Should We Teach the Storehouse Theory? (RJS)

The Bible teaches that God governs the weather including the rain (image to the right from wikipedia). Many passages make this quite clear.  Not only this he keeps rain, wind, snow and hail in his storehouses to be sent forth out of his bounty or wrath.

The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. Deut. 28:12

The LORD does whatever pleases him,  in the heavens and on the earth,  in the seas and all their depths.  He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;  he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Psalm 135:6-7

When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.  He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Jer 10:13, 51:16

The Lord asked Job …

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? Job 38:22-23

The inspired writers of scripture had an understanding of weather that conflicts rather substantially with our modern understanding. We certainly agree that God is governs the weather, but must we accept the storehouse theory? Consider the following scenario:

What causes the rain? Most of us were taught that water evaporates from the ground level, rises to where the air is cooler, and condenses into water droplets that form clouds. We learned how cold fronts and warm fronts and low pressure systems bring rain. … Every year scientists develop increasingly accurate computer models of weather.

Now imagine that debates arise about what should be taught in schools about weather. Imagine that prominent scientists write popular books about meteorology that state, “From our scientific understanding of the causes of wind and rain, it is clear that no divine being controls the weather.” Imagine that a professional organization of science teachers writes a set of guidelines that state, “Students must learn that all weather phenomena follow from natural causes; weather is unguided and no divine action is involved.” Meanwhile, other people insist that these scientific explanations must be wrong because the Bible clearly teaches that God governs the weather. These people write books and give public speeches saying “Atheists invented their godless theories about evaporation and condensation. But we can prove that their so-called scientific theories are false and that the Bible is true.” They go to churches and teach, “If you believe what these scientists are saying about the causes of wind and rain, then you’ve abandoned belief in the Bible.” They petition school boards and courts to require that science classrooms also teach their “storehouses” theory of weather as an alternate explanation to evaporation and condensation.

Why don’t we have battles about the conflict between science and faith in the explanation of weather?

How would you respond to such a scenario?

What similarities or differences do you see with the debates over creation and evolution?

The above example comes from the introduction of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design by Deborah and Loren Haarsma, both Professors of Physics at Calvin College (p. 13-14). Deborah did her undergraduate work at Bethel in Minnesota (my alma mater as well) and her graduate work at MIT receiving her Ph.D. for research on galaxies and the expansion of the universe. Loren did his undergraduate work at Calvin and received his Ph.D. from Harvard and works in the area of neuroscience, looking at the way electrically signals are transmitted in cells. (My Ph.D., if you have any interest, is in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in the area of physical chemistry and molecular spectroscopy).

Most Christians, including me, have no trouble acknowledging that both science and the Bible are telling the truth when it comes to weather. God is sovereign over the weather – but we see no fundamental conflict between the scientific and biblical explanations. In fact, I rather expect most of us automatically classify the storehouse references as figurative language and/or poetic license. But it is not at all clear that the ancient authors did.  Nonetheless we see no fundamental conflict between meteorology and faith.

The debates over creation, evolution, and intelligent design are in some ways similar to the example given above concerning weather, but they are also far more complicated and give rise to deeper emotional responses with more significant theological consequences – or at least so many think. The book by Deb and Loren Haarsma works through many of these questions and ideas in a clear and open fashion. This book is designed for individuals with questions, small groups, and adult education classes.  From about this book (p. 14-15):

The purpose of this book is to lay out a wider variety of options and to examine what both the Bible and the natural world can teach us about these options. We will explore in depth the issues of origins and consider areas where Christians generally agree with each other and areas where Christians disagree. Our goal is not to convince you that one particular opinion must be correct, but neither will we merely list a wide variety of opinions without doing any analysis. We will

-> summarize what we believe God’s Word teaches about origins when it is studies using sound principles of interpretation.

-> summarize what we believe God’s world can reliably reveal about origins when it is studied using sound scientific methods.

-> distinguish between scientific theories that are well established and have a great deal of data supporting them and scientific theories that are more tentative and speculative.

-> look at the range of opinions that Christians hold about origins and discuss some of the pros and cons of each in the light of what we can learn from God’s Word and God’s world.

The book contains chapters with titles such as 1. Woldviews and Science, 5. Genesis: Concordist Interpretations, 6. Genesis: Non-concordist Interpretations, 10. Intelligent Design, 12. Adam and Eve … and more.

So what about Adam and Eve? We have looked at a number of books addressing the question of Adam and Eve over the last year or two. This is probably the most vexing and divisive question in the entire discussion of science and Christian faith. As a result this is a good place to stop and look at the approach taken by Deb and Loren. They discuss four common scenarios for Adam and Eve in Christian thought and look at the pros and cons of each. The views are those we have considered before: recent ancestors, recent representatives, a pair of ancient ancestors, a group of ancient representatives, and symbolic. The Haarsma’s discussion of these  five views is framed in the context of both the scientific issues (fossil evidence, genetic similarity to animals, and genetic diversity in the human population) and the theological issues (Image of God, Human Soul, Original Sin, and Human Mortality before the Fall).

Adam and Eve as recent ancestors takes a literal view of Genesis 2-3, but is difficult to reconcile with the fossil evidence dating back over 10,000 years in North and South America, 30,000 years in Europe, and more than 100,000 years in Africa. Genetic evidence provides other conundrums – why do some genes have more than 150 alleles when an original pair would have been created with at most four? Why do humans have many of the same non-functional pseudogenes as chimps and other apes? And those two questions only expose the tip of a very large iceberg of genetic data. The appearance of age is a serious theological question raised by this approach – although it does provide satisfactory answers to other theological questions.

Adam and Eve as a pair of recent representatives suggests that God selected a pair out of the population of humans some 10,000 years ago and this pair was representative of all humanity. This scenario does not conflict with science because there is no way for science to say anything about a selectedness of specific pair. The sin of Adam is passed to all mankind not biologically but spiritually. This view has pros and cons and the Haarsmas work through a few of them. Although Deb and Loren don’t mention names it is perhaps worth mentioning a few here … John Stott, Denis Alexander, Henri Blocher, and Tim Keller are among those who lean toward this kind of view.

Adam and Eve as a pair of ancient ancestors selected some 150,000 years ago. This allows for a special act of God in producing this ancient pair, but adds difficulties with the necessary gaps in the genealogies in Genesis and is hard to reconcile with the genetic diversity of the human race. A variation on this approach suggests that Adam and Eve are the group of ancient ancestors at the population bottleneck some 150,000 years ago but this doesn’t remove all difficulties. (CS Lewis suggests something like this variation in The Problem of Pain).

Adam and Eve as a group of ancient representatives suggests that some 150,000 years ago God revealed himself to a group of humans who chose to sin. They mingled with the surrounding population and transmitted that sin to all. But this has many of the same problems as Adam and Eve as a pair of recent representatives.

Adam and Eve as symbolic can answer many of the questions and issues.  The Haarsmas suggest that this view does not work well in explaining original sin as spiritual status because it requires a large number of independent acts. This view does not provide a single event in which humanity’s fellowship with God is broken. If this is an important part of our theology then any of the first four options are more satisfactory (although none are without shortcomings).

So where do Deb and Loren wind up?

Not Satisfied with Any of These Scenarios?

Neither are we! All of the Adam and Eve scenarios discussed in this chapter seem to have significant scientific or theological challenges or both. While you likely have disagreements with one or more of the views presented, it’s worth considering each one at least briefly. Don’t simply dismiss them for sounding “wrong” but figure out exactly which arguments you disagree with and why. If you get a chance, discuss these ideas with other Christians. Remember that proponents of each view can be working in good faith to reconcile God’s revelation in Scripture and in nature and to maintain certain central theological beliefs.

The church has work to do in this area. This work is not something to fear but rather is part of the church’s calling. (p. 270)

The Haarsma’s book finishes up with a chapter on frequently asked questions, including “How do I deal with disagreements about origins with my family and church members?” and “What should I teach my children?” and then a chapter on Wonder and Worship – always a good place to wind up.

Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design is an excellent resource – and one I highly recommend. The book is designed to facilitate discussion. It is ideal for small groups or larger adult education classes. It should also be helpful for individuals with questions and concerns.  Pastors or others with little background to frame a discussion of origins should find this book an excellent place to start.  For those who wish to go deeper the Haarsma’s provide many references to assist.

What do you think? How can we start a profitable discussion on the issues of origins?

What would help in your church or with your friends and family?

If you wish to contact me directly, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

  • http://whatyouthinkmatters.org/blog Andrew Wilson

    Superb summary, RJS. Thanks so much (and a very helpful analogy, too).

  • DanS

    “Why don’t we have battles about the conflict between science and faith in the explanation of weather?”

    One could as easily ask, “why don’t we have battles about the conflict between science and faith and the explanation of the resurrection or the virgin birth?”

    One could easily say “From our scientific understanding of reproduction it is clear that no divine being could have caused a child to be conceived without a human father.” or “from our scientific understanding of the cessation of life it is clear the pre-scientific mind got it wrong about the empty tomb, after all they weren’t scientific like us moderns”.

    The reasons we still debate this matter are two: 1. The issue of origins touches on the nature of man and the origin of evil in a way that seems essential to many. 2. The preoccupation of modern scientists with finding natural causes for everything eventually must rule out all miraculous events in scripture if naturalists are consistent.

    What natural cause-effect process explains walking on water, turning a few loaves and fish into a meal for 5000 or the transfiguration?

    I’m not sure even ancient near eastern Hebrews really believed rain came literally from a storehouse in the sky, but it is a convenient bit of nonsense to beat up more conservative interpreters with. But it is a two-edged sword. Either miracles, unexplainable by natural law, are possible in both testaments or the are possible in neither. Either naturalism must be applied to all miraculous claims or none of them.

  • RJS

    DanS,

    The purpose of the illustration is not to claim there is a one-to-one equivalence between the issues. The purpose is to start a conversation.

    I am not sure that the Hebrews believed in storehouses – I’d want to know what OT and ANE scholars thought about that. But I am also not sure they believed God walked in a garden or in the snake either.

    But neither the Haarsmas nor I are claiming that miracles are not possible in either testament. We are suggesting the need to read with eyes open to our preconceptions and to the form of the text we have. I have written many times before on the miracles of Jesus, virgin birth, resurrection. The miracles are an integral part of the work of Jesus during his life. We shouldn’t be looking for “natural” explanations. But the questions of ancient “science” in the text, especially in cosmology, origins, meteorology, even disease, and so forth is different.

  • phil_style

    @DanS
    “From our scientific understanding of reproduction it is clear that no divine being could have caused a child to be conceived without a human father.”

    No. this is not a conclusions from our understanding of reproduction. The conclusions from our understanding of reproduction is that there is not a natural way that a human could have been conceived without a father.

    “I’m not sure even ancient near eastern Hebrews really believed rain came literally from a storehouse in the sky”

    What did they believe? The plain reading of scripture or not?
    They had no way at all of knowing about the water cycle, evaporation and precipitation. The best evidence we have (based on reading the very descriptions of the processes they wrote down) is that they thought God was responsible for storing the water in the sky… in, yes, storehouses. That is, after all, the very terminology they applied in their descriptions.

    ” Either naturalism must be applied to all miraculous claims or none of them.”
    Why? My miraculous claim is that I just typed this via the medium of telepathy. Does your dichotomy still apply?

  • Tom Howard

    I continue to believe dialogue(ah, with the purpose of communication and understanding), education and immersion will continue to lead us further down the path…. understanding that we can never get to the goal this side of “glory”….

    I understand DanS….but at the same time, throughout the Bible and indeed just life there are many things that are met with conundrums that we just can’t get our arms around. I still want to know for sure how those dudes built the pyramids…my point…”Either naturalism must be applied to all miraculous claims or none of them”—we don’t KNOW that-we think that, yea may even believe that. When I hit snag with the Bible and my belief I default to “I don’t know enough yet”. And that is not a bad default because we simply don’t know enough yet. But dialogue like this helps us keep learning.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I think this is one of, or the, best summary I have seen on the subject. Thanks RJS.

  • Richard

    Though it’s not central to your post, the weather analogy might not provide common ground as much as we might hope. As the trailer for the HBO show Newsroom let’s on, some still believe tornadoes and hurricanes strike areas because of gay marriage (cough…Piper… cough). I think there is more conflict between faith and religion regarding weather than many would let on:

    “I’m a registered Republican, I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.”

    http://insidetv.ew.com/2012/04/02/the-newsroom-promo/#more-80907

    I’ve heard people, high and low, assign natural disasters to the moral and theological realm in contrast to anything in the teachings of Jesus or natural science.

  • RJS

    Richard,

    Your comment brings up an excellent point worth a little discussion. It isn’t that either God causes weather or natural causes determine weather. Nor is it either natural evolutionary processes lead to the diversity of life or God created the diversity of life. In both cases the Christian response, I think, should be that both God is in control and natural processes are or were at work. This is not an either/or situation.The Haarsmas discuss this in the book at an appropriate level for lay Christians (not all the detailed nuance theologians may want).

  • Scott Eaton

    RJS, this is a very helpful post. Thank you. I also like your comment to Richard in #8.

  • AHH

    I second the recommendation of the Haarsmas’ book (I have only read the first edition; RJS is describing the second). I think it is the best introduction available for “origins” issues for Christians, and it is written in a very thoughtful, irenic, accessible style.

    I think the parallel between weather and evolution works pretty well. In both cases, the need is to recognize (and confess in faith) that God is somehow sovereign over nature, even in things where we have natural explanations that don’t explicitly have a place for God.
    Throwing in things like the Virgin Birth is a red herring. We don’t need modern science to tell us virgins don’t get pregnant — science has nothing to say one way or the other about one-off miracles where there is no physical evidence about what happened.

  • MatthewS

    This is thought-provoking comparison and seems like a good rhetorical challenge to someone who is pushing hard on YEC.

    It also seems like a good comparison for asking why someone might be OK with taking the storehouse as symbolic but Adam and Eve as literal. However, while I think this could spark some good dialogue, I think it will not sway opinions.

    For it to be a truly fair comparison, the Genesis account of Adam and the references to storehouses of weather would have to be in the same basic genre. And this will quickly become circular because both “sides” already have an opinion about the genres of the related passages.

    I have heard a respected Hebrew scholar argue that Gen 1 is a straight-up sober accounting of what happened; this is from someone who has lived as a Bedouin and can flat-out read texts in at least a dozen different different languages, including various Semitic languages. I have heard a different respected Hebrew scholar argue that Gen 1 reads as a doxological text to him with no requirement or implication of a literal, chronological accounting.

    The one scholar is going to insist that the storehouse is standard poetic genre symbolism (with broad agreement, I believe) but that Gen 1 is historical narrative, therefore apples and oranges. I expect the other scholar would accept both as symbolic references and feel little internal strife over anything literal about the interpretations.

  • MattR

    No analogy is perfect… but I think this one (weather/origins) is one of the better I’ve seen on the subject. They both create an either/or situation when it’s really a both/and (God rules over creation AND science explains how).

    Why don’t we have battles about science and weather?

    Well, as others have already said, there are still some who are vocal about this. However, it is less socially and theologically acceptable to be outspoken… and I think this really just has to do with time. Years from now, most will feel the same way about origins… ‘what’s the conflict?!’ And the timing of when and how the origins issue came up… both the modernist/fundamentalist controversy, and more recently the culture wars, have kept it in play.

  • http://disorietedtheology.wordpress.com Paul A.

    Great post. Thanks for this!

    I thought it was interesting on the possibility of Adam and Eve as symbolic story that the authors raise an objection based on the difficulty of incorporating into it “original sin.”

    That seems to be backward and a little circular: We have to believe in original sin because it’s taught by this story, so therefore this story can’t be metaphorical. I’d argue perhaps original sin is only a belief because of the misuse of this story as literal history. In all of these scenarios – except the ones that argue for a literal simultaneous creation of both the world and humanity – we have a problem in that death and suffering exists before sin does. A closer look at even the literal text of Genesis 2-3, however, indicates an awareness and acceptance of death that would be impossible if it didn’t already exist. So perhaps the fact that treating Adam and Eve as symbolic forces us to reexamine the doctrine of original sin is not a problem but a benefit of that particular approach.

  • Ancius

    Is it really so important to preserve the idea that humanity’s fellowship with God was broken in a single event? I expect many thoughtful Christians would be glad to be rid of that idea, given its difficult moral implications. Even St. Paul seems unable to decently explain the idea of automatically imputing Adam’s guilt (from his single sinful act) to all of his descendants.

  • Dawne Piotrowski

    Just downloaded it to my Kindle – thanks for the review!

  • Luke

    I understand it. When you start believing that the seven day creation was not literal, you think, well then the historicity of Adam & Eve goes out the window too…as does Noah…and the Tower of Babel… and pretty soon you’re not really 100% sure about the rest of Genesis either, or even the Torah as a whole. I’m still on the fence about Abraham onward.

    I’ve kept all this to myself over the years. When I talk to people about it I find that I talk as if I believe both are true. One day I’m talking about the big bang and the next day I’m telling someone “you know, when I think about it as weird as it sounds I bet Adam really didn’t have a belly button…” (which I suppose is true either way :b)

  • Luke

    (Of course, that whole process took years. For years and years I just accepted that Genesis 1 was probably not meant to be taken literally since it was a poem and all but I held on to the rest of it. It was pretty recently that I first questioned Genesis 2 through Babel.)

  • tom r

    I think Paul A. and Ancius have the right idea but it will be difficult to abandon such a long held dogma.

  • Jeremy

    And the false ultimatum expressed by Dan in #2 is a driving reason I know a lot of people that think Christianity is silly. “Either miracles, unexplainable by natural law, are possible in both testaments or the are possible in neither. Either naturalism must be applied to all miraculous claims or none of them.”

    Why? Because you say so? On whose authority is this sentiment turned into law?

  • Alan K

    @Ancius #14
    I like your comment but in defense of St. Paul he was not trying to be a troubled geneticist in the letter to the Romans. His point was theological. The apostle does not look forward from Adam to make sense of Christ but rather Christ defines Adam. So I think that St. Paul would agree with you that humanity’s awful ordeal is not primarily demonstrated in Genesis 3. Instead the apostle would point us to the cross as the demonstration of humanity’s helplessness.

  • Bev Mitchell

    RJS

    Great post and it should be very helpful. 

    To those who chafe when scientists run out of the lab shouting, we’ve found a ‘natural’ explanation for X : 

    If you believe God made, is making and sustains everything, including nature, why should a discovery that improves our understanding of God’s good work be a cause for concern, rather than a cause for rejoicing? As for the atheistic scientist now having more ammunition, as she sees it, for her position against God, not much has changed. She still awaits a loving encounter with the Holy Spirit, we all understand God’s work a bit better.

    As this fine post points out, it’s long past time that we all had a good look at what Scripture is meant, by God, to accomplish. Answering mechanistic “How?” questions does not seem to be high on the revelatory list. “Who?” and “Why?” fare far better, and, on those fronts, Scripture give us more than enough material for a lifetime of faithful following of the Holy Spirit’s lead.

    BTW (this is a freebee that just pooped into my head), do you know that more than half of biologists are women and that many departments of biology have a majority of women on faculty? This is a far better rate than even theological departments who have an equality statement. 

    Also, BTW, I greatly appreciate them but am not one of them, despite my name.

  • Bev Mitchell

    People interested in this general topic might want to follow/participate in the discussion going on over at Thomas Jay Oord’s blog at http://thomasjayoord.com/index.php/blog/

    The following statement, made by me, gives you a flavor of what you will encounter there. If this is too far out for your tastes, don’t worry about it.

    “An alternative idea, that, strangely, appears to make many uneasy, holds that God is so great, so loving, so resourceful, that he can allow complete freedom of action/decision within his creation. No actions/decisions, or combinations thereof, by any part of his creation can thwart his ultimate goals. The paths to the goals will be flexible; God’s goals, however, will be met. God’s will will prevail; his way is sure. This God is large beyond any hope of our understanding, exercising a kind of sovereignty we cannot fathom. We have no idea how he will accomplish his ends. We must rely completely on him, as he reveals himself to us in various ways. This God is still creating and perfecting all things, through love. This, I do find comforting!”

  • DanS

    Jeremy #19. I find it hard to believe you entirely missed my point. “On whose authority is this sentiment turned into law?”

    I am only applying what is the stated legal opinion of federal judges Jones and Overton as to the definition of science. This oft-repeated definition gives legal and professional cover to those who say neither ID nor any form of creationism can be considered science precisely because science by definition is limited to natural law explanations ALONE. Quite clearly in the court cases, science MUST explain all things in accordance with natural law alone. If there is a conflict between science and faith, that is the source.

    Based on that definition, nothing outside of natural law can ever be considered to be in the realm of science, therefore, science and faith are completely separate enterprises, a false distinction, but useful to those who want to bludgeon creationists and ID advocates with charges of anti-intellectual stupidity. Faith is in one realm, science another, and no appeal to anything beyond nature is permitted as a causal explanation for any natural phenomena – this is the way our culture has been conditioned to think.

    That is, in practice, the approach to the “science” side of origins issues taken by most in the theistic evolution or evolutionary creation camp – methodological naturalism, even while protesting against philosophical naturalism. That is often the basis for dismissal of all suggestions of genuine creative activity in the discussion of origins.

    So it is not my rule, it is the unfortunate law of the land and the iron clad creed of the academy.
    And in the case of the post above, the condescending insinuations are two: 1) That naive conservative literalists have never wrestled with the question of how to interpret imagery and poetry as opposed to historical narrative, (hence the storehouse must obviously be a literal storehouse if conservatives interpret consistently). 2) Since science has in fact explained to us the naturalistic causes of rain that primitive Hebrews wouldn’t know about, truly enlightened interpreters will come around to seeing Genesis 1-3 as equally unworthy of a “wooden” or “literalistic” reading. Seems to suggest conservatives are incapable of understanding genre, nuance, conventions of language and context in addition to misunderstanding the legal definition of science.

    There are specific and cogent arguments WHY conservatives believe the account of Adam and the fall are simply not intended by the author of Genesis, nor Jesus, nor Paul to be figurative – reasons that have to do with genre, grammar, syntax, context, logical consistency and theological cohesion. Those reasons are rarely and only grudgingly acknowledged here.

    But my point remains: If one insists on natural law explanations for events in the Old Testament that are portrayed by the author of Genesis, by Paul, by Peter and Christ as one-off creative actions of a Creator, then one is inconsistent if one fails to apply the same iron-clad naturalistic assumptions to miraculous events in the New Testament.

    I repeat myself. If it is not necessary to posit a natural law explanation for the virgin birth, why should one look for a natural law explanation for the singular event of speaking the cosmos into existence or forming the first man?

    Let God be God. While he certainly is behind natural law, nothing in scripture suggests for a moment he limits himself by it.

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    I can’t help but sense this modern conflict between science and the bible, the literal versus the figurative (or symbolic), faith versus history etc. are dualisms and dichotomoies of our own making. I heard RJS and a few others wonderfully suggest that many issues are more of both/ands than either/ors. To that I can only smile and nod my head in agreement. The ghost of Kant or modernity is with us in more ways than I can count.

  • Robert A

    I think you, RJS, are making too much of a minor issue to prop up your argument.

    One of my contentions is that God uses natural processes to accomplish His plan…or that the process God uses to accomplish His plan seem natural to us.

    I don’t know too many people who hold to verbal dictation theory of inspiration anymore, maybe you do. So one can say the inspired authors of Scripture were using their natural gifting to best describe what they saw and understood. There is nothing at all disconcerting about that view. They were being faithful to their context and faithful to the point being made.

    FEIW, I still beLieve God uses neutral events to accomplish His plan…including aspects of the weather. That doesn’t make me obtuse does it?

    In these passages the authors are describing events and how God moves differently than we might, but does that give us the right to question their ultimate point…that is sovereign?

  • Robert A

    Natural events…okay I’m done using my iPad to reply around here…:)

  • CGC

    Dear Robert,
    Read RJS comments again . . . RJS point was that God is both sovereign and uses natural events.

  • R Hampton

    If the randomness of Evolution upsets some Christians, then they ought to be equally upset at the notion of free will, and for the same reasons.

    Consider how important a role Judas and Pontius Pilate played in the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan. If free will is true, then either one could have chosen a different path and thereby thwarted the prophesied crucifixion of Christ. Seemingly the fate of humanity was not planned with God’s absolute certainty but instead left to the whims of Man.

    The Thomas Aquinas influenced theology of Roman Catholicism, however, insists that that free will, like randomness, does not limit the omnipotence of God nor discredit the perfection of Providence.

  • RJS

    CGC (#27),

    Thanks – that is my point, and it was the major point made by the Haarsma’s in their book as well. God is both sovereign and often uses natural events. Miraculous interventions occur, but are rather rare and serve a purpose in the mission of God in the world. In addition the “straightforward” interpretation of scripture isn’t always straightforward. The illustration from the book that opens this post is meant to be a conversation starter.

  • BAB

    I really don’t see how we can understand the Bible without recognizing the limited scientific knowledge the writers had, so they described things we now approach with science in a spiritual and theological way. Every culture did it, but the culture that God revealed himself to became the one that gave us Jesus the Messiah. Now we have a more mechanistic view of the world–we can see how things happen that they couldn’t, but we can still realize that the theological lessons God taught them are valid without subscribing to their descriptions of natural causes. I also don’t see how we can take what appears to me to be poetic language and turn it into factual proof, in Psalms, Jeremiah, and Job. For that matter, the Bible is not equivocal that Deuteronomy 28 is correct. I would hate to build a theology of weather on four verses, just as I would hate to limit my theology of sin to Genesis 3.


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