There are many doctrinal divides separating the family tree of Christendom. I find one fork particularly fascinating: the varying theology about our having a free will to make autonomous decisions vs. the sovereign rule of God preceding the choices we make.
The former is known as Arminianism, named after the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius, which purports God inviting everyone to be saved, with salvation contingent on a person’s choosing to accept the invitation.
The latter, called Calvinism, is from the teaching of the Reformation leader John Calvin, which advocates God’s supreme sovereignty, with salvation being wholly dependent on His predestined will.
I don’t think either of these hold water perfectly; both arguments have leaks. Many deep-thinking theologians and philosophers have shot holes in them since becoming mainstream in the 16th century.
That’s a long time ago. Before Google.
Personally, I’m an advocate of a third perspective emerging in recent times, known to common-sensers like me as Godwinkianism.
Let me ask you a question: have you ever seen seemingly arbitrary circumstances align themselves to create an extraordinary, jaw-dropping experience for you?
When random things work out in a manner that makes you scratch your head?
You know, a “God thing”; a “how-in-the-world” thing; on a full moon, with the stars aligned, in a leap year, when the Reds won the pennant. Pure craziness breaking out all around you.
Many would call these “coincidences”. I don’t. To me, the concept of coincidence is vague and frivolous. It’s like luck, or happenstance, or good fortune; all pointless, without purpose or meaning.
We of the faith community acknowledge an omnipotent God, and His intense interest and dogged determination to make Himself known to us. Calvinism believes coincidences are predetermined. Arminianism says coincidences are the evidence of God working behind the scenes of our free will.
Godwinkianists don’t peer so deeply. We say, simply, it’s God winking at us.
Let me give you an example.
Last June, at the end of a remarkable day in Maui, Robyn and I sat serenely on a beach, at the water’s edge, to leisurely look at the splendor of the sun settling into the surf beyond us. Nearby, across the ocean perhaps a mile, was another island, stationed subtly as a backdrop to the majestic marvel of the sun slowly meandering down through the wispy clouds.
The sky was indescribable; inspirational. Unending hues from God’s palette of rose, yellow, lilac and orange, brushed breathtakingly across the heavens. I’d taken a number of pictures from beyond a tree, where its limbs draped a silhouette crossing the top of the horizon.
Thereafter, we perched ourselves on the sand, gazing at the amazing landscape. We didn’t say a word, as the sense of awe settled in. And slowly, the sun vanished. It was remarkable.
As we got up to leave, a voice behind us said, “Excuse me”, and I questioned, “Yes?” A 14-ish young lady, vacationing from Minnesota, greeted us saying, “I was taking pictures of the sunset, and I got this one with the two of you in it.”
As she showed us her phone, she asked, “Would you like to have it?”
It was incredible. The awe-inspiring landscape described above, with images of Robyn and me subtly silhouetted along the shore in the foreground.
We were dumbfounded. She texted the pic to us; we texted back our gratitude; and we now have the photo enlarged, hanging in our family room.
That, my friend, is a God wink.
In Romans chapter 11, verses 33-36, we’re told:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
So, let’s always be looking for those serendipitous moments destined to reveal God’s winking at us.
Have you ever known somebody who needed a vacation, to get some rest after returning from a vacation?
We’ll talk about that next week.
Dave Hinman is Pastor Emeritus at Dove Church Wilmington. Reach him at [email protected] .
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.