Monday, November 02, 2009

Chance . . . or Providence?

Strange the things that will grab one's mind!

In my reading through the Bible this morning, I came upon the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. And in my ESV (English Standard Version) Bible, Jesus talks about the man who is going down the road from Jerusalem down to Jericho in the plain below. The man is beaten, stripped of all his goods (and clothes?) and left for dead.

"Now by chance," the narrative continues, "a priest was going down that road. . . ."

"'By chance'!?!" I exclaimed within my mind. "'By chance'!?! Jesus said 'by chance'?!?"

As someone who spent many years among Reformed/Calvinist theologians; as someone who believes in the sovereignty of God; as someone who has been tempted, many times, to take up the practice of the hyper-Calvinists always to add the modifier "DV" (deo volente) or "God willing" after any statement concerning the future--"after all, isn't that what we are taught in Scripture? James 4:13-15: 'Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"--yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."' . . ."

But here is Jesus speaking like an uneducated heathen! "By chance"!

It's like talking about "pot luck" instead of "pot providence." How unseemly!

Or maybe not.

Maybe I've been tempted too much to fall into the hyper-religiosity and hyper-spirituality and hyper-purity of which the Scriptures also seem to warn us. Ecclesiastes 7:16: "Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?"

Is there a balancing point?
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