God is in control. This or a variation of it, is a statement I’ve heard people say for many years. Conversation about beliefs or theology can, sometimes, end in that sentiment which I think most people find somehow comforting or maybe helps make them feel less responsible. Either way, I like to ask the questions that lead to asking, what if God isn’t in control?
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To ask this I have to operate under a kind of assumption in what I think people mean when they say this. To do this, I’m also taking their use of control in the literal sense. Before I muddy the waters or annoy with my unpopular opinion, I will add my usual disclaimer. This is me pondering, questioning and being what I strive to be every day – a critical thinker. I’m not pretending anyone or anything backs this up. This is just me, writing after many thoughts and conversation. First let’s take a look at the definition of “control.”
con·trol | \ kən-ˈtrōl \
Definition of control
1a: to exercise restraining or directing influence over
b: to have power over
c: to reduce the incidence or severity of especially to innocuous levels
Looking at the 1a definition, here’s a definition suggesting that control means influence and as such, this would mean God directs actions and there’s no choice. The ‘b’ definition talks of ruling or power. Then ‘c’ talks about regulating something such as helping to curb something’s severity.
In theory these could all fit under the umbrella term of “well, it’s up to God” or “God is in control.” I’m not sure the first time that term really made me sit up and think or perhaps feel a slight twitch of bother. But whatever, with exception to ways in which I would say control applies, I don’t believe in this sentiment. Here’s why.TO ASK A QUESTION: WHAT IF GOD ISN’T IN CONTROL? #CHRISTIANITY #BIBLE #OPINIONS #UNPOPULAROPINION #UNPOPULAROPINIONS Click To Tweet
If we believe God’s in (directing influence) control this means two things. One it essentially eliminates personal responsibility. The next thing this would mean is that, essentially, God is “directing” sin. This irrevocably I DO NOT believe. Yet, when part of the definition in Merriam Webster is to have “directing influence over,” I cannot help but feel control implies this. The Britannica website also describes control, in part, as the following, “to direct the behavior of (a person or animal): to cause (a person or animal) to do what you want.”
In particular I take exception to that last line that says control means to make someone do what you want.
If I were to give the benefit of the doubt, I would say, when people use the term “control” about God, they don’t mean by this definition. However, I also am a bit of a cynic.
We have a free will as human beings. This then also means the choices we make we are accountable for.
God can show us something in a number of ways, but if we refuse to take that council or that life raft, it will not benefit us. I think believing that He controls everything often helps us feel “better.” It takes away the enormous burden or responsibility of us having to own up to something.
God is in control when it comes to the truth that He sits on the throne and is God. He is also in control in that the final judgement is His.
Beyond this, I have all kinds of quibbles with the idea that God controls human action. God can influence life, yes. But does he if we don’t seek that influence? Mankind is the chaos of the world. That is the result of wrong choice after wrong choice, evil after evil.
These are my musings and a right vs wrong feeling I have. Sometimes theology that the church teaches is off. I also don’t buy everything a leader (man) tells me or preaches, sometimes it’s dangerous if we do. I like to think for myself and to consider things. It’s no different with this kind of commonplace phrase of God is in control. For me, it doesn’t comfort. In fact, it does the precise opposite.
If God is in control (influence) of these things that make headlines or of the world stage, then that is indeed a day for loss of hope. That is something I’m not prepared to accept.
Over to you. What are your thoughts on God’s control? Do you believe He controls everything from your life to the choices of those in leadership? How do you define this phrase so often used? What would be your interpretation of the phrase? How do you use it? Comment all the comments. Let’s – respectfully – converse in the comments.
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*The definition descriptions are from Merriam Webster, and also we reference Britannica