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God’s Timing is Perfect

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There are certain phrases Christians use that reveal a belief that God is in control of our lives in their entirety. The title of this blog post is a prime example. What I’d invite readers to consider is whether it’s possible to believe that God is unfolding all the events of our lives and at the same time to believe that we are free to act independently of the will of God (that we have, as it is commonly referred to, free will).

The reason why this matter is of vital importance is because the very doctrines at the heart of the Christian faith (such as sin, salvation, redemption, the atonement, judgment, etc) depend on the notion that human beings have free will. We only need to be ‘saved’ if we have ‘sinned’, and the notion of sin only makes sense if we have free will. But when Christians use a phrase such as ‘God’s timing is perfect’, isn’t this an implicit recognition that we are not free at all β€” that God is in control?

There are many complex and convoluted ways in which Christians attempt to make sense of the predicament outlined above, and those who are interested might wish to explore ideas such as compatibilism, open theism, and Molinism, which all attempt to provide a solution. These ideas, as well as many other ideas related to the divine sovereignty versus human free will problem, are discussed in detail in my new book, entitled God’s Grand Game, which is released today.

My book is an invitation for people of all faiths (as well as atheists and agnostics) to think deeply about the free will debate, and to consider the intricacies of this subject with an open mind. The arguments that I make in the book could profoundly influence the way readers see the God/world relationship, and even prompt them to reconsider their chosen spiritual paths.

Hardback copies of God's Grand Game by Steven Colborne

Buy God’s Grand Game

If you do choose to read the book, I hope you will find it stimulating and enjoyable, and you are welcome to return to this blog to discuss and debate with others the ideas contained within its pages. For more information regarding the contents of the book, you’re welcome to check out the chapter listing, which I unveiled in this post. Thank you for reading.

17 comments

  1. How can we be brave unless we have free will. If God is a puppet master we are doing what He has orchestrated and doing what He has orchestrated is righteousness and there is no sin. God told Moses to talk to the rock. He struck the rock. Was God just joking.

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    1. Hi writingsailor!

      How are you doing? Thanks for stopping by.

      If God is a puppet master we are doing what He has orchestrated and doing what He has orchestrated is righteousness and there is no sin.

      You are echoing the very point I made in the article, which I’m pleased about, because it shows you understand the implications for Christian theology if God is in control of all things.

      So the question is: Is God in control of all things? It’s evident to me that He is. My arguments as to why I’m convinced about this are discussed in the book (or, if you prefer, this post gives an overview).

      Best wishes,

      Steven

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  2. As a Polytheist, I don’t see things as divine plans. The universe for me is random. A few years ago, a wall fell on me, and I ended up in a coma, and with a brain injury. What happened to me was that two Gods – Hekate and Anubis (Both Gods of the Dead) used the accident to become more entwined in my life. However, neither engineered the accident.

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    1. My goodness, that’s quite a story! It’s certainly unusual, in my experience, to come across a dedicated polytheist. Looking forward to your post as part of the blog tour, Virginia! Peace and blessings πŸ™‚

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  3. Hi Steven, find many of your posts fascinating, so have just purchased God’s Grand Game (kindle). Very much looking forward to further reading and will certainly follow up with any useful feedback. All the best. Be well א

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    1. Hi Andrew! Thank you so much for buying a copy of the book, I’m very grateful. I hope you will enjoy reading it and I’ll look forward to any feedback you have (you are welcome to email me anytime or leave a comment). Blessings! πŸ™‚

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  4. My understanding is God has the power to let it go anyway he likes but he gives us the free will to choose. That is how he has decided it should be. The fact that he is the one who has given us free will means he is in control. Of course, it is hard to understand this mystery. God’s wisdom is beyond our full comprehension because we are using human minds. Human minds can understand God’s ways only to some extent. The rest has to be by faith as he himself has revealed to us. Thanks for the topic which gives us the opportunity to reflect on this important issue.

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    1. Hi there!

      Many thanks for your comment.

      The point I was making in the post is that often Christians speak in a way that evidences and acknowledges that God is in control of their lives. I’ll give you an example. A Christian may be experiencing financial hardship, and worried about a bill they need to pay. They might say a prayer for God’s help. Then, unexpectedly, they receive a cheque in the post for the exact amount of money they need to get out of their predicament. So, they say “God’s timing is perfect!”. This is an example of the type of story Christians tell all the time, and it shows that they believe God is in control of all their life circumstances. Free will doesn’t make a lot of sense in this context, because clearly the Christian believes God brought about their change in circumstances.

      I could give countless other similar examples. A Christian will say ‘God planted me in a great church’, for instance, or ‘God cured my sickness’. There is no denying that such statements demonstrate that the Christian believes God is in control of our lives and all we do. So, the important point is that we are not in control β€” God is in control. But then, if God is unfolding our lives (as it’s obvious to me He is), the Christian worldview and key Christian doctrines must be called into question.

      I hope you can understand the argument.

      Best wishes,

      Steven

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get your point. Truly, God brought about the change. But do you know? He only responded to the prayer which was freely said. The individual had the free will to pray or not to pray. God says “pray and I will grant your wish.” The fellow chooses to pray and God answers as he had promised. Had he not prayed the same God who is in control of the whole situation perhaps would not have given the money. Hence, while God has the power to do whatever he likes, in a mysterious way, hard to understand, he had granted us freewill. Someone will say if God does not will it, we can’t even pray. This is hard to understand this. Hence, we must fall back to his own revelation in which he tells us we have the free will. My thoughts. Hope it keeps the conversation going. It is through conversations like this that we get more enlightened on God’s plan for us, as well as what he means in his revelation of himself to us. Thanks for your attention.

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        1. Thanks for explaining your understanding of this. I’m glad we’re having this discussion because it’s very relevant to my motivations for writing God’s Grand Game. In the book I explain why I believe it is absurd to think that God is somehow dipping in and out of creation, controlling some events and not others. God, I believe, is boundless and omnipresent, and it necessarily follows from this that He is controlling all events and not just some events. To say some events are undertaken freely would mean that there are some parts of existence where God is not. But that would limit God in a way that appears illogical to me β€” God is not embodied in some kind of form, He is everywhere, animating all activity in existence. That is why prayer makes sense β€” because God is in control of all things.

          Consider a few questions: Did you freely choose how many arms and legs and fingers and toes you have? Do you freely circulate blood around your body, beat your heart, and digest food? Do you feely grow your hair and nails? My personal view is that God is in control of all the processes that we experience as part of our living state. In this context, it’s hard to see how we can be ‘free’ to do anything.

          I understand your desire to consider Biblical revelation in relation to this. If you’re interested, I wrote an essay entitled ‘An Almighty Predicament: A Discourse on the Arguments For and Against Christianity’ which is available as a free PDF download from my Essays page. In the essay I discuss many scriptures that make the Christian worldview compelling, but also discuss some of the aspects of Christian theology that don’t make sense. If you don’t want to read something that might challenge your beliefs, that’s fine, I respect that β€” we all need stability. But others reading these comments may like to check it out.

          I understand and respect your passion for the Christian Scriptures.

          Very best wishes,

          Steven

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  5. To have a free will to choose what to do or what not to do. When we look at it logically, this is perfect. But matters of God cannot all be understood from a logical position. If we are looking for logical understanding or reason we can’t explain how God came about. Who created God? We cannot say. All we know is there is God. He has always been there. It is by faith that we agree he is there. Without faith we are completely confused, lost. Hence, we cannot understand everything that concerns God. We must accept what he himself tells us whether it sounds logical not, convincing or not because we are limited in our understanding we can’t understand what to God is so easy.
    Please, I am not challenging your views. I am only doing this because I believe you are interested in knowing what others think. So I hope you will not take offence if I continue to explain my understanding.

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    1. It seems that the crux of your argument is “I don’t understand”. That’s perfectly okay, but I would just respond by saying that there are some things that you do claim to understand about God, just as there are certain things I claim to understand about God.

      I’m sure you would not deny that there are some things you believe to be true. You might try to argue that your views are 100% in alignment with the Bible. But surely you would accept that there are huge disagreements among Christians concerning practically every area of Christian doctrine. The words of Scripture are merely lines and curly symbols on a page, they do not contain inherent meaning (as if somehow ink contained ideas). The words become meaningful because God is bringing about our thoughts and understanding as we read and reflect (incidentally, that’s a further argument that we don’t have free will and God is in control).

      Regarding your question ‘Who created God?’, there’s a chapter in God’s Grand Game titled ‘The Aseity of God’ where I examine this. God’s essence is existence. That’s something that we can understand (logically, I feel), although admittedly there is an element of wonder and mystery in there, I agree.

      I don’t claim to know everything about God, but I do claim to know enough to question certain aspects of the Christian worldview, and the views of some other religions. Whether what I say resonates with people depends entirely on how God works in people’s bodies and minds as they read my words and reflect. I am just a puppet in God’s hands, and so is everyone else.

      I do not take offence at our conversation at all, I appreciate the opportunity to try to get Christians to see where I’m coming from on this. I think our discussion will be interesting and helpful to others, so thank you!

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  6. I believe that God is in charge of our destiny and has given us a path to follow. Whether we choose to follow that path or veer off is up to us. Thus we have God’s destiny for us and also a potential for us to turn a blind eye on what is best for us and sin.

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