Our week at camp was pleasant, as I mentioned before -- I enjoyed the break from meal-making and cleaning house, hubby relished the chance to nap deeply and often, the kids loved the swimming pool, and even Simon was confident enough to take off his lifejacket by the end of the week (though he still maintained a death grip on my neck most of the time). Neither of the boys can actually swim yet, but Nicholas is working gamely on it. We might enrol him in swimming lessons at the YMCA this winter.
The speaker for the week was Dr. Dave Glock, one of my husband's old teachers from Emmaus Bible College -- he spoke about the attributes of God (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, imminence, immutability, sovereignty, etc.). I enjoyed his straightforwardness and honesty when it came to dealing with problematic issues -- he didn't pretend to know more than he did or to have all the right answers. After the kids were asleep, my husband and I had a couple of good, in-depth discussions about some of the points Dr. Glock had raised, which was nice -- we don't often have time or energy for those kinds of conversations at home.
We didn't agree, however, with Dave's idea that Christ having taken on human form and "growing in wisdom and stature" while he was on earth means that even in His ascended state He will go on learning and growing for all eternity (that just made us both go O_o for days afterward). Nor could we share his view that God's sovereignty means that every action and event that takes place within His creation is directly ordered by Him as the best possible thing -- "It's all 'Plan A'", as Dr. Glock put it, "God doesn't have a 'Plan B'."
I believe that God is completely in control when it comes to the outcome of history; I believe that nothing that happens takes Him by surprise or is unaccounted for in His master plan; I believe that in His mercy and wisdom God is able to graciously overrule to bring good out of even the worst situation, and that He does so in even the smallest as well as the greatest matters. However, Dave appeared to be saying that even when men perform horrific acts of evil, this is in obedience to God's direct sovereign command -- that they are doing exactly and only what He wanted them to do and that these evil deeds are part of His plan.
He used the example of how in the book of Genesis Joseph's brothers wanted to kill him, and then the slave traders came along and they sold him to the slave traders instead, and Joseph was taken to Egypt where he eventually was able to save his fellow Israelites from dying of famine. I would say that was a case of God working around and through the wickedness of men (which He knew and anticipated, but did not cause) to bring good out of it; Dave would say that God caused Joseph's brothers to hate him and caused the slave traders to enter the slave trade -- and that I just can't agree with, because that kind of thinking seems to me to make God the Author of sin.
I believe that God's plan is constructed with infinite subtlety and complexity, taking into account all the evil things that men and fallen angels have done and are doing and will do of their own free will. I believe that He knows everything that is going to take place and controls the timing and circumstances of events in such a way as to accomplish His purpose and His glory. He intervenes to limit or redirect the ambitions of evil men and corrupt governments, so that their actions end up contributing to rather than hindering His plan. But that's a far cry from saying that He made them evil. You can argue about the nature of foreknowledge and the meaning of sovereignty as long as you like, but as far as I can see Scripture is absolutely plain and uncompromising in saying that God is not the Author of sin and that He cannot at any time look upon sin with favour, nor is He anything less than wholly just in punishing wicked people for their misdeeds. I don't see how that can possibly be true if God goes around telling people to be evil and putting evil ideas in their heads of specific evil acts He wants them to perform.
However, this is just my report of what was said and what I thought of it, not an invitation to debate. I don't expect everyone will agree -- indeed I think I can even guess who is going to disagree (and probably anticipate a good deal of what they might have to say). I'm not going there, however, certainly not without another twelve hours or so in my day and a lot more mental energy than I have to spare right now. Sorry.
Anyway, point is, the week at camp was thought-provoking as well as relaxing. Next year the speaker during that week will be Dr. Renald Showers, who was one of my teachers at Bible college, and I'm looking forward to seeing him again, D.V.