The Evangelical Universalist Forum

God's Total Control


I was reading my Devotional of the Carmelites by Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen O.C.D. and their conception of God. I mention the book because the mystics of the Carmelite tradition include such holy figures as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avilla. They lived exceptional lives of holiness because they were surrendered to God in total trust. They had a humble faith in God’s providence as they abandoned themselves completely to Him. Here’s what it says on page 693:

Ego dissolves in surrendering and trusting God. Letting go and letting God have control. Instead of fighting against the flow of life we let go of control as we abandon ourselves completely to God. We navigate through life not control it. We usually have to hit bottom and shatter the ego before we surrender to God in humble trust that leads to obedience. In learning to let go we empty ourselves to be filled with the Spirit (word of God). This letting go and emptying the self is the goal in Buddhists meditation. It sharpens our focus to live in the now or moment. When we surrender we accept the past and future as the blood of Christ covers them both. With God in control the future is secure. For He promises to work everything together for good for those that love Him. And we love Him because He first loved us in His suffering death and resurrection. In confessing our sins and trusting God the past is blotted out and the future is secure because it’s in His hands. I have hope and am freed up to live in the present moment. One day at a time one moment at a time we are dependent on Christ as He secures our future because we love and trust in Him. He is the self-sufficient, all-knowing, all-powerful and all glorious one. I’m nothing. I’m powerless and depend on Him in a humbled and surrendered trust in His Divine Providence. In letting go I’m no longer in control but the sovereign God is. I no longer try to ego control life and other people. In surrendering to God’s control we surrender to the flow of life and live from the heart. We no longer try to manage everything. God is our manager. His omnipresence permeates everything as He is the guiding Spirit behind the cosmic evolution. We put our faith in Him. We trust His promises.


It make a person feel totally secure to believe that “God is in control” of all events that transpire on earth.
But clearly He isn’t. For if He were, then He would be responsible for the billions of atrocities that are daily occurring—the tortures, the rapes, etc.,etc.,etc.

However, He created man with free will, and thus make independent decisions. I think God did this so that ALL would ultimately CHOOSE to submit to His authority. That takes time—a lot of time. But meanwhile, thousands of years have passed with horrible acts occurring of man’s inhumanity to man, and all this unendurable suffering.

This reminds us of the age-old debate concerning “The Problem of Evil.” But clearly God thinks it’s worth granting man absolute free will so that ALL will ultimately choose Him.

If, instead of blessing man with free will, He had chosen to CAUSE man to always choose the right and loving things, He would not have free-will agents to enjoy Him, but a race of “robots.”


In arguing about the problem of evil and suffering I use to try to place God in a human category and say He must behave a certain way. This is known as a categorical mistake. What I failed to take into consideration is the holiness of God. Holiness when applied to God not only refers to moral purity but also to everything that sets God apart from His creation and His creatures. We are to imitate God in certain ways but there are also ways we cannot be like God. For example: God is self-sufficient, God is all-powerful, God is all-knowing, God is infinite in wisdom. These are just a few ways we are not like God. To try to be like God in every way leads to ego and megalomania.

The Bible says God is love. It doesn’t say He is ONLY love. And while it says God is love it’s a Holy love. This is no mere human love. For the Bible says God is Holy, Holy, Holy. The Bible also says God has a Holy hatred as well. So, it’s my contention that the problem of evil and suffering doesn’t even get started. For God’s love is a Holy love. This isn’t the same Omni benevolence that we try to ascribe to God. For God has a Holy hatred as well. Nonetheless, God is completely Holy and deserves our worship.

Many times I’ve wondered why God would allow suffering and bad things to happen. It is good to question and try to figure things out. But I think when we are dealing with a Being who is infinite in wisdom and knowledge we must realize our limited capacity to understand and grasp things and all His reasons for doing what He does. God is in a category all by Himself. I also don’t see God as something to try and figure out. Rather, I trust in His infinite wisdom and goodness to run things no matter what they may look like at the present moment. I believe He brings beauty out of ashes. For I trust He causes all things to work together for good. His business is His business. My job is to trust Him and walk humbly and do justice.

People who complain that God could have created things differently fail to realize that the laws of physics are based on symmetries and those symmetries are based on mathematical necessity. God would have to make those mathematical truths false. Hence, God couldn’t have created things differently. He is a God of truth as well as infinite wisdom and perfection. If God had justifiable reasons in creating a world that now contains evil and suffering then it’s not the case that He shouldn’t have created at all. For if He has holy justifiable reasons in creating a world that now contains evil and suffering then He is going to be motivated to create since He does nothing wrong in creating. In bringing the Cosmos into existence from nothing He did the greatest miracle next to raising Christ from the dead.


My youngest son’s mother-in-law was raised in a Calvinist church that believed God to be “in control” and that everything that happens is God’s will. One day, she and her husband were driving in an area in North-Western Ontario, where the road was hilly and had a lot of bends and rock cuts. At one point the car slammed into a rock cut and was severely damaged.

Later, I heard the woman say, “I wonder what God had in mind when He had us drive into that rock cut!”

That’s an example of the odd way of thinking which some Calvinists have about the ordinary accidents of life. For them, there are no accidents. Everything that happens is God’s will and somehow fits into His plan. But if that is the case, then the Lord’s prayer doesn’t make sense. He taught His disciples to pray, “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If everything that happens on earth is God’s will, it would make no sense to pray to God that His will would be done on earth. For it would already be done in every single event that takes place.


You’re taking it out of context. The doctrine must be seen in it’s proper context. The eyes of the heart must be opened to see it properly. The glory of God (beauty of holiness) shines bright and transforms.


Makes sense. Why pray for God’s will be done here on earth when according to Calvinistic viewpoint His Will is already done on earth. It’s a waste of time.


We pray for God’s (reveled) will to be done on earth because we know He is faithful and just and will do it because He’s in control. This isn’t the Calvinist view as I quoted from Catholic mystics. Here’s Peter Kreeft:

God doesn’t predestine anyone to hell. Those that hold to the certainty of hell like Tomas Aquinas believe God permits people to go to hell with their own free choice. But I’m now a hopeful universalist like Von Balthasar. God is in complete control but he permits evil and suffering. These views of providence and predestination were held by Thomas Aquinas and as I stated above St. John of The Cross (The mystical Doctor of Catholicism). They lay the foundation for contemplation and Christian perfection. For with God in control and my future in His hands I have hope. This leads to union with Christ. You can read more about this in the books, “Predestination”, “Providence”, and “Christian Perfection and Contemplation” by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. He was the teacher of Pope John Paul II.


[tag]Paidion[/tag] I agree with your OP but I have a universalistic question? Can you align the OP with the fact with Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace? Here is what I mean by UE and IG:

Unconditional Election-meaning that God with His Divine Foreknowledge saw man chose the Gospel and so elected them based on their acceptance of the Gospel but also saw in postmortem man choosing God through Divine corrective punishment and Irresistible Grace so in postmortem He elects them as well for total election based on lifetime acceptance of the Gospel and postmortem corrective punishment and Irresistible Grace?

Irresistible Grace-meaning that God when after the corrective punishment restores man to full unsinful self that now has eyes to see and ears to hear where the flesh in this lifetime covers them through our sin nature and the deception of satan will finally see the most beautiful being in existence without violating our free will. Sort of like falling in love with the most beautiful woman in the world both her outer and inner beauty. You can’t resist that beauty because it’s that attractive but you still have free will. And since God is even more beautiful then the most beautiful woman in the world(not to forget the ladies but this can imply to the most attractive man inside and out)that beauty is too powerful to resist because His Glory/Beauty/Mercy And Love is unimaginably and infinitely more powerful than our own will.


This thread brought an interesting thought for me. If Zombies could choose a Christian theology…or have one chosen for them…they would probably be Calvinists.

And, speaking of Calvinists. I introduced this Calvinist speaker - in another thread here:

Rev. Dr. Jay Moses: What Does Salvation Mean in a Multi-Religious World?

Would he be implying - in his talk…that folks have no control, over what faith they are following? And perhaps God is OK with that… since he is ultimately in control?

Note to James:

I have introduced these before - on another thread here. Let me introduce a couple of articles - that bridge Calvinism and Universalism:

Calvinism leads to universalism…
Meet a Calvinist who is also a Universalist


People in hell hate God and blaspheme His holiness. They don’t want Him.


Even of the rich man in Hades (Lk.16:19-31) it is not stated how long his torments would last while there. Or denied that they could end while still there. Nor is it denied he could be saved while still in Hades. The rich man’s Saviour is in Hades:

“If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in the nether-world (Sheol = Hades), behold, Thou art there.” (Psalm 139:8)

The rich man is called “son” (literally, “child”) :

Lk.16:25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things

“Here, too, was one who, even in Hades, was recognised as being, now more truly than he had been in his life, a “child” or “son of Abraham.” (Comp. Luke 19:9.) The word used is the same, in its tone of pity and tenderness, as that which the father used to the elder son in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:31), which our Lord addressed to the man sick of the palsy (Matthew 9:2), or to His own disciples (John 13:33).” Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

The rich man in Hades is receiving the Word of Truth from Abraham. If not to lead those there to repentance & salvation, why would anyone in Hades be receiving such truths.

When it is implied that the rich man is where he is due to his lack of compassion for his fellow man, in particular Lazarus, he responds positively by turning his attention from himself to his brethren still alive & requests that they be warned about Hades. Is the rich man turning from his selfishness & showing concern for others?

The story speaks of a great gulf fixed stopping the transfer of persons from one place to the other place. It does not say this gulf will remain in place forever. Only that at that moment in time it was so. Possibly the chasm barrier refers to the unrepentant state of those in Hades, & that once they repent the barrier stopping any individual from leaving is removed. Nor does the passage deny the possibility of salvation to the rich man in Hades while he remains there.

" “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” "

" “So even if we made the mistake of trying to extract from the details of this parable a position on the issue of whether there will be further chances, there still wouldn’t be much cause for taking this passage as supporting the doctrine of no further chances with any force at all. For as long as the [one] who believes in further chances sensibly allows for the possibility that, while punishment is occurring, those suffering from it can’t just end it any time they want, she can make perfectly good sense of the words this parable puts into the mouth of Father Abraham. After all, if a road has been covered with deep enough snow drifts, we’ll tell someone who must drive on that stretch of road to get to where we are, “You cannot cross over from there to us.” We’ll say this quite properly and truthfully, even if we know full well that the road will be cleared in a few days, or that, in a great enough emergency, a helicopter could be used to get across to us even today, if, say, we’re at a hospital. [But doesn’t that show that there is a sense, then, in which they can cross over to us? Yes, there’s a perfectly good sense in which they can, and a perfectly good sense in which they cannot. For enlightening and accessible explanations of the meaning of “can” and related words, I recommend Angelica Kratzer’s “What ‘Must’ and ‘Can’ Must and Can Mean” (Linguistics and Philosophy 1 (1977): pp. 337-355) and example 6 (“Relative Modality”) of David Lewis’s “Scorekeeping in a Language Game” (Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1979): pp. 339-359.]”

The duration, nature, intensity & purpose of the torments the rich man was suffering are not revealed in this story. His torments there could have lasted less than 5 minutes.


The rich man was in Hades not the Lake of fire. It flows logically that the longer your heart is separated from God’s mercy the harder it becomes and the more wicked you get. You don’t get better without mercy but worse with hardened hearts.


With the FACT? Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace are not facts. They are imaginative explanations for… I’m not sure what they are supposed to explain.