And if I by this shall lose the support of some of my dear fellow-workers, then I shall look to the Lord that He will raise up others in their place, if it be His will that this little magazine continue.
If I, by what I may say on this, may wound fellow-saints and servants God knows it is not my will to do so—needlessly. Let no one construe it as attacks on persons—on flesh—members of the Body. "We war not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places."—Eph. 6:12.
SPINNING IT OUT TO ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSION:
Let us for a moment take the logical viewpoint of this concept and see where it will lead us. You know if the foundation of the house leans but very slightly it would not effect the first story very much, but if you followed the same slant up to the fortieth story, then it would be disastrous. So let us follow the direction and see where we are going.
They tell us that the minutest details in the universe have been pre-determined by God. Not only that He is able to exercise all necessary control, but that He has actually decided that every detail must go into history just the way it comes to pass, at the moment it comes to pass.
After a long discussion with one of the contenders for this concept I said to him: "Do you really believe that if I stick my right hand in my coat pocket as I go up this stairway, that God had pre-determined that I was to make the trivial movement, just that way at that moment?" He emphasized it positively, and asked me how I had authority to say that any movement was trivial and insignificant? It might be an epoch-making movement, for all we knew!
So, according to that, when the dog here on the floor just now tried to intercept a flee on its left leg, that was to happen just then and there; and when a few moments later another flee (which I supposed it was) disturbed the dog's peace by manifesting on his right side, that was a divinely fore-ordained event!
It was also divinely fore-ordained just how many microbes there should be in the universe at a given moment. How many mosquitoes and insects of every description there should be, and not only that, but every turn, and swing, and step, and crawl that each fly and flee and louse should make during its life was also divinely fore-ordained.
When the mother cat licks the kitten in the rear end first and then in the front, it was divinely ordained that it should take place just that way and at that moment, and it could not follow the reversed order!
And if I put my left foot out of bed first on Monday morning, but my right foot first on Tuesday, it was pre-determined that it should take place just in that order, and nothing else could happen!
Silly, you say! Yes, super-silly.
But if so, then maybe God has not fore-ordained everyone of all such insignificant details?
But if that is admitted, then there must be a dividing line somewhere between what God has and has not pre-decided.
Where is that line? You ask.
I do not know where. And thank God neither I, nor anyone else, need to know where. But we can indicate it by a general principle.
It is between that which in His eyes is essential and what is non-essential for the carrying out of His purposes.
Well, some have objected, here is where I get into difficulty. I am unable to see just where to draw the line.
Did God ask you to draw the exact line? If not, why be so concerned about it? Why should you have it all classified?
Most of my readers will certainly admit that God had fore-ordained certain people for certain purposes. "Them He fore-knew, He also pre-destinated. But them He also called." How did He call them? By the preaching of the gospel, of course. But He did not furnish a list for his messengers of each of these, did He? Why then should it be necessary to know the exact lines between utterly insignificant details?
Sorting out what is essential and non-essential! Who ever suggested that we had to do that?
Does the fact, that we believe that the Sun is essential for our life on this earth, and also that there are thousands of other suns that do not seem essential, imply a duty on our part to classify which of these suns are, or are not, essential?
A lot of nonsense could easily be dispensed with. But nonsense from the proper sources is "essential" for some. They cannot live without it, it seems. They hold it to be divine truth.
CONSOLATION FROM A SPURIOUS SOURCE
Some tell us that they have such wonderful consolation, comfort and rest in the conviction that, when some have belied them, back-bitten them, slandered, maligned and blackened them, or the pickpocket has stolen their purse, it was God Who had inspired all such dirty acts, and wanted them to be done then and there!
I cannot see why there is not just as much consolation and comfort in the conviction that even though these evil acts were not instigated by God, He knew all about it, and He can, and will, use His Love, Power and Wisdom to transmute the evil into good. He can paralyze the evil motives of evil beings by intervening with His good motives and use His power of transformation. I am sure I have just as much comfort and assurance without involving God in such criminal acts.
I am unable to see that such participation on God's part would in any way enhance the values of any experience that I have gone through.
When I was a child I was nearly killed by a mad ram, but was saved by my foster father. Did his good act lose any of its value to me because he did not instigate the attack by the ram? Was not the fact that he intercepted and controlled the vicious animal an all-sufficient cause for my gratefulness? It sure was to me.
I do not doubt for a moment that God does inspire some evil acts, when they are necessary for His purposes. There are plenty of scriptures to base such belief on. Just to indicate some samples: Judg. 14:4; I Sam. 16; Ps. 105:25, etc..
But I cannot see that this gives anybody authorization to teach that God instigates every evil thought, desire, motive and act in mankind. Let those who are sure that they are thus authorized go ahead and teach it, but I would appreciate not to be marked as an adversary and opposer of God's truth when I cannot teach it. And furthermore, I shall never charge God with having inspired the acts and unfavorable reflections on what I teach, and the consequent disfellowshipping that certain ones find justified to put into effect. My conviction is that all such things emanate from the flesh—contrary to God's repeated admonitions and instructions in righteousness.
IS ALL OUT OF GOD?
Yes, and NO!
As far as I know there is not a single scripture that teaches that everything is out of God, immediately, directly and absolutely.
And when I see that such a conception brings me into extremes and fallacies that are utterly unscriptural what then compels me to believe it?
Nothing that I have said in the foregoing denies that all is out of God; but believing that much is out of Him only indirectly and relatively is all that the oft repeated statement that, all is out of God demands.
How then do I understand it?
Simply this way: He is the First Cause of the universe. For wise and loving reasons He intended sin and evil to come in. (Ro. 8:20; Ecl. 1:13, etc.) But LOVE could not permit anything to come in that would permanently harm His creatures. And there was no necessity for such a disaster because He had infinite Power, Wisdom and Knowledge to prevent it. Sin and evil was essential for His self-revelation to man and the rest of the universe.
He equipped some of His creatures with the same power that He, Himself had, to generate and promote evil, independent of His immediate and direct action.
Because He gave this power, volitionally and voluntarily, He is also responsible for all the ultimate results of the use—or abuse—of this power.
But the fact, that His creatures have been given such power is the first basic provision for making them accountable.
But only such power was not enough to make man accountable. He had to have the liberty and opportunity to use this power.
Now if man is a mechanism that does all the time what God had pre-determined to be done then he cannot be held accountable to God.
In fact, if all do exactly what God has determined to be done—and that it is just what and only what He wills to be done, even down to the minutest detail of life (as the defenders of this theory maintain), then even the most devilish criminals have never sinned. They have never "missed the mark", they have invariably executed His perfect will.
They have no choice in the matter.
They have no freedom at all.
They always live in perfect obedience to His will, doing all the time just what, and only what, God has pre-determined for them to do.
There is no room for Justification by Grace, because they have never been guilty of any violation of the will of God.
There is no room for discipline, because they have never failed.
They can claim, and are fully justified in expecting the compensations or rewards that He has promised to those who serve Him faithfully.
IS NOT THIS FATALISM?
The advocates of this philosophy emphatically declare that it is not, and this because it is not the mystical power called "Fate" that has pre-determined all the details, but God.
But is that the essential part what name or appellation you give the positive, arbitrary, dictatorial power that is supposed to compel all the details to come precisely as they do?
Is it not rather the inherent character of the matter that is essential?
Call it Godism, Jehovahism, Lordism or anything you choose. What difference does it make when the character and the results are identically the same?
You say it gives such a wonderful consolation to know that it is God Who has pre-determined all details.
I fully admit that to be so, if one can persuade himself that this is divine truth, but (as said before), I have fully as much satisfaction, comfort and encouragement by knowing that God controls every detail of life, without charging Him with the crime of directly instigating every sin and crime.
And secondly: Is there no difference in the way the godly and the ungodly are subject to the power of sin and evil?
According to the concept we are discussing the only difference is in the amount of sin and evil that God has decided for each individual to commit.
But as I see it in the Scriptures, the "children of disobedience" are under the jurisdiction of the Chief of the jurisdiction of the air, while the saints have been equipped and qualified to resist and overcome evil.
But if everything is "out of God" in such a way that it is bound to happen, inevitably, unavoidably, what is the use then of the believers equipment? I say again: What is the use, and what is the difference when all are compelled to commit just that amount of sin and evil that God has allotted to them to do?
Elsewhere in this paper you will find an account of some abominable sins committed by certain "saints" who had been deceived to accept this fallacious fatalist theory. Instead of grief and repentance they defended their acts by it being "All out of God!" If the principle that "by their fruits ye shall know them" applies to doctrines as well as persons (and I have no doubt as to that), then what kind of doctrine is this? Shall we go on nourishing this monstrous thing, or shall we banish it from our hearts and minds?
"OPERATING ALL IN ACCORD WITH THE COUNSEL OF HIS WILL"—Eph. 1:11.
This is the scripture that is used besides the several times repeated statement, that "all is out of God," to prove that He had pre-determined every little detail of life. I am persuaded that the theory we are discussing is an unwarranted and far-fetched inference from these scriptures.
It is argued that if God did not have every detail and item of the universe in His original plans then He might be running in a circle.
Is He even more incapable and limited than human beings?
I maintain that it was not necessary that all and every little item was pre-decided. If it had to be then He is behind humans incapability.
Let me illustrate;
A construction engineer has a building under way. Every detail as to how it is to be when finished is found in the blueprints and specifications. Everything that is essential for the accomplishment of the project is pre-planned, and he "works everything according to the counsel of his will" with the fulfilment of the project in view.
But there are thousands of insignificant details that he does not give a single moment's attention to, because they are non-essential.
Whether a workman has pork and beans, or ham and eggs, coffee or tea in his lunch box he does not care a snap about, and whether his men turn their faces east, west, north or south while eating does not concern him one whit. If an unintended accident or incident comes in he deals with it according to his best judgment and ability, but there are thousands of details related to the progress of the project that is not found in either blueprints or specifications, but the absence of pre-knowledge of, or pre-planning of these insignificant and incidental details does not in any way, form or manner, prevent him from "working all things in accord with the counsel of his will" as far as necessary for his purpose.
If it was necessary that every footstep, every handshake, every eye glance, every word to be uttered during the construction of a building had to be pre-planned, then I will say the first building would yet be unplanned and unbuilt.
Now only a fool would say that all such details had to be planned beforehand in a human project.
But even these teachers of this fatalistic notion admit that man is so clever that he can accomplish even the most complicated undertaking without such pre-knowledge and pre-planning.
But if God undertook carrying out His Eonian purpose without having every minute detail planned beforehand He would be running in a circle! Yes, so they tell us—logically (?) and inferentially—of course.
So after all man is far more efficient than God!
Is it not clear and plain beyond a doubt that a concept that goes to such extremities when carried to its logical conclusion must have a foundation entirely out of level?
No, it is not necessary that God pre-determine and instigate every thought, desire, motive and act in order to "work all things according to the counsel of His will." All that is necessary for that purpose is that He is able to control all such movements in and by any and all of His creatures, whenever such control is needed.
I will defend it to the last ditch that "All is out of God" and that "He worketh all things in accord with the counsel of His will," but these precious, inspired statements do not demand that I believe that God is the direct source, inspirer and instigator of every sin and evil. That is a human corruption of His word. It is insisting that a certain interpretation IS His truth.
A SUBTLE DENIAL OF HIS OMNIPOTENCE
Did you ever think of it that the theory, that, in order to "work all things according to the counsel of His will" He had, necessarily, to determine and instigate every detail, has a subtle denial of His Omnipotence?
Why so? you say.
If He cannot control, and work out His purpose through and by anything else but what He, Himself, has started, directly, then He is limited in power. He would be in the same class as a human that must always be on the alert not to start anything or permit anything that he is not able to control. But God is not afraid that someone may start a rock rolling that He cannot stop any moment. His plan is just the opposite. He says, let them start it—anything they can imagine. "He that is in the heavens laughs at them and has them in derision." Ps. 2. In fact, it was just this that He wanted. "I have created the Waster." Why? "To destroy" He says. He wants opposition, that He may show His strength.
LITTLE DETAILS—BIG DETAILS—
Yes, sometimes. But that does certainly not warrant me to teach that every little detail in life is—or may be—of great importance. It is too far-fetched an inference.
Does the blessed assurance God gives us that, He has even numbered the hairs on the heads of His loved ones tell us that He has done the same for every human being? It is not a question if He can do it. Sure He can, but where does it say that He has done it. If He has, then we who are His are of no special interest to Him. Let me see it in the Scriptures that He has the same care for the ungodly and I will believe it, but in the absence of such declarations I should not be indicated as a perverter of God's truth by not believing it.
Does the consequences of the cry of the infant Moses warrant me to believe that every cry of every infant in the world is of equal importance in the plan and purpose of God? Does the results of a sleepless night on the part of a certain monarch, and the subsequent world-wide consequences of it warrant me to teach that every sleepless night of any and every human being is—or may be—just as far-reaching in their effects throughout the ages? and that God has pre-ordained every sleepless night, even those which have been caused by downright craziness and dissipation? If I find it in the Scriptures I will surely believe it.
I do not say that any of the teachers that I have had in mind while writing this comes bluntly out and stretches God's pre-determination to the extremes that I have tried to refute in this article; but here is what I find time and time again: Folks write me to refute what I have said in regard to these subjects and urge me to read this and that article, in this and that paper to see that that is just what it means that "all is out of God," that He does pre-determine and instigate every minute detail in the universe—nothing excepted.
In other words, that is the idea that a good many get out of these articles I have had in mind, and by great many personal conversations I find the same. Whether the authors of such articles really desire to create that concept or not, IT IS THERE, CREATED AND MAINTAINED BY SUCH WRITINGS.
I hope that this is understood, that I do not charge anyone with the intentional desire to formulate the fatalistic theories that I have dealt with here, but that is, nevertheless, the results in the minds of great many. I leave it then to these fellow-servants and to others to judge if, or not, there is something wrong with such presentation. If these writers have deliberately aimed at creating the fatalistic doctrines then they have obtained just what they sought. If they have not, the results are there just the same.
May then this article be used by the Lord to open the eyes of some who have been enslaved by this unscriptural concept, and help many to shun and avoid it as a direct emanation from the Arch Enemy.
E. A. Larsen Last updated 4.10.2008