Sovereignty, subsidiarity, and the future of Europe: What the Brexit deal tells us about the prospect of the EU
But next, we turn to another story with huge worldview implications, most of which are simply not acknowledged in the mainstream media coverage. We’re talking about the world’s messiest divorce in history. It’s actually not between a husband and a wife, it is between Britain and the European Union, the so-called Brexit. British voters voted quite unexpectedly in the views of the political elites early in 2016, to leave the European Union for Britain to declare its economic independence and to leave the union that had so characterized Europe in the post-war period.
This was a declaration that Britain intended to exercise and to assert its national sovereignty. But that, of course, led to a huge array of the most complicated questions ever confronted in modern politics. How in the world would a nation like the United Kingdom, which has been so integrated into the European Union exit? The word Brexit, as it became popularly known, was actually a clever political neologism. It was a word coined out of the blue, a combination of Britain and exit, thus Brexit.
…political elites first of all in Europe, but also in the United Kingdom were absolutely confident that the voters in the UK would never vote to leave the European Union. But that’s exactly what they did.
It is really important to notice that the political elites first of all in Europe, but also in the United Kingdom were absolutely confident that the voters in the UK would never vote to leave the European Union. But that’s exactly what they did. This then precipitated to the biggest political crisis in modern diplomatic history. How would the United Kingdom leave the European Union? That’s still an unanswered question. It was declared earlier this week that the British government under Prime Minister Theresa May had reached a Brexit agreement with the forces in Brussels that are responsible for the European Union. It had to be a negotiated exit. This is how complicated the situation is.
Britain had been integrated into the immigration laws, integrated into the border laws, integrated into the economic policies, integrated within the custom system of the European Union. In essence, the European Union that came out of the ashes of the Second World War was an attempt to limit the sovereignty of those European states that would join the union and create a new super national authority, the European Union.
Now, as Christians, we need to pause for a moment and recognize there is a huge problem here. That problem is a violation of the principle of what is called subsidiarity. It’s always good for Christians to be reminded of this principle. Subsidiarity is a basic principle of Christian theology, deeply embedded in the biblical worldview. It tells us that truth and reality and health subside at the most basic unit possible. If that sounds abstract, let me clarify. This means that the greatest unit of meaning is in the smallest unit of structure, which is to say that marriage is actually the centerpiece of civilization. Marriage is not healthy because the civilization is healthy. A civilization is healthy because marriage is healthy.
Marriage, the union of a man and a woman creating a family as that man and the woman have children, that creates the unit of greatest importance to the civilization. The functioning of healthy families is something that is so indispensable that no government at any level can alleviate what is missing if the family is broken. That’s a pathology that is radically demonstrated in American society, and in so many other societies today.
Subsidiarity also tells us that the most important government action is not at the highest level possible, most abstracted from the real lives of people, but rather at the closest level possible. That’s to say, a city government is more likely to be responsive to people, than a supranational authority The United States is more likely as a government to be responsive to its people, than would be the United Nations. This is a basic principle. It’s written into our constitutional order in the system of federalism that marks our constitution. It’s also important to recognize that the intellectual elites both in Europe and in the United States, increasingly have rejected subsidiarity. They have instead argued for a certain kind of internationalism.
In the views of so many, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, bigger is always better. A global authorities better than a national authority, a national authority as far better than a state authority. That we need to note is not only the reversal of the constitutional logic of the United States, it is also the reversal of that basic Christian worldview principle of subsidiarity.
When British voters in early 2016 voted so unexpectedly for Britain to withdraw from the European Union, the arguments were extremely important, and they were generally very straightforward. European leaders argued that Britain could not leave, it must not leave. Because in so leaving it would leave the entire European project. Most major British political leaders in both major British political parties also opposed Brexit. So, this was a populist revolt that in so many ways, was matched by the populist revolt in the United States in the 2016 presidential election. Those two events Brexit in early 2016, the presidential election in the United States at the end of 2016, those really formed the year of the great uprisings in both Britain and the United States.
But Britain’s uprising, the Brexit vote, set into play a series of events that clearly is not over. But there’s a deadline, that deadline, March 29, 2019. That’s a hard exit for the United Kingdom, and that might appear to be the easiest solution except it’s not. It’s extremely complicated. Britain is so interwoven into the European Union, its policies, its economics, its politics, its policies going all the way down to regulations about produce and weights and measures. Furthermore, the very important issues of customs and trade, all of these are so deeply intertwined that it is not easy for just one partner to walk out of this relationship any more than it’s easy for one spouse to leave a marriage.
The metaphor of divorce in this case is almost entirely appropriate. It’s messy. Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to win the support of her cabinet in the middle of this week, only to have her cabinet undermined by two very prominent resignations in protest by those coming from a conservative side who argued that this is a compromise, a further compromise of British sovereignty because under the proposal of the British Prime Minister, Britain would continue to lack control over its own trade and customs, processes and policies. That is indeed a very important infringement of sovereignty.
So, what’s the principle for Christians? Why would Christians in the United States care about this? There’s a huge lesson, the lesson is this: once you surrender sovereignty, it is extremely difficult to get it back. Once you compromise subsidiarity, it is extremely costly to clarify it. There are many in the political elites in the United States who would prefer very clearly to have more federal authority than state authority, more state authority than local authority, and even more authority in international entities above the United States of America. That’s a very dangerous argument. We do live in a global community, but we’re really not a global community. We are a community of nations, but what’s really important is to recognize that the existence of the nation state is itself a protection for human dignity and human rights around the world.
The compromise of that national sovereignty is extremely dangerous. But as I said, for Christians, we understand there’s more than sovereignty at stake here, subsidiarity is at stake. The European Union did come out of the ruins, out of the ashes of World War II with the promise that the violence between states that so marked the 20th century will be overcome by integrating those nations in one big entity. There was actually explicitly the hope of something like a United States of Europe to match the United States of America. But the current European Union is complicated by the fact that the kind of union that had been envisioned, well, it turns out to have been far more idealized than can ever be realized to the perplexity are so many who want to believe that we live in a simple global community. The French continue to speak French and to act French, the Germans speak German and to have characteristics to German culture. That’s true across the board in Europe. And what you see right now in the United Kingdom is that the people of Britain decided we’re simply going to be Britain.
Now the question is: will that actually happen even as the decision of the voters in 2016 was abundantly clear, even if unexpected?
One Saturday morning members from the church went out into the town to give out evangelistic leaflets and if possible get into a conversation. Our church does this once a month or so. I do not find this ‘cold calling’ style of evangelism easy. In fact, that’s an understatement, I find it incredibly difficult. It’s not talking to people I find difficult, there’s something about giving away literature in that cold manner. I don’t know why this is. Honestly, I question whether this is my calling even though I’ve done it for years – door to door and open-air preaching. Maybe I’m just doing it all wrong.
I discovered nearly everyone that Saturday found it incredibly tough. Perhaps you find it hard work as well. So what about next time? Will there be a next time? By God’s grace, there will be. But next time should the same thing happen – and it might – I need to look up, not in. Easy to say. We’ll see. Some Christians are very able at giving out tracts, I’m not. I thank God for those that are and it’s a joy to see.
Since starting to write this post a few weeks ago, in our prayer meeting, we have been going through 2 Corinthians and considering being weak. It’s not a pleasant feeling and is completely ‘counter-cultural’. We have another Evangelistic opportunity later this month. In some ways, I’m looking forward to the sense of dread, that feeling of despair so I can be weak for God. In other ways, I’m dreading it. But it’s not about us, it’s about Christ.
The English Reformation and the Puritans
This is a series of twelve (12) short lectures (about 24 minutes each) given by Dr. Michael Reeves. I’ve only just finished watching then even though they’ve been available for some time. Do watch them. The series will give you a real flavour for their time and how they continue to help us. There are some really stand out ones. Particularly the ones on Richard Sibbes and John Owen.
One would ask the question, where is the preaching on the person and beauty of The Lord Jesus Christ? Of course, we do not live in the 17th Century (but there are remarkable parallels). But is Christ any less Glorious? Is the Father any less loving? Is the Holy Spirit not able to reveal Christ to us? The Lord Jesus said “… And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”(John 12:32). The Puritans excelled at magnifying and lifting up Christ. So must we.
Follow This Link To View the series. Not sure US friends will be able to view them. Worth a try though.
From the series webpage:
Their Unlikely Story is Ours
Few stories contain heroism, betrayal, ricocheting monarchs, bold stands against repressive authorities, and redemption like this one. And fewer generations have modelled commitment to the gospel and the application of God’s Word like the Puritans of England.
In this 12-part series, Dr. Michael Reeves surveys Puritan theology and the work of the Holy Spirit when the Reformation flourished in England. Major milestones of this movement underscore the Puritans’ special place in history, as they displayed spiritual wisdom and discernment still benefiting pulpits and believers today.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. Move away from an objective morality and here’s where it leads. Some selected quotes from Al Mohler’s The Briefing Transcript:
‘They are now killing children in Belgium. We’re talking about euthanasia, and we’re talking about children seventeen and under.’
‘We are often told that arguments that say “this will follow that” are slippery slope arguments that are intellectually indefensible. Here, it’s not just the warning of a slippery slope, it’s a slope that has proved itself to be slippery in a most deadly way. By the way, slippery slope arguments are only invalid if they come without the kind of explanation of causality. In this case, the causality is abundantly apparent.’
(Or, as James White would say, That’s not a slippery slope, that’s a cliff!)
Here’s the terrible logic!
‘Back in 2014, one of the Belgian medical authorities who promoted the change said this, and I quote, “Why wouldn’t you give children who are incurably sick and who are unbearably suffering the same possibilities adults have?”…’ ‘…As you look back at that statement made by Dr. Jan Bernheim–that’s the medical authority who argued that children should have the same rights as adults when it comes to euthaooking at the doctor’s language, he said that children should have “The same possibilities adults have.” Well, what is this possibility? It is the possibility to request to death and to have others administer that death.
Dystopia is soon coming to a Healthcare facility near you!
Listen to Wednesday’s edition (8th August 2018) of The Briefing:
Currently, the Irish Constitution contains an article numbered 40 in the third subsection of section 3. It states:
‘’The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
The Irish people voted in a majority to amend our constitution for the eighth time in 1983 to include that article. And because of its presence, elective termination of the unborn has been illegal on our shores for 35 years.
But on Friday, May 25th of 2018, the Irish people are going to the poles once more, but this time we are being asked whether the 8th Amendment should be removed. Yes, or No. If yes, Article 40.3.3 of the constitution will read,
“Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy”.
If you are following, the removal of the 8th amendment will mean Abortion will no longer be illegal, but allowed in the state. The Government has draft legislation ready to go, which includes:
-The provision of Terminations up to 12 weeks “without specific indication” ie. without any reason given.
-Provision of Termination up until “viability” (currently around 24 weeks) based on health grounds
Gestational limits will not apply in cases of a foetal condition or on grounds of risk to health.
Anyone with any knowledge of recent Irish history will understand this proposed new direction as being a serious liberalisation of Ireland’s Abortion laws. And it seems, from my perspective, exactly one week away from polling day, that the Yes side is winning. When you listen to anyone who is pro-repeal of the 8th, they will be keen to highlight the rights of the woman.
-How she is being forced to carry her pregnancy.
-How we already have abortion in Ireland in that 12 women and girls every day will either travel to the UK for a termination, or obtain illegal abortion pills online – therefore we must show compassion to our own.
That is the arguments they have when they spin the truth. And they come from the top down. From our Prime Minister/ Taoiseach (Tee-shock), our very own minister for Health, and our minister for Children. Yes, our minister for Children.
But they are also armed with false truths.
The public are being deluded in thinking that the 8th Amendment is responsible for taking the lives of some women in the past 35 years. That the doctors hands are tied when it comes to treating the most ill women who are also pregnant, because it might harm the baby.
I recently met a woman on the doors whose “friend” was denied cancer treatment because she was pregnant.
This type of scenario is just not created by the 8th amendment, Irish doctors are free to do all they can to save the mother, and if the foetus passes away as a result, that is not illegal, as they weren’t electing to target the life of the baby.
But this is what people are believing, and the Yes side are happy in peddling that lie.
Unfortunately too, radio presenters, therefore the populous, are fixated on the “hard cases”.
“What about the 11 year old girl who was violated by a family relation, should she be forced to carry the DNA of her rapist?” Pat Kenny, a Veteran Irish broadcaster of 41 years asked Dr. Jean Engela of the ICBR (Irish Centre of Bioethical Reform) this week.
All Dr. Jean had to do was highlight the humanity of the unborn child, that no matter who anyone’s father or mother was, they had a right to exist in and of themselves. That life doesn’t have a right to exist merely because of the 8th amendment, all the 8th amendment does is recognise the pre-existing right to life anyone has – because they are human! There are difficult and tragic cases that we must be ready to show much support and compassion to, but Ireland is not being asked to legislate for the tough cases.
Ireland is being asked whether we want to introduce Abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks, and for the vague and unspecified “health grounds” up to 6 months.
This is what I try to leave people thinking when I encounter them on the doors.
There are encouragements that I draw from:
- The Yes side has lost support in the most recent polls (though still hold a majority). We hope that will continue up until polling.
- If “Brexit” and “Trump” have taught us all anything, it ain’t over until it’s over!
- Right now, People’s opinion of the health service has dropped due to a Cervical Smear Test scandal, in which a number of women were given misdiagnoses, leading to a number of preventable deaths. Do the Irish people trust the same politicians to bring in and oversee Abortion “Health Care”? Hopefully not.
- Urban/Rural Divide. I live in the City, which is traditionally more liberal than the more rural places in the country, so perhaps my perception is skewed.
- Jesus is still on the throne!
So please pray that the people will vote “No” on May 25th.
-Pray that the truth of what takes place in Abortion not be avoided in the debates on the radio and TV over the next few weeks. The statistics for Ireland’s radio listening habit’s floor me every time I read them, it has been shown that “82% of ALL adults in the Republic (that’s more than 3.1 million ) listen to on average 4 hours of radio, every day”. This is how people’s minds are being made up, so pray that the bias the media have will be evident, and that strong pro-life arguments will prevail.
-Pray that the Christians will be bold to speak up for the unborn to their friends, family and colleagues.
-Pray that regardless of the outcome, Christians will be reminded that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the LORD Jesus Christ”.
Dr John Ling has written a ‘review’ article of ’12 Rules for life’ by Jordan Peterson (Follow this link and go to Articles). So this a few comments on John’s ‘review’. However, a review is understating it! John writes:
This article was not what I originally had in mind – I thought it would be a simple, snappy review. Instead, it rather ran away with me to the tune of 19,000 words! Also it has turned out to be a rather unconventional review-cum-synopsis-cum-précis with a multitude of quotations.
Whatever we call it, his review is worth reading. Why? Jordan Peterson is everywhere, mostly on YouTube ‘destroying’ someone. So we (Christians) ought to know something about his book. John’s review is so comprehensive I’m not sure I need to read the real thing now. Especially as it’s gone up to £11.99 I might have to wait for it to appear in The Works for a Fiver!
I should restate, that as far as we know, Dr Peterson is not a Christian – not yet anyway. Please pray for him. Please read the ‘review’. It’s a valuable contribution to The Peterson phenomenon.
One more quote from John:
It is reminiscent of the Enlightenment’s doomed attempt at Christian virtue without embracing Christian truth – a wanting the fruits without the roots.’ At base level, Peterson’s stance is one of moral rearmament – turn over a new leaf, pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Maybe, just maybe, Peterson will come into a full-orbed understanding of true Christianity. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
For all that, given Common Grace, Peterson is saying many things we Christians can support (read the review). I certainly don’t reject him at all. If I do read the book – and I think I ought to – my ‘insights’ will probably be far less insightful but definitely briefer.
Thank you, John, for the article.
At the end of this section is a letter I sent to the Welsh Assembly back in February to oppose the funding of Abortions from Northern Ireland. But I’d like to set the letter in the broader context. Events have followed on from the letter showing how utterly absurd it is to deny what’s real – that is, we are aborting babies not lumps of cell tissue. This denial can only be described as the deliberate holding down (or suppressing) of the truth in unrighteousness.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
The suppression spoken of in the verse is of a continued effort exerted to keep the truth from rising to the surface. it’s been described as akin to holding a beach ball under water. Very difficult to do. To keep it under water takes a lot of effort! But every now and then it pops up to the surface as you will see in the videos.
Just the other day I happened to watch a feature on BBC breakfast about infertility and the anguish for couples that cannot have children. Yes, we call them children. The time, research, cost and pain couples go through to have children is quite extraordinary. But the results are beautiful and amazing! I know this to be true.
And then a ‘royal’ baby is born. Yes, it’s incredible, a little boy for the world to Coo over. I wonder when the happy couple, grandparents and indeed the public and even Parliament starting calling that little life a baby. I would think fairly early on, as soon as she knew she was expecting, while the baby was still in the womb. The Royal Fetus somehow doesn’t sound quite right.
In the letter below I mention the trauma of (a real) miscarriage where all hopes for that little life are dashed. Yes, a life all the same, and treated as such. I also mention the joy of a safe arrival.
It’s quite clear then, at least it seems very clear to me, that if the child is wanted it’s a baby, a little life with a future and a hope, but if that same little life with all its future and hope is not wanted, it’s called a fetus and can be terminated. That’s how we treat a product, a commodity to be discarded at will, not a baby. We treat animals better than that! I know the decision to terminate is not always easy, maybe rarely easy. But we should ask why it isn’t easy. Could it be that suppressing the truth takes an awful lot of effort? Going against what is known deep down to be an egregious crime is actually very difficult to do. But many millions have done exactly that all the same.
All the above is very recent but shortly after I’d written the letter Jenny Rathbone AM (Assembly Member – A Welsh MP) was interviewed. It was a few weeks ago now but please watch the two videos as they demonstrate very clearly the deliberate suppression of the truth – never mind the ethics of truthful unbiased reporting.
Num 32:20 So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the LORD for the war,
Num 32:21 and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the LORD, until he has driven out his enemies from before him
Num 32:22 and the land is subdued before the LORD; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.
Num 32:23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.
I first watched the report – about completing a Medical Abortion – I happened to be at home watching the BBC Regional (Wales) news at lunchtime. My thought at the time was ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s never shown again’. I remember quickly rewinding the live TV so I could play it back to record it on my phone. I wasn’t 100% sure what I’d heard so listened really carefully when I played it back. So I listened ‘drop-jawed’ to what Jenny Rathbone AM calls the woman. To my surprise, the interview was aired again in the evening – with a difference.
This time the offending word MOTHER had been edited out. Exactly as I thought. There’s your honest unbiased reporting for you from the BBC. I couldn’t say if it was edited out at the request of Jenny Rathbone (most likely as a supporter of Abortion) or if the BBC took it upon themselves to edit Mother out. Either way, the BBC have a responsibility to be truthful to reality. They could have refused to edit it but they obviously didn’t. The reason I recorded both before and after was because I thought that’s what they would do. The editing is really obvious and badly done (deliberately I hope). Like everyone, Jenny Rathbone knows the truth. She expressed it in the original interview. The edited version is the deliberate suppression of the truth. This isn’t to single her out but it serves as an example of how suppressed truth ‘pops up’ unconsciously to the surface. Colloquially we might call it a Freudian-slip’ but it’s much more than that.
You may have heard the expression ‘be sure your sin will find you out’. You might not realise that saying is from The Bible. Although the original context is said to the Israelites it holds true as a principle. Your sin will find you out. Not everyone gets found out in this life. Some fear they will be found out and exposed and then sadly commit suicide to escape the shame of discovery. But there’s another day coming when there will be no escape.
Rev 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,
Rev 6:16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,
Rev 6:17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Women and Children’s Health Branch
6th February 2018
RE: Funding / Enabling NI Abortions
Dear Assembly Members,
A few months ago a lady I know had a miscarriage at around 11 weeks. This was as you might imagine quite devastating for her, and her husband. In fact, as many do, they held a short service for their unborn child. She grieves for that precious little life. Just a few days ago another lady I know gave birth to a healthy baby boy. That family is rightly rejoicing. The lady that miscarried did not think any less of her child than the one that went full term. I suggest most ladies’ that miscarry feel a terrible sense of loss. Why is it then that in our so-called civilised society we are on a mission to terminate our unborn children? Not only this, in Northern Ireland where the unborn has some safety, we in Wales are considering inviting women to bring their unborn children here. Why? That they might be killed in what should be the safest place on earth – the womb.
Some have called the culture in which we live ‘The Culture of Death’. The measure of civilisation can be measured by how we treat the most vulnerable. Who amongst us are more vulnerable than the unborn? Our culture seeks to deprive the unborn of the right to be born, to have a future, to live. As if our society were not already in The Dock standing accused of taking the lives of thousands of children – we intend on heaping upon ourselves even more guilt by inviting and cajoling like the child catcher the helpless children so they might be terminated. Termination is euphemistically called a ‘Health Service’, (Children’s Health!) which in itself must be regarded as a contradiction. Shame on us! Shame I say. This is not the mark of civilised people.
In light of the above, and more, much more could be said; I implore you to take a stand against funding NI abortions. I do not support funding NI Terminations.
Michael J. Iliff
My bunch of keys sometimes get quite tangled. Maybe you have a set that does the same. The other day they got into such a tangle that it seemed like the only way to sort them out was to take the whole bunch apart. I didn’t have time just then so I put them in my coat pocket to sort another time.
The next day I reached into my pocket, pulled out the bunch of keys and you guessed it, they were completely untangled. I was so stunned by it – they were really tangled – that it got me thinking how this could be. Did the molecules of that bunch of keys just happen to perfectly align as they were before – untangled? I have absolutely no idea.
Was it luck then? Some would call it that. It certainly saved me some time, frustration and maybe a broken nail or two. To some, that explanation makes perfect sense. Not luck you say, that’s just how it is. We simply live in an uncaring impersonal world and my bunch of keys just untangled themselves. Who cares about your keys! But think for a moment and apply the same principle to a cancer diagnosis. It’s still an impersonal uncaring world and the molecules just happened to align into a death sentence or months of treatment. Suddenly it matters. Or what if the molecules uncaringly aligned in the shape of a car and ran you over. Suddenly it’s personal and your impersonal uncaring world is important. The way you see the world changed. It’s personal and it matters.
It’s funny and ‘hip’ (perhaps as a student) to have a poster that says ‘Shit Happens’ Except no one lives like that. Not really. Posters like that are a distraction at best and at worst a terrible lie. But your attitude to something simple like an untangled set of keys or similar ‘unimportant’ event will speak volumes. One of my sociology lecturers would say, and did say when I briefly discussed ‘meaning’ with him – ‘but what if it doesn’t matter and there is no meaning’. Which is what he seemed to think. Well, what if it doesn’t matter. It’s ok (it isn’t really) to think like that in an academic high tower: but if I had randomly decided to smash his kneecap with a hammer I’m guessing that would matter an awful lot! If nothing else, the pain would communicate meaning.
But instead of it being luck, or a random favourable – or unfavourable – alignment of molecules; what if it were an intervention of God. What we call a Providence of God – good and bad. If we put it down to God that introduces meaning and purpose into even the most unimportant things like my set of keys. It changes everything. No ‘random’ lining up of molecules here.
Just to be clear I am uninterested in suggesting some random deity to hang every occurrence on, good or bad, but rather the Christian God, the God of The Bible, The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Years ago a man I used to work with said ‘The trouble with you Christians is that if anything good happens you put it down to God but if anything bad happens you conveniently blame the devil’. As if God needs excusing. That may be a popular misconception and if it is it could be our fault as Christians for miscommunicating. But I had to explain that both good and bad come from God. In fact, if you’re familiar with the book of Job you might recall the following exchange;
Job 2:9 Then his (Job’s) wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Job 2:10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job’s wife foolishly urges him to curse God because of the disaster that had happened. And let’s not call it something it isn’t. When things like this happen it is disastrous. Plastic Christian smiles will do no good in the face of tragedy. We need something substantial. I have observed, as you must have, that wishing someone ‘Good luck’ or ‘All the best’ or even ‘We’re thinking of you’ just doesn’t cut it. It’s good that people wish us well and it may lift our spirits momentarily. And, it might be you will breeze through life without a care in the world and tragedy and heartache will pass you by. It happens. But eventually, there is a God to face. You know this. Which is why I’m linking to a message that lays out the Gospel of Christ briefly but simply and truthfully. Follow this link to a message ‘Why I am a Christian’ by James White.
Since starting this article I bought a copy of Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centred Approach to Probability and Random Events by Vern Poythress. I’m not a mathematician, and there’s a lot of maths in the book! But there’s enough theology and plain sense for me to understand what I’ve read so far. The book is available free as an e-book here.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the book introduction:
THE ISSUE OF CHANCE
[He described an incident where his family escaped from a serious ‘accident’]
What do we say about this incident? Some people would say we were “lucky.” We escaped “by chance.” It just happened to be the case that the oncoming cars found room to our left and to our right. Or was it the hand of God’s providence? We felt afterwards as if an angel had pushed the cars to this side and to that. God had sent an angel to protect us. But we did not actually see an angel. Nor did we see a hand reaching down from heaven to move the cars. Was it just our imagination? Was our escape a “miracle,” or was it just an “accidental” result of driver reactions and physical processes?
We escaped. But not everyone does. For every story of a narrow escape, someone else can tell a distressing story of not escaping. Someone tells of being in a horrible auto accident, nearly dying from the injuries, losing an arm or a leg, and spending months recovering. And the accident could have been avoided, if only the oncoming car had swerved a little earlier or a little later. Was the accident “by chance”? Was God in control? If I am ready to acknowledge God’s control when my family escapes an accident, should I also acknowledge that God is in control when someone else suffers from an unpredictable tragedy? Or do tragic cases involve pure chance, beyond God’s control? And if God is in control, did he actually plan the events beforehand, or did he just react to the unfolding events at the last moment?
Big accidents and near accidents have drama to them. But what about the small things? Yesterday I could not find my checkbook. Today I found it in a pocket of my briefcase where it did not belong. Accidentally, it must have fallen into the wrong pocket when I dropped it into my partially opened briefcase. It got misplaced “by chance,” someone might say.
What about totally unpredictable events, like the flip of a coin or the roll of dice? Every time we flip a coin, the result is unpredictable. It comes up heads or tails “by chance.” What do we mean by the word chance? What is it?