Can’t Be Our Maker – Must Be Math

"Governor Cuomo’s pronouncement is shocking. He didn’t merely avoid referring to God. The governor denied that God had anything to do with easing this crisis. Is this naïve? Or skeptical? Or foolish? Only God and the governor know for sure, but God knows how to humble the proud." - P&D

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Cuomo was echoing a widespread false disjunction: that things that happen must either be caused by God or must have natural causes...  or, in this case, things must be caused by God or by the effort of human beings.

He's wrong, but plenty of Christians voice their own version of the same false choice... and it isn't really any better when we do it than it is when they do it.

The truth is that in Him we live and move and have our being. By Him all things consist. Without Him we can do nothing.

But with Him we still do things. So when we band together, collaborate, work hard, and solve a problem, did God do it or did we do it? It's silly to say we didn't do it. It's foolish, too, to deny that God was behind it.

But all through Scripture there's a consistent distinction between what God does directly and what human beings do either in obedience to Him or in defiance of Him. The latter is always genuinely "us" who act, though we're frequently reminded that God is at work in us, in everything in fact, working all things together for good and according to the counsel of His will.

So it's always both-and.

Cuomo, no doubt, resents the idea that sacrifice, genius, and hard work of human beings should be ignored in favor of a vague "Praise God" instead. He's right about that much. People do things and their labor should be acknowledged (e.g. Phil 2:28-30) . . . without  denying that God enables and uses people to get things done.

The Westminster Confession (5.2 and 5.3) brings these realities together, and the "Westmister Divines" got it right (emphasis added).

ii. Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

iii. God, in His ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure. 

So, it's not God or math. It's God and math.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mark_Smith's picture

Cuomo is talking about "armchair" theology, in which "God did it" means it happened spontaneously with no human effort. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians act like this is the case. This is especially true in pandemics. Christians running around saying they will still meet  because God will protect them and such, So no wonder when people like Cuomo are confused. That is what Cuomo is reacting to.

Cuomo's point is that it took a lot of effort to get the COVID rates down. They didn't "just happen" by prayer.

Bert Perry's picture

I don't know what the alternative would have been, but it strikes me that my efforts to reduce the spread of this "Kung Flu" are rooted in my desire to serve God by sparing men from this particular atrocity.  I'd guess the same applies for a lot of New Yorkers.

Never mind that with the admitted huge spread in estimates for the virulence of this particular plague, we would be able to assign credit for its remission exactly .....how?  We'd have no model that comes within a factor of three of the real numbers (at least not more than a week out), and we'd know to the third decimal place what portion of the change we've seen is due to human action, and that the best estimate for divine action is....zero?

Methinks Cuomo is speaking to his rejection of the religion his parents (sort of) passed down to him, shown amply in his personal life and rejection of Christian moral positions.  So of course he's going to have trouble admitting God's agency in the lives of men.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Democrat governors are going to talk about "the agency of God in the lives of men" in a press conference about the coronavirus? No, they're humanists. GASP! So what. Move on. And even the Republicans that talk about such things, well just say I don't trust them either!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well, he pretty much did talk about the agency of God.

He wasn't merely silent on the topic, which would be pretty much expected. He went out of his way to say God didn't do it.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Democrat governors are going to talk about "the agency of God in the lives of men" in a press conference about the coronavirus? No, they're humanists. GASP! So what. Move on. And even the Republicans that talk about such things, well just say I don't trust them either!

No argument that I ought not trust a politician (from the Greek "poly", many, and "ticks", blood sucking creatures), but even Democrats whose behavior totally rejected Biblical truth used to mouth words of faith when in public, and appealed to the Scriptures to back up their policies when it served their purposes.  So Cuomo's rejection of the notion of Divine help in this is really somewhat groundbreaking for major figures in the Democratic Party.  

On the bright side, thinking of this being election year, I think it's safe to say that statements like this "won't play well in Peoria".    

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.