Friday, November 17, 2006

Is Anything Possible?

There is a great Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas movie entitled A Season for Miracles. It’s one of my personal favorites. But I feel that one of the themes heavily intertwined in the movie is worthy of being discussed from a Christian perspective, although the makers and writers of the movie probably never intended it to be taken the way I’m going to discuss it. It is the idea that anything is possible.”

If anything is possible, then I might someday be the President of the United States. (True statement)
But, if anything is possible, then I might die and reincarnate as President George W. Bush (Not true statement, by Christian—or just logical—standards)

If anything is possible, then you might get married (or re-married, for that matter) on June 17, 2014, at 2:15 p.m. in Honolulu, Hawaii. (True statement)

But, if anything is possible, then homosexual marriage might be just as legitimate and sanctified (even by God) as traditional marriage. (Not true statement, from a Christian perspective)

If anything is possible, then you might someday be the parent of twenty-four children, adopted or hereditary. (True statement)

But, if anything is possible, then unborn babies might be just blobs of tissue, whose lives’ breath should be dependent upon the whims of pregnant women. (Not true statement, from a Christian worldview)

The problem with the magical statement “anything is possible” is that, if anything is possible, than anything is also NOT possible (or “possibly not”). This really violates the Christian faith, while at the surface it seems to tickle our imagination and beliefs. Examples:
If anything is possible, then Jesus Christ might have been the Son of God. But, if anything is possible, it is possible that Jesus Christ might NOT have been the Son of God.
If anything is possible, then Jesus Christ might have been right when He said that “no one comes to the Father but by" Him. But, if anything is possible, it is possible that there are other ways to heaven, and Jesus is NOT the only way.
If anything is possible, Jesus might have been born of a virgin. But, if anything is possible, Jesus might not have been born of a virgin.
If anything is possible, the Bible could be right that there is a hell. But, if anything is possible, then the Bible could possibly NOT be right and there might NOT be a hell.
If anything is possible, God might have created. But, if anything is possible, God might not have.
If anything is possible, the Bible might be the inerrant, infallible Word of God. If anything is possible, however, than it might not be.
If anything is possible, the Red Sea… If anything is possible, Noah’s Ark…. If anything is possible, if anything is possible, so on and so on.

I could make the list go on and on, but it kind of makes me sick to write it. I think you’ll understand.

So, in other words, if anything is possible, then nothing is certain. If Santa Claus might exist because anything is possible, Santa might also not exist because anything is possible (nothing is certain). The fact is, we could never know, could we?

The Bible tells us many things are certain. “In the beginning, God created…” (Genesis 1:1) “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we might be saved.” (Acts 4:12) The Bible is full of unwavering truths. I’d virtually have to reprint the whole of the Scriptures to do this point justice.
The Bible isn’t even afraid of the word “impossible.” Why should God be afraid of it? He’d know if something was possible or not, wouldn’t He? The Bible says it is “impossible for God to lie,” (Hebrews 6:18) for example. It also says it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6).
So, as I’ve made clear, Christians have biblical, godly, and logical grounds to say that “anything—as in everything—is not possible, rather many things are certain.”

I really don’t want to sound like an old, dull, over-certain scrooge, especially since what most people mean when they say "anything is possible" is that "a borderline countless number of improbable and unexpected events can transpire." I think Christians should be wary of too often saying that something is not possible.. The conclusion that “anything is NOT necessarily possible” often leads to a materialistic worldview. “It’s just not possible that God _____” fill in the blank on the path to Deism, Agnosticism, Atheism, Relativism, Nominal Christianity, ad nauseam. That type of thought-processing is what really makes me want to believe that “anything is possible,” but those three words just don’t seem to fulfill my desires.

Christians do need to be cautious when speaking in absolutes, though. Have you ever heard the statement, “Nothing good can come out of this.” That’s about as unbiblical as you can get. The Bible says that “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28) Plus, considering that God has an unchangeable plan/will, the aforementioned statement implies that God’s plan—although God’s perfect plan would be that all would be saved—is not good.
We need not limit God. He is the Author of Miracles, remember. The Bible says that “the things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27) Remember, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) “With God, all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26; this passage and Luke 18:27 are synoptic)
The important thing to keep in mind is that all these things need to be taken in context. For instance, “With God,” it is NOT possible for God NOT to exist, is it? Of course not. I can NOT war against Christ “THROUGH Christ Who strengthens me.” A true statement is that God can do whatever He wants. But, God would never want to sin in any way, so some things, for all practical purposes, cannot be done “with” God’s approval or help.
On the other hand, though, the Bible tells us that we “can move mountains.” (Matthew 17:20) But we must always keep God’s will in mind. Take a lesson from the Master: Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that the crucifixion might in some way be avoided. But He never latched onto the promise that “all things are possible.” He cared more for God’s will to be done. You could even make a compelling case that these Scripture verses I’m referencing--at their core-- actually mean “in God’s will.” With God = with God in His will ; through Christ = through Christ’s will.

Christians also need to avoid venturing outside the realm of biblical, godly absolutes into the realm of our own reasoning ability—or even our own stretched and varying interpretations of the Bible. Example for each case:
How many Christians do you think said that “man will never fly...period...” before the Orville Brothers’ time? How many do you think said afterwards that “I guess anything is possible”? Obviously, man still hasn’t figured out how to fly without assistance. But, people went outside the safe realm of absolutes and said that man will never learn how to fly when the Bible says nothing of the sort, and when the actual case was “man will probably never learn to fly.” We must be careful to not turn cases of probability or opinion into cases of certainty, but we must also not turn cases of absolutes into cases of probability (God does not probably exist; God DOES exist).
Interpreting the Bible is an even more precarious situation, because we must draw the line somewhere between clear biblical teaching/contextual interpretation and opinionated conjecturing. Glass pulpit or wooden? Real wine during communion or grape juice? These are exemplary of some debates going on in and between churches. Now, I'm not sure if these two things in particular are heated anymore--or if they ever really were--but, anyway, things that cannot be determined beyond a doubt as laid down in the Bible are often being treated that way in churches--where do you think we got so many denominations? Many split-off because of real concerns (whether the changes they made were biblical or not), but other differences between denominations are not so serious.

So where does this leave us? Here’s a summarization: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE WITH GOD, THROUGH CHRIST, IN GOD’S WILL, AND CORRESPONDING TO THE ABSOLUTE PERAMETERS OF THE BIBLE.*As containing as that seems, it really is not. The “magic” of the Bible and the “magic” of the last two thousand years of God and Christianity are plenty optimistic, exciting, imagination-inducing, inspiring, and spontaneous for me. How about you?
~Kingdom Advancer
*This of course, doesn't necessarily--or overtly--pertain to more trivial matters, such as "could Temple beat Ohio State in football" or "can he fit twelve marshmallows in his mouth." Also, all these elements aren't necessarily essential at the same time. A Jesus-hating, Bible-disbelieving football team can win a game because of God's will. I'm speaking more of matters of truth or the Christian's life.


Austin said...

"But the world is full of zanies and fools
Who don't believe in sensible rules
And won't believe what sensible people say.
And because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes,
Impossible things are happening every day."

This is from a song from Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Good one. Although, unbelievers might have their own interpretation of those lyrics.

Austin said...

Yeah, but I believe (and practice)that believers can take truth from wherever they see it. It belongs to us. We have the official copyright =)

Kingdom Advancer said...

Very true. If your foundation isn't truth, how can you get truth from all around you? Christians start with truth, therefore they have more legitimacy to take truth from other areas.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Kingdom Advancer!

I found you via Faultline USA's blog. Great post here and I plan to read many more of your posts here at your blog! I'm adding you to my blogroll!

In Christ,

Jonathan M said...

I appreciate your thinking through this seemingly minor issue, KA. Even though the directors probably didn't mean to communicate this idea, the statement "anything is possible" is relativistic. Unfortunately many "Christians" are heading this way...saying that salvation outside of Christ is possible.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Thanks, Christine, for visiting my blog, the kind comments, and adding me to your blogroll!!! (You seem to have a very wide-ranging audience according to your counter.)I appreciate it.

And thanks to you too Jonathan. It's good to see you here again.