Myth of a Christian Nation

Charles Kiser —  September 7, 2008 — 18 Comments

The best way to defeat the kingdom of God is to empower the church to rule the kingdom of the world—for then it becomes the kingdom of the world! The best way to get people to lay down the cross is to hand them the sword! (Myth of a Christian Nation, 94-95)

As our house church conversations on spirituality and politics draw to a close, I’m reading Greg Boyd’s Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church. I’m really enjoying it. It’s challenging. I can see it making a lot of Christian people mad—and necessarily.

Boyd’s central thought is a comparison of the fundamental difference between the kingdom of God and kingdoms of the world (of which America is a part). The kingdom of the world, on one hand is a “power over” kingdom, a kingdom of the sword, a kingdom that carries out its agenda—even for justice—based on its ability to coerce people.

The kingdom of God, on the other hand, is a “power under” kingdom. It’s a kingdom of love, service and humility. This kingdom is embodied by the cross—God’s non-violent response to evil in the world. It is non-coercive. It is thus utterly incompatible with the kingdom of world because it is not inherently based on exercising power over people.

Given all this, I return to the question: what level of political participation can a citizen of God’s kingdom have in kingdoms of the world that are inherently counter to the politics of God’s kingdom? The question itself seems to lean toward less participation.

Boyd addresses this question in a more extended way with this thought:

To be sure, a version of the kingdom of the world that effectively carries out law, order, and justice is indeed closer to God’s will for the kingdom of the world. Decent, moral people should certainly encourage this as much as possible, whatever their religious faith might be. But no version of the kingdom of world is closer to the kingdom of God than others because it does its job relatively well. For God’s kingdom looks like Jesus, and no amount of sword-wielding, however just it may be, can ever get a person, government, nation, or world closer to that. The kingdom of God is not an ideal version of the kingdom of the world; it’s not something that any version of the kingdom of the world can aspire toward or be measured against. The kingdom of God is a completely distinct, alternative way of doing life.

In fact, far from aligning any version of the kingdom of the world with the kingdom of God, kingdom-of-God participants must retain a healthy suspicion toward every version of the kingdom of the world—especially their own (for here it is most tempting to become idolatrous). After all, on the authority of God’s word, we know that however good a particular government may be by world standards, it is nevertheless strongly influenced by fallen principalities and powers. Consequently, no kingdom-of-God citizen should ever place undue trust in any political ideology or program….Not only this, but we know that however good a particular version of the kingdom of the world may be, it does not hold the ultimate answer to the world’s problems. (55)

That’s an interesting perspective: too much participation in the kingdom of the world might be a form of idolatry. Boyd argues explicitly in other places in the book that the American church has in fact practiced idolatry in this way.

How do you respond to Boyd’s thoughts?

Charles Kiser

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Dallas, TX. Church Planter with Storyline Christian Community. Equipper and Coach with Mission Alive.

18 responses to Myth of a Christian Nation

  1. 

    I really liked this book. Because of the election season, this may be a good time for me to run through it again.

    This book resonates with me because in many ways, Boyd seemed to touch on many of the things that gave me such frustration when thinking of political matters.

    “kingdom-of-God participants must retain a healthy suspicion toward every version of the kingdom of the world—especially their own (for here it is most tempting to become idolatrous).”

    I think that was one of the points that hit me the hardest. I always wondered why there was never a candidate, party or promise that ever made me comfortable enough to be totally certain that it was the best choice. Boyd’s book helped me to see that no matter how good a candidate, his policy stances, or his party ideology may seem, we must realize that it is a human being seeking power and relying on the party’s ideology to the point of idolatry.

    As a Christian, I believe I have an important calling to actively be engaged in our country’s “system” of governance. In doing so I have a higher calling to pledge allegiance to the kingdom God has so graciously allowed me to be a part of, and make sure that any participation in the kingdom of the world is reflective of the kingdom of God.

  2. 

    Sounds like a good read. I’ve always been a bit suspicious of all the political hoopla a great deal of christian leaders seem to thrust themselves into the middle of. I can’t pretend to know their true intentions, nor am I judging anyone who is actively involved in the political world. It just makes me wonder what the true intentions are of that person. Should we try and get a republican president in office because, well, that’s what christians do? Is that something we are doing because we believe it’s what God wants? Or are we pushing that because it’s what makes us as christians feel comfortable and safe? That’s not really my stance, but it’s just an example. As followers of Christ, we have so many intentions that we feel may be spirit birthed (for lack of better wording) but so often in politics it is about our own agendas – wait, it’s always about our own agendas. It doesn’t really make a difference or not if our agenda is good or bad – it’s ours.

    I am nearly positive nothing I said above makes sense.

    Here’s the question I’ve been asking myself; what happens if I don’t vote? Am I somehow making the wrong decision? However, how can I vote knowing neither party is going to even begin to represent what I know it should? And if I do vote, am I somehow promoting the ideas of one party or another?

    And I think that’s where I am at right now. Just not voting at all. Because for me, right now, it’s a distraction to think about and worry about all this political mess. I’ve got more important things to do than to read books and watch news programs about where each candidate stands on what issues. And maybe (I could be way out in left field here) this whole political process HAS become a sort of idol to believers. Maybe we’ve allowed ourselves to be consumed by these candidates, elections and party affiliations.

    Maybe as followers of Christ we should decide to completely forgo this whole thing and instead spend that time praying, encouraging one another, loving the poor, and telling people about Jesus.

    Egh, that sounds crazy. I do sound crazy. I guess what I am saying is that I don’t have anything figured out, lol.

    Thanks for the article Charles. I love you man!

  3. 

    I haven’t read the book; so I can’t say one way or another on Boyd’s judgments; though in reading many reviews I can tell there are “iffy” things in the book.

    But for an overall thought on this topic in general; as to a man or woman of God’s role in government I am always brought back to these two questions:

    What if Nehemiah wasn’t in the position he was in for King Artaxerxes? Was that specific position a critical role for God’s people and for what took place specifically because of that position he held? Overwhelmingly so!

    Charles – do you have an criticisms of this book? I’d be interested in hearing those…

  4. 

    Hello, good comments and thank you for a great blog — I have not read the book, but I may have to now, haha. As an orthodox Christian who typically supports Democratic candidates born and raised in Texas (yes I am pretty sure that I am one of one), I am so tired of being assaulted for not voting for the R’s — I really no longer talk about it, unless asked and even then I may or may not answer depending on who is asking. Try finding a Christian talk radio station that is not shilling for the Republican party — they do not exist (except for praise shows on Sunday morning on KNON–I just hurt my own argument, oops)!

    I do think that if it appears to the world that to be Christian or an evangelical Christian or a charismatic Christian is to automatically be a hard core Republican, then when that party makes a costly mistake (think: the undermining of our country’s true values by its new support of torture), then it gives the world an excuse to not pursue the true teachings of Jesus. Now, maybe “the world” just wants that excuse and if so, then anything will deter its search into broader truth, but still I think that Christians need to clarify (and keep clarifying) what positions are central to our beliefs (e.g., Jesus bodily rose from the dead) and what are not (supporting torture, rendetitions, the huge deficit, the war). Otherwise when time passes and any policy decisions backfire, it hurts the Chrisitan witness. Thanks for letting me vent; keep up the good work!

  5. 

    I have been very interested in the current political discussion and wrestling with the appropriate participation in our political system. At the moment I believe that our democratic system that invites us to share our voice ought to get it. There’s my bias at the moment.

    Govenerments or political parties certainly should become an idol. Our hope has to be solely in the cross of Christ for salvation and restoration of this world. Never the less, we are always going to be part of a system of government until Christ returns. Even if the United States of America was dissolved and Christians were left alone, we would still form some kind of societal structure to live under, even if it was the apostles who collected money and distributed it to those who had need. And every system is subject to influence by the principalities and powers, whether the kingdoms of this world or Christian communities. If influence by the principalities and powers disqualified a system from our participation then we should probably quit trying to be the church as well. But Colossians 1 tells us that even the powers and authorities were created by Christ and for Christ. So perhaps even the powers can be redeemed for His purposes.

    I haven’t read Boyd but it seems like he is a pacifist. Most of scripture has been written to the God’s people who are weak or on the margins who have no worldly power. An important question for us to wrestle with is what responsibility has God given those who do have power. I do think that those who have been given power should use it responsibly. God’s instructs to Israel, who were to be a light to the world, included punishing those who did wrong. And Paul states that God has established governments to punish those who do wrong. It seems to me that those with power are to use it responsibly.

    At the moment I see my political participation as using the power given me responsibly.

  6. 

    Wow I need to proof read. They should not become idols 🙂

  7. 

    My response is a hearty Amen! That second paragraph especially captures my heart. The solution to the world’s problems will never be found through the kingdoms of this world. Why then put your hope in them?

    To Steve’s comment: “As a Christian, I believe I have an important calling to actively be engaged in our country’s “system” of governance.” Why? It’s an honest question, and not intended sarcastically. I have never felt that part of the Christian calling required political engagement. As an American, sure. But as a Christian, I’m not seeing how that is fundamental to our calling.

    To Chad, that doesn’t sound crazy to me at all. For followers of Christ to devote themselves solely and fully to prayer, encouraging one another, loving the poor, and telling people about Jesus would be pretty spectacular. I imagine we would have a hard enough time with just those things to say nothing of adding something else – such as participation in the kingdoms of this world – to the list.

  8. 

    I have not read the book and I must confess as a fellow open theist I am perhaps a little too predisposed to finding harmony with Boyd’s perspective on a great many faith matters. However, taking the passages you presented on their own I find Boyd’s comments spot on. The critique he provides on the misguided, historically repeated efforts to synthesize the Kingdom of God with early systems of government is spot on.

    I also think that Boyd provides part of the answer to Nick’s question in the opening lines of the passages quoted here. If a Christian can look at a governmental system or figure and see an opportunity to promote the expansion of values in their society that are closer to the vision of God’s kingdom, they should do so. Certainly not every politician or government promotes kingdom values or anything even resembling them, but particularly in societies where choices are available one can likely make a determination regarding who or what might be more likely to do so. If one has the ability to consider this distinction and cast a vote based on that determination without sacrificing their singular devotion to God shouldn’t they take advantage of that opportunity? Nick, how would justify not doing so?

    I am not suggesting we should campaign, fundraise, or put signs in our yard… though that’s fine if one chooses. In Romans 13 I think Paul’s message is that God has chosen for people to be governed (I reject the notion that Paul literally means God chooses who wins every election) and that a healthy respect for those systems and the people who operate them is in order because God has been and can be at work in them. I think the spirit of that message carries over at least a willingness to consider if our reasonably informed participation in the voting process is an opportunity to demonstrate this healthy respect… so long as respect does not become devotion or worship. Of course, that is exactly the problem Boyd and other’s are critiquing again in western society, so perhaps that is a more difficult line to walk than I might assume it to be on the surface.

    Good post CK.

  9. 

    Micah:

    You wrote: We are always going to be part of a system of government until Christ returns….

    As long as the world is broken, which it will be until Christ returns, broken people will need/have a kingdom to rule them. I can agree with that.

    The underlying (eschatological) assumption is that the kingdom of God will not just slowly break into the world–more kingdom of God and less kingdom of the world until kingdom of the world fades out and kingdom of God is in full. It will ultimately take something cataclysmic for the kingdom of God to come in fullness.

    Some might take issue with that thought. (Interestingly, Alexander Campbell, a father of the Stone-Campbell movement, would take issue with it as a post-millennialist.) But to think otherwise puts the onus on us and not God to bring the kingdom. We cannot bring the kingdom no matter how hard we try. There will always be people who use their freedom to choose evil and rebellion (this side of the kingdom). Only God can bring the kingdom with finality.

    You wrote: And every system is subject to influence by the principalities and powers, whether the kingdoms of this world or Christian communities. If influence by the principalities and powers disqualified a system from our participation then we should probably quit trying to be the church as well.

    Good point. Really good point.

    God used people like Joseph, Esther, Mordecai and Daniel in kingdoms of the world, certainly. God used them not to perpetuate the particular kingdoms of the world in which they found themselves but rather the interests of the kingdom/people of God. Each was a prophetic critique of the ‘power over’ mentality in their own way.

    When it comes down to it, I’m hesitant about any Christian/church being able to handle immense power very well. It corrupts. E.g., the ‘religious right.’

    It’s the wrong kind of power, anyway. So why wield it? I think that’s the fundamental question Boyd is asking.

    Oh yeah…Josh and Nick, I like your comments, too.

  10. 

    Here’s another thought.

    Jim Wallis mentions that every significant social movement in the last hundred years (e.g., civil rights, voters rights, etc.) has been led by the church.

    The church has not led from the center of power, however, but from the margins.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a senator but a prophet with a vibrant imagination of what the kingdom of God looked like. He spoke to injustice of the day not from the center of the ‘power-over’ kingdom but from the margins.

    Might that be a model for Christian participation in the system?

    Call it prophetic participation.

  11. 

    Wallis is right and certainly not the first person to note the role believer’s have played in the majority of critically important, positive shifts in the course of societies throughout history. I like the concept of “prophetic participation” and Dr. King certainly helped raise up a social revolution from the margins. Of course, it is also worth considering that Dr. King didn’t shy away from speaking prophetically to some of the political power brokers of his day. He welcomed the politicians of his day who decided step into the mix and help champion the civil rights movement … or at least encouraged them to get out the way if they would not get in line.

    I imagine as with a great many things a proper orientation and healthy balance is necessary. Certainly Christians have never consistently demonstrated an ability to serve God’s real agenda in our world from the the center of the power structure. The consistent picture in scripture indicates that we belong on the margins. However, I don’t think that means we can ignore the centers of worldly power either. Great thoughts Chuck and great conversation for believers to have. Thanks!

  12. 

    Charles and all,

    great conversation. This is one topic that is typically hard to discuss openly and honestly because it often carries too many emotional landmines.

    Charles, you mentioned Campbell’s post-millennial tendencies. Like so many others in the 19th century, towards the end of his life he began moving away from that more positive outlook and expectation. It is hard to see the world progress from war to war and believe that human progress is making things better!

    I like the idea of prophetic participation. Walter Brueggemann’s book The Prophetic Imagination mentions that for a message to be truly prophetic it must both “criticize and energize”: without the one there’s no hope for the future and without the other you’re just a complainer. He also says that prophecy is most powerful and effective when it comes from within – otherwise the prophet doesn’t have anything invested, he or she is just a jerk throwing rocks at your house. (not always the case – consider Jonah – but a good rule of thumb nonetheless.)

    With all of that said, I’m thinking about the ministry of Jesus – which I believe had unbelievable social and political implications and impact. Jesus neither encouraged his disciples to take over the government nor to withdraw and form their own utopia. Instead they were to exist in the midst of the empire and live infectious lives of peace, forgiveness and self-sacrifice…lives which subvert the empire of power and coercion.

    I don’t think that Christians are wrong to be involved in politics. However, I sometimes wonder if we’re putting the cart before the horse. Changing policy without changing people seems to be quite the opposite of Jesus’ approach. If it were just about having the right laws in place then why wouldn’t Jesus have been born in Herod’s household…or Caesar’s for that matter?

    If however the approach is to bring about transformation from within, then particularly in a democratic nation you would think that policy would be struggling to keep up with powerfully advancing Kingdom of God within the hearts of the people…rather than the other way around.

    That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t use power responsibly [nod to Micah]…of course that raises the question of defining the words, “use” “power” and “responsibly”…apparently they are as intuitive as we may have thought.

    I do not believe that violence can ever bring peace – though it is sometimes needed to end conflict. But peace goes way beyond the absence of conflict…it involves the presence of justice, mercy and compassion. Peace cannot be brought about through violence, but at the same time peace will not come about in Darfur or Afghanistan or anywhere else so long as the powerful are murdering the weak…or for that matter, while the powerful are murdering the powerful.

    sorry for the long comment but its your fault for having an interesting post…

  13. 

    oops, that should say “apparently they are NOT as intuitive as we may have thought.”

  14. 

    JRay: You “… reject the notion that Paul literally means God chooses who wins every election”

    With a comment like that, you would have to seriously question the sovereignty of God…

    If he doesn’t choose world leaders then who does? Then, would that not make those “choosers” more powerful than God?

    Any scripture to back up your view that God does is not sovereign over all things?

    Not meant to be combative – just an honest inquiry into your thoughts on that…

  15. 

    Jr, Good questions that I have wrestled with as well at times. A few thoughts in response: First, I didn’t say God wasn’t sovereign and in no way does my theology or understanding of Paul’s words in Romans require his sovereignty be questioned. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand how you could wonder if I feel that way based on the line quoted, I do. But, you wrote in your questions that my view is “that God is not sovereign over all things”, which is not the case. I fully accept and proclaim God as the sovereign being in all of time and space.

    Second, sovereignty does not require the platonic omni-categorizations that are routinely applied to God. Specifically, in this context being the supreme power in the universe does not require that God is omni-causal. Having the ability to establish human governments (or that humans be governed at all) does not require that God use this capability in all situations or in the selection of all of the worlds leaders on any and every level of various societies. Certainly as people who have free-will to worship him or not (at least for the time being) we see evidence of God allowing others to make decisions every day. Sovereignty means possession of supreme power, not the mandatory exercise of that power.

    Third, without getting too cynical here. No one, who believes in the God of scripture and desires to share his gospel with others should get too excited by or comfortable with the idea that all the leaders throughout history were handpicked by God. Beyond the obvious political polarization we experience in our current culture just over the party association of leaders, can you imagine telling someone that God thought Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Colonel Menghistu, Stalin, Nero, Tojo, or Hitler were the right people for the job? How many blaspheming or idolatrous rulers have their been in history? Did God desire the world to have leaders who would raise themselves up as weak rivals to his sovereignty, lead others into sin, and/or shame the name of the one true God? I don’t think so. From my perspective, suggesting that God chose all of the world’s leaders throughout history and then ordered their actions does far more damage to the case for God’s sovereignty (or the cause of his kingdom) than suggesting a more properly contextualized reading of Romans does.

    Finally, I certainly appreciate the attention to scripture on this and any attempt to understand who God is and what he is doing. Beyond the surrounding context in Romans, scripture is full of things occurring (most often by the will of people) which were not what God desired, and that is the underlying question here. Not “is God able”, but does God always exercise his power over creation? Scripture always walks a delicate balance between God’s authority/power and his willingness to let his creation choose for itself how to live. In Acts 17:30 Paul, addressing the Athenians, said that God “commands all people everywhere to repent”, but many didn’t and still haven’t. Does that mean God is not sovereign? Jeremiah 3, Isaiah 5, Hosea 6, the story of Jonah are all passages that acknowledge the great power of God, but clearly indicate that people are making decisions outside of his will and in spite of his commands and/or efforts to lead them to his will. Even the kings of Israel who were in fact rulers appointed by God were not originally the government God wanted for his people… but the people continued to demand a king and God relented. 1 Samuel 15 provides a great study for the blending of these elements as God rejects and regrets Saul’s kingship.

    Truthfully, the most compelling scriptural evidence for my reading of Romans 13 is Jesus instruction to us on how we should pray. If we should pray that God’s will be accomplished in the world as it is in heaven, doesn’t that indicate that there is a different expression and/or outworking of his sovereignty in this world than in heaven? I can’t imagine coming to any other conclusion. Has God appointed specific leaders at specific times in history? Sure, I believe so. Does God have the power to control a presidential, senate, or city council election? Absolutely. Is God sovereign? Truly, he is without equal. Does that mean he must always use this supreme power to control events in the world? I don’t think so. When I draw all that together with the historical context of Romans I end up “rejecting the notion that Paul literally means God chooses who wins every election” in chapter 13. Hope that provides better explanation of my perspective Jr and gives you some thoughts to chew on. Appreciate you asking!

    Charles, thanks for starting this blog so I can have a forum for expressing myself. Wow, that was ridiculously long! Sorry.

  16. 

    JRay: Thanks for your kindhearted response.

    Before I begin – no matter who wins an election – God reigns supreme on His Throne in Heaven!

    I’ll try and be brief.

    Daniel 2:21 “God changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.”

    It takes the form of pride, like that of King Nebuchadnezzar, to think, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

    This king thought of his rule as separate from any higher authority. But as the story continues in Daniel 4… the king returns, after being humbled, to say the following: “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

    I do not presume to know why – or to have to explain why certain leaders are put in place – nor should we, except to say that everything God does is right and his ways are just. Now even though God chooses leaders in accordance to His Will does not have to mean he approves of their actions or policies.

    Jesus Christ is now ruler over all kings and authorities in heaven and on earth. Jesus is alive today presiding from heaven over all things. This does not mean that the kings please him completely. But Jesus overrules their sin and uses it as a part his plan and purposes.

    Romans 11:33 “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

    Everything that happens on earth is for the fulfillment of God’s purpose and will. Do we assume to know the ways of God? If we see something that is not considered “good” in our eyes, are we then demanding that God’s view of “good” and “right” must be the same as ours in order to be just?

    Here is an even better question to ponder. God knows all things, yes? So if He knows all things then He knows what will happen in the future. This must mean, then, that He knows what evil will occur and He allows it to happen BUT he uses it for the fulfillment of His will. So then, if He knows all these things – He then allows rulers to take thrones for the fulfillment of His will. He could stop it if He wanted to (thus, he chooses).

  17. 

    Jr, Looks like we have more variations in our understanding of God’s interaction with his creation which may lead to some of variance we feel about God’s role in the appointment of leaders. For example, there is no reason to assume that God knows all things that will happen in the future, scripture certainly makes multiple indications of his surprise or regret over the actions of some. Again, sovereignty doesn’t have to fit into the categories we’ve created, like future omniscience. Whatever he knows of the future it doesn’t mean he is partnering with the evil of humanity to accomplish his purposes. That seems fairly counter to the nature of God. He can work good out of evil done, certainly. However, the notion that all of the evils this world has experienced were intentionally allowed to occur because God had something to accomplish afterwards is not fully defensible, either intellectually or scripturally. Does that mean God could not find a way to work out his plans for creation without evil?

    I would also challenge the notion that we don’t have to understand or explain why evil occurs in the world and what God’s role and response to it is. Try telling that to a non-believer who didn’t grow up with that spiritualization of evil and is now suffering as a result of a great tragedy or expression of evil. See how interested they are in a God who uses the evil he claims to oppose as a tool of his greater plans and defies all who ask him for mercy or an explanation. That doesn’t fit the response to sin we see in Jesus incarnation… and it will lead people to open their hearts to God’s gospel.

    God tells us to seek him. He wants us to pursue him and seek to know him. Of course there are times we must submit ourselves and say that God is God and we will follow though we don’t understand, but that isn’t a license to ignore the tough questions about God’s work in the world. You and I might be willing to believe without seeking answers to those questions, but most who did not grow up in religious communities will not. I believe God is sovereign and holy and big enough to stand up to these kinds of inquiries, so why try and hide him against these kind of questions.

    I do agree with you that God chooses to limit himself in allowing human beings freedom to act, again he is sovereign. This self-limitation clearly indicates though that creation now has a say in its own future, at least in the intermediate. If God will limit the use of his power in allowing people the freedom to sin, could he not also limit his power in directing things that occur in the world or limit his power to see the full future?

    Good discussion. Thanks Jr

  18. 

    JRay: Agreed, good discussion and I want to thank you for your temperance and thoughtfulness. “As iron sharpens iron”

    (I want to correct something first. My use of “should” in my previous response was in error. I do not believe that we don’t ask questions, or that we shouldn’t. I was making the point that we need to understand that after asking or wondering, we either 1)will not find an answer or 2) we will not exactly agree with or enjoy what we find out. But yes, God is big enough to handle all inquiries of Him – we should never shy away from this imperative and faithful action as believers – as long as we also understand the 2 points above.)

    Moving on to your points: My wife actually asked that question to me when we discussed this the other night. She said “What if God chooses not to know certain things?”. And that is a viable consideration; though I would have to study scripture more to find out if that is the case.

    Another: Take a look at Job. Satan had to ask God for certain rights in regards to how he would attempt to destroy Job to prove that when this happened, Job would curse God. God gave Satan limits; and he allowed Satan to carry on. So, “yes,” God did allow evil in allowing Satan to do the things he did to Job, and for a specific purpose of God’s. (It is important to note; however; that God is NOT the SOURCE of the evil) So that view is defensible and scriptural. He didn’t necessarily work with evil; but he allowed it to happen so that His Glory would be made known.

    And again, what is our view of “evil?” Is it the same as God’s? What if it’s not? We would surely call a demand of the annihilation of an entire people-group (Exodus) or the destruction of a city (Sodom) as evil – at least to some; yet God did each of those things (and who’s to say he doesn’t continue to?).

    That’s why I quoted the line from Romans 11:33. Inscrutable means: “incapable of being investigated, analyzed, or scrutinized; impenetrable; not easily understood; mysterious; unfathomable:” And unsearchable means: “not searchable; not lending itself to research or exploration; not to be understood by searching; hidden; unfathomable;”

    I fear that too often we try and relate to God the only way we know how; and that is with our own minds; without understanding fundamental truths of God – that his judgments are at times “unfathomable” and his ways are at times “incapable of being investigated”.

    Now THAT is sovereignty.

    As Paul’s letter to the Ephesians explains, Jesus is now head over all rulers and authorities. So if Jesus is head, can anything take place (either of selection of rulers, or their actions) without His knowledge of them? That is the question I continue to ponder. And then it expands to, well, He must also know and control all wars and battles, because he put people in place so that things would take place.

    And as Ephesians 1 tells us: ALL things in heaven and on earth are worked out (by whom?) to fulfill the Purpose and Will of God. I find it hard to read that and then say “well, not everything…”

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