No, Marco Rubio, Terrorism is Not Part of God’s Plan
“We are children of an all-powerful God,” Marco Rubio told an Iowa audience recently. “Everything that happens is a part of His plan.”
I think Rubio is wrong.
In his campaign speech, Rubio said he has been asked about God in light of terrorism. People wonder, “Where was God on 9/11? Where was God in Paris?”
In response, Rubio says God is “where God always is — on the throne in Heaven.” Explaining further, “What we may interpret as bad — and most certainly is in the case of Paris or 9/11 — even that is part of a broader plan for the universe and for our lives.”
How is terrorism part of the plan of a loving God, we might wonder? “We are just not going to know the answer,” says Rubio. “God’s ways are not our ways.”
Rubio compared major terrorist attacks to him taking his children for vaccination shots. “It hurts,” says Rubio, “But that is going to prevent something much more dangerous, much more painful, and much harder later on.”
God is infinitely powerful, wise, and loving, believes Rubio. This means that “sometimes God does allow pain into our lives for reasons we don’t understand.” Appealing to future explanation, Rubio assured his audience that “one day it will make sense. Just not now.”
But should we believe Rubio’s theology of terrorism?Marco Rubio said recently. “Everything that happens is a part of God's plan.” I think Rubio is wrong. Click To Tweet
An Alternative View of Providence
For centuries Christians have clung to the view that God’s providence is fundamentally based upon all-powerful control. A sovereign God has a foreordained blueprint, many Christians thought, and history simply unfolds according to that foreknown design. Based on his remarks, this also seems to be Rubio’s view.
But there is another way to understand providence. This alternative view rests fundamentally on God’s love, instead of the belief that God is or could be all-controlling.
This other view of providence says life is not the result of sovereign blueprint meticulously unfolding as divinely foreordained. Rather, life is an adventure of love: God’s wooing love and creaturely responses.
Sometimes creatures respond wrongly to God’s loving call. The Paris attacks, 9/11, and other terrorist activities are examples of such sinful human responses. They are not part of God’s master plan.
A theology of providential love offers a more plausible explanation of terrorism.A theology of providential love offers a more plausible explanation of terrorism. Click To Tweet
To be fair, in his speech to his Iowa audience Rubio offered positive and sound insights for dealing with adversity and pain. His words about the importance of peace are wise. Rubio seems takes his Christian faith seriously and attempts to live accordingly. I commend him for this.
I subscribe to this alternative providence of love. My view is summed up in the title of my new book, The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence.
Rather than say God endorses terrorism as part of a master plan, I argue that God neither causes nor allows evil.
As I see it, God’s providence is not one of meticulous control but one that invites our cooperation in love.God’s providence is not meticulously controlling but rather invites our cooperation in love. Click To Tweet
(For more on the book, see the short video introduction.)