“Babae, Don’t You See?”

While I was praying, Stephenie had a massive cerebral hemorrhage.  We rushed to the hospital.  I rode in the ambulance while our son Jaime and Ginny and Mincaye followed us in the car.  Grandfather Mincaye had never seen this type of vehicle with the flashing lights, didn’t understand why strangers had rushed into the house and grabbed Stephenie and hurried off with her.  Now he saw her at the hospital, lying on a gurney with a tube down her throat and needles in her arm, and he grabbed me and said, “Who did this to her?”  And I saw a look on his face that I’d seen before, and I knew that he’d be willing to kill again to save this granddaughter who he loved.

I didn’t know what to say, “I don’t know, Mincaye.  Nobody is doing this.”

And just like that, this savage from the jungles grabbed me again and said, “Babae, don’t you see?”

No, I didn’t see.  My heart was absolutely tearing apart; I didn’t know what was going on.

He said, “Babae, Babae, now I see it well.  Don’t you see?  God Himself is doing this.”

And I thought, what are you saying?

Mincaye started reaching out to all the people in the emergency room, saying, “People, people don’t you see?  God, loving Star, He’s taking her to live with him.”  And he said, “Look at me, I’m an old man; pretty soon I’m going to die too, and I’m going there.”  Then he said, with a pleading look on his face, “Please, please won’t you follow God’s trail too?  Coming to God’s place, Star and I will be waiting there to welcome you.”

–Steve Saint
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2006, p.119-120)
read 6-18-08

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The Death of My Dad

If God could plan the death of His own righteous Son, why couldn’t He plan the death of my dad?

–Steve Saint
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2006, p.117)
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We Lack the Conceptual Wherewithal

Thus Scripture reveals that both human agency and divine agency are to be fully affirmed without attempting to tell us how this can be, because we have no way to understand it, no matter what Scripture would say: all of our analogies concerning different agents or different kinds of agency must be drawn from what holds between and among creatures, and so we necessarily lack the conceptual wherewithal to plumb how God’s foreordaining agency enables and yet governs our own free agency.  As David said, after confessing that God knew his every word even before it was on his own tongue, such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is, quite literally, too lofty for us to attain (see Ps. 139:4-6).

–Mark Talbot
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2006, p. 70)
read 8-1-08

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We Can Understand Why We Cannot Understand

“But,” you ask, “how can this possibly be?  How can Joseph’s brothers have acted freely and responsibly if what they did was what God had previously ordained?  How can Pilate and Herod and Judas and the Jewish people be properly blamed fror what God had predestined to take place?  How can God govern the choices of human beings without that entailing that those choices are no longer free?  How can the same event have two complete explanations?”

My answer is this: We cannot understand how these things can possibly be.  We cannot understand how some human act can be fully explained in terms of God’s having freely intended it without that explanation cancelling the freedom and responsibility of its human intenders.  We cannot understand how divine and human agency are compatible in a way that allows the exercise of each kind of agency to be fully explanatory of some object or event.  And yet — and this is the absolutely crucial point — we can understand why we cannot understand it.  It is because our attempts to understand this involve our trying to understand the unique relationship between the Creator and His creatures in terms of our understanding of some creature-to-creature relationship.  But these attempts, it should be obvious, involve us in a kind of “category mistake” that dooms us from the start… How the Creator’s agency relates to His creatures’ agency is to be categorized quite differently from how any creature’s agency relates to any other creatures’ agency.  This should be obvious merely by our remembering that God has created everything ex nihilo — out of nothing — while all creaturely creation involves some sort of limited action on some pre-existing “stuff”.

–Mark Talbot
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2006, p.69)
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God Is the Primary Agent

So the biblical view is this: God has ordained or willed or planned everything that happens in our world from before creation, from before time began.  God is the primary agent — the primary cause, the final and ultimate explanation — of everything that happens, yet the causal relationship between God and His creatures is such that His having foreordained everything is compatible with — and indeed takes nothing away from — their creaturely power and efficacy.

–Mark Talbot
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2006, p.68 )
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God Sustained Them in Their Sin

God, as the One who actively sustains all things (see again Heb. 1:3 with Col 1:17), was the source of their being.  But they, as Adam’s descendants, were the sole source of their sin.  Their sinful inclinations made them the authors of their own sin.  And, consequently, they did evil while God did not, for while God sustained them in their sin, He was not its source.  This is why Scripture states that God creates, sends, permits, and even moves other to do evil while never doing evil Himself.  He creates and sustains sinful persons without Himself being the source of their sin.

–Mark Talbot
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2006, p. 67)
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He is Never Absent or Inactive

All of history is composed of this sort of dual explanation: God foreordains what humans choose.  He is never absent or inactive when human beings hurt each other or themselves.  In the person of His Son, He is always in our midst, as the One who holds each and every aspect of creation, including all of its evil aspects, in His hands so that He may carry it to where it accomplishes exactly what He wants.

–Mark Talbot
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (2006, p.65)
read 7-31-08

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