Author Topic: "God has a plan for my life..."  (Read 13048 times)

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Offline Ortho_cat

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"God has a plan for my life..."
« on: May 01, 2012, 01:14:02 AM »
What do you guys think about this idea that God has a plan for our lives? Is there any place for this in Orthodoxy, or does this type of thinking lend itself towards monergism?

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2012, 01:20:36 AM »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline Shiny

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2012, 01:26:50 AM »
Nicholas I almost choked on my drink from that.
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2012, 02:06:40 AM »
God has a plan for everything: Salvation.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 02:06:48 AM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2012, 02:15:06 AM »
The standard Evangelical proof text for this concept is Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,'” declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Of course these words were spoken to Israel at a particular time in history, and we know that it is erroneous theology to literally apply all divine OT promises given to Israel to the Church today. However, it is well within Orthodox theology to understand that the general love and plan of God for Israel does extend and apply to the Church. So, in that regard, I think it is accurate to say that God has a "plan" for all people, in that He desires their salvation. But I think it is dangerous and heretical to teach that God has a specific and unique plan for each individual which involves earthly "prosperity" of any sort.

Through the Cross and through His Church, God has "planned" and provided our salvation. Whether or not we avail ourselves of the Cross and the Church is our own free choice. And availing ourselves of the Cross and the Sacraments of the Church may actually result in less prosperity and more suffering. But the mystical peace of Christ will accompany us always.


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Offline JamesR

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2012, 02:49:13 AM »
God must have had a pretty good plan when He took my unborn little sibling away from me via my mother's miscarriage three years ago, or when He let my father relapse. God-has-a-plan my behind, at least in the standard Evangelical meaning of this statement. Evangelicals always told me this when I was a Protestant and it pissed me off, driving me into the snares of closet atheism and pseudo-Buddhism. If this conception of God is true, then He is a totalitarian megalomaniac who makes horrible things happen so that He can achieve His own desires and there is absolutely no free-will. This is not the God of Love but the god of the demons. This way of thinking is merely just a comfort device for weak-minded people when things are going wrong and they need comfort. But I would rather take the more noble approach and instead of being a lazy existentialist I would rather pray about it, deal with the problem and take the path to salvation that God gives me. I do however think that we could say that God has a plan, but not in the same sense that the Evangelicals say it because it is heretical on many grounds, especially since it denies our free-will. However I think that we could say God has a plan for us in the sense that He will never leave us abandoned and even in the hardest of times, He will still make the path clear so that we can gain salvation. Orthodoxy consists in accepting God's treatment and advice in bad situations; Evangelicism consists in ignoring His treatment and just sitting down doing absolutely nothing try to make evilness into something Holy.

Offline Joseph Hazen

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2012, 03:16:01 AM »
I believe God has a plan (or multiple plans). I believe it is up to us to choose to follow that plan or not. I can see a very direct and firm guidance through several things in my life that lead me to believe God was guiding me in a very particular way in the past, but maybe that's not the original plan He had for me, or maybe by His grace I did choose to follow what He willed (Thank God, sometimes I don't believe He made it very clear which way to go).

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2012, 03:37:59 AM »
God has a plan for everything: Salvation.

God must have had a pretty good plan when He took my unborn little sibling away from me via my mother's miscarriage three years ago,

I agree with the above. I think God's plan is for all to be saved. And perhaps he has special callings for people according to the talents they have--some priests, some teachers, etc. However, I do not think God has things specifically planned out for most people. And like James, it sometimes frustrates me when people say that... not when people ask about having some specific plan to their lives (like you are doing, cat), but more so when they speak as though someone dying is about God "taking them home" because "it's their time" (in other words, part of the plan).
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Offline xariskai

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2012, 03:53:04 AM »

Offline Dominika

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2012, 10:49:42 AM »
Many people ask if Gos has an individual plan for everybody, if there is a destiny... But our destiny, as you said, is our salvation, the eternal life. And as Gebre Menfes Kidus, the central God's plan was the Israel's history in particular time and the Holy Cross.

I think God's plan is for all to be saved. And perhaps he has special callings for people according to the talents they have--some priests, some teachers, etc.

That's what I think. And in my opinion the God's plan is His will, also special callings; we can fulfill it, so we will be saved, or not - that would be worse for us.

I know that not only Protestans, but some Catholics who are active in some special neo-communities always say "Gos has a special plan for you", but they don't mean only our salvation, but also this earthly life. I think that sometimes Gos gives us some special experiences (thath can be our personal cross), people etc. to help us to reach the salvation. Only in the sense of salvation we can talk about the God's plan for us.
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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2012, 12:05:41 PM »

I don't believe in the whole "predestination" concept. 

However, I do believe each of us does have something that is uniquely given to us by God, in order to fulfill some purpose while we are here.

We each have varying skills and talents, which He can utilize for different purposes to achieve a specific goal.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2012, 12:21:36 PM »
What do you guys think about this idea that God has a plan for our lives? Is there any place for this in Orthodoxy, or does this type of thinking lend itself towards monergism?

Monoergenism has to do with Christ having only one energy, nothing with the will of God for man.
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Offline podkarpatska

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2012, 12:52:01 PM »
God has a plan for everything: Salvation.

Amen x3.

I think that it is almost cruel how some well-meaning, pious people will try to comfort one in a time of loss with simple platitudes like 'God wanted him home.' or 'God had another place for her.' This is especially ridiculous when such words are said in the face of a brutal murder or auto accident or unexplained health disaster.  These occurrences are all part of life and part of the price for our possessing the gift of free will and the gift of Salvation - if we attain the same.

Likewise, I think that if we win a football game it is because we have the gifts, the skill, the work ethic and the desire to win the game - not because God wanted a particular team to win or for a particular person to excel. I think it is the height of pompous vanity when an athlete does more than thank God for giving him the ability to excel- not deciding the actual outcome.

That isn't to say that God doesn't guide us or give us signs along the way. After all, we believe that Constantine saw the cross at the Milvian Bridge - In this Sign Conquer.... but that is not the norm.

It is easy to despair if you believe that all is arranged and we are just players on a board game.

The parable of the slothful servant and the gifts teaches us the way.


Offline witega

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2012, 01:07:30 PM »
Monoergenism has to do with Christ having only one energy, nothing with the will of God for man.

It is easy to despair if you believe that all is arranged and we are just players on a board game.

This is what I took ortho_cat to be referring to by 'monoergism'--that the idea "God has a plan for my life' often has the implication (even if the people saying it haven't thought it through), that there's only one activity being carried out. There's no room for the synergia of the Fathers nor even for free will choices that reject God. If someone brutally murders my wife, that's "God's plan"--not a human being exercising free will to reject God. If I get cancer, that's "God's plan" --not the results of living in a fallen world that humanity has driven steadily farther and farther from God, etc.
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Offline dzheremi

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2012, 01:11:40 PM »
What do you guys think about this idea that God has a plan for our lives? Is there any place for this in Orthodoxy, or does this type of thinking lend itself towards monergism?

Monoergenism has to do with Christ having only one energy, nothing with the will of God for man.

No, no people...read the OP again, more carefully...monergism is its own Calvinistic heresy unrelated to monoenergism. It's tricky when heretics don't even have the common decency to cross check the names of their new heresies against those of old. ;)

Anyway, yeah...predestination is bunk. I pretty much believe it is as podkarpatska just wrote it is. You have to do things with the gifts you are given, not sitting around "waiting for Godot". If the world worked as Calvin claims it does, then why would anyone bother doing anything? It wouldn't matter. We'd all essentially be zombies and puppets.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 01:12:30 PM by dzheremi »

Offline Papist

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2012, 01:12:44 PM »
What do you guys think about this idea that God has a plan for our lives? Is there any place for this in Orthodoxy, or does this type of thinking lend itself towards monergism?

Monoergenism has to do with Christ having only one energy, nothing with the will of God for man.

No, no people...read the OP again, more carefully...mongerism is its own Calvinistic heresy unrelated to monoenergism. It's tricky when heretics don't even have the common decency to cross check the names of their new heresies against those of old. ;)

Anyway, yeah...predestination is bunk. I pretty much believe it is as podkarpatska just wrote it is. You have to do things with the gifts you are given, not sitting around "waiting for Godot". If the world worked as Calvin claims it does, then why would anyone bother doing anything? It wouldn't matter. We'd all essentially be zombies and puppets.
The EOs and OOs don't believe in predestination???
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Offline dzheremi

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2012, 01:14:11 PM »
If they do (I don't care about such things, so I don't go looking for that type of information), it is certainly not of the Calvinist variety.

Offline witega

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2012, 01:34:24 PM »
What do you guys think about this idea that God has a plan for our lives? Is there any place for this in Orthodoxy, or does this type of thinking lend itself towards monergism?

Monoergenism has to do with Christ having only one energy, nothing with the will of God for man.

No, no people...read the OP again, more carefully...mongerism is its own Calvinistic heresy unrelated to monoenergism. It's tricky when heretics don't even have the common decency to cross check the names of their new heresies against those of old. ;)

Anyway, yeah...predestination is bunk. I pretty much believe it is as podkarpatska just wrote it is. You have to do things with the gifts you are given, not sitting around "waiting for Godot". If the world worked as Calvin claims it does, then why would anyone bother doing anything? It wouldn't matter. We'd all essentially be zombies and puppets.
The EOs and OOs don't believe in predestination???

Two recent (and fairly short) threads that do a fairly good job (I think) of summarizing the Orthodox atttitude/understanding

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,43892.msg728892.html#msg728892
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,44094.0.html
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2012, 02:06:37 PM »
I think the question in the OP, about whether or not God has a plan for my life, does not answer easily as yes or no. Of course He does, but it's probably not what you or other people think it is. How's that? Something can be God's will, but then idiots see it only one way, and God another. There are things which He wills, others which He permits to happen--using those ends for His ultimate purpose, which is that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Of course, out of His love He does not override free will. If He had wanted to do that, why bother becoming incarnate and suffering all sorts of abuse? No. He wills and we will, and there is salvation at the intersection, the synergia of the two, when our will is, "Let Thy will be done."

The movie "Tree of Life" addresses this somewhat better than many other works in popular culture. In the movie, the beloved son dies suddenly without explanation, and at the end his mother says to God, "I give You my son." Was there anything she could have done to prevent her son's death? No. Could she have instead, however, let grief and bitterness destroy her? Yes, she could have. But, instead, she makes an offering to God of what He gave to her. The Book of Job is another, even more brilliant illustration of this. The mother and Job make a choice against bitterness and for acceptance of the mystery--the same as Abraham does when God orders him to sacrifice Isaac. The will of God is inscrutable. Who can understand it? But the saints accept it because it is from God--either He willed it or allowed it to happen--and God is good, and He supplies grace to heal all hurts and bring everything to right.
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Offline podkarpatska

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2012, 02:26:04 PM »
What do you guys think about this idea that God has a plan for our lives? Is there any place for this in Orthodoxy, or does this type of thinking lend itself towards monergism?

Monoergenism has to do with Christ having only one energy, nothing with the will of God for man.

No, no people...read the OP again, more carefully...mongerism is its own Calvinistic heresy unrelated to monoenergism. It's tricky when heretics don't even have the common decency to cross check the names of their new heresies against those of old. ;)

Anyway, yeah...predestination is bunk. I pretty much believe it is as podkarpatska just wrote it is. You have to do things with the gifts you are given, not sitting around "waiting for Godot". If the world worked as Calvin claims it does, then why would anyone bother doing anything? It wouldn't matter. We'd all essentially be zombies and puppets.
The EOs and OOs don't believe in predestination???

It may be tough for you to accept this, but your Church and the EO and OO's are pretty much in agreement on this subject - putting over the top rhetoric aside.

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2012, 02:27:37 PM »
Or how about this phrase "I'm putting everything in God's hands"? That also seems rather monergistic / anti-free will.

Offline witega

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2012, 02:33:37 PM »
Or how about this phrase "I'm putting everything in God's hands"? That also seems rather monergistic / anti-free will.

I think that very much depends on what you mean by the phrase--in particular what consequences you draw from it.
When Job says "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." I consider that a thoroughly Orthodox statement. And if I said "put everything in God's hands", that's what I would mean by it.
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Offline peteprint

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2012, 02:34:26 PM »
I think this topic is related to the idea some people seem to hold, which is that God micromanages people's lives.  Personally, statements such as "everything happens for a reason," and "where you are is where you are meant to be" have always bothered me.  They reek of fatalism and determinism.  I doubt that the Jews in Auschwitz felt that they were "where they were meant to be".

Certainly God can operate in our lives, especially as we submit ourselves to His will, but I have difficulty believing that everything that happens to us is His will.  I remember reading somewhere that St. Silouan mentioned when he was ill he prayed about it, and if he wasn't healed then it was God's will for him to be ill.  I happen to be a smoker (which I wish I weren't), and if I get lung cancer I don't believe it is God's will for that to happen.

I don't believe it was God's will that the Titanic sank, or that millions died in the former Soviet Union during famines that resulted in Stalin's collectivization program.  As people exercise their free will in the world, things happen.

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2012, 02:38:38 PM »
yep, that leads right to the idea that God wants people to be in hell. We make conscious decisions all throughout our life to reject or accept God's will. A life of conscious rejection of God leads to the death, while conscious acceptance leads to life.

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2012, 02:40:04 PM »
Or how about this phrase "I'm putting everything in God's hands"? That also seems rather monergistic / anti-free will.

Not at all. We commend ourselves, one another, and our whole lives unto Christ our God. He is the ruler of the world. Everything happens by His will or allowance--even our decisions, since He allows us to make them, or He guides them, or He warns against them and we sin anyway, in which case He can even use this to His good purpose.
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Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #25 on: May 01, 2012, 02:43:34 PM »
Or how about this phrase "I'm putting everything in God's hands"? That also seems rather monergistic / anti-free will.

Not at all. We commend ourselves, one another, and our whole lives unto Christ our God. He is the ruler of the world. Everything happens by His will or allowance--even our decisions, since He allows us to make them, or He guides them, or He warns against them and we sin anyway, in which case He can even use this to His good purpose.

I suppose i haven't sufficiently explained the context of this phrase in which I have commonly heard it. I have most often heard it used in a sense where things happen, and we don't know where to turn or what to do next, so we essentially "give up" for lack of a better word, and say "I put it in God's hands". Does that affect your response?

Offline jah777

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #26 on: May 01, 2012, 02:45:29 PM »
The phrase “God has a plan for your life”, of course, is unique to Evangelical-speak.  This phrase has been used to inspire people to a commitment of faith based on ego-stroking and grandiose self-centered fantasies regarding what “I can accomplish for God”.  By the manner in which Evangelicals in America have adopted this phrase, it is clear that they prefer to substitute it for the less pleasing and rather distasteful (to them) words of St. John the Forerunner to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.  While according to the true gospel, the process of man’s salvation begins with the awareness of his own sinfulness, his great need for God and for eternal salvation, confession of sins, genuine repentance, and faithful obedience to the Lord’s commandments; the Evangelical proclamation calls man through flattering speech to think about how great he can become in this life and what man can “accomplish” for God here on earth.  Whereas God desires our salvation and eternal glorification through true repentance and gaining victory over the passions, the Evangelical proclamation focuses on maximization of human potential on earth through faith in a God who wants to make us rich and famous. 

Unfortunately, this phrase is often used by millionaire charlatans posing as Evangelical preachers who point to the thousands who attend their churches, and to their own personal wealth, as supposed “proof” of God’s favor and of the kind of “great plan” that God has for those who follow him.  The slogan is often interpreted as, “do God’s will like me and you can be wealthy and happy just like me.”  In other words, it is closely tailored to the so-called “prosperity gospel” which focuses on the enjoyment of earthly delights, worldly celebrity status, the prideful celebration of one’s religious accomplishments, etc.  Regarding this false gospel built upon flattery that is used by charlatan sectarians, St. Paul says:

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Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18)

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2012, 02:46:59 PM »
I think this topic is related to the idea some people seem to hold, which is that God micromanages people's lives.  Personally, statements such as "everything happens for a reason," and "where you are is where you are meant to be" have always bothered me.  They reek of fatalism and determinism.  I doubt that the Jews in Auschwitz felt that they were "where they were meant to be".

Certainly God can operate in our lives, especially as we submit ourselves to His will, but I have difficulty believing that everything that happens to us is His will.  I remember reading somewhere that St. Silouan mentioned when he was ill he prayed about it, and if he wasn't healed then it was God's will for him to be ill.  I happen to be a smoker (which I wish I weren't), and if I get lung cancer I don't believe it is God's will for that to happen.

I don't believe it was God's will that the Titanic sank, or that millions died in the former Soviet Union during famines that resulted in Stalin's collectivization program.  As people exercise their free will in the world, things happen.

The "things happen" model reeks of disorder, chaos, and heresy. Does anything happen without God knowing it? Does He not have the power to change it? All the evil of the world is no match for God. But how did He deal with it? By being voluntarily crucified. Bad things happen, but there were people on the Titanic and in the prison and death camps who, instead of giving into despair, turned to God and showed great philotimo and self-sacrifice and love. It does no good to examine only the big things, without considering the workings of Him who made Himself small for our sake. Transcendent and imminent, He speaks a word and it is done majestically, He disguises Himself in humility and does even more.
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Offline podkarpatska

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2012, 02:47:18 PM »
yep, that leads right to the idea that God wants people to be in hell. We make conscious decisions all throughout our life to reject or accept God's will. A life of conscious rejection of God leads to the death, while conscious acceptance leads to life.

I think that free will allows us to reject God's ways and should we be left outside of Paradise on the Day of Judgment as a consequence it is our own fault, if you will, but I have a hard time concluding that free will leads one to your conclusion that God somehow 'wants' people to be in hell.

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2012, 02:53:06 PM »
Or how about this phrase "I'm putting everything in God's hands"? That also seems rather monergistic / anti-free will.

Not at all. We commend ourselves, one another, and our whole lives unto Christ our God. He is the ruler of the world. Everything happens by His will or allowance--even our decisions, since He allows us to make them, or He guides them, or He warns against them and we sin anyway, in which case He can even use this to His good purpose.

I suppose i haven't sufficiently explained the context of this phrase in which I have commonly heard it. I have most often heard it used in a sense where things happen, and we don't know where to turn or what to do next, so we essentially "give up" for lack of a better word, and say "I put it in God's hands". Does that affect your response?

It's hard to comment on others' motives and understandings. In this way, the questions you've asked cannot be answered in a dogmatic sense, I think.

However, my response does not change. God rules the universe. His ways are mysterious, His will is inscrutable--but we know Him as the lover of mankind and as all good. He has commanded us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn--He Himself having known rejoicing and mourning as the God-Man. Somethings happens and we don't know why and we say "God only knows," and only He truly does.

Maybe I'm not understanding those things to which you refer. However, I think it's common to try to dig too deeply into what people say. Most people do not have a good spiritual understanding. There is a worldly Christianity which is fake. But I would not charge everyone with that.
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Offline peteprint

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #30 on: May 01, 2012, 02:54:21 PM »
I think this topic is related to the idea some people seem to hold, which is that God micromanages people's lives.  Personally, statements such as "everything happens for a reason," and "where you are is where you are meant to be" have always bothered me.  They reek of fatalism and determinism.  I doubt that the Jews in Auschwitz felt that they were "where they were meant to be".

Certainly God can operate in our lives, especially as we submit ourselves to His will, but I have difficulty believing that everything that happens to us is His will.  I remember reading somewhere that St. Silouan mentioned when he was ill he prayed about it, and if he wasn't healed then it was God's will for him to be ill.  I happen to be a smoker (which I wish I weren't), and if I get lung cancer I don't believe it is God's will for that to happen.

I don't believe it was God's will that the Titanic sank, or that millions died in the former Soviet Union during famines that resulted in Stalin's collectivization program.  As people exercise their free will in the world, things happen.

The "things happen" model reeks of disorder, chaos, and heresy. Does anything happen without God knowing it? Does He not have the power to change it? All the evil of the world is no match for God. But how did He deal with it? By being voluntarily crucified. Bad things happen, but there were people on the Titanic and in the prison and death camps who, instead of giving into despair, turned to God and showed great philotimo and self-sacrifice and love. It does no good to examine only the big things, without considering the workings of Him who made Himself small for our sake. Transcendent and imminent, He speaks a word and it is done majestically, He disguises Himself in humility and does even more.

"Heresy?"

Of course God knows all.  That doesn't mean he makes those things happen.  He didn't place Hitler into power, or make the Captain of the Titanic use bad judgment.  God never wills evil, and if the murder of millions of men women and children isn't evil, (including all the new-martyrs under Lenin and Stalin) I don't know what is.

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #31 on: May 01, 2012, 02:58:09 PM »
I think this topic is related to the idea some people seem to hold, which is that God micromanages people's lives.  Personally, statements such as "everything happens for a reason," and "where you are is where you are meant to be" have always bothered me.  They reek of fatalism and determinism.  I doubt that the Jews in Auschwitz felt that they were "where they were meant to be".

Certainly God can operate in our lives, especially as we submit ourselves to His will, but I have difficulty believing that everything that happens to us is His will.  I remember reading somewhere that St. Silouan mentioned when he was ill he prayed about it, and if he wasn't healed then it was God's will for him to be ill.  I happen to be a smoker (which I wish I weren't), and if I get lung cancer I don't believe it is God's will for that to happen.

I don't believe it was God's will that the Titanic sank, or that millions died in the former Soviet Union during famines that resulted in Stalin's collectivization program.  As people exercise their free will in the world, things happen.

The "things happen" model reeks of disorder, chaos, and heresy. Does anything happen without God knowing it? Does He not have the power to change it? All the evil of the world is no match for God. But how did He deal with it? By being voluntarily crucified. Bad things happen, but there were people on the Titanic and in the prison and death camps who, instead of giving into despair, turned to God and showed great philotimo and self-sacrifice and love. It does no good to examine only the big things, without considering the workings of Him who made Himself small for our sake. Transcendent and imminent, He speaks a word and it is done majestically, He disguises Himself in humility and does even more.

"Heresy?"

Of course God knows all.  That doesn't mean he makes those things happen.  He didn't place Hitler into power, or make the Captain of the Titanic use bad judgment.  God never wills evil, and if the murder of millions of men women and children isn't evil, (including all the new-martyrs under Lenin and Stalin) I don't know what is.

If you accept that all is pre-ordained due to God's infallibility, you reduce free will to a meaningless quest that no individual can 'win.' Is anyone here arguing that God 'uses' and 'intends' evil to accomplish His goals? That is heresy.

I prefer to look at all of this as a mystery - not something that logic may answer for logic will only lead one to despair and disbelief when it comes to such ultimate matters.

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #32 on: May 01, 2012, 03:07:27 PM »
I think this topic is related to the idea some people seem to hold, which is that God micromanages people's lives.  Personally, statements such as "everything happens for a reason," and "where you are is where you are meant to be" have always bothered me.  They reek of fatalism and determinism.  I doubt that the Jews in Auschwitz felt that they were "where they were meant to be".

Certainly God can operate in our lives, especially as we submit ourselves to His will, but I have difficulty believing that everything that happens to us is His will.  I remember reading somewhere that St. Silouan mentioned when he was ill he prayed about it, and if he wasn't healed then it was God's will for him to be ill.  I happen to be a smoker (which I wish I weren't), and if I get lung cancer I don't believe it is God's will for that to happen.

I don't believe it was God's will that the Titanic sank, or that millions died in the former Soviet Union during famines that resulted in Stalin's collectivization program.  As people exercise their free will in the world, things happen.

The "things happen" model reeks of disorder, chaos, and heresy. Does anything happen without God knowing it? Does He not have the power to change it? All the evil of the world is no match for God. But how did He deal with it? By being voluntarily crucified. Bad things happen, but there were people on the Titanic and in the prison and death camps who, instead of giving into despair, turned to God and showed great philotimo and self-sacrifice and love. It does no good to examine only the big things, without considering the workings of Him who made Himself small for our sake. Transcendent and imminent, He speaks a word and it is done majestically, He disguises Himself in humility and does even more.

"Heresy?"

Of course God knows all.  That doesn't mean he makes those things happen.  He didn't place Hitler into power, or make the Captain of the Titanic use bad judgment.  God never wills evil, and if the murder of millions of men women and children isn't evil, (including all the new-martyrs under Lenin and Stalin) I don't know what is.

If you accept that all is pre-ordained due to God's infallibility, you reduce free will to a meaningless quest that no individual can 'win.' Is anyone here arguing that God 'uses' and 'intends' evil to accomplish His goals? That is heresy.

I prefer to look at all of this as a mystery - not something that logic may answer for logic will only lead one to despair and disbelief when it comes to such ultimate matters.

Amen. Let's be Orthodox and respect the mystery.
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Offline peteprint

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #33 on: May 01, 2012, 03:11:45 PM »
Yes, it is a great mystery.  Lord have Mercy!

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #34 on: May 01, 2012, 03:29:32 PM »
yep, that leads right to the idea that God wants people to be in hell. We make conscious decisions all throughout our life to reject or accept God's will. A life of conscious rejection of God leads to the death, while conscious acceptance leads to life.

I think that free will allows us to reject God's ways and should we be left outside of Paradise on the Day of Judgment as a consequence it is our own fault, if you will, but I have a hard time concluding that free will leads one to your conclusion that God somehow 'wants' people to be in hell.


Sorry, my first sentance was summing up the false teaching of predestination in a calvinistic sense, while my following sentances summarize the orthodox view as I understand it. Sorry if i didn't make that clear.

Offline HabteSelassie

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2012, 04:04:21 PM »
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

A few comments about free will and predestination.

There has been a rather crass opinion about mistakes or aspects of our lives which we don't like.  It is very easy and casual to blame demons or ourselves for the faults of this world, but that is a cop out and it is scapegoating.  When we reject ANY aspect of this life, we reject God.  It is like John the Baptist said to his disciples, "A man can not receive anything unless he receives it from Heaven" and further when Jesus told Pontius Pilate, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above."  This is not to imply a can of Calvinist predestination where every single aspect of life is calculated and choreographed.  However, we negate the Omnipotence of God when we pretend our own free-will or that of the Devil and demons can somehow challenge, overpower, or contradict the Will of God.  Simply put, if something "bad" happens in our lives, that is God's will too.  We can't escape this reality. 

Further, free-will is in fact a gift from God.  When there are "mistakes" these are even MORE SO a manifestation of the love and power of God then when we follow His will, just as He leaves the 99 on the hillside and goes off in search of that one sheep who goes astray.  God manifests our very existence, we are not in anyway self-existing, neither is the Devil.  So even if we have a free-will, whenever we apply it we are inherently manifesting the power of God because it is God that created us, and it is God that sustains and empowers our every moment.  This is the mystery of Creation.  Further, we know that God allows our mistakes as a gift of His mercy.  He does not judge us instantly rather He continually gives us that extra inch we need to find inevitable repentance.  When we see things that are "evil" or "mistakes" or "wrong" or which appear to us as "contrary" to the will of God, in reality these are even MORE SO manifestations of the God's will in that He is merciful to these and allows them to continue towards repentance.  Like Apostle Paul says, "Now if God, wanting to display His indignation and to make His powerful doings known, carries with much patience the vessels of indignation, adapted for destruction, it is that He should also be making know the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy" and further agrees with Apostle Peter, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."  If God were NOT to allow sin, wickedness, negativity, and mistakes to occur, by definition His judgement would have to condemn all to permanent nonexistence.  Instead, He manifests His mercy, and allows wickedness to continue to exist by His own power through His patience that ALL might inevitably come to repentance.  If God did not manifest His mercy, where would these find opportunity to repent?  This is why Adam and Eve did not die instantly after eating the fruit, and neither do when whenever we commit even mortal sins.  So when our lives seem contrary to what understand God to be, we must turn deeper to God to understand that even and especially those moments are the most important manifestations of His love.  This is further why Paul explains, "We have this treasure in earthen (ie, weak and inferior) vessels, that the transcendence of the power my be of God and not of us."

Free-will does in fact eliminate the idea of predestination however it does not negate the Will of God.  God does not watch sinners from a distance and begrudgingly accepts the consequences of their actions, rather God is deeply involved in their lives even in the midst of their sins manifesting His mercy and love, just each new dawn the Sun rises about the reverent and irreverent alike, giving each and all a new day.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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Offline Papist

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2012, 04:06:39 PM »
What do you guys think about this idea that God has a plan for our lives? Is there any place for this in Orthodoxy, or does this type of thinking lend itself towards monergism?

Monoergenism has to do with Christ having only one energy, nothing with the will of God for man.

No, no people...read the OP again, more carefully...mongerism is its own Calvinistic heresy unrelated to monoenergism. It's tricky when heretics don't even have the common decency to cross check the names of their new heresies against those of old. ;)

Anyway, yeah...predestination is bunk. I pretty much believe it is as podkarpatska just wrote it is. You have to do things with the gifts you are given, not sitting around "waiting for Godot". If the world worked as Calvin claims it does, then why would anyone bother doing anything? It wouldn't matter. We'd all essentially be zombies and puppets.
The EOs and OOs don't believe in predestination???

It may be tough for you to accept this, but your Church and the EO and OO's are pretty much in agreement on this subject - putting over the top rhetoric aside.
I am not so certain that this is something we agree on. Since this is the faith issues forum, I will not debate that here, but I am curious to know about the EO and OO views on predestination.
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2012, 04:09:03 PM »
The EOs and OOs don't believe in predestination???
Quote
It may be tough for you to accept this, but your Church and the EO and OO's are pretty much in agreement on this subject - putting over the top rhetoric aside.
I am not so certain that this is something we agree on. Since this is the faith issues forum, I will not debate that here, but I am curious to know about the EO and OO views on predestination.

Papist,

We do believe in Predestination. Just not Calvinistic predestination.

Like we believe in substitution, just not penal substitution.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 04:09:33 PM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2012, 04:09:54 PM »
At the very least, God has a plan for some people; take Moses or the Theotokos, for example.  Both were created to accomplish goals God had.  However, both could have rejected God's plans for them.

While I doubt God has a plan for most people that is quite so enormous as those He had for Moses and the Theotokos, I don't think it is a great leap to believe He does have a plan for everyone, even if we may not understand exactly what it is, even if we reject it, even if - because of the Fall - it gets screwed up along the way.
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Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2012, 04:11:56 PM »
What do you guys think about this idea that God has a plan for our lives? Is there any place for this in Orthodoxy, or does this type of thinking lend itself towards monergism?

Monoergenism has to do with Christ having only one energy, nothing with the will of God for man.

No, no people...read the OP again, more carefully...mongerism is its own Calvinistic heresy unrelated to monoenergism. It's tricky when heretics don't even have the common decency to cross check the names of their new heresies against those of old. ;)

Anyway, yeah...predestination is bunk. I pretty much believe it is as podkarpatska just wrote it is. You have to do things with the gifts you are given, not sitting around "waiting for Godot". If the world worked as Calvin claims it does, then why would anyone bother doing anything? It wouldn't matter. We'd all essentially be zombies and puppets.
The EOs and OOs don't believe in predestination???

It may be tough for you to accept this, but your Church and the EO and OO's are pretty much in agreement on this subject - putting over the top rhetoric aside.
I am not so certain that this is something we agree on. Since this is the faith issues forum, I will not debate that here, but I am curious to know about the EO and OO views on predestination.

might as well start a thread then..

Offline HabteSelassie

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2012, 04:18:20 PM »
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus CHrist!

At the very least, God has a plan for some people; take Moses or the Theotokos, for example.  Both were created to accomplish goals God had.  However, both could have rejected God's plans for them.

While I doubt God has a plan for most people that is quite so enormous as those He had for Moses and the Theotokos, I don't think it is a great leap to believe He does have a plan for everyone, even if we may not understand exactly what it is, even if we reject it, even if - because of the Fall - it gets screwed up along the way.

Actually you bring up a good point, and one which is visualized in the Icon of the Tree of Life and the function of the Old Testament. When Judah sinned and thought he was sleeping with a prostitute, what happened? He had a son who became the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ!  Just a single example of the complicated geneology of Jesus Christ.  These are manifestations of how God cooperates with our free will in synergy to manifest His own Will.  Even in sinning, Judah was manifesting God's will.  When Moses fled into the wilderness and spent those 40 years until the day he stumbled across the burning bush was God's will, as how else would Moses have been at that place and time had he not been afraid and fled into exile?  If David had not had Uriah killed, where would Solomon have been born?  In this regard, we can't always comprehend the long term implications of even the most mundane actions.  What if Judah hadn't gone to market that day? What if Moses had resolved not to go into exile? What if David had ignored his infatuation with that beautiful bathing woman on the rooftop as a fleeting moment of lust?  We can never know how even our mistakes can manifest the mercy of God into the world.  This is what we can be confident then of, to enjoy the journeys of our lives.  We might not understand where we are going or how we even got as far as we are, but we can always know that good, bad, and every step in between God is manifesting His love in our midsts.  Sometimes a wrong turn actually gets us in the right direction.


stay blessed,
habte selassie
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Offline podkarpatska

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2012, 04:18:29 PM »
yep, that leads right to the idea that God wants people to be in hell. We make conscious decisions all throughout our life to reject or accept God's will. A life of conscious rejection of God leads to the death, while conscious acceptance leads to life.

I think that free will allows us to reject God's ways and should we be left outside of Paradise on the Day of Judgment as a consequence it is our own fault, if you will, but I have a hard time concluding that free will leads one to your conclusion that God somehow 'wants' people to be in hell.


Sorry, my first sentance was summing up the false teaching of predestination in a calvinistic sense, while my following sentances summarize the orthodox view as I understand it. Sorry if i didn't make that clear.

I thought that's what you meant, but I am glad you clarified that! Thanks!

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: "God has a plan for my life..."
« Reply #42 on: May 01, 2012, 04:20:42 PM »
At the very least, God has a plan for some people; take Moses or the Theotokos, for example.  Both were created to accomplish goals God had.  However, both could have rejected God's plans for them.

While I doubt God has a plan for most people that is quite so enormous as those He had for Moses and the Theotokos, I don't think it is a great leap to believe He does have a plan for everyone, even if we may not understand exactly what it is, even if we reject it, even if - because of the Fall - it gets screwed up along the way.

Sorry, misread.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 04:21:30 PM by Shanghaiski »
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If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
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