It was a little old lady who said it (and sometimes little old ladies are better to have around than children when you are looking for something to the point), but it was a little old lady who said, “Sometimes, you know I just don’t understand God.” Me too! It’s pretty hard to say ahead of time just exactly how things are going to turn out. And if you will think along such lines for a little while, let your mind run from Amos to Bultmann—the whole gamut from A to B.
What ever happened to that wonderful preaching of the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.? There can be no argument that we have in Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah four of the greatest preachers that ever lived. And the end product of all their preaching, by the success standards of our own day, was nothing but failure. They came to preach the truth of God to the existential situation, they preached with skill and with a desperate zeal, and the end of the matter was that the people were not converted and the nations north and south were not saved, and about the only thing left was gruesome suffering all around. Did they need instruction in methodology? Did Hosea fail somehow to identify? Was there something wrong with interpersonal relationships? Did they need group dynamics? (What has happened to that term?) Was it a failure of mimeograph machine? Maybe they should have organized. God moves in mysterious ways, so there came a root out of a dry ground. It was not quite the way we would have figured it.
It is almost impossible to open up a discussion with lay people on the subject of religion without the moot question of predestination coming out in the first two or three questions. This is as true of college and university students as it is of the after-meeting ...1
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