Theologically insufficient tweets

July 24, 2013


Some of my fellow United Methodist pastors from Georgia are in class on St. Simons Island this week earning their CEUs. I hope to rejoin them next year. It didn’t work out for me this summer.

Given the enthusiasm with which this quote was retweeted, I assume United Methodist pastor and homiletics professor James Howell got applauded or Amen-ed when he said this. I sympathize. We don’t like saying “God is in control” because, based on the extreme Calvinist interpretation, it ascribes God’s agency to truly horrifying evil.

But… surely neither Howell nor his tweeters deny that God is in control to some extent. Right? Otherwise, let’s not bother with petitionary prayer, for instance—if events are just going to run their course anyway.

My point is, God is sovereign and has the power to stop people from shooting children. Agreed? Like it or not, he chooses not to. We believe he has perfectly good reasons not to intervene—and, by all means, the free will argument is a good one, in this case.

For all I know, Howell went on to say these same things. But this tweet doesn’t say enough. Well, why would it? Almost by definition, tweets, like bumper stickers, don’t say enough.

2 Responses to “Theologically insufficient tweets”

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    I agree with what you are saying here. Also, I think that something we have to remember is Judgment Day, and also the thereafter. All the “inequities” in this life will be “fixed” ultimately, both as to the perpetrator and the victim. “Enduring hardship” will bring a substantial reward, I believe. Of course, for any of this to “make sense,” there does have to be “free will” on at least the part of the perpetrator, to make sense of his ultimate judgment. But I think that speakers on the subject of life’s inequities sometimes fail to keep the “eternal perspective” in view.

    • brentwhite Says:

      The eternal perspective is critical. I think many Christians feel embarrassed to have to “resort” to talking about eternity—they want a theology in which this world is enough. To want more than this world is selfish or greedy or inappropriate somehow.

      Sorry, if this world is all you want, Christianity isn’t for you.

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