I can’t get any of my real posts to the point where I am willing to pull the trigger, so I will settle today with a quick question about an interesting scripture:
21 And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments. (D&C 59:21)
The idea that God’s wrath is kindled against those who don’t confess his hand in all things is often used to argue that God is sticking his fingers is way more things than some of us have supposed. For example, Blake used this scripture in that way here, which got me thinking about it again. Earlier in that thread, I said that I reject the “everything happens for a purpose” way of thinking. I don’t think God is micro-managing everything that happens. I don’t feel compelled to attribute every good thing that happens to some form of divine intervention.
Of course, I don’t believe God is totally hands off either. I am not a Deist. I believe in a God who can answer prayers and perform miracles, but I think these must be considered to be the exception rather than the rule if we have in mind everything that happens. So I can’t sign on to Blake’s reading of this verse. There are several other possible readings; I am not overly committed to any of them and I am interested in your take.
Suggested reading 1: I’ll use this to refer to Blake’s reading as cited above, and further defined on this thread in which Blake argued that God guarantees that all the children who die were celestial before coming to earth and anyone who was not celestial is protected from the possibility of death in infancy. This is the kind of systematic intervention I don’t believe in at all, and I described many of my reasons in my discussion with Blake on that thread just linked to.
Suggested reading 2: One possible reading (which is supported by the verses preceding, if you ask me) is that God has given us this earth and we should confess our dependence on him as the creator. In this spirit, we might note that God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” We should confess God’s hand in the blessing of a sunny day or the rain on our crops, but this does not require us to believe that God personally intervenes to cause each rain storm and each sunrise. Acknowledging God’s hand in all things, then, does not mean acknowledging that God is perpetually tweaking every situation and sticking his fingers in all sorts of things where no one asked him to intervene.
Suggested reading 3: Another reading which I confess to liking is that we usually do not know which things were done by God and which were not. In the spirit of epistemological humility, we should confess that God’s hand might well have been in any particular thing. I don’t think we should be quick to discount divine intervention the way non-believers do, betraying a distrust of miracles per se.
So, what do you think this verse means? Feel free to add some new suggested readings.