Divine Order Versus Divine Intervention

Dear Rev. Jamison,

Would you please explain more about divine order versus divine intervention? Is divine order the same as the laws of nature? This "Ask Your Unity Minister" column is now one year old. It feels appropriate that in this "anniversary issue" we would reflect deeper on such a core issue as the one the questioner raises. However, many in the Christian world would be seriously upset if you laid out the logic of how divine intervention is impossible, so kindly keep the following insights to yourself!

Divine order incorporates the laws of nature and beyond, in that all the laws of the universe are manifestations of divine order. This does not mean there is some supreme being ever diligent at the controls, manipulating this and that to keep things orderly. In this month of Charles Darwin's birth, we might even bring clarity to the issue by bringing in his phrase, natural selection. Darwin never brought up the word evolution until thirteen years after his book that won him so much Christian condemnation was published. If his detractors would ever read the book, ON THE ORIGEN OF SPECIES BY MEANS OF NATURAL SELECTION, they would discover how spiritual Darwin was. He could have been a great Unity minister.

Divine order is natural selection in expression. Things develop as they can. Whatever is happens to be the way it is because it can be. Your freshly buttered toast falls onto the kitchen floor butter side up because it can. Your freshly buttered toast falls onto the kitchen floor butter side down because it can. Should the divine consistently intervene to flip it butter side up for you, just to be a really great god?

If this is not mundane enough an exampie for you, then consider a football game between The University of Kansas and Kansas State University. Some football fans attending who are also Christian might pray for God to be a fan of the Wildcats instead of the Jayhawks. When the Wildcats win, does this prove that divine intervention prevailed and, if so, what does that say about God's attitude toward the Jayhawks? It says that such a god is despicably and dysfunctionally fickle, worthy of sensitivity training, not worship. In essence, divine intervention is ungodly.

If those mundane examples do not convince, then let's go for one that is poignant and recent.

Let us say that you pray for God to intervene by retrieving your Haitian relative alive from under the earthquake rubble. Your prayer wins! What does this say about God's attitude toward the thousands of others who were "allowed" to be squashed? Did they not deserve intervention as well? Do their deaths prove instead that there is divine retribution? Fred Phelps would say so, along with other delusional fundamentalists.

It is in divine order for structures that were not built to be earthquake proof to fall when tremors are intense enough to cause a toppling. It matters not how innocent and worthy of long lives some of the occupants of the building are. If the building is flattened, they will be crushed right along with all others in the building at the time. As chaotic as an earthquake is, it would be even more chaotic for some people to walk out of the demolition unscathed only because God chose them for special dispensation. Those who survived entrapment under Haitian rubble did so not by divine intervention but only by being in a space that allowed for breathing room and easy access on the part of rescuers. Thus, their "selection" for survival was "natural."

Such is the law of nature and of God, and it is good.