Quote of the Day, from John Goldingay

Quote of the Day, from John Goldingay March 3, 2018


“Students are not pleased when I point out that there is no indication in Scripture that God has a plan for the life of each individual. God has a plan that we should come to maturity in Christ and to holiness, but there was no basis for thinking that God has a plan for who we should marry or what job we should have or where we should go to seminary. It isn’t surprising; wise and loving fathers [and mothers] don’t have plans for their children. The children’s human maturing involves discerning and deciding on their career, their marriage, and so on. Possibly God has a plan for the lives of particular individuals when he intended them to be his servants in particular ways [see e.g. St. Paul and Gal. 1], and certainly Scripture indicates that God has a plan for a particular or period of action in an individual’s life.” (p. 99 in ‘I Still Believe’ edited by Byron and Lohr).

I would add to this that because the Bible is written in an age where it was understood that corporate personality was in play, and group identity was primary, and individual identity entirely secondary, the Bible has quite a lot to say about God’s plan for his people as a whole and as a group. To that extent, individuals have a purpose in that plan as they participate and serve the body of Christ. But Goldingay is right that God wants us all to grow up and make our own Scripture guided decisions. He has not set up a committee of angels to whisper to us what God’s will is for our every move. He allows us some freedom of choice, even freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.

And one more quote from the same book, this one from Ellen Davis of Duke: “I am now convinced that our modern Western culture places excessive emphasis on the value of individual decision-making. . What we think of as the normal steps by which decision-making proceeds–identifying goals, evaluating options, weighing pros and cons, then ‘deciding for oneself’– is not the only or best way to make a sound choice. It may be better to submit to the process of guided prayer, under the direction of someone who is deeply experienced in that work.” [pp. 44-45 in I (Still) Believe] BW3

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