Saturday, February 20, 2010

Coincidence? I think not.

Those of you who know me know that I do not believe that there is such thing as coincidence.  In fact, often when something appears to be a coincidence it serves as a reminder for me to look how God is working in the situation. 

Calvin had a problem with the philosophers of his day making claims that things happen by fortune and chance.  "God's providence, as it is taught in Scripture, is opposed to fortune and fortuitous happenings."  Even though Calvin never used the word "coincidence" (or the Latin or French equivalent) in this chapter, I bet he would categorize it in the same error classification as chance.

We have all heard people use the analogy of God as a clockmaker building the clock, winding it up, and letting it go on its own.  Some people - many people - believe that God is like this.  Calvin does not like this idea of God being a Creator only then not being involved in his Creation after the beginning of time.  He writes, "Moreover, to make God a momentary Creator, who once for all finished his work, would be cold and barren, and we must differ from profane men especially in that we see the presence of divine power shining as much in the continuing state of the universe as in its inception."  Later, Calvin calls God "everlasting Governor and Preserver".

God has a plan for us all.  It is not a general plan, nor is it one for us to specifically know ahead of time.  It is a detailed plan for each one of us, but God chooses to keep it secret and reveal it to us as he desires.  Calvin writes, "...anyone who has been taught by Christ's lips that all the hairs on his head are numbered will look farther afield for a cause, and will consider that all events are governed by God's secret plan."

It is not just our lives that God governs, but all of Creation.  Calvin reminds us that God's thought goes into every occurrence.  "...governing heaven and earth by his providence, he so regulates all things that nothing takes place without his deliberation."  Everything from the movements of the planets to the most mundane detail of our lives (like the drop of coffee that I just spilled) are all within God's plans.  Calvin continues on his same line of thinking when he explains, "...providence means not that by which God idly observes from heaven what takes place on earth, but that by which, as keeper of the keys, he governs all events."

I am going to end with a quote from Calvin.  Here he applies the doctrine of the providence of God to a familiar Old Testament story.  We all remember when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and Abraham was willing to obey God [Genesis 22:1-19].  Calvin writes, "And indeed, when Abraham said to his son, 'God will provide', he meant not only to assert God's foreknowledge of a future event, but to cast the care of a matter unknown to him upon the will of Him who is wont to give a way out of things perplexed and confused."  Abraham knew that God had a plan for him even if he did not know what it was or why.

Tomorrow's reading: 1.16.5-1.16.7

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