From: Rich Tatum [rich] |
Sent: Friday, July 28, 2000 12:47 PM
Subject: RE: CTDirect - Incarnating Mystery
--[ technical discussion snipped --]
« Thank you … THANK YOU … so much for talking to me the Praise God! I mentioned your story in our Thursday devotions, and asked for prayer on your behalf. Everybody was deeply impressed with God's handiwork in your life. It was my pleasure to help!
other day. I've done a lot of reading and praying, and truly
the Lord is working miracles in my life. »
« At some point, if you've got time, I'd love your opinion Whew! That's a heavy one, and one I'm probably not old enough, wise enough, or smart enough to handle correctly. But I can write you a brief reply that outlines some thoughts I have. We can talk more about it when you have time.
First, I think "bad things" happen because:
on the purpose of "bad things" happening in life and the
possibility of using such things to teach others. It "hit"
me the other day that perhaps there's a broader purpose to
my life than I knew. For example, my beautiful 11-year old
son is the product of a vicious rape. At just past 18, I
made the difficult decision not to abort because I knew in
my heart that to do so would be to destroy life. But perhaps
there's much, much more to the event than just how it
impacted the two of us. It's been on my mind a lot this
week … and it's not the only experience. »
In the first three cases, my only answer is that if God were to prevent these kinds of consequences from happening — then there would be no such thing as free will. We would be automatons, and there'd be little or no real purpose in life.
In the fourth case, all I can say is that I don't know. When wind shears force a plane to the ground, killing everybody on board, I simply have no explanation for that. I do know that many tragedies are made worse because of items 1-3. For instance, when an earthquake in Mexico city kills thousands, we can surely say that fewer would have been killed had we humans taken better care to build in such a way as to prevent collapse.
I do know that God is sovereign and that while he does not cause bad things to happen, he does allow them to happen. And it's simply not always possible to know why. But consider this:
God is an eternal, omniscient, all-powerful entity who fashioned man as a loving act of creation. He created us, and the world we live in, to enjoy fellowship with him. Something went wrong, though, and it was through man's own free choice that we turned against God, and disobeyed. Him. The scriptures say that at that point "sin" entered into the world. Until that point the mere possibility that anything could deteriorate or become less-than-perfect was inconceivable. But at the moment of mankind's willful disobedience an infinite chain of unintended consequences began to ripple outward from that one act. Sin, in a very literal sense, corrupted the paradise of Eden. Sin also corrupted the nature of man so that now, instead of being born in relationship with God, we are born outside of that relationship and must choose to embrace him. (Whereas Adam, the first man, had to chose to disobey, and thereby reject, God).
Now, in this kind of world, think about your son when he was a few years old. You've taught him that rough-housing the kitty is dangerous because kitty has sharp claws, and teeth, and doesn't like her fur rubbed wrong. If he's a very obedient boy, he'll resist playing rough with kitty. But if he's curious, or even disobedient, he might play rough anyway. Let's say you're watching him interact with kitty and you realize that you've said all you can say, and that all the admonitions in the world from you are only going to increase his determination to test the kitty. What do you do? I think, like many parents, you might decide that while you don't want to see your son harmed, it might be in his best interests to let him learn that kittens have teeth. You're not being cruel, but the truth is you cannot shelter your son from every cat in the world. If you lived in the heart of Africa you might actually encourage your son learn this lesson at a young age because you wouldn't want him to assume that lions or lions' cubs are also good for rough housing.
In a similar manner, I imagine that God has allowed the unintended consequences of Adam's rebellion to remain. And while I believe God would like to prevent anything bad from every happening to his creation, the current state of creation is this way because of the choice of Adam. To reshape Earth into a form of heaven would solve a lot of these problems, but it wouldn't solve the problem of why mankind rebelled in he first place, and it wouldn't prevent it from happening again. Plus, it wouldn't solve the problem of how mankind can be reconciled with his creator. God can make the Earth right, but he can't make man right against his will. And, that's why he sent Jesus to reconcile man to God, to pay the price of man's rebellion, and to allow his "rightness" with God to be conferred to anyone who accepts him.
So, it's like, all or nothing. Either it's heaven against your will, or it's this hell of our own creation.
And, remember, this "vale of tears" is temporary in the long run. You have eternity ahead of you. A million years from now, your experiences will have been so rich and joyous that I'm sure the question of "was it worth it" won't even seem relevant.
Now, as for the last item, this is another mystery. But if you want to examine it, I recommend you read the Book of Job, in the Old Testament. It will be eye opening. We can talk about it later.
- They are the consequence of something we consciously chose to do.
- They are the consequence of something someone else consciously chose to do.
- They are unintended the consequence of our actions.
- They are the unforeseeable consequence of natural events.
- They are the consequence of spiritual oppression.
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© 2001 by Richard A. Tatum
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