What are your thoughts on this?
This is a good one! My 2c…
God wanted a world in which we all had a perfect relationship with Him. BUT, that relationship could only matter if we CHOSE it. Otherwise we would have just been automotons. Thus, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was placed. Adam and Eve had a choice between that relationship and going their own way.
So, the world did not go the way God desires it to (though he could have imposed that desired world), but the Big Man also invented lemonade. So, though we chose poorly, God --working with what he had-- has instead created a world in which we can still make the choice to have that relationship with him, in spite of Sin, through his Son, and our faith in his saving sacrifice.
The amazing thing is that in the end we still get to have the relationship with God that he wanted, but unlike Adam and Eve, we have the opportunity to be forgiven and re-choose that relationship. He plays the long game, that’s for sure.
On first read I would say your pastor is right. "The world is not the way God intended’ but you could read that as suggesting that God made a mistake and had to made a mid-course correction. Which is another kettle of fish.
The other way to understand (and I am guessing because I have not heard the sermon) that God’s will is that his creations (the world) would/will be his home and he would be our God and we would be his people. Moving in day is the day of rest, day seven. But that obviously came up short. If this is what your Pastor meant I agree things aren’t what they are suppose to be.
The other way to look at this is that this is exactly where God wants the world to be at this moment in time as it pertains to salvation history. The idea of predestination which is another kettle of fish.
Hi, @kumquat. I appreciate Jimmy’s alternate offerings on the meaning of this statement. Usually, at least in my experience, when a pastor says this, it’s not to suggest God made a mistake (any of the pastors I know that are true pastors of the Christian faith–not wolves–would never preach that, so this is highly unlikely) but to point people who may be discouraged about the condition of this world to the hope of restoration we have been promised in and because of God’s redemptive act in Jesus Christ. Romans 8:19-23 is a good passage for pointing to the fact that the world is not how God intended it to be, but so also is Genesis 1-3 and a plethora of others. At the same time, as Jimmy suggested, the world is where God wants it to be as far as redemptive history goes, because whether he intended for the world to be this way or not, in His sovereignty, God is able to work “all things” (not only those things that seem to be going well but the bad things also)–“all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” I remember Ravi saying once something like ‘Jesus won the victory through the evil, not in spite of it.’ That means God took what was evil and worked His good through it. It doesn’t make what happened okay, but it means that our God always, always brings about His good purposes.
However, I do think that it would help to have some context. All I can really speak about, with just the one line you gave us, is my experience of pastors (and myself) using that line .
Thanks for the post, Fred!
In interacting with you about it, I seem to think about it differently, in part.
I think God’s purpose is told to us in the Bible as He tells us what our eternal state/destiny will be. He intended varying phases moving us from being created into that state. And, the reason I am uncomfortable hearing God didn’t intend for the world to be that way we see it is that we are told specifically in the Bible that it is the way the world now is that is pushing into us the experiential horror of evil in myriad forms and pulling out of us the nature of God as it is formed in us through trials and persecution/affliction. When I consider what I understand of our future, it is that as family members of God we will be given responsibility and power and be able to function as free-will agents. The risk in placing the power of God in the control of a created being is that the creature will use it improperly - not in keeping with God’s intent.
For me, I think stating that the world is not the way God intended is not true. I think it is exactly like he intended for this phase of mankind’s lifecycle. I think it is more appropriate to ask, “what is the reason behind the world being like it is now?”. He didn’t make lemonade with lemons - He intended lemons to serve His purpose.
Thanks for your post!
A few years ago I started studying gamification, which is building elements of games into systems to interest/engage, incent/elicit, reward and retain certain actions in participants that would achieve the goals of the system creator. It had a major impact on my view of what I saw in the scriptures, as it caused me to think about them in a way I hadn’t before.
10 years ago I would have argued for “the world is not the way God intended” and slept like a baby sure that was the truth. But, not now.
But, as you mentioned, another kettle of fish. Does that then mean that God is not good or that we have to redefine what good is? Does that mean that God is not loving? Does it then boil down to “the end justifies the means”? Other such questions emerge. But, I believe they are reasonably answered in a manner that supports the view that the system we see now is working the way God intended, for this period of time.
Reservations? Holes? Counter thoughts? Supporting thoughts?
Kevin, thanks for the fantastic reply. And this is actually something that I’ve been working through myself. The position you and I have taken, potentially inadvertently, is the position between predestination and the free will of man. Or, for my theological historical perspective, Calvinism and armenianism.
That is, do our choices matter? Does God allow us to choose? are those who are saved the ones that God chose before time was created, or does he allow us to choose our salvation, to accept the gift he is offering?
As a lawyer, one of the First things you are taught is how to interpret a law. And there is a tool used in legal interpretation that I think is equally applicable to reading the Bible. That is the rule of internal consistency. this means that when reading a text, when there are multiple potential interpretations, those that do not lead to inconsistencies within the same text are favored. In reading the Bible, the importance of the choices of each man are too often stressed, I think, for our choice is not to matter. For example, if the choices of man don’t matter, the book of Jonah is pointless.
The great commission is pointless. Heck, the choices that Eve made are pointless. And one thing we know about God is that he is not deceptive, rendering these books and stories of the Bible, God’s word, pointless would render them farce, and would be inconsistent with the explicit statements we have about God.
Thus, my position on this issue is summed up relatively simply. First God is all powerful. 2nd, God wants a loving relationship with all mankind. The third, he is not willing for that relationship to be enforced absolutely, as it would render the word love immaterial and the relationship a farce. Fifth, within the scope of God’s existing authority he has provided man, both as a whole and individually, with the ability to choose to accept the gift of his grace or reject it. Freely and without Divine influence.
To me, this is a foundational aspect of what the Bible teaches us about God. That being said, given that he is a being outside of time, he would nonetheless have known the outcome of his creations. He would have known, ab initio, what choices would be made. This explains the language we see in the Bible about God’s elect etc.
Finally, there is a fatal flaw with the calvinist argument that I’ve not seen a good answer for, but am in the process of gathering resources so I can look into it. That is, simply the problem of evil. If the world is what God intended that means God intended evil. and that’s not an easy thing to square without some significant theological and mental gymnastics. That said, I’m more than willing to hear arguments for it, as I think other than that it’s an interesting approach.
Very well presented - and appreciated! Seems we are wrestling with some of the same issues.
I do wonder, if there is any information in scriptures about when Satan was thrown to earth? Before or after the Fall of man? Did he lose his dominion in heaven and then deceive man to usurp a new dominion? Or, did engineering and executing the Fall lead to his expulsion?
If the former, then that leads me to consider, who put the fly in the ointment? As there are many dominions established by God, per scripture, as well as holding tanks for future judgement (Nephilim), then if God threw him to earth ( man’s dominion) it was by His choice for His purposes.
I do find that Job, describing the control God has over the power and extent of application the Devil can use, is quite informative. I think as well of the thought provoking statement of Joseph, “…you meant it for evil but God meant it for good…” - seemingly speaking about an action that was evil on its face but had a good intention for being allowed by God. And, “All things are working for the good of the ones loving God, the ones called in keeping with His purpose”. Depending on which “things” definition you pull into the verse, there could be some implications to our conversation as well.
Thank you for teasing this out with me!