Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th, unlucky? (not!) But what about the Sovereignty of God?

This article at tells why some think Friday the 13th is Unlucky.

This is a good Pogo cartoon on Friday the 13th.

Now remember if you are superstitious Watch out for black cats, avoid mirrors and ladders and, by all means, don't spill the salt.

Both Urban Legends and How Stuff Works also have good information about why people think Friday the 13th is unlucky

from Cartoon Stock

I found it interesting that some of the superstition about Friday the 13th came from Christianity. It is said Christians have traditionally been wary of Fridays because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. In addition to that, it is believed that some theologians hold that Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit on a Friday, and that the Great Flood began on a Friday. (Although these cannot be proved.) In the past, many Christians would never begin any new project or trip on a Friday, for fear that the endeavor would be doomed from the start. Some historians trace the Christian distrust of Fridays to the church's overall opposition to pagan religions. Friday is named after Frigg, the Norse goddess of love and sex. This strong female figure, these historians claim, posed a threat to male-dominated Christianity. To fight her influence, the Christian church characterized her as a witch, vilifying the day named after her. This characterization may also have played a part in the fear of the number 13. It was said that Frigg would often join a coven of witches, normally a group of 12, bringing the total to 13. A similar Christian tradition holds that 13 is unholy because it signifies the gathering of 12 witches and the devil. Some trace the infamy of the number 13 back to ancient Norse culture. In Norse mythology, the beloved hero Balder was killed at a banquet by the malevolent god Loki, who crashed the party of twelve, bringing the group to 13. This story, as well as the story of the Last Supper, led to one of the most entrenched connotations of the number 13: You should never sit down to a meal in a group of 13.

But I don't understand that when we believe that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus brought us victory, not luck. I thought we believed in the soverignty of God, not luck, not fate, and not coincidences. "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as Head above all" 1 Chronicles 29:11

From my tradition of Methodism and its founder John Wesley on the sovereignty of God.

The major focus of Wesley’s reflection on the doctrine of God was the nature of God’s sovereignty. His main point, directed at Calvin (as he understood Calvin) was that “God’s sovereignty should always be related to the other divine attributes.” (Works, Volume X, 220) Failure to make this relation would ultimately lead to an “abstract and deterministic view of sovereignty which undermined both God’s justice” (Works, Volume X, 216, 363) and God’s love” (X, 229). It would also destroy human responsibility.

Furthermore, Wesley provided several constructive proposals for understanding the nature of God in a way that held divine sovereignty, mercy, and justice together. In the first place, he refused to follow the Nominalists in making a distinction between “God’s will and God’s nature” (V, 440-441). This removed the possibility of vindicating God’s sovereign decisions by placing God above the divinely-established moral law. In the second place, Wesley located the primary expression of God’s sovereignty in the bestowal of mercy rather than in the abstract concept of self-sufficiency and freedom. This move purged the notion of sovereignty of its frequent overtones of arbitrariness and domination. Finally, Wesley argued at length that a conception of God wherein God could interact effectively and providentially with human beings while still allowing a measure of human free agency, does not detract from God’s glory. On the contrary, it “immeasurably deepens our sense of God’s wisdom, justice, and mercy” (X, 230-4; VI, 317-18) without undercutting human responsibility, at the same time.

This basic stance regarding God’s nature as loving and just finds expression in Wesley’s judgments regarding several related issues. For example, he opted for a conception of divine foreknowledge that does not imply determinism. Wesley found such a conception in the notion of eternity as above time. From this perspective, matters related to personal salvation do not take place because God knows them. Rather, God knows them because they take place (VI, 227). Wesley’s judgments concerning the nature of God are congruent with his idea of responsible grace, as having a decisive role, albeit often implicitly, in arriving at judgments. As evidence of this assertion, he notes the Calvinist conception of God’s sovereign predestining will:

  • It destroys all (God’s) attributes at once: It overturns both His justice, mercy, and truth…You represent God as worse than the devil; more false more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will it by Scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be…better to say (Scripture) has no sense at all, than to say it had such a sense as this…No Scripture can mean that God is not love, or that His mercy is not over all His works. (VII, 383-3)

Here, his convictions about the mercy and justice of God become criteria for determining the meaning of Scripture. Moreover, this quote must be balanced by Wesley’s claim that his convictions about God’s justice and love are “thoroughly grounded in Scripture” (X, 211). Nevertheless, it is a clear illustration of at least one area where Wesley’s basic convictions about responsible grace were a decisive influence in his determination of issues of Christian doctrine and practice. From "Themes in Wesley’s Theological Understanding" Echol Lee Nix, Jr., 2000

Well, did you get all that? In other words it still is not about luck, fate or coincidences. God is soveriegn, yet man has free will. My friend Eternal Echoes has a sermon on the Sovereignty of God in the midst of adversity.

1 comment:

Marty said...

I believe that God ignors our calendar and has bigger and better things for us. Our struggles with Him are minute by minute...not days on a calendar. God is above superstition, above cycles, and above our attempts to say he is greater, or lesser on any particular day.
Friday the 13th, is no different than Friday the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or whatever, to those who strive to walk in the light of Jesus Christ.