Saturday, January 4, 2014

Supernatural vs Process

A quick interlude between posts in my current series ... :)

This article is very thought provoking - it deals with the idea that Christians typically prefer supernatural descriptions of God's activity rather than natural / process descriptions. This is particularly obvious when it comes to creation and the origin of Scripture.

OBVIOUSLY this is a simplistic (and in some places and for many people, wrong) discussion. Supernatural creation is preferred over evolution for many reasons, and not only because it has more God-interventions that are not considered 'natural'. Biblical inspiration is preferred over a naturalistic explanation for many reasons, not only because it requires more supernatural intervention.

But I think the author makes an interesting point - why is it that we rely on non-'natural' interventions to assure us that God was present and involved and sovereign over a process? While I disagree with the author's specific conclusions regarding creation and Biblical inerrancy, his conclusion that this is not necessary or healthy - it's mostly right. The problem, I think, stems from his emphasis. He minimises the evidence and need for 'non-natural' intervention to support God's sovereign involvement, rather than lifting our view of 'natural processes' to BE a form of 'super-natural' sovereign involvement.

For example, in writing Scripture, he states that wise men simply wrote what they liked, hence no need for a high view of inerrancy, but God was still present in the process. I would say that God is ALWAYS present and active in every person's thoughts and writings, and not a single word is spoken or written that God did not specifically ordain. This includes Scripture. So we can still acknowledge 'natural' processes, and even potentially accept 'errors', but have confidence in the absolute intimate and sovereign direction of God.

This means that we really can trust Scripture to be without error in all that God intended it to teach, and in the clarity of its message, and in its preservation. This is ultimately why I disagree with his specific conclusions about Scripture, and creation.

So 'natural' processes are in fact multitudes of 'supernatural', intimately God-sustained and directed, sovereignty beautiful interventions. We should not minimise processes, or rely on obvious 'supernatural' interventions to assure us of God's involvement. He is ever-present and involved!


  1. Great write up Josh. I, like you can understand this guy's approach and concern about why people seek after obvious supernatural miracles rather than pre-planned "natural" miracles. I wonder whether it stems from our desire to "see" rather than have faith?
    Also, as you said, what this person has done is taken away the miraculous aspects of planned creation itself. He has an interesting and important idea but has taken it too far with a wrong emphasis.

  2. But I suppose, by our potential definition of natural "miracles" being supernatural acts (being determinists) we have made every aspect of the "natural" as actually being supernatural. All nature is ordained by, through and ordered by God, and therefore everything natural is a supernatural act.