Meta-Critique: Mehta on Miller

Over the past several months I have had a unique opportunity to interact with atheists on matters of faith (or “lack of faith” as it were).  It is interesting to me how time and time again they tend to be keenly aware of the problems in the church, although not always a full understanding of what biblical Christianity is all about.

 One recent observation was made by Hemant Mehta in his post titled “God Doesn’t Have a Plan for Your Life.”  You may be inclined to quickly react against that, but before you do consider the fact that it is essentially a line taken from another post, of which Mehta’s is a critique.  Donald Miller, famed Christian and author of Blue Like Jazz, wrote a post titled “Does God Have a Specific Plan for Your Life? Probably Not,” where he explains that unless you have heard a donkey talk to you or have become pregnant in spite of never having had sex, God probably does not have a specific program for you to follow.

What’s the Difference?

The striking thing about these two posts is not their differences but their similarities.  If God does not have a plan for our lives (of if God does not exist per Mehta), then we are left to do what we will.  Hopefully we will make something good out of our efforts, but essentially we are left to our own devices.  Both suggest that we do things with our lives that gives back to others and makes the world a better place.  The reason is entirely different, but in essence the process is the same.

I may be wrong (as I have been before) but what I read from Genesis 3 is a story of the first two people whose sin was thinking that they knew better what was good for them than God did.  They thought that if they were able to determine for themselves what is good and what is evil then they would not need God.

A second thought: Ephesians 2:10 says specifically that we were created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand.  Perhaps there is another way to interpret this passage, but it sounds like to me that God does indeed have a plan for our lives and that he essentially gave each of us an assignment to be completed.  The passage also reminds us that it is not by our works that we are saved, but it does seem to imply that once we are saved that God has a job for us.

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

9 responses to “Meta-Critique: Mehta on Miller

  • Aaron

    Don Miller was less than pleased with my critique:

    He made no further response and proceeded to block me after I asked him how he could reconcile Ephesians 2:10 with his post.

  • l4courtney

    I think the problem here is this: People like Donald Miller are a little outside the box kind of people. When someone tells us that life is supposed to go a certain way we cringe and run. We want our wills. You could take that verse about good works and run in two directions. One would be that yes God has a specific purpose in my life. Think Purpose Driven. The other would be that God is sovereign and do not worry. I would pose the latter to be the better of the two precisely because of when Jesus talks about sheep and goats in regards to the good works they had done: ie giving a glass of water to the thirsty. The goats proclaim they did this many times. The sheep are astonished that Jesus finds good works they did. I would rather be the sheep. My job as a christian is to trust Christ, then Love God and Love my neighbor. Forget about whatever purpose I’m here for apart from that and live my life.

  • Aaron

    Courtney:

    I like that… thinking that God DOES have a plan, but that we don’t have to sit around and wonder about what that plan is. I think that what Miller is reacting against is that whole “sitting, waiting, wishing” (thanks Jack Johnson) thing that really debilitates people. He wants to see people reach their potential in Christ. But that doesn’t eliminate the idea that God indeed has a plan… just maybe it is manifest in a way that we may not expect and may not require incessant pondering.

    Thanks for the comment!

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  • Boz

    how can we determine if God has a plan for every person’s life?

    Is there a test we can do, where one outcome would disprove this claim, and another outcome would prove this claim?

    Or maybe we can test the claim “God has a plan for XXXXXXXperson’s life” ?

  • Lindsay

    I actually agree with you…and normally I find what Miller says really good. I understand where he’s coming from, and that we have choices in this life and just sitting out passively is not what we were created to do. But I disagree that God’s plan is only for humanity as a whole (though it is for that) and not for each individual. I think there’s a balance…my friend likes to say “He knows what He’s doing with you”. 🙂

  • Renier

    “They thought that if they were able to determine for themselves what is good and what is evil then they would not need God.”

    Aaron, please substantiate this. A verse perhaps?

  • Aaron

    It is a reading that I and many others subscribe to Genesis 3:4ff regarding what it was about the fruit that was tempting to Eve. The idea that she would become like God with her eyes opened to what was good and what was evil implies that the temptation was, at least, to be like God, on the same level as God. So a logical conclusion would be that to be on equal standing with God, knowing what God knows, would eliminate at least a need for God.

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