Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 things

1. If God says something, then that's good enough. God doesn't have to give me his reasons.
2. It is possible for God to make a completely arbitrary ruling - like on which particular animals are clean and unclean. That's his prerogative.
3. I might think I know God's reasons, but sometimes I'll just be guessing.
4. You might think you know God's reasons, but sometimes you'll just be guessing.
5. We can trust God. He has promised us good and has a history of keeping his promises and working for our good.


  1. I have some reservations, but they are only personal. Those five may be a good resolution for anyone; I find them difficult.
    I think God gave us our reason, and is OK with us using it in contest with him, such as Abraham asking 'what if there were righteous people mixed in that category?'
    Second, even if we don't ask an account of God, we do need an account to give the world, and as far as possible it is desirable that it be a favourable account, a good argument.
    Historically, people beating on Scripture to get more out of it has sometimes been quite fruitful. I feel like I remember Philip Jensen saying that now the great secret of the incarnation and atonement (etc) has been disclosed, we don't face an opaque secret to be riddled out. It's true that now we see though a glass darkly and are perplexed but not crushed, but if you would feel crushed by doing nothing in perplexity, it is permissible to try ways to understand.

  2. I think they're all true, but to fully capture things you'll need to add another one or two points like:

    5+n. Sometimes (*almost* always) the reason is really important and if you don't understand it, you will likely misrepresent God's wisdom and goodness.
    5+n. Even God's 'arbitrary' commands are not arbitrary down deep, even if the particulars are contingent. All God's commands are for our good. *Everything* God does towards us is for our good.

    The particular animals in the unclean category might be arbitrary, but the existence of the category was not. It was for Israel's good.

    And God rarely says, "No reason, just do it, my saying it is good enough." Sometimes we can't see the reason and just have to trust as per your five points (my long track away from egalitarianism would be an example of that - I couldn't see any reasons for the limitations on women's authority that weren't chauvinistic ones) but that should be the exception.

    God accommodates to our limitations, and he seeks to persuade. Which means he gives reasons time and time again, he doesn't simply assume that we're basically good and will do something just because he says it. He gives us motivation as well. Even with the Law he meets us where we are, and does aim it at some 'ideal' human beings.

    1. Sorry Mark, I posted before I saw your comments.

      Yes, I agree.

      **The particular animals in the unclean category might be arbitrary, but the existence of the category was not. It was for Israel's good. **


  3. I think that often/mostly God does give us his reasons for saying things. Or he gives us good clues so that we can work it out. But sometimes things just don't seem to make sense. People try to explain it but in doing so they make God say a whole lot of things that he hasn't said. They are making it up.

    Just trying to find a space to sit in that says, "I don't really get this, but that's okay."

  4. Last sentence - does *not* aim it at some 'ideal' human beings.

  5. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."
    (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)