What Does God Do All Day? (Part 1)
I think this would be a good time to review what I’ve been saying at this site…
I began by introducing the main focus of this blog. I told you about the Clifford Problem, which is the difficulty we have attributing a substantial role to God while we are doing productive work. When we’re engaged in secular pursuits, God seems to be left with nothing to do but watch. To clarify what’s at stake in this problem, I invited you to think with me about the question, “What does God do?” Not what did God do ages ago, but what does God do now? (In short, I invited you to join me in doing philosophical theology—wondering about the nature of God, especially as God’s nature relates to the world as we experience it.)
I told you that I’ve been thinking about this question all my life and that I have not one, not two, but multiple ways of responding to it. This blog, I said, would be the place where I would share all those “ways.” So far I’ve talked about three of those approaches. Today I’ll review the first one.
I took a straightforward theological stance and said that God is busy making disciples out of us—that is, shaping us into followers of the risen Christ.
And then I went to great lengths to show that this works itself out in very complex ways from day to day. I showed, for example, that the average human relies on—indeed, must rely on—a vast array of competencies, most of which we don’t even think twice about. I also showed that we gain those competencies throughout our lives, even into adulthood, and that we practice them, at least in part, through the work we do. As a philosophy professor, I can’t resist the temptation to lay out my argument in logical form (although I did resist that temptation at the time). I argued that. . .
(1) God is shaping us fully into disciples of Christ.
(2) To be shaped fully into disciples of Christ means (among other things) to gain a wide variety of competencies, many of them quite mundane.
(3) We gain these competencies, in part, through the opportunities with which we are confronted day after day, throughout our lives.
(4) Many of these opportunities are offered to us in our place of employment, as we go about our work.
(5) Therefore, God is (among other things) using the opportunities offered by our daily work to shape us fully into disciples of Christ.
This is one approach to the Clifford Problem. Instead of God just watching us as we work, this approach says that God is acting as a teacher, using the material of our daily employment for educational purposes, training us in competencies that we may not think much about but that are crucial for our overall development as people of God. Of course, this approach is only worthwhile if you can use it to interpret your own experience.
What competencies are you practicing in your daily work? Are you being invited to be better at interpreting data, drawing conclusions, and making decisions? Are you learning how to work more effectively with others? Are you building better problem-solving skills? Any or all of these things can make us better disciples of Christ if we let them. My point is that God is playing the role of educator in our secular lives whether we can see God’s activity or not. This approach gives us one way of making that activity more visible.
Next time I’ll review my second major approach to the Clifford Problem.