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God's Will?


Yvonne
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I read the posts under Debate & Dialogue about free will. The conversation was informative and gave me much to "chew" on. It did, however, bring up another question for me.

 

Does God will this, that, or the other? I do not believe in an interventionist God, so for me the term "God's will" really has little meaning. Oh, on some level, I suppose I could say the example of compassion and prayer Jesus exhibited would be God's will for all of us. But I'm that's not what I mean. Seems God gets an awful lot of blame for things that just happen as being God's will.

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Not to dismiss that maybe sometimes there is a "God's Will" at work, I have to agree with you, most of the time it seems something said just so someone doesn't have to think on something much...lazy thinking? Or sometimes convenient thinking, when its about something that may seem just not a right or a good thing....I remember a discussion among some people about the right or wrong of the brutality with which early white Europeans slaughtered even peaceful Native Americans, men women and infants, all....one woman staunchly defended it as it must have been "God's Will" that they do that, or God wouldn't have let it happen. What do you say to THAT kind of reasoning, lol? I imagine she'd get a bit flustered if pressed, since people get murdered and raped and robbed, are all those things "God's will", since He let them happen?

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'God's will' presupposes an animate entity. Rocks, galaxies, cars, etc. do not have 'will's,' So, one must first address the question of animateness.

 

If the answer is yes, one can then address the question of whether this animate being is actively involved in our world. Then, if yes, the big problem arises as to ascertaining it's will.

 

While I have my personal doubts, I think the answers to the first and second questions are benign and I can find no basis for objection to either yes or no. But, when one gets to the point of making claims about its will, my objections start to arise.

 

George

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Guest billmc

I suspect that most of our human notions about God's will are based upon two things:

 

1. Security - In this crazy world, we seem to have a need for security. Notions about God's will satisfy that need by either assuring us that God is "in charge" and that everything is going according to some divine plan. Or notions about God's will tell us that if we will do certain things (such as align our will with his), he will protect/aid/reward us. But it still comes down to security, to wanting to know that all of this is "going some place" and that no matter what we do, God will somehow keep things on track.

 

2. Separation - Notions about God's will often portray God as "other", as a divine being "out there" who is separate from ourselves. Therefore, we feel the need to look outside of ourselves (to the scriptures, to the church, to pastors, to spiritual leaders, etc.) in order to try to discover what God's will is. We are reluctant to look inside because the Christian paradigm often tells us that we are separate from God, sinners, fallen, not to be trusted.

 

Interestingly, at least to me, Jesus' views about God's will were not based upon ensuring his own security or upon seeing his Father as totally separate from himself. Almost certainly, he did not want to die. And he did speak of aligning his will with the Father's. But Jesus didn't see himself as separate from the Father. Nor did he play the blame game with God or anyone else. Of course, he didn't totally explain God's will either. He simply prayed and worked for it to be done which, IMO, was his own will also.

 

My usual 2c free of charge. :)

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God's Will as God's purpose is a good wording.

 

I don't have it particularly worked out, but one thing I love about process theology is its relational approach to things. In that vein, I find an incredibly large overlap between the statements "God's will is gradually revealed", which is a rather (small "o") orthodox view of things, and "God's will is an emergent effect," which is much more process oriented. As far as I can tell, the biggest problem is a matter of causality, but that's hardly an impossible gap. Also, the orthodox view will likely scream pantheism, but panentheism is increasingly a useful response..

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Also, the orthodox view will likely scream pantheism, but panentheism is increasingly a useful response..

Nick,

 

Are you suggesting some intentionality to nature? I don't think that is very Darwinian.

 

George

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Nick,

 

Are you suggesting some intentionality to nature? I don't think that is very Darwinian.

 

George

 

While sociology has a had a glorious history of conflating evolution and teleology, that wasn't my goal here :).

 

When one applied relational arguments to the discussion of free will, the binary of free will vs. determinism is dramatically subverted. One does not gain free will through separation and independence, but rather relationships that enable greater freedom and agency. Whether one gets there from process theology or Calvin or something else, this type of relational argument circumvents the entire debate of how independent vs. determined is our behavior as the wrong question. As I said, I don't have it worked out (a bad punt, I admit), but it seems to me a similar thing happens to discussions of God's will if one applied a relational argument. Once again, we are dealing with determinism vs. autonomy. And therefore, once again, a relational argument should be able to subvert the binary. At this point I'm out of my depth, as I cannot talk about divine intention in a relational yet coherent fashion. That said, I suspect there should be a way to do so, as we can discuss the agency and intentionality of social actors in a relational way.

 

In retrospect, that's what I should have said. I have something that isn't completely coherent in my head about causality, but I think for the moment that is more of a red herring.

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I'm not sure I can put into words just how I've reconciled a non-theistic concept of God with a sense of personal relationship with a "higher being" but will try.

 

To begin, consider the idea of the Soul as a particular point within the greater and infinite "consciousness"...which of course to us is the collective unconscious. A wall of 'separation' between this point of consciousness, the Soul, or in Jungian theory, The Self, is neccessary so as to give this point of consciousness an imdividual existence and identiy, and to allow the developmmennt and emergence of Ego, to which that point, the Soul, the Self, there is no consciousness, awareness. The Soul, or Self, "knows" Ego, for in essence, Ego is the conceived and born of Self. Ego is the child, the "son", of self....all human, Ego is the "son of human" (Man).

The task is to develop a mature Ego which can ultimately bring the unconscious contained within The Self into conciousness, and the goal to allow the emergence of the Ego-Self Axis (think the "Christing"), allowing conscious interchange between Ego and the Self. Now, as Jesus The Christ, firstborn of many, representative of this stage of development of the soul in a macro sense, for the whole of humankind, is the model for those 'many' to follow, that event represents the 'rending of the veil in the Temple', allowing Ego's consciousness to come into Holy of Holies, the presence of the Mercy Seat. the direct contact to the greater infinite intellegence that Ego has not. Consider how Jesus spoke of my Father, your Father, our Father, who art IN heaven, and NOT of "The Father". Actually, since all is within God (the infinite intellegence), heaven itself is within God, and therefore God cannot be "in" heaven.

 

So of this "my, your, our" father which art IN Heaven, I've come to think of as that particular point of consciousness, the soul, or Self, walled off, separated from the greater whole, so as to experience self awareness, celf consciousness, which on the one side has a direct contact with the greater, God consciousness, and on the other, Ego.

With the emergence of the Ego-Self axis (Christing, New birth) Ego has suddenly gained potential for awareness of, and conscious interaction with, it's parent, it's Father, which art in Heaven. In this model, I am seeing The Self AS MY Father who art in Heaven.

 

So it is that "my Father" (The Self) has full and complete knowledge of me (Ego, person), as well as access to the greater, or, as Buckly called it, the Cosmic Consciousness, that I (ego) do not. But because "my Father", my Self, can "know" beyond my personal limitations, my "Father", my Self, can at will feed me information I (my physical self, my Ego) could not know.

 

Among my personal experiences of this presence that is beyond my physical Ego self, have been some of unexaplainable "warnings" that when I heeded them, I was spared some terrible accident and injury, in some, possibly even death. Some call such as this ESP, paranormal, but since I am a reasonable person that doesn't believe in "magic", I must find some other explanation for those kinds of incidents. This is mine: My Father which art in Heaven, the Self out of which my (ego) existance was born, and whom DOES have a personal interest in my well being as well as continued development, DOES know, CAN have awareness of, things in this physical existence that I, Ego, occupying this limited physical body, could not. And by accepting and being responsive to the promptings from "within", bubbling up out of my unconsciousness, as the Spring of Living Waters, I evaded dangers I couldn't know were there, though sometimes after the fact, I did become aware of what I had just avoided.

 

So for me, "God's will" is a personal thing, originating within The Self, my personal Father which art in Heaven.

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So for me, "God's will" is a personal thing, originating within The Self, my personal Father which art in Heaven.

 

I agree with the quote above. It seems turning our attention continually to the soul removes the ashes that cover the fire. These ashes being the different layers of the mind or stages as put in another thread and when they are pure and developed, the light of the soul can shine through them and be seen. This light of the soul simply to just be and does not direct or condemn our actions or others. It is like the light in a room, we can be reading spiritual books or forging checks, the light doesn't care because it only witnesses the actions. In my mind our soul is the life of our spirit within us, and it gives us life good or bad because without our soul we could neither read the Bible nor forge checks. It is our inner companion on a journey through the different layers of the mind going through the different experiences that are momentary and imaginary. I feel the soul like the pure collective consciousness of God the Father is just pure being.

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Interestingly, at least to me, Jesus' views about God's will were not based upon ensuring his own security or upon seeing his Father as totally separate from himself. Almost certainly, he did not want to die. And he did speak of aligning his will with the Father's. But Jesus didn't see himself as separate from the Father. Nor did he play the blame game with God or anyone else. Of course, he didn't totally explain God's will either. He simply prayed and worked for it to be done which, IMO, was his own will also.

 

 

Let me see if I can articulate what my thought has been. (All this is IMO, BTW) If God is not separate from creation, intervening from "out there", then how/why would God have a "will" about something/someone separate from that person or event? When my friend's daughter was diagnosed with MS, his aunt told him, "Ah, well, it is as God wills". I have to ask, what does that say about God? I doubt God wills people to be sick, poor, unemployed, wealthy, healthy, etc. Further, i really don't think God has a specific goal in mind for each individiual, as in "It is God's will that I get my degree in music ministry".

 

If I believe, as I do, that the same Spirit who lived and moved in Jesus moves in me, and I live my life prayerfully (that is, in awareness of the presence of God in all - panantheism?), then what I do or what my circumstances are, would, in a sense, be "God's will".

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Hi minsocal and folks ~

 

minsocal wrote:

 

I take G-d's Will as meaning G-d's purpose or aim, not as an action.

 

Fully agreeing with the first part of your take, I would note that actions may also be characterized as serving to fulfill God’s purpose or not. If so - just what might we speculate of God’s purpose, and what actions would be in harmony with God’s will?

 

Consider that we all have likely heard of the answer given by Jesus to a Pharisee asking what is the greatest commandment?: “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second commandment is like this first; indeed, it springs directly therefrom, and it is: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

 

Then, at the last supper with his apostles, Jesus is reported to have requested an even more than neighborly love when he said, “And so I give you this new commandment: That you love one another even as I have loved you. And by this will all men know that you are my disciples if you thus love one another.”

 

My interpretation as to how such actions of love and service are related to God’s purpose/will can be summed in what has been called 'the supreme mandate':

 

“Be you therefore perfect, even as I am Perfect.”

 

Put another way,

 

“The will of God is the way of God, partnership with the choice of God in the face of any potential alternative. To do the will of God, therefore, is the progressive experience of becoming more and more like God, and God is the source and destiny of all that is good and beautiful and true.” (UP 130:2:7)

 

In friendship,

Brent

Edited by Brent
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I don't think that G-d is a person or entity that interferes in the affairs of mankind. Therefore, it would be impossible for it to have a "will."

 

However, my grandmother, who was a professing Christian, would answer the topic question this way:

 

"G-d's will is what is placed before you each and every day."

 

NORM

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Guest billmc

If I believe, as I do, that the same Spirit who lived and moved in Jesus moves in me, and I live my life prayerfully (that is, in awareness of the presence of God in all - panantheism?), then what I do or what my circumstances are, would, in a sense, be "God's will".

 

I think we (you and I) have a lot in common on this, Yvonne. When my wife and I lost two children to miscarriage, our pastor at that time assured us that it was God's will. Of course, this pastor had a strong Calvinist background rooted in determinism, so he saw that everything was either part or allowed by God's plan. I rejected that view back then. I still do.

 

Like you, I am only expressing my views, but as highly as I regard Jesus, I don't believe he was God nor that he had all spiritual knowledge. I do think he was spot on in manyy areas, especially for his time. But theology has grown and changed since then - progressed along with human knowledge. So while I value most of Jesus' teachings highly, I believe that he (like Paul and us) still saw through a glass darkly and held to a theistic view of God. Therefore, though I will often quote Jesus if I think he was right (I realize how pompous that sounded), he doesn't get carte blanche from me to the extent that I think we have to believe and see everything exactly as he did. He wanted people to use their *own* eyes and ears to explore truth.

 

To me, despite what we might think about God's will, we live in a universe of continual life and death. Suffering and death is a part of life. I don't think Adam and Eve are to blame for this. I just think that this is the way the universe works. And despite the realities of suffering and death, the universe (and Whoever or Whatever is behind it) has also lead to this wonderful thing of life and consciousness. None of us have a guarantee of tomorrow. I'm not a determinist, nor a fatalist. I just think that we should, as Spong says, "Live fully, love wastefully, and be everything we can be" in whatever time we have.

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