An Examination of "Lucky God" Theology
by Tim Haile
"Lucky God" theorists view God as being little more than a very successful free moral agent. They visualize God as one who faces moral and ethical dilemmas, just as humans do. They see Him grappling with difficult issues and hard questions, hopeful that He is making the right decisions. Whether they admit it or not, lucky God theorists view God as a fallible being who is capable of making wrong choices. They see Him as potentially saying and doing the wrong things. To them, God's righteousness is merely the result of His making good moral choices, not the result of His perfect attributes and intrinsic holiness.
Their reasoning becomes especially obvious when such folks speak or write on the subject of the nature, person and work of Jesus Christ. They like to talk about a so-called "eternal risk" that God took when Jesus came in the flesh. They see this time as the time when God was most susceptible to failure. Apparently, they believe there is something about human flesh that changes an infallible being into and fallible one (shades of Calvinism). Statements, like the following, have been publicly made regarding this notion of divine "risk." The first quote teaches that the Father placed himself at "risk." The second one teaches that Christ was at "risk." Fallible God advocates are divided over whether or not the Son's alleged "risk" of failure necessarily amounted to a "risk" for the Father. Please consider the following statements:
"(God) sent another person of the Godhead to this earth to live as a man and he risked it all. And I believe that's the point. He risked it all. For thirty-three years, God risked it all." (Keith Sharp, Open Forum, O'Neal-Welch Debate, August 3, 1994).
"I believe ladies and gentlemen, sincerely, that Jesus Christ changed his spirit to such a point that he put himself at eternal risk when he came to this earth, that he could sin, that he could be tempted, that he could forsake his mission and he showed us what it was to be man, what he intended us to be from the beginning and what we can be." (John Welch, 1st Affirmative, June 22, 1995).
The word "risk" means "chance or possibility of danger, loss or injury." When a thing is at "risk" it is jeopardized. There is a chance of failure and loss. According to the above statements, the incarnate mission of the second person of the Godhead placed either Christ or the Father at "risk." To those of us who see God as infallible, the above statements are nothing less than heretical. Are we wrong to so characterize these statements? Does the Bible teach that God's nature is fallible? The answer is no, the Bible tells us that God is not only infallible, He is immutably infallible! God is right and He cannot be wrong! This is exactly what the prophet Zephaniah said about God. While speaking of Jerusalem Zephaniah wrote, "The Lord within her is righteous; He does no wrong. Morning by morning He dispenses His justice, and every new day He does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame" (Zeph. 3:5). Does this passage sound like any member of the Godhead ever placed Himself at "eternal risk?" Absolutely not! This passage says God "faileth not." As we shall see in a moment, the Old Testament even predicted that Christ would not fail in His incarnate mission. Why not? Because God never fails, and Jesus was God.
"Foreknowledge" versus "Foreordination"
Isaiah prophesied that Christ would not fail (Isa. 42:4). Arguments about "would not fail" versus "could not fail" fall upon deaf ears among those of us who accept Bible truths at face value. At the same time many are arguing that Christ "could have failed" in His redemptive mission, Isaiah argues that He "shall not fail!" I take my stand with inspired Isaiah! Of course, some argue that Isaiah's prophecy was based solely upon foreknowledge and had absolutely nothing at all to do with Christ's "free moral decisions." Had Jesus been a mere man, I would agree with these brethren, however, the fact that Jesus was GOD means that foreordination was what factored into His success, and this is the divine ability that Isaiah's prophecy was based upon. Foreordination is when God makes a thing happen. The word means to "mark out the boundaries" of a thing. The word refers to God's providence and direct intervention in making His plans succeed. Acts 2:23 and 4:28 state that foreordination was involved in the development of the scheme of redemption. These verses plainly state this fact and we have no right to disregard them. Jesus said, My Father is working until now, and I myself am working" (Jn. 5:17). The Jews knew what Jesus meant when He referred to the Father as "MY" Father. They knew He was claiming the same deity that the Father possessed, thus "making Himself equal with God." They were so offended that they tried to kill Him for making this statement (Jn. 5:18). It is important for us to see that Jesus was claiming to carry out His mission as God. He and the Father always worked together in constant and absolute unity. The "work" they simultaneously accomplished was the fulfillment of their foreordained plans. Jesus was not just a lucky God who somehow managed to get everything right. He was God who "faileth not."
Being God Himself, Jesus willingly and perfectly executed the Father's divine plan. He said He could only do those things that were in agreement with the Father's will (John 5:19), and those were exactly the things He always did (John 8:29). This was His very purpose for coming to the earth (John 4:34). He "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8). He was "the lamb slain before the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). This passage tells us that before God had even created the universe, He devised a plan whereby He would redeem sinful man. His success in accomplishing that plan was as certain as His own nature and existence. Revelation 13:8 tells us that Jesus' death took place in God's mind before He even fashioned the earth. Foreordination is the divine ability required making a thing happen. Only God has this kind of power and control over creation.
It is interesting that in the context of an Old Testament "Jehovah" passage which includes Christ (cp. Isa. 45:23 with Phil. 2:10), this person of God said, "I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from my mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass" (Isa. 48:3). The conclusion is simple - when Jesus worked, divine plans were executed. He was fully and functionally God, even while in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). When He worked, the Father was working (Jn. 5:17). The Lord our God is one (Deut. 6:4). This means that there was never any possibility of fracturing or fragmenting in the Godhead. Do you have faith in this God?
The prophecy of Psalm 45:7 said, "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, Thy God has anointed thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." God (the Father) was speaking to God (the Son) and He told the Son that it was His love for righteousness and hatred of iniquity that qualified Him to come to the earth. Jesus was not just a Messiah; He was a divine Messiah. When He came to earth to accomplish His mission, He fulfilled that mission with the impeccable confidence of God (Matt. 1:23).
God the Rock
Moses also spoke of the infallibility of God. In his song he wrote, "He is the Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He" (Deut. 32:4). In light of our present discussion, it should be especially noted that Christ is said to be the "Rock" who led the Jews (1 Cor. 10:4). The word "rock" describes God's stability and faithfulness. He is of such perfect character that He can be trusted unquestionably. "As for God, His way is perfect" (Psa. 18:30). David went on to say, "Who is a rock, except our God?" (Psa. 18:31). In keeping with these thoughts it should be noted that while on earth Jesus said to His disciples, "Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me" (John 14:1). Upon what basis could Christ encourage His disciples to put just as much faith and confidence in Him as they did the Father? The answer is simple; While in the flesh Jesus remained immutably divine. That divinity embodied the sum total of qualities and attributes that made Jesus implicitly trustworthy. Jesus tells us, just as He told the disciples - believe also in Me. In this admonition Jesus meant for us to believe in His complete and infallible deity. Do you believe? Do you believe that by seeing Jesus one saw the Father? I certainly hope you believe this, for this is exactly what the Bible teaches (John 14:9).
Abraham's Faith in God's Infallibility
What was it about Abraham's faith that so commended him to God? What conviction moved Abraham to render obedience to God? Paul answers that question in Romans 4:17-22. He wrote:
"17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness." (Romans 4:17-22).
Abraham's faith was commended and richly rewarded because it was a faith in God's divine infallibility. Abraham knew that God's plans could not fail. He knew that if God said a thing would happen; then it would most certainly happen! What was this faith based upon? Basically, Abraham's faith rested upon two fundamental divine abilities - foreknowledge and foreordination. As we have already noted, foreordination is God's ability to make a thing happen. Human actions and choices have no ability to thwart such plans, however, human free will choices may be foreknown and then incorporated into the development and fulfillment of such plans. A single verse of scripture will suffice in establishing this point. Jesus said:
"And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!" (Luke 22:22).
Notice that Jesus' death was absolutely certain. There was no chance of failure. He would go as was "determined," however, "woe" was pronounced upon the man who betrayed Him (Judas Iscariot). This means that Judas was held accountable for His choice to betray Christ though it served to fulfill the determinate council of God! Is there a contradiction between Judas' free moral agency and God's foreordination? No, God exercised another peculiarly divine attribute before planning Jesus' death by betrayal. He invoked His ability to look into the future, even into the darkest recesses of the human heart. This is called foreknowledge. God peered into Judas' heart and built His plans around the decision that He knew Judas would make. God's determinate council was aided by His foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). As a result of God exercising these abilities, God's determined plans were perfectly fulfilled (Acts 2:23; 1 Pet. 1:20). There was absolutely no chance of failure. People will sometimes say, "But what if Judas had changed his mind?" Had Judas changed his mind, God would have known this also, and He would have factored that change into the overall equation. He would have then made the necessary adjustments so that His divine plans were perfectly fulfilled. The last part of Romans 4:17 tells us that God "calls those things that be not as though they were." This means that God's future plans and actions are just as certain to Him as His past actions. This explains why passages like the suffering servant prophecy of Isaiah 53 are actually written in past tense language. It explains why Jesus, though knowing He was about to die, could tell His disciples that death itself would not prevent Him from establishing His kingdom (Matt. 16:18-19). His actions were the actions of God fulfilling His prescribed mission. Contrary to what the premillenialists teach, His success in building His Church did not depend upon human acceptance or rejection. It depended upon His own integrity and power - "I will build my church!"
Faith in an infallible God allows one to view God as utterly incapable of making mistakes. Abraham recognized these divine qualities and was commended for it. Where does your faith stand? Do you believe in a God that is capable of making mistakes? If so, you do not share Abraham's faith, nor is your faith in the God of the Bible.
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