Thursday, February 16, 2017

There Is No Plan

I don't believe God has a plan. That is to say, I don't believe that everything happens according to God's plan, or that God predetermined all that occurs.  

The belief that God ordained everything that happens has its roots in Plato's and Aristotle's speculations about the Monad--the "unmoved mover" of the universe.  A great many theologians and leaders of the Christian church in its first few hundred years (as well as Medieval theologians like Aquinas, Calvin and Luther) were steeped in Greek philosophy and supplemented (or substituted) Yahweh of the Hebrews with the omnipotent, immutable Monad ("the One") of the Greeks.  Yahweh was a reactive deity; he got angry and sad and regretful and joyful and jealous.  Yahweh was interactive: asking questions, making bargains, expressing hopes.  The Monad experiences none of these things; existing in a perpetual state of unchanging detached perfection.  To make God feel or react, the Greek philosophers contended, is to exercise a modicum of power over God, which would be impossible if God is omnipotent (possessing all power).

Among the many implications of an unmoving, omnipotent God who stands outside of time and predestined all that occurs is that our sense of free will is an illusion, and evil--even the most heinous forms of evil--occurs because God willed it from the beginning of time.

My own beliefs tend more toward the Buddhist concept of Contingent Arising: that things happen as a result of the previous things that happened.  There is no plan.

I do believe, however, that God has an intent, and that God's intent is for goodness and beauty and life and, in a word, shalom.  But God's intent only comes to fruition to the degree that we participate with God in enacting God's intent.  This is why the Hebrew and Christian scriptures exhort us over and over to choose the way of compassion, of care, of peace, of fairness,
of generosity, of inclusion, of kindness, of love.  These align with God's intent.

I've been told that a traditional Chinese curse is "May you live in interesting times."  "Interesting" in this case is a euphemism for "unstable."  We certainly are living in "interesting" times at present.  As I watch events unfold I am fascinated by (what I believe to be) the reality that this is not happening according to God's script.  God is not "in control" here, but God is accompanying us on this journey.  Anything can, and might, happen.  That is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling because it means, how things turn out is largely up to us.



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