Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Will of God

Can one be out of the will of God? Can he get back in the will of God? How is this accomplished? Before we can tackle these questions we must define our terms appropriately.

What does it mean to be out of the will of God? Someone could say that being out of the will of God means to do something contrary to what God wants. In that case, I think the answer to whether or not someone can be out of the will of God is unequivocally “yes.” Philosophically, we have the ability to act freely and choose what we wish (all things being equal). Theologically, God is the maximally perfect being who is the locus of all moral goodness, and thus cannot want us to do sin (even though we do). Biblically, God desires that all people are saved (1 Tim 2:4), and yet very clearly some are not. So it seems it is the case we can be out of the will of God, and back in, with every action that aligns with what God wants.

Now the preceding may be quite uninteresting. I suspect that most people really mean something like this: the will of God is his plan for one’s life as it relates to the plan for all of creation and eschatological concerns, etc. In that case, if one can be out of God’s will, then he can thwart God’s plan (and its said entailments). But these entailments and plans will occur. Therefore, one cannot be out of God’s will.

I think that reasoning is basically correct. However, I do quibble with the usage and terminology. The terminology “will” implies that this is what God’s desire is; it illicitly assumes that whatever God has planned entails his will over each event. But this is not necessarily so. Consider a couple’s plan to have a child. They know the child will disobey them, and not infrequently. Yet no one says, upon hearing the couple’s ultimate intentions, “So, you want your child to disobey?” This is enough to show that to will ultimate intentions that will be coupled with actions or events resulting from those intentions does not suggest that one has willed those actions or events, even if one has effectively ordained them.

So, can one be out of the will of God? Absolutely. Can she ever find herself in a situation or event for which God did not plan? Absolutely not.
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