“God works in mysterious ways.”
Today’s quote came to me by special request of a close friend. This is one of those religious statements I grew up with and have had more and more issues with as maturity and intelligence increase. We (most of us) are very familiar with this in western cultures as a classic religious idiom, yet it isn’t part of the scripture. I felt this quote should make the cut because it is so ingrained in the modern Christian branch on the Tree of Memes. Lets get a look at this beast.
Obviously, Kirk Cameron is a quality example of the mystery behind the method. As per usual, most people I’ve talked to say that they “know” this is in The Bible, yet when I ask where, nobody seems to actually know. The reason they are clueless is because it isn’t Biblical. This sentence comes from “a hymn written by William Cowper in the 19th century that says, ‘God moves in a mysterious ways/ His wonders to perform/ He plans His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.”¹ Okay. That is settled. That is not God, Jesus, or from any of the following two-thousand years after Judas took his bounty. Modern song brought us this little nugget which has propagated quite well, and has, of course, easily adapted to virtual mediums. The series isn’t about idiom though. Making sure religious quotes stay contextually honest is my game. So, where did Cowper come up with this notion? There are more than a few Biblical verses which sound similar. The two that came up as soon as looked into it are pretty obscure, and sometimes that isn’t the best way to slap readers around with an objective. So, I allowed myself to look in the nooks of the whole book rather a single chapter despite the marketing risk. I needed to go no further than the Apostle Paul’s letters.
“For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ/ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”² The thing that first comes to mind is this whole free-will mess. I haven’t heard anybody reconcile how there could be free-will alongside the fatalism and totalitarianism inherent in quotes like this. This is the most meaningless thing I have read in a while. It seems to say that with all the intelligence of man we figured out that this god is mysterious. So despite intellect, we remain ignorant of this invisible deity. The quote does the Biblical thing and keeps dragging us into the unknowable plan which will someday consume us all at the end of time, no matter who you decide to pee on, slap around, insult, rape, etc. Morality dripping from this one. You have the free-will to be caught up in this god’s blood sacrifice of his son no matter what you fucking do. Well, I am inspired by that level of oppression, how about you?
Next up is, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways.” This seems to sparkle with a luster that would make any gold digging personality drool. “Riches of both the wisdom and knowledge” possessed by the deity are hidden and undiscovered. Now we know why the study of theology started. The insinuation that something of great value is impossible to discover is what has driven our species to use the environment since our evolution. The verse prior to this one is a little disturbing. “For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” More of this confusion of free-will and fatalism. The last verses of this chapter ask three rhetorical questions and then reiterates, as these are both letters from the Apostle Paul, an oppressive, totalitarian message “For from him and through him and to him are all things.”
If I understand, this god makes everybody, from conception, disobedient and liable for punishment. Of course, you can repent and follow Jesus. Yet, it won’t really matter because eventually God is going to make everything one. A singularity moment perhaps. So even if you displease that god with every step, it is okay. He will own your soul no matter what happens, which is called Christian Universalism³. Free-will is an illusion within the text that introduces the notion. This is a horrible message if you are trying to teach people morality and socialization.
Your choices won’t matter. You are already broken for his system by his decree. You cannot and will not understand. Even if you an enemy of god he will have you eventually. Evil and good are the same, only God’s word can decide what will come of us. Replace that with any figure of authority and run the risk of dictatorial power. That’s never dangerous (wink). If that fills someone with comfort it would explain why experimentation reveals that almost anyone can be made to do the most horrible acts when presented with an authoritative influence. We understand that this god works with human psychology through the system of an authoritative church to control human beings, which often results in accumulating massive amounts of wealth and power. The business model works for governments too; they often partner-up to produce genocide. It seems, “God works in mysterious ways,” is a falsehood. Turns out he works like every other dictator, and that is dangerous to forget.
1: Purdy, Alicia. “9 Misquoted Bible Phrases.” DeseretNews.com. N.p., 11 July 2012. Web. 15 June 2015.
2: May, Herbert G., and Bruce Manning. Metzger. The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New York: Oxford U Pr., 1977.