God…Can I Have My Allowance?

Again, I think that all of this would much more easily be solved by simply affirming that God’s nature is not that of a supernatural interventionist who has the power to act upon the world from the outside if he/she so decides to, but rather as a creative force that acts through the natural world, through persuasion rather than coercion. Take away the idea of God as omnipotent supernatural interventionist, and the problem of theodicy goes away.” (Mystical Seeker – on ‘Ehrman and Wright’)

The first line I actually agree with altogether – God seems to be in the business of allowance – letting humans decide their own fates. This would be similar to a parent’s actual level of control over a teenager or a young adult – limited but still loving.

However, if I can use the parent comparison some more, even sometimes the parent does break-through and is allowed to help in a decision for the grown, responsible child.

God may not be into intervening per se – just don’t tell that to the Jewish Nation – Exodus is just such an event for them. Now real or not, we can make our judgments about that, the fact is this is a theological viewpoint from within the texts of the bible. But here we have a case of God’s intervention – actually – a lot of the biblical narratives contain intervention (even up to the prophets themselves – who sort of change the interventionist mold).

I see a move in the theological viewpoint from Adam to Noah to Abraham/Moses to Joshua to Judges to Kings and to Prophets. If you check it out – we move farther away from intervention directly from God to intervention through humanity (via the words of God). I think intervention has to be real or why even look into the idea of a God at all (Ehrman has a point here) – intervention is in the texts themselves is even a cornerstone of God’s connection with humanity.

The problem of evil, for me, is answered in the idea of God’s allowance…God is letting humanity shape itself with the very words of God. Even if God spoke directly at one point (Sinai) – there does seem to be a shift from the treatment of humans as children (needing to be led) to adults (using the words now to define the path). God wants us to be responsible with what we were given by God (created for). This is where evil is given a chance – in choice – we can ask Adam about this…maybe even Moses.

For me, God intervenes…on some small level now – but largely through the written teachings. I’d be remiss to say God is no longer in the business of intervention – then God doesn’t have the ability more or less – and that’s may be stripping from the reality of the Creator. The created can think the Creator is made in its image.

Maybe God is leaving the responsibility of intervention also within our hands – the teachings we embrace cover ideas directly linked to this – peace, justice/mercy, love, charity, community, etc. I think the problem is ‘is God letting us be more responsible’? And this may be to the human failure/success – but that’s no better or worse a prospect than Noah’s times.

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9 thoughts on “God…Can I Have My Allowance?

  1. Actaully Siddharth, I am a believer in God – which is rather funny that you read me as being an unbeliever (or maybe you are a bot?). Either way, I do believe in God – sorry if it seems like I don’t (maybe that’s what I get for being un-orthodox).

  2. Hi Jason,
    The idea of God as Father literally is biblical. Also the progressive revelation, treating people like small children through to standing among us and letting us judge Him is consistent with a child growing up. We start off getting one whack per day till age 5, then we get consequences for what we do, and then one day, we go out drinking with Dad. I read an article that was more descriptive years ago on this but dunno where it is now. Interesting thoughts.

  3. Torah portrays God as a parent, neither father nor mother but rather a combination of both. To speak of God only as ‘father’ would surely be to limit God.

    “Both man and woman were created in the image of G-d. According to most Jewish scholars, ‘man’ was created in Gen. 1:27 with dual gender, and was later separated into male and female.” Judaism 101

    Deuteronomy 32 speaks of God being in labor and nursing; it speaks of God using the image of a female bird caring for its young. There is also a place in Isaiah which speaks of God both as a warrior and as a laboring mother in the same passage, I just don’t remember where off the top of my head and I’m not home to look it up. God is often spoken of in very masculine terms, but also in feminine terms as well.

    G-d is Neither Male nor Female
    This followed directly from the fact that G-d has no physical form. As one rabbi explained it to me, G-d has no body, no genitalia, therefore the very idea that G-d is male or female is patently absurd. We refer to G-d using masculine terms simply for convenience’s sake, because Hebrew has no neutral gender; G-d is no more male than a table is. [a word that is also masculine in Hebrew]

    Although we usually speak of G-d in masculine terms, there are times when we refer to G-d using feminine terms. The Shechinah, the manifestation of G-d’s presence that fills the universe, is conceived of in feminine terms, and the word Shechinah is a feminine word. ” Judaism 101

    I’ve always been amused by the fact that most people claim to relate to God through God’s spirit, which is feminine, yet they still speak of God’s spirit in terms of ‘He’. Personally I find having this be an obviously feminine aspect of God comforting.

    Aside from Shekinah, however, I try to just speak of God as God without using ‘He’ or ‘She’. If I feel compelled to use a pronoun I will use ‘He’ since that is the usual convention, but I do not think of God as male. This was actually something I studied with Rabbi at one time because if God was male, I wanted nothing to do with God. I also wasn’t interested in taking on the view of some feminists who speak of God solely in feminine terms, however. That, too, is a distorted reading of the texts. I prefer balance, God has both male and female characteristics since both male and female were created in the image of God. In some ways God is my parent, but not my father.

    As usual, Jim, we disagree.

  4. Society,

    This is good stuff. I really like what you’ve written. I agree with Jim, but would say that the issue is a “both/and.” God does intervene (naturally and supernaturally), and He also allows us to act on our own. This is Calvinism at it’s core: Both free will and God’s sovereignty (it can be so caricaturized to be only God’s sovereignty, but that’s not what Calvin actually believed).

    Also, now that Believers have the Holy Spirit, even our allowed acts of Free will are influenced/enabled/helped by the Spirit of God dwelling within us. And that’s pretty stinkin’ cool.

  5. I do think that God participates actively in the world. So I suppose in that sense God could be said to be “interventionist”. It is the nature of that participation that I think needs to be considered. Instead of operating against the laws of nature from the outside, I think that God’s active participation is through the world via persuasive means.

    For what it’s worth, Rabbi Harold Kushner, who wrote “When Bad Things Happen to Bad People”, believes that, in the wake of the Holocaust, the idea of divine interventionism makes no sense. While not all Jews would agree with him on this, what he offers is one Jewish perspective.

  6. what Mystical Seeker is stating is tenents of Process Theology.

    http://toothface.blogspot.com/2007/10/intro-to-process-theology.html

    http://toothface.blogspot.com/2007/10/process-continued-wiki.html

    i really enjoy some aspects of this theology although i don’t agree with parts about the afterlife, the non-intervention of God and concept of ‘sin’. of course us heretics won’t buy into an orthodoxy 100% anyway as heretic means “Choice”.

    i think that God can directly act when God decides. God reveals and when absolutely nessesary intervenes.. but that is to say in very subtle ways. no massive trumpets, no choirs of angels from on high… simple things like a leaf blowing right when you think it’d blow left and this changes your whole outlook for the rest of the day… or taking a different way home only to realize there was a horrible crash… subtle small changes add up to BIG things. if we’re waiting for someone to walk on water, we’re missing the miracles that are happening every day.

    just a few thoughts and rants.. great post!

  7. I enjoyed reading this post…thought provoking.

    I see God intervening differently throughout His word. Communicating with Adam in the Garden to visiting Abraham and eating a meal. At one time leading His people as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, having His presence fill the Holy of Holies until the sad depiction of His presence leaving in Ezekial. All very awesome and now, as Brad said, His presence within – AMAAZING.

    Thanks, Society. 😉

  8. All I know is God is somewhere – and not contained by me…and I am contained by me (and to some levels, my wife). Maybe God is everywhere – but I know I am not. Maybe there is hope in the greatest hope – but also pain in the greatest hope. It’s strange when you think about it – God let US rule things – I only see the responsibility God has given us…I would say i cannot define the side of God (I try).

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