Does God intervene?

I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did, I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you

So go the opening words of the song “Into My Arms” by Nick Cave. A God who doesn’t intervene? What does that mean?

The Bible presents God as active. God is seen as shaping the lives of individuals, like Moses, and nations, like Israel. A number of theologians, however, have given up on the idea that God acts in particular ways to affect the course of events in the world. The passive versus interventionist views of God are both valid Christian viewpoints at either end of a spectrum of belief.

Some think that a God who takes sides (as portrayed in the Old Testament) is unethical and, therefore, reject the notion of God intervening in any way. It is perhaps hard to believe in an interventionist God when we see a God who answers some prayers and not others, a God who rescues some people and allows others to perish. Yet we must remember that God did not intervene to prevent Jesus’ death.

In terms of God and nature, I do not believe that God sends earthquakes, hurricanes etc. but when a severe hurricane is forecast for the Caribbean, for example, I pray that it might lose its force before making landfall. When that happens, is it answered prayer or just coincidence? If it is answered prayer, why aren’t similar prayers also answered? Does it have anything to do with how many are praying for the same thing?

Today’s church is hopefully large enough and mature enough to hold in tension different views on issues. After all, we currently see through a glass darkly and no mortal has the answers to everything. God is immense and multi-faceted, beyond our comprehension as we often say. I think God is big enough to take our speculations, and sometimes wonder if God is metaphorically slapping his forehead in exasperation or having a quiet chuckle at our antics – probably a bit of both. I think God wants us to seek his guidance in our lives but I don’t mean every little detail. God isn’t interested in helping us decide whether to have toast or cereal for breakfast!

I’m certainly not saying I’m right by any stretch of the imagination but this is my closing thought. The Church is the body of Christ and has been given the responsibility of helping God’s kingdom come here on earth. On that basis, there’s possibly a case to see God as passive because his agent (the Church) has become passive. God perhaps has more faith in us than we have in him!

Published by Angie Allport

Methodist minister

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