Why God Is Not in Control

Here is a link to an article by Tony Campolo: Why God is not in Control.

He begins with:

All too often when there is news of a tragedy, such as a mass shooting or a child suffering from bone cancer, there will be someone who will say something like, “God is in control. We must accept that what’s happened is part of God’s plan!”

At the funeral of a young man who died in a mountain climbing accident, the pastor said in his homily, “We must see what has happened as God’s will!” At that, the father of the young man stood and shouted, “The hell it was God’s will! When my son died, God was the first one who cried.”

Other excerpts:

The story I get straight from scripture is that there are evil non-rational principalities and powers that are loose in the world, sometimes working through evil people (Ephesians 2:2) and that God is not the author of the confusion and disorder that come from these destructive powers (1 Corinthians 14:33).

All that God created was meant to be good, as it says in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis. Today, however, things are not as God willed for them to be…

As hard as it is for us to grasp, we have to accept that we have a God who was willing to give up power and give up control in order to live out love for us. That is what the cross is all about. The salvation story is about a God who humbles Himself and emptied Himself of power (the words “empty” is the translation of the word kenosis in the Greek of the New Testament) in order to express fully His love for us. In Christ, God became weak for our sakes and became, according to the theologian Jürgen Moltmann, the Crucified God. It’s the choice that God made when he came to us in Jesus Christ.

As a professor at Eastern University, I earnestly try to challenge my students to define themselves as agents of God..

On the societal level, they all are called to participate in the political process in wrestling against the “principalities and powers.” According to theologians such as Walter Wink and Hendrikus Berkhof, these powers and principalities include the corporate institutional structures of government and economic systems so that they can do the good that God wills for them to do, rather than the evil for which they are often responsible (Ephesians 6:12).

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3 thoughts on “Why God Is Not in Control

  1. To tie this with the previous post. . .
    I was reading this morning on a book by Steven Brill. In it he dissects the loss of the ‘American Dream’, that is, that the USA is a place of opportunity where immigrants can advance with the knowledge that their children’s lives will be better. https://www.vox.com/2018/6/28/17469080/american-dream-steven-brill-inequality-poverty-tailspin

    His research makes clear that the reason the middle class, however defined, are stressed is that over the past 50 years wealthy elites have plundered the nation’s resources and rigged the system to benefit themselves. The middle class today have more in common with the poor than with the wealthy they most often aspire to be.

    I suspect this is the source, in both the USA and Europe, of much of the angst around immigration. And the narrative gets framed to make the immigrants the enemy rather than the elites that have exercised political power in such a way that they continue to freely plunder what others need. In Europe this is most clearly seen in Greece with the financial restructurings and imposed austerity that have devastated the country. But it is a worldwide trend. Unless laws are put in place to restrict such behavior the system becomes corrupt often with militarized police to enforce it and an expanded privatized prison system.

    Is God in control? I’m not sure what that even means. I do know this, history is pretty clear on how these things go. Wealthy elites who plunder the wealth of a nation or polity for themselves eventually will cause that nation/polity to fail. That doesn’t mean it goes away, it just means there is a whole lot of misery and violence visited on the people living there. As we move further into the stresses caused by climate change (another factor that causes states/nations/civilizations to fail) we need to pursue legal and political means to guarantee the best life possible for as many as possible (I would include other species in that) so that we can get through this in the best way possible. That means ending the rule of corrupt wealthy elites first and foremost. And that means the church overall must renounce its alliance with and allegiance to these elites in its own pursuit of political power.

    I figure we are at a 50/50 point right now, could go either way – descend into more authoritarian governments with more violence and poverty or wrestle our lives out of the hands of corrupt elites. Its a system that rewards and nurtures such corruption that is what we should be fighting, not immigrants.

  2. Thanks for sharing this article and the contributions.
    I’d like to bring in another persepective.
    For me personally, I don’t believe God is in control, He is in charge because control isn’t in the nature of the Godhead to be controlling or to control.
    I believe whilst He is sovereign, we are not like robots and each of us has choice as to how what we do.
    There’s much we haven’t got the answers to and the realisation perhaps, we don’t need to have everything figured out in this life.
    When we talk about ‘love’ what does this look like for each of us if the focus was the more on ‘who is love’
    Maybe this puts a whole new way of seeing through the eyes of when yes on the one hand we acknowledge things are not as the Godhead and or Creator over all things in Heaven and on Earth intended going back to the original design yet as the tensions exist in what is and the not yet, in relationship with the God who is inherently kind, what might He be revealing or teaching us about his character or nature in any given situation?
    Maybe this is too naive or simple but thanks for letting me share.

    1. Thanks for the contribution. I do think this ‘in control / sovereignty’ question is something that deserves a lot of exploration. And no one will have the last word on it… we see in part.

      I have just written an email to someone this morning on this so maybe when I get a window I will have a go at putting a few perspectives out there. One thing for sure God is GOOD!!

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