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‘God Makes No Mistakes’

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‘God Makes No Mistakes’

You may not know it, but Loretta Lynn is a pretty good theologian. She’s so good, in fact, that some contemporary theologians, open theists like Clark Pinnock, for example, could take some lessons in orthodoxy.

The lyrics to a song off her most recent record, Van Lear Rose, that illustrates her high view of God. Here are the words to “God Makes No Mistakes”:

Why, I’ve heard people say
Why is this tree bent
Why they don’t have God enough to know
That’s the way that it was meant
why is this little baby born
all twisted and out of shape
We’re not to question what he does
God makes no mistakes

Why I’ve heard people say
Why is my child blind
Why is that old drunk still livin
When a daddy like mine is dyin
our blessed father gives us life
has the power to take it away
There’s no reason for what he does
God makes no mistakes

Why I’ve heard people say
God cannot be alive
And all the things people say
Has to be a lie
When they’re down and out
And they need a hand
And their very souls at stake
If they’ll call on him and just believe
God makes no mistakes

Remind you of anything from the Bible? How about Job chapter 42:1-6 and its surrounding context (NIV):

Then Job replied to the LORD:

“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • tz

    “There’s no reason for what he does”?

    I thought that it would be so that he could bring a greater good out of any evil that happens.

    But there is something wrong – The baby is twisted and will die – do we attempt to fix and/or save the baby? At what cost, if it was God’s will that evil should happen. And the story of the Bad Samaritan – the Priest and Levite probably shouted “offer it up” to the robbery victim, but that awful Samaritan interfered with divine providence…

    God allows free will. WE either are the drunk in the song or facilitate his behavior. WE allow aboriton. WE watched Terri Schiavo starve to death – if you want to see a sin of omission.

    But it is the small evils we allow or support or live with that grow up into tares which strangle the wheat. The tendency for excuses or rationalization instead of taking responsibility. When everyone wants to lie, cheat, and steal – but just a little, where is there room for the honest man?

    The USA murders more babies every day in abortion than died on 9/11/01. So what prevents any direct action on the former while allowing even atrocities in revenge for the latter? We seem to be as a society for both the culture of death and against “terrorism” at the same time.

    To ask God for justice or other similar intervention would be asking for a wide swath of destruction in our land.

    Yes, Job, and even Tobit were afflicted although they were righteous, but God effected temporal justice. Are all the Psalms saying to trust or wait on the Lord and that the righteous will prevail over the wicked void? Is the Gospel, the “good news” simply an invitation to trials, suffering, and desolation – but you will end up in heaven?

  • TZ,

    Thanks for the comments. You raise many complicated issues.

    My extolling of Loretta Lynn’s theological prowess is a bit tongue-in-cheek of course, and I wouldn’t expect a three stanza song to explicate the doctrine of Providence down to every detail.

    I would, however, gloss the line, “there’s no reason for what he does,” something more like “we don’t always understand why things happen the way they do,” or “we don’t always know the reason for what he does.” It’s more of an epistemological rather than ontological claim.

    And we shouldn’t have to always understand. Sometimes it should be enough to trust in a good and sovereign God. That’s part of what faith is.

    I wouldn’t put “free will” and Providence into opposition, and certainly things like the Ten Commandments mandate that humans act in the world. But no human is omnipotent, and we are to do what we can, I think, leaving the rest up to God.

    My basic point re: open theism is that a doctrine that does not assert God as sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient and all the rest undermines the doctrine and importance of God’s Providence, destroying the basis for faith and trust in him. If God is not fully and ultimately reliable, what good is it to trust in him?

  • In case Clark Pinnock refuses to take theology lessons from Loretta Lynn, perhaps he might deign to do so from Luther. Here he is on Genesis 6:
    But here another question is raised. Moses says: “God saw that all the thoughts of man were evil.” Likewise: “