Did Chuck Swindol Overreact To Elijah's Declaration Of Despair?
A Facebook theologian has commented in agreement with Christian broadcaster Chuck Swindoll that we should never pray for God to take a loved one home to eternity.
It is contended doing so can apparently derail His sovereignty.
Apparently, if we believe that He is sovereign, we should know that He is fully capable of taking us home when He believes that the time has approached.
Isn't that formulation itself an affront to God's sovereignty?
For if God is sovereign in an absolutist sense and the religious thinker not precise in their statements worthy of considerable condemnation as the ultra-Reformed insist, doesn't God KNOW rather than BELIEVE?
In such a theology as being advocated by this Facebook theologian, prayer is not about bringing our requests and concerns to God but rather about formulating statements that we think will make us appear exceedingly pious before certain audiences.
Just how far are we to take the presupposition embodied by this religious postulation under consideration?
If it is wrong to pray for God to mercifully end a life that is suffering, is it just as wrong to pray that God restore life and vitality to a life that He might prefer to draw to a conclusion in this world?
And given that this criticism was posted by someone that is quite vocal in expressing their support of a predestinarian understanding of soteriology so thoroughgoing as to deny any place for human choice and liberty, it must be asked is it a sin to pray for the salvation of a family member that God would rather see slip into Hellfire and damnation?
As justification for this position, the account of Elijah is referenced.
In I Kings 19, while on the run from Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah succumbs to a moment of despair where he declares to the Lord, in verse 4, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors.”
From the Lord's response, apparently unlike Chuck Swindol, the Lord did not find what Elijah asked that much of an outrage.
Instead of chastising Elijah for his despondency, on two occasions the prophet was given a meal so that he might have strength for the journey that was ahead.
Thus, about the only conclusion that can be drawn from Elijah's lamentation that God end his life is that God does not always answer our prayers the way that we would like.
And if He does not, we might find Him lending us assistance in ways that we did not initially expect.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.