God Can’t! (You heard me right)
In my previous post, [https://faithontheedge.org/openfuture/] I looked at the biblical case that the future is open. This means that no future has been decided which we are merely walking into. Since the future is yet to be, we humans have a hand in making it what it will be for good or ill. The task for humanity, and in particular, followers of Jesus, is to do this in partnership with God. In this, we are co-creators with God, a point the writers of the story of Adam in the Garden wanted to make. Without human cooperation, the world (the Garden) would go into disrepair. So, is it any wonder that the world is full of violence, oppression, fierce competition for its resources, and little that resembles the kingdom of God?
Take another look at the Omni-God
For people who bear the brunt of this, a cry often heard is why doesn’t God do something about this? The short answer is, God can’t. And to know why, we need to reexamine the characteristics of God known as the omnis: omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence. Having done so, we will have the answer to one of the most perplexing problems of the millennia. As detailed in the previous post, the biblical evidence portrays a God who is not omniscient. God needs to go down to Sodom to see for himself what he has been hearing. Also, God does not know if the right choice was made for Abraham, so he had to test him. Had God known the future, this would have been unnecessary. This goes, as well, for omnipresence. As for omnipotence, the biblical evidence is that God once used overwhelming power to destroy the world and start over, but this was tempered with the rainbow promise never to do it again.
What we are left with is a need to revise our definitions of the omnis. The one characteristic of God that is universally upheld in the New Testament is God is love. With that in mind, we can temper the philosophical notions of the omnis to make them more in line with love. The biblical God knows all that can be known, not everything (including the future). This knowledge offers loving choices to us each moment that can lead us out of bewilderment into clarity. God’s omnipresence is not used to act as the heavenly beat cop looking to nab the sinner, but to offer options that lead from estrangement to wholeness. God’s power, though vast, is restrained. It is a loving power that seeks only the best in us and offers strength to those who seek it.
Earlier I said that “God can’t.” It’s not that God won’t, but that God is hamstrung by humanity’s unwillingness to cooperate with God’s intentions for the creation. Every time that someone acts out God’s intention God is released in the world. Every time someone goes against God’s intention, God is blocked from the world.
The question is not Where is God, but Where are you?
Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is within us. It desires to break out from us and find its place in our lives and in the world. That’s another way of saying that God is within us and waiting as well. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote in God in Search of Man, “All of human history as described in the Bible may be summarized in one phrase: God is in search of man. Faith in God is a response to God’s question . . .’Where art thou.” He also wrote, “There is an eternal cry in the world: God is beseeching man; some are startled; others deaf.” This beseeching is all about one thing: God is saying, “Bring me into the world by partnering with me.” This then is the answer to the theodicy question of why there is suffering in the world. God can’t do anything about it until we do something about it. An anonymous quote captures this well. “I used to shout at God, ‘Why don’t you feed the starving children until I realized God was shouting back at me.’”
The atheist’s claim that there is no evidence that God exists is not leveled on the absence of a good theory for God’s existence. They know all too well that the promise of the gospel is undone and thought unworkable. And they are right. At least up to now. The world is waiting for God to enter it and make it whole. We who understand this know that this eventuality is dependent upon God’s would-be partners stepping up our efforts to bring God into the world by being God-enablers in the world.
Yes, the future is open and waiting for us to step into it as a partner with God.