help…wake up, listen, God will be calling on you to make a difference. Why doesnt God speak to us directly? have you not read the Bible at all? When He spoke directly to Adam and Eve, they took advice from a serpent. When He used Moses as a mouthpiece the people wanted to know why they couldnt have their own guy as the mouthpiece. Then God sent His Son to tell us what He wanted and He and His disciples were hounded to their deaths. Then God gave His word to men by inspiration so his words could be written and saved for all generations to know and share and keep. And people decided to change it enough to make them feel good and clear a copyright to make lots of money. God is going to speak to you one day face to face, but you will have already chosen which way you believe by then and He will be telling you how well that went.

        • D,
          I think like you think, God is outside of time, space, and matter. And the Word he gave us is true. I believe and in this belief is my faith. That God truly is in control. He gave us what we need to know for now, from one end to the other.
          And he told us to give unto Caesar what is due to Caesar, this I believe includes voting, protesting, and diligent choices regarding our government. So do what you do according to what you believe, and in the end, the shaft will be separated from the wheat.

          • Exactly. God was compassionate to save us out of our sins. He doesn’t make good people out of bad people. He makes dead people (dead in their sins) alive again. There is not one particle in this universe He does not have a name for, or is actively thinking of at all times. He is infinite, and therefore He can’t be anything but sovereign. Nothing was made apart from His hand. If there were something greater than that, then I could question His Sovreignty. But there is none greater. Why is that fearful to some? James 1:17 tells us EVERY good and perfect thing comes from the Father of Lights, and in Him there is no shadow or turning.

            This about salvation, a word being discussed less and less and night draws near. Compassion without salvation is giving a man a hug as he goes over the waterfalls in a raft. It’s not compassion at all. It’s hatred of God posing as superficial love. He desires that no man PERISH. That’s in the Bible too. Or that Christ died because only the good die young and he was a good teacher?

            He does so that God could have fellowship with us again. A sovereign act at enormous personal expense.

            I pray that God will send His Spirit of repentance as upon us all, that we may be cured of our blindness and see what’s at stake here and place ourselves in His Hands, where no one snatch us from.

            God bless you all.

  3. The problem with biblical and modernity: contemporary life emphasizes personal autonomy in a way that traditional societies didn’t.

  4. John, what you are seeing and struggling with is a simple but very hard to accept truth. There is no god. The God in your mind is made up of your own desires hopes and values, as such I have no doubt that he is a very good God but he still isn’t real.

    • Lilith, I ask this question out of a sincere and respectful desire to know the answer.

      If you don’t believe in God, if you believe what John P (and presumably the rest of us) writes about Gd is a figment of his own imagination, why do you read this blog?

      • Gloriamarie,
        I can’t be as respectful as you! Lilith’s words are the mirror image of a fundamentalist religious person telling us what we must believe. It bothers me that those who want to be respected for their lack of belief in G_d, should give the same respect to those who do believe.
        Thank you!
        Lynn

    • I hadda chuckle over that one…cracks me up when someone tries to tell someone else what they think or feel or mean to say.

    • Gloriamarie, Lillith is probably reading this for the same reason I am. Because those of us who’ve learned to rely on our own strength and value are always amused at the things ‘god-fearing’ people think and say. I’ve been through many hardships since childhood. I was raised with a strict catholic upbringing, which I chose to abandon at the age of 12 when I realized that gods were no more real than santa or the tooth fairy. The one thing I have learned is how powerful my own inner strength is. There have been no others there in my times of need, including made up fairytale beings. Therefore I have relied on only myself and my own strength to get through life, with it I know I can make it through anything that happens to me. Reality is a wonderful thing!

    • Lilith,

      John P. wrote this piece I imagine, in order to talk about grief and here we are discussing scripture, the bible and semantics. Way off the point. Whether we believe in G_d or not, we are human and unless we are sociopaths we do grieve. It is no more helpful to tell a believer that there is no g_d than to tell her that there is one right way to believe. My reaction to your words, much the same as to Brett’s or Don’s is that they are shaming and even cruel.

      I put the two groups (the religious “certaintists” and the atheist supremacists) in the same boat, one without compassion, perhaps filled with unacknowledged fear and swimming in elitism.

      I have plenty of days where I think there is no g_d, and then there are many more when a Divine Spirit is most definitely present. Did I make it up? Maybe. Maybe not. But if it helps me, please don’t shame me.

    • God is real. That he exists is a fact. Being a Christian isn’t based on a series of intellectual beliefs, but an ongoing supernatural experience of relationship with him. I was a non-believer like you until twenty years ago when God revealed himself to me in the most profound and undeniable supernatural way and since then I’ve experienced his love and power on a daily basis. I’ve seen miracles happen through my own hands and words that would have been impossible without God’s power working through me. God is real. Fact. But we as Christians can’t tell you what to believe. Only God revealing himself to you will change your mind. If you’re so confident there is no God, I challenge you to pray out loud for God to reveal himself to you . . . if he exists!! May you soon come to know the joy of experiencing the love of a very real God.

      • If what you say is true, then no belief is necessary. If god is a fact then no need for belief, the fact of God becomes science.

        I know facts, belief pertains to that which cannot be proved.

        • Your comment reminds me of a story told by the late Joseph Campbell, professor of comparative religion at Sarah Lawrence, and author of the “Power of Myth.” In the PBS series by the same name, where Campbell is interviewed by Bill Moyers, Campbell tells of a story from when he was a visiting lecturer at Fordham (a major Jesuit institution). One evening, he was sitting in the sauna after a workout at the school’s gym. Another man entered and said, “Excuse me, you’re Joseph Campbell, aren’t you?” “I am,” said Campbell. The man introduced himself as Father So-and-So, a professor at the school. They made some small talk, and then the priest/professor asked him, “Are you Catholic, Mr. Campbell,” to which Campbell replied, “I was, Father.” The priest continued: “I don’t suppose, Mr. Campbell, that there is any way I could ever convince you, absent empirical evidence, of the existence of a personal God.” Campbell replied, “If there were, Father, what would be the value of faith?” Whereupon the priest abruptly stood up and remembered a meeting he was late for, and left. 🙂

  5. John P., blessings upon you and yours.

    Thank you. I have long thought that to say “God is in control” was a hallmark of an immature faith or faulty Christian formation. Becuase if God were really in control, nothing bad would ever happen and we would all be little automatons.

    I find no evidence in the Bible that God is in control. I find a lot of evidence that God allows human beings to make whatever foolhardy choices they want and God allows human beings to reap the consequences.

    Yes, I do know that God has taught me some incredible things as a result of abusive parents, rape, sexual molestation, abusive Christians, natural disasters, etc etc but to say God is control is the exact same thing as saying that God wills evil upon people. That is just plain heresy, if not apostasy.

    To say God is in control is the same thing as saying “the devil made me do it.” Both imply that a human being has no choice in a situation which is not true. We can choose to love God with every fiber of our being and demonstrate that we do with an outpouring of love for every human being. We love our neighbors as ourselves. We love our neighbors as God first loved us.

    God is love. God wants us to be loving people. Jesus shows us what it looks like to love in a radical manner. Let us follow Jesus.

    • You find no evidence in the Bible that God is in control? Seriously?

      “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” – Exodus 4:11

      “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.” – Proverbs 16:33

      “…having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” – Ephesians 1:11

      Etc., etc., etc.

      Scripture presents God as in absolute control of every detail of His creation, positive and negative. Obviously this is not an idea that sits well with a lot of people (as you can see from this blog post), but it is disingenuous to pretend you “don’t see it” in the Bible.

          • Thank you for the clarification, Tracy, because I was wondering to whom you were addressing this.

            Perhaps I should amend my words. I see no Biblical evidence that God is in control. I see Biblical evidence that God chooses not to be in control to allow us the exercise of that free will which must be part of the Imagio Dei or we would not have been created with it.

            • I’m not sure sure what Bibles all of you read, but the one I read is very clear that Almighty God is Sovereign over the universe……even as He permits men to make their evil choices! If God wasn’t in control, did you know that Satan would wreck havoc on the world in a manner that the human mind could not comprehend? Thanks be to God that HE is in control, and that the “Restrainer” (The Holy Spirit) is here on earth and holds back evil in all of its full capacity!

    • Gloriamarie,
      I can’t be as respectful as you! Lilith’s words are the mirror image of a fundamentalist religious person telling us what we must believe. It bothers me that those who want to be respected for their lack of belief in G_d, should give the same respect to those who do believe.
      Thank you!
      Lynn
      And I agree 1000% with what you say here.

  6. Forgot to say… about prayer…. People seem to think to pray for someone or something is to have magical outcomes.

    Oh, yeah, I have found myself praying that the handicapped parking space is available and that the electric go cart is free for my use. But even as I do that, I laugh at myself. Do I expect God to rearrange other people’s lives for my convenience as if I were so much more important than they?

    The thing about praying those kinds of prayers is not the outcome. That’s the wrong thing to pray for. But praying like that changes me, because it reminds me that I am dependent upon God for so very much.

    As for intercessory prayer, sure, I pray God to help a lot of people every single day. But there is more than one way to help someone. The Holy Spirit might nudge this or that in the person I pray for. I don’t really know what happens to other person when I pray. All I do know is what happens to me when I pray.

    What I know about prayer is that it changes me. Prayer makes me better equipped to chose the path of Jesus. Prayer makes me a better person, more loving, more compassionate,more tolerant, more aware of how far short I fall of the mark I wish to reach.

  7. Thank you and yes. In fact so many of the NT parables are about taking action- from the talents to the Good Samaritan to Peter walking on water. prayerbis what keeps our actions filled with humility and grace and love.

  8. “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” ~ Teresa of Avila

  9. Thanks for verbalizing a great deal of the disgust and frustration I feel with the sanctimonious Christians I know. Especially annoying was when I attended a prayer vigil in my community after 9-11 and one of the more fundamentalist preachers of the community used that phrase, “remember, god is in control” to which I could only respond to with “bullshit” — in my mind, of corse, but I wish I’d have had the nerve to speak up. God is in control offers absolutely no comfort to a suffering person. If this is how God controls he’s an ass hole, too.

    • Amen!!! Thank you for your honesty, I so totally agree. It is so refreshing to hear someone say this out loud. Peace

  10. This says everything I believe and everything I have been taught. I was taught you pray for God to show you, you, how to make things better, not to pray for God to make it better. I believe we have all the tools if we are honest but it seems to be easier to say, God got us into it because after all God ordained this, so God will take care of it. That is not what I read, God gave me free will, but also is there to help me thru the minefields of free will and that includes the minefields others caused by their freewill. God won’t let me or anyone else off the hook for the choices we make. So once again, I thank you for saying in a more eloquent, concise way what I believe. Be well……………

    • Kathleen, you wrote ” I was taught you pray for God to show you, you, how to make things better, not to pray for God to make it better.”

      I was taught to pray for God to make it better. When I was in the RC private school, whenever there was a siren outside, the nuns and layteachers would halt class and we would pray the “Hail, Mary” on behalf of the siren and what it occasioned.

      I know I pray for God to make sick people better who sometimes die. But praying for God to make things better gives God a whole lot of latitude that I believe is beyond my ability to comprehend.

      So many people believe in a cause and effect relationship in their prayer. If someone prays X and X happens, then they attribute it to their prayers. I don’t believe in such magical thinking.

      When I pray for God to make a person or a situation better, I hold that person or situation in my mind and step into The Presence. I sit in silence, holding that, and then I relinquish it into God’s hands.

      Sometime ago now, I noticed that among many Christians, but especially evangelicals and various Pietists, that there is an emphasis upon cognition in a way I don’t see supported in the Bible. An emphasis that Y will not happen unless someone deliberately gives consent to it. Seems to me that sort of approach makes a human being in control.

      Also seems to me that the Holy Spirit works within us in ways too deep for mere human cognition to fathom. Seems to me what is more true is that our lives as Christians is a process of discovery that which She wrought within us when our attention was on something else.

      • My grandfather said, if we ask that God give us the strength, and we do what we know is morally correct, we can get through this life. He used to say that was no guarantee that it would be easy, no one is guaranteed easy, but we will be ok. He used to tell us that God wants us to make things better, that should be our main concern. So I have always prayed that God help people through the darkness and please be there for them and I always add that I promise to be there too. I have never believed in the magic wand. I always wonder how people who do, explain to a grieving parent that perhaps their prayers weren’t as sincere as the family down the street, who that child lived but their child died. I think it is how we deal with all of this that counts. Hey I could be wrong but that’s where I am at. Peace………….

          • Thank you, As you can tell, my grandfather was a tad unusual for his time. I thank him all the time even though he as been gone a long long time.

              • It was, only I didn’t know it at the time. I just knew he was a lovely human being. The older I get the more I appreciate him and all the other lovely people who had a hand in molding me. Of course, like everyone else there where some I could have done without.

          • Are we to assume then that you do not accept perhaps the most quoted verse in the bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” John 3.16 There is a whole lot of sentimental mush being spewed out on this site without and serious analysis to see if it make any theological sense.

              • Fogive me for failing to put a question mark on the end of what an astute reader would understand to be a legitimate question. So I will restate it with the hope you will now answer the question instead of avoiding it with an ad-homin attack: “Are we to assume then that you do not accept perhaps the most quoted verse in the bible???”

                • Sorry, but if you are going to be snarkily insulting in your first sentence, that really tells me you are a troll because astute writers end a question with a question mark while astute readers know a period concludes a declarative sentence.

                  As for your inane question, there is not conflict between saying that were God in control there would have been no need for Jesus to die on the cross because John 3:16 proves that God does not control our free will or any action we choose. Nor does God prevent the laws of nature from triggering disasters.

                  So, all your question proves is this: God is not control.

                  • Oh righteous one… did you notice you took the conversation into the gutter when you characterize my statement as: ” trollish ” It’s quite evident your hot temper clouds your reasoning. Good luck with your atheistic conclusion that God lost control! ha, ha, ha

            • Mayesvara it may be just”sentimental mush” to you but for alot of us it is spoken from our hearts……Hearts of love and compassion.
              I’m sorry that you choose not to see that.

              • Jeannine, Thanks for that response. You were much kinder that I would have been. Thanks for saving me from myself.

              • Religion without philosophy is just sentiments. Unchecked feelings… even those that come from the heart can be very blinding and deceptive. Just ask anyone who got divorced. With the exception of a few, most people here are just spewing uncheck feelings and speculating without supporting what they say theologically. Of course I guess that is to be expected because that is exactly what John P. does most of the time as well.

                • I ‘m not spewing unchecked feelings if you can trust me on this I have been through alot in my life I would have to say equal to a divorce….I have lost half my family due to free will of people ,with traumatic out comes all three murdered ….Ya maybe I haven’t researched the philosophy enough who knows hey but I was just saying how I felt from my heart.

                  Take care and peace!

          • “If God were in control, Jesus would never have died on that cross.”

            Gaaaaaah. This is getting awfully close to downright heretical. God planned for Jesus to die on the cross before the foundation of the world. Why do you think Jesus kept foretelling his death while on earth? Lucky guessing?

            • No. Jesus knew that a perfect person could not live in this world without being killed. That is how He knew He was going to die. It was John Calvin’s idea that God sent Jesus to die on the cross to “pay the price” for the sins of man. It is called the Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement. This theory did not even exist anywhere in Christianity until a mere 500 years ago in Europe when John Calvin invented it. Here is a little church history for you to clarify the matter at the beginning of this talk. Just click the triangle to start:

            • This is the dumbest statement I have ever heard from a purported Christian! It is becausse God is in control that Jesus died on the Cross! Romans 8 & 9 makes it clear that God was in control going back to eternity past when “He foreknew those whom He would save”. Simply incredible to read such crazy notions!

          • Gloriamarie.

            –you say, ‘If God were in control, Jesus would never have died on that Cross.”

            You believe that God did not send his Son to die for us.
            Ouch.

            • Putting words in other people’s mouths is a form of lying and you are lying when you say that about me.

              It is also the act of a troll because you could just as easily have chosen to ask a question but, just like a troll, you sit in judgment as if you can read my mind and heart as if you were God.

              God choose to respect our free will. Jesus came to give us a choice.

              If God were in control you would not have been abused. Nor would I.

              To believe God is in control is to say God wills evil, which is just about the very first heresy.

              • The Biblical illiteracy on this posting is astounding! To say that God is NOT in control is absolutely the most asinine statment I think I have ever heard from professing “Christians!” Simply amazing!

                • Bravo Wayne! You also deserve the same accolades that I just sent to Lisa! Glad to see not every person on this site drank the John P. koolaid! This is one of the most PROUD group of misinformed Pseudo-Christians I have ever met!
                  Bravo!
                  Well Said!
                  Hallelujah!

              • Gloriamarie, Do yourself a favor and find a good therapist to deal with you projections, anger issues and inability to stay on topic in a coherent way.

          • What do you mean Glo? Jesus’ death and resurrection provide the only entrance to heaven.
            “God made Him (Christ), who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”

      • Gloriamarie,

        I could not have said it better. I echo your thoughts, especially the part regarding cognition over mystery. G_d is so much greater than we could ever imagine, even perhaps so much different as well. As a chaplain, when tragedy strikes, I usually see G_d in the caregivers, those who respond, those who hold the wounded close, etc. etc. To use the bible as the one and only answer, and depending on interpretation, most likely a single vision look at faith, G_d, religion, etc….. well it doesn’t quite cut it for me.

        Thank you!

  11. Thank you, dear brother. Once again, your words are exactly the words the world needs to hear. I also recognize the cognitive dissonance between “God is in control” and “God gave us Free Will”. If God *is* in “control”, why are so many Christians merely Sunday Saints and Monday-Saturday Sinners? Why isn’t everyone a Christian? Why is there any pain, illness, suffering or struggles? Why is there any divisiveness between peoples? Why aren’t we living in Paradise right here on Earth?
    And most importantly, why can’t those people who say “God is in control” see the fallacy of that statement? For the precise reason that they want to pass the buck. They don’t have to do anything. And that, children, is a BIG “no-no” in the practice of following Jesus. If God is in control, we would have NEVER needed the Christ to come to Earth. We’d never have all the bad things–and if, as a Christian, you can say with full belief that God “lets bad things happen”, so as to remind his people that he is in control, then HE is as big an asshole as you are. He’s no better than any human being and is therefore unworthy of worship.
    Let’s stand and sing our closing hymn, “There Are None So Blind As Those Will Not See”.

    • Exactly, Kathy.

      Venturing a guess that you are 100% correct when you say “And most importantly, why can’t those people who say “God is in control” see the fallacy of that statement? For the precise reason that they want to pass the buck. They don’t have to do anything. ”

      Such people are let off the hook fo taking responsibility for their thoughts, words, and deeds and whatever is the result of their inaction, no matter how wrong or evil, God willed it. Which is the deepest heresy there is.

  12. Dear John Pavlovitz:

    God is in control.

    That said…

    ‘It was also given to [the beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them’ [Re 13:7].

    ‘Relax, God is in control’ cloaks in pious language an call for passive acquiescence to the powers Saint John depicted under the images of the beast, whore and false prophet.

    This abandons Christ for anti-christ and the Kingdom of God for the kingdom of darkness. This is a political attack on God’s Kingdom, the church, and the believing citizen.

    Blessings!

  13. As an admirer of the Deists, I agree with their idea that God gave us reason and free will to make this world better…but it’s up to us. God made the world and is now off to make other universes.

    “In it but not of it” is not my motto. We ALL are of it, and make it, and are called to fix it when it breaks. Every time I hear that phrase I have to wonder what the speaker has been smoking.

      • I’m sure that’s the case, Gloriamarie, and I stand corrected. What often seems to be novel to many Christians, and why I keep mentioning the influence of Deism on the Founders, is that this country was not founded by Christian ideologues. It was colonized by people for many reasons. The Pilgrims may have been unyielding authoritarians for their faith, but the Georgians, for example, were far more interested in business than piety. Our hallowed Founders? As I’ve repeatedly said, Deists. Children of the Enlightenment, beneficiaries of the early 18th century philosophers of the Age of Reason, followers of the novel idea of universal human rights and of the exaltation of human reason as the vehicle of compassionate stewardship of the earth. How appropriate the name Enlightenment seems, compared to the rigidity and constraining faith of some of the colonists, who have grown inordinately in the mythology of the Christian Right.

  14. Love love love this John! This exhortation is authentic, practical and profound. Your ability to unearth the safe, sanctimonious status quo, always impresses me. I would so go to your church if I could! Thank you for cutting through the ‘crap’. It is refreshing.

    A friend from Canada,
    Micki

  15. Yes, yes and again yes. John, this says exactly how many of us feel. Thank you for giving a voice to so many of us out here.

  16. Beautifully said, and I loved the Teresa of Avila quote.

    In my humble (& limited experience), God can do miracles but mostly chooses not to. However, praying for a handicapped parking spot is exactly the kind of prayer I’ve seen answered. It’s very silly, this kind of answered prayer, but also sweet. I think of it as grace, and if I pay attention, I find I am surrounded by it.

    • Emily wrote “I think of it as grace, and if I pay attention, I find I am surrounded by it.”

      We all are, I believe. I also believe we are best-served to look for it and to share it with others. Instead of all our bickerings and trying to score petty points of off each other.

  17. The only thing I see God controlling is sin. He did because we couldn’t eradicate it ourselves. Sin controlled us until Jesus took the problem into himself. Now we have the Holy Spirit to help us and the issue is now “self- control” as it says in Galatians, it is a gift of The Spirit. We have the responsibility to steward the gift and practice self-control which does not come through human strength but human surrender.
    Eugene Peterson says it well in “The Message,” He states, “When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile, we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love. Who or what is really in control?

  18. Another winner by John P. The faithful think they are being good and faithful but it is a tragic undercutting of human responsibility and potential. We have received great responsibility , supposedly made “in God’s image”. We are it. We have been given freedom which gave us great responsibility. Fear of freedom is normal (See Erich Fromm) but has to be overcome to fulfill our human potential. We are not pions on God’s chess board. This ‘God is in control” is supposed to work as a sleep inducing pacifier and you know, in certain tough situations it may help to quiet down. But please , this is not to be taken literally!!

    • Amen, if God was in control the planet would not be raped and pillaged for it’s natural resources, just to name one of a million things that people are allowing to happen. Peace………….

      • I love it when the fundies say, and they do: “The world has an endless supply of everything humanity will ever need, no matter how many of us there are and no matter what we do to destroy the Earth. God has promised that there will always be enough of everything we will ever need until He brings The Age to an end.”

        Tell that to the hungry sailors who found that the last dodo bird on the island had already been killed!!! Dodo birds were meaty and tasty—and quickly extinct.

        • P.S. I guess when you believe that Jesus is coming back any second, you can afford to sit on the side of a hill waiting and make pronouncements like that. But what if the Eastern Orthodox Church is right.? They do not believe in a rapture or second coming of Jesus. The second coming of Jesus has already occurred, and it was a coming in spirit only—the Holy Spirit.

    • “God Is in Control” was convenient theology for the Medieval European Kings, nobles, and Priests who supported their whims and wanted to make sure that the serfs they worked like slaves were under proper control and doing their assigned duties. I think one of the great pities today is that we never stop to learn and think about where our current day theology originated historically. In my opinion, “God Is in Control” was designed to prevent this:

  19. I have a blog entry waiting in the wings along similar lines but it is, unfortunately, too angry and rant-y at this time. I appreciate your ability to voice this strongly without being harsh or sounding bitter. I need to work on that. Unfortunately, my faith has taken a serious beating the last couple of years.

  20. I used to hear “God works in mysterious ways”.

    Then I read this:

    Happy Presidents Day! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:
    1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
    2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.
    3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
    4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone’s forgotten he’s kind of a jerk.
    5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
    6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants.
    7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
    8. Footage of town hall meetings is now entertaining.
    9. Tens of millions of people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments, narcissist, fascist, misogynist, holocaust and cognitive dissonance.
    10. Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
    11. Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.
    12. Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.
    13. White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead. (See #6)
    14. White people in record numbers also finally understand that Obamacare IS the Affordable Care Act.
    15. Stephen Colbert’s “Late Night” finally gained the elusive #1 spot in late night talk shows, and Seth Meyers is finding his footing as today’s Jon Stewart.
    16. “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
    17. Melissa FREAKING McCarthy.
    18. Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
    19. As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.
    20. Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now as popular as the Kardashians.
    21. Massive cleanup of facebook friend lists.
    22. People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration. (Yes, that is true. 10,000%. 9th grade Lit teachers all over the country are now rock stars.)
    23. More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important. Like, super important.
    24. Now, more than anytime in history, everyone believes that anyone can be President. Seriously, anyone.
    – Susan Keller (Copy and paste to share.) sharing here, and thank you for this Blog, m
    Maybe God IS working in mysterious ways…

  21. John Pavlovitz drops and explodes a nuclear weapon right in the middle of one of the greatest man-made fantasies in Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical life:

    “God has a highly detailed plan for each person’s life.”

    Well, if that is the case, I guess John Calvin was right. We are all just individual robots who each day completes a preprogrammed sequence of God-ordained, predestined keystrokes that constitute a thing called “human life on Earth.” No one has any free will. No one has any free moral agency. And if I stab my next door neighbor with a chef’s knife, I was not the one who inserted the knife into his body. It was God. It was part of his highly detailed programming for my life. John Calvin was such a sh*thead. The more I read about the man, the less respect I have for him or anything he ever had to say.

    I would like to point out one other thing to the folks here and make it clear as crystal. It has been my experience that the most dangerous, extremist, and cruelest elements of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism have arisen from Calvinist and related Reformed Church roots. For example, Rousas Rushdoony was a died-in-the-wool Calvinist. Whenever I go on-line to surf for assorted current events information on the Christian faith and run into something cruel, inhumane, or truly bizarre, I say: “This guy has to be a Calvinist.” I will then look up his name on-line, find information about him—and sure enough—I learn that he has Reformed Church roots or is some sort of renegade Presbyterian. It is just so predictable and so pathetic!!!

Comments are closed.