Jesus Creed

Some Christians are functional deists: they believe in God but their God has very little to do with this world. He’s the clockmaker God; made this place and then let it run. On the other hand, some Christians are theological determinists: they believe everything that happens is the result of God’s plans and God’s designs and God’s intent. Adam Hamilton, in Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics, addresses this question in chp 14.

Hamilton makes it clear that deism is simply a contradiction to what the Bible teaches — that God is personal and involved in this world of ours and in our lives.

Hamilton is clear and I wish more determinists would fess up on this one: if you are a determinist, you have to believe God determines everything. Including bad things. God may not be the direct agent of everything, he is the ultimate cause. Including bad things, and Hamilton points to rape (and he refers here to a horrendous story he knows personally).

“No,” he says, “I don’t believe everything happens for a reason if, by this, someone means that the evil happened according to the will of God” (124). “I consider it blasphemy of the worst kind to attribute such evil [he refers again to the rape of a young girl] to God” (124).

He admits: “I was once a determinist.” He has had an experience or two that forced him to rethink his determinism.

He doesn’t believe God determines everything but instead that God uses everything for good. So, he — as so many of us do — appeals to the world God has made and into which God permitted freedom within limits. Somehow, “God has a way of bringing about his redemptive purposes through the tragic things that happen on our planet, and the terrible things we sometimes do to one another” (128). “God’s ordinary way is to clean up after us” (129).

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