God's Little Machine Shop?
God's Little Machine Shop?
There is a very basic question that has to do with the essential nature of things which is a most serious matter in these days. The issue is with us because, in the theology of many, God is running a little machine shop which is life and the universe. The message is that everything is mechanized by the divine engineer called God.
In this view, what we know as human beings and even those beings called ourselves, are really robots, mechanical things. The relationship between this God and those mechanized beings is that of a lever puller, a switch turner, it is as between the controller and the controlled. The fact is that most Christians, an outsized majority, believe in some kind of mechanics as the determinism which makes the world the way it is and their lives the way they are.
In this view, then, God becomes the wizard in heaven which not only makes the sun shine (which He does) and the mists arise (which He does), but the cosmic master who ordains and controls all human belief and action (which He does not). Nothing, to those who hold this view, is worth saying, except, God controls it all, and the will of man is of no consequence and does not, for all practical purposes, really exist. God runs His little machine shop and thats it. All deeds, all loves, all hates, all goodness, all badness, all events, and all implications are but the charade-like outworking of the mechanized will of God. They are but sparks or shavings from the machine shop in the sky. The machines whir and clank by divine preordination, starting and stopping for no other reason than the action of the unseen switchman, and theres nothing else to be said.
Yes, there are those, there are many religious people and leaders, perhaps most, who hold a view of the relationship between God and man which is simply mechanistic. They apply this view in many areas of life. The first and most serious area is that of salvation.
Salvation, in this view, comes not to whosoever will, but to only those who are the object of unconditional election. By this, they mean that the divine choice is the only factor in ones personal salvation. The individual makes no choice, bears no responsibility, and is not consulted in his own salvation. Salvation is alone by divine fiat and all outcomes are mechanistically predetermined by God. God will save the heathen if He chooses, or not, should He so choose. For this view, Supralapsarianism is the name.
If this be true, it is also true that God chose that man should sin, that he ordained the fall of man. One catches his breath at the implication of such theology, making God the author of sin. The moral instructions given to Adam and Eve are, therefore, a pointless speech given to automatons who had no choice but to sin. Really, one wonders, how can an automaton commit a sin?
The machine shop universe also, as it must, applies to all other things. For, of course, free or even partially free human wills and universal automation cannot exist in the same universe at the same time. Therefore, (we use the word therefore carefully, meaning as a precise consequence), all other things, events, attitudes, etc. are but mechanical arrangements which come out of Gods little machine shop. There is no escaping it. Whether carnality or spirituality, godliness or humanness, all are things not to be credited to industry, intrepidity, or even consecration on the part of any individual. Whether we love or hate, we are but machines. Therefore, love and hate are but sounds called words, formed as when the engineer blows the whistle, presumably for his own amusement.
Infinitely more could be said, like, All is chemistry, or Biology is destiny. But, of course, even saying these things is a totally nugatory activity. This because all sayings, agreements, conclusions, and thoughts are foreordained. Thinking by robots is a self-contradiction, and to speak intelligently of interaction between various robots or between them and God is simply silliness. By this very common theology, man, as we know him (a living, willing creature), ceases to exist, and God is but a self-amusing tyrant.
All ways by which man relates to God, by this system, dissolve into nothingness. Like praise to God, which is constantly invoked in Scripture. If man is a machine, praise to God is also a meaningless activity. It is as if God spoke praises to Himself into a tape recorder and then played the tape back to Himself. What kind of God is this, that master of the machines? The question is foolish, for the very question and the answer must also have been previously dictated by God. How terribly absurd!
But, absurd or not, this theology is creeping into the Church in strong fashion in our time. Worse than that, churches and whole denominations have been formed and continue to form with this view as their core theology. New books are now appearing which push these mechanistic views in an increasingly extreme form (although each mechanistic view is totally extreme, for it must disallow all causes, save that of the engineer in heaven).
While there is yet time, this theology must be rejected. The wooden statues or small metal monsters called human beings must be rescued back into humanity. Unless they are, soon they will die after never having lived. Yes, but for that rescue, soon the world will die, never having lived. There is no tragedy for real machines not to have lived. But when living, acting, breathing human beings are theologically hypnotized into believing themselves to be nonvolitional life, this is tragedy indeed.
No, the universe is not Gods little machine shop. We are not clanking gears and wheezing valves, controlled by remote switches in a buzzing and creaking place called heaven. Rather, we are creatures made in the image of God. We are required and enabled to be responsible choosers, deciders between the options of life. When we believe in Christ, we then become the sons of God. As such, we are given the dignity of causality to a higher degree than anyone has doubtless realized. As sons of God, we are decidedly not robots, marionettes, puppetswe are not even channels. We are beings who have been set free to live the great adventure.
How sad that there are those, even those who call themselves theologians, who should suggest otherwise. Against these we must be resolute in our rejection of the doctrine of divine automationlest we find ourselves children of a lesser god. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. This is the advice of the Apostle Paul to the easilysubvertible Galatians. In this, he was warning them of the possibility of being kidnapped by one of the first corruptions of Christianity to break on the scenethe idea that man is not free. To such there are many leaders who would impose a yoke of bondage.
Man, as a worker together with God, can exercise a vast spiritual initiative. The exercising of such initiative can lead to accomplishments unimaginably great. We must be careful of the theology that says, Let us wait for God to work. God has worked in producing a titanic victory for us at Calvary. It is now our responsibility to bring that message of glorious liberty to all mankind. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
From the writings of Dave Breese
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