Oh Theology Part 1

I told you I wanted to do a healing post soon. As I started thinking about it and as my dh and I discussed what it is we “believe” about healing, I started realizing, it’s not just about that one aspect of my faith. To say what I believe about something like healing starts with what I believe about God.

So, if anyone cares, here’s part 1 of ??? posts about what I believe. This is not by any means an exhaustive list, nor is it in order of importance. I’m not doing this to start an argument…I mean, feel free to disagree in the comments. I just doubt I’ll be able to “prove” myself “right”. I did go to Bible College, but that doesn’t mean I like to argue. I don’t have the corner on understanding God and the Bible. I just thought this would help me sort out my thoughts on this subject.

So, if you’re interested, read on…

#1: God is Good

I believe every good and perfect gift is from God. (James 1:17) If something is good, it’s from God. That means families, humor and enjoyment are from God.

The opposite is then true. I do not believe that bad things are from God. Sickness, disease and death are NOT from God. God does NOT give sorrow, despair or poverty. This bad stuff comes from evil in the world. Possibly directly from the devil as a weapon (Ephesians 6:12). Or possibly like a broken clock that gets more and more off, the world just gets worse and worse, the farther from Eden it is. Or maybe it is a direct result of sinful actions (James 1:14-15).

[sidenote: I know what you’re thinking, “But God still ALLOWS all this stuff to happen! Isn’t that the same thing as doing it? He’s so powerful He could stop it!” Yes, He does allow it. Just like He allows me to watch whatever I want, think whatever I want and do whatever I want.]

#2: God’s Will Versus Human Will

I don’t think God’s will is always accomplished.

Yeah. I just said that.

I think when God created the world and then Adam & Eve, he gave them CHOICE. They could choose to serve and obey Him or not. I DO NOT think it was God’s will for Adam and Eve to sin. In fact, I think their sin caused God HEARTACHE.

Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!” And he would. One day, God himself would come.

-The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones

This choice has continued in all of us. We can choose to follow and obey God or not. God wants us to choose Him. (2 Peter 3:9) He does not MAKE people follow Him. (I do believe He pursues us, but that’s another topic.)

So, if God doesn’t MAKE people come to salvation which we would all agree is God’s #1 desire, why would anything else God desires come to pass in the blink of an eye? For example, we hear people say, “Well, I just can’t believe in a God that would let kids die of AIDS in Africa. Why is He silent? Why is He still?”

BUT what if He did come in? What if he wiped poverty/hunger/sickness away in a second? Would you be happy when He MADE you become a martyr? Or *snap* MADE you serve your selfish boss? Or MADE you forgive your mother-in-law?

If we believe in a hands-off God, then you have to believe it across the board. If we believe He’s moving and changing and doing to make His will accomplished, then we have to believe it across the board.

But wait, Amanda! I thought you believed good stuff came from God. How is that possible if He’s hands off? Are you a deist? No, I’m not. Let’s go on to #3…

#3: Why God Acts
I do not believe God is moved to action because of great need. I don’t believe God acts inconsistently or on a whim. I believe He acts because of prayer.

If God acted on every need, there would be no AIDS, no miscarriages, no pre-mature deaths, no disease and no sorrow. (That’s the new heaven & the new earth, people! Revelation 21.)

If God acted on a whim or even as the leader in a cosmic-chess game, we’re basically living on destiny and/or fate.

I believe God is moved by His people. Their prayers. Their actions. Their reliance on Him.

NOT their “good deeds” or their “righteousness”. No, by their response to His promises & His person.

Here is an example from CS Lewis. I’m not quoting it to say CS Lewis has it right and to prove that I’m right. It’s just a very perfect example of what I believe.

It’s from the book, The Magician’s Nephew. In the story, Diggory & Polly have been given a task by Aslan, (a type of Jesus). They are accompanied by a winged-horse, Fledge. As they settle down for their first night of their journey, they realize they have no food to eat.

Polly and Diggory stared at one another in dismay.

“Well, I do think someone might have arranged our meals,” said Diggory.

“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.

“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.

“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse…”But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”

I think God likes to be asked. Now, this might not sit well with you. “So you’re saying, all I had to do was ASK God for me to have a step-dad that didn’t hit me? ASK that my miscarriage not happen? ASK that I not have cancer?”

Well. In my opinion, the only other option is to NOT ask. I don’t think God will act on your behalf just because of your need or superior-value, so I choose ASKING over NOT asking. (1 John 5:14-15) I think many people just assume that whatever happens happens & it “must” be God’s will. I disagree.

I’m not suggesting we can CONTROL God or DEMAND something from Him. But I DO think He LIKES to be ASKED. And I think He responds when we ASK according to His will.

***

This is getting too long. There’s more to all this of course. I still want to talk about if/why bad things happen, what is our response to God’s will, and what God’s “will” actually is.

This is just my first go-round. This is kinda hard to do…

Feel free to comment. But like I said, this is for me, too. I’m not trying to argue or say that I’ve got the corner on understanding God. I don’t. Please hear me.

And please don’t jump the gun, this is only Part 1. Hopefully I’ll get to Part 2 this century…

***
I’ve had this written for a couple of days and have just been stewing about it, adding a word here or there to make sure it’s ok. Then I read Heather’s post. As someone who has recently been through a tragedy, hearing what SHE believes about God is amazing. I agree with every word. It’s a perfect post.

 

ps–I’m responding to the comments IN the comment section. I never do this, but just wanted to respond  there as opposed to doing a “rebuttal” post, you know? I didn’t do this to further an argument, but to involve everyone in the conversation! Thanks! 

Comments

  1. Oh, I’m sorry to be the first to comment on this post, but I guess it’s gonna be me.

    I disagree with your very first premise in what your determination is of “good”. I believe sickness and other trials that come to us can be good. And that’s what they are – trials. If God can use sickness to draw me closer to Himself and bring glory to Himself, then what I would consider to be “bad”, God would consider “good”. Hardship and suffering only seem like tragedy to us because we are not looking at them with spiritual eyes, and we do not see the big picture of God’s perfect, sovereign plan and the way He is sanctifying us through the things we label as “bad”.

    In all honesty, we don’t deserve to be free of sickness or have money or any other “good” thing because we are sinners, so anything we get beyond eternal death is the mercy of God. Just the fact that I woke up this morning and took another breath is the mercy of God. And at the same time, if I died of a heart attack at this very moment and God took me to Heaven, that would be His mercy, too, because I would be perfected with no suffering and would no longer have to live in this fallen world.

    Those are my initial thoughts. Sorry if this was too long.

    • oh amanda says:

      I know, being the first to comment is like being the first to reach for dessert! But I love your comments…

      Anyway, I see what you’re saying. I didn’t say God doesn’t USE our bad situations to do GREAT things. Romans 8:28 tells us he does just that!

      The difference is I don’t think God PICKS up cancer or a death to teach us something. It’s not a tool in his toolbox. When these things happen, THEN God can step in to do miracles!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to type all this out, Amanda. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said, and it’s also made me think and start asking myself some questions about what I believe as well. Can’t wait for part 2!

  3. I disagree with the above comment. I think that sickness is straight from the devil himself and not from God. ever. I know that God strengthens and draws us closer when we are battling sickness or adversity, but it doesn’t mean that He sent it. He loves us. The bible says He knows what gifts to give His children. My parents love me, I love my children, and would never give them illness or tragedy. I can never believe God would either. I believe we live in Satan’s world. It’s our job to claim the authority given to us by Christ’s blood over those things. I pretty much agree with you on what you believe.

  4. Thanks so much for being open enough to write about this. I will be reading this through a few times to digest it all, and it has made me think about what I believe myself! :-)

  5. There seems to be a nice little conversation going on about ‘goodness’ and if God gives ‘bad’ things. I have a couple thoughts to add to the mix….#1 God is ALL good and is NOT capable of evil or bad things. However, He does allow them to happen (the book of Job is a perfect example of this). #2, since God does allow bad things to happen I believe he does so for the good of His people (see Romans 8:28 as well as the conclusion of the book of Job).

    • oh amanda says:

      True, Deanne! HOWEVER, I think sometimes people (not you, of course!) use GOD ALLOWS as synonymous with GOD DOES. 2 Cor 4:4 says satan is the god of this world. God has allowed that…yes, but it doesn’t mean that’s his great and perfect will for our lives!

      I think there’s a difference.

  6. Amanda, thank you for sharing this. This is huge – I haven’t done anything like this (saying what I believe, let alone thinking through it to this degree) since I’ve become a Christian. I’ve tackled little bits at time, but nothing like this. I pray that the Lord uses this to draw you and others closer to Him! And you’ve inspired me to think things through, too.

  7. I have to agree with the comment about God allowing bad stuff to happen, as in Job. I don’t believe bad things come from God either. I truely believe they are from satan. And I think God allows it to see how we would handle it. Will we turn to Him? Or will we choice another path?

    Great post… look forward to reading more.

  8. I don’t know if this makes any contribution or not, but:

    God is bigger and more loving and more merciful than our minds can even imagine. That’s worth restating – our human minds aren’t capable of fully understanding the nature and character of God.

    With that in mind, God’s economy is different from our Earthly economy. What seem like victories here are non-events in heaven. And the goodness behind what seem like sad events here on Earth will be revealed to us in heaven.

    That’s it.

    • oh amanda says:

      That’s true, God is bigger. The Bible is clear that God’s ways are higher. But STILL, God’s character is clear. He commands us not to murder—b/c that’s his character–he’s NOT a murderer. There’s no difference there. Nothing higher about Him murdering and us not understanding that. He wouldn’t tell us to murder if he did it occasionally “for the greater good” or something. (I’m using an extreme example, of course.)

      Of course, we can’t see the good in all situations. We see through a glass darkly. But as far as basic ideas about God and His actions…it’s clear in the Bible how he would act.

      IMO.

  9. I read a wonderful explanation of good and evil and cannot for the life of me tell you where. (Per full disclosure, I have a Bachelors in Religion and am 4 classes away from a Master’s in Christian Studies, and no – I don’t have all the answers either…)

    Evil is not a thing – it’s the absence of something.

    Darkness does not really exist – what exists is an absence of light. Light IS something, darkness is what happens when Light isn’t.

    Evil is the same way. Goodness exists, and when it’s removed – you have evil. The sickness, death, pain, sorrow – that all comes from a world that is no longer awash is goodness.

    Adam and Eve made the choice to lose the perfect goodness that surrounded them. Without the light, we are in darkness, you can call it whatever you wish.

    On another note, it always gives me strength to remember that the opposite of Satan is not God. The opposite of Satan is Michael, or Gabriel, or some other Angel. God rises above them all, as HE is our Creator, and we (including Satan) are His created.

    • Huh. I like that idea — that first, evil is the absence of good rather than the opposite of good, and that the opposite of Satan is not God. Thanks for that :)

      I’d realy love to read that explanation of good/evil if you can find it, though :)

  10. A very interesting (and long awaited) post! Looking forward to installment 2!

    I don’t believe that God can do “bad” things, but I sure am glad that He can turn bad things into good things…(help us grow closer to Him through rough circumstances, etc.) I just wish it weren’t so hard sometimes….

  11. Candace says:

    Really enjoyed this, Amanda. Everyone is stating really good things, and lately the hubby and I have been really thinking about #1 and remembering that when we pray. 1 John says that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. I think that sums it all up beautifully, and everything that happens in this world that is not “good” is a result of living in a fallen world. But that whatever “bad” happens God can and will use it for good and for his glory (which I think we almost always see).

    I am certainly no theologian, so these kinds of topics always make me twitch a little but it’s always good to think and rethink what we believe about God. Beth Moore always says if we think we’ve got God figured out, we haven’t even yet begun to understand Him, and to me that’s so neat. That God is THAT BIG and even the smartest and most educated people in their earthly mind can not fully understand Him or His ways, but we can trust Him because He is good and He is love – those are not just qualities, but it is what he IS and He can not be any different. Okay, I’m rambling. Can’t wait for Part 2!

    • oh amanda says:

      Exactly right! I think Randy Alcorn said God’s character is like an onion continually being pulled away layer by layer. We’ll never get to the end of how amazing and wonderful He is!!

  12. I enjoyed this Amanda and agree wholeheartedly. I cannot fathom that God would cause my friends daughter to die from her heart defect/Down Syndrome. I cannot fathom that this same friend’s adopted son has brain cancer that was “caused by god.” The devil caused this cancer, and boy, are we asking God for healing! God=good, Satan=bad.

  13. I think that sickness and death is part of His plan to have opposites- if we didn’t know sadness and sickness, then how could we be thankful for life and health? He gives us trials so we can grow in stronger in our faith and if things were fine all the time, how would we learn to rely on Him? I’m pretty sure the bad comes from Satan’s influence, but God gives us the tools to overcome our sadness and dispair in the hard times if we trust in His wisdom.

    • oh amanda says:

      I see what you’re saying…but I don’t know if God is so yinyang/karma-ish, you know? God is NOT the opposite of anything—evil is just the absence of Him.

      Interesting thoughts…

  14. Very interesting post and discussion! You are a very brave woman to put your beliefs out there for us to dissect! :) We have very similar beliefs, by the way.

  15. Great post, girl! As I was reading this, I was remembering the first discussion we all had at my place way back when :) So far, I don’t have any “rebuttals” to anything you’ve written or reasoned. I agree with you.
    And, I love this new way to reply directly to the comment. It makes the “conversation” flow so much smoother.
    Ready for Part 2.

  16. Wow!! I can’t even imagine how long it took for you to write all this out. Can’t wait to read the rest!

    I applaud you for writing out and stating clearly what you believe and why. I think that ALL Christians should engage in this exercise. So many don’t know why they believe what they believe.

  17. First of all, wow! You are enormously brave for putting this all out there. I so admire you for it!

    I have to say that you were able to put into words a lot of things that I believe but have not been able to form into coherent sentences. I’m thinking of putting this post in PDF, shrinking it and laminating it to go in my wallet… so next time someone asks, I can be like “ok, here’s what I think…” :-)

    My current struggle begins with #3 and I think that it may be where you’re planning to go with a second post…
    So, God likes to be asked. I’ve never heard it put that way. I can dig it, though. Where I’m stuck right now (and was far before I read this post) is the fact that praying for something doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. Just like not praying doesn’t mean that your desired end result won’t happen. I hope that makes sense.

    My grandparents used to have a plaque that hung in their kitchen (by the phone, I believe) that said “God answers prayers. It’s just sometimes his answer is NO.”

    I pray because I was taught to pray. I guess I often feel like He’s going to do what He’s going to do, no matter what. I pray anyway, but if I stop to really think about it, then I wonder “why am I even bothering?”

    I am almost embarrassed by how jumbled and run-on this comment is! :-)

  18. Way to go on being brave about posting your beliefs!

    I have to say, so far I disagree with some of it… I’ve grown more and more convicted of reformed theology and covenant theology and it would seem that you do not agree with these teachings …I’m waiting to see parts 2 and on before I go assuming anything about your complete beliefs though.

    I think too often we Christians (myself included) assume that our theological differences are SO BIG, when sometimes we are saying similar things in different ways. I know that there is only 1 right interpretation of scripture and only 1 perfect theology (God’s own theology), and I am not trying to endorse “relative-ness”. I am just saying I know you’re my sister, and I think listening to you who are probably wiser than myself is a healthy thing as long as the response that I have is to go to the Bible and seek God further. And so, THANK YOU for reminding me to seek God.

    Also, this got me thinking about how important theology is, not knowledge that ouffs up, but knowing God. I know none of us will get it all totally right this side of heaven, but I was reminded of the people who got a glimpse of God and who were so awed by HIM- ie. Isaiah falls on his face at the glory of God. I appreciate that you are trying to work out your thoughts about God and sharing your learning process with others. I think the only way to fall on our faces is to know who God is!

    Keep sharing- I’ll read again!

  19. a,
    I’m just now reading this. Sorry it took me so long to do so. It was a really great post and I look forward to more.

    At a mom’s board group online that I was once a part of, I openly stated my beliefs a lot. I got “flamed” quite often, too. It wasn’t nice, but you know what? It didn’t hurt in the least because I believe what I think is truth and for someone to question that is just enormous because that means they’ve THOUGHT about it. And then you just hope with that, that somehow what you’ve said changes how they believe.

    Great job “putting it all out there” :) Well done.

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