Does God Have a Specific Plan for You?

A recent post by Don Miller (Blue Like Jazz, etc.) has stirred some minor controversy elsewhere on the web. Not that I am the final arbiter of all things postmodern or erroneous, but I figured it would at least be a good exercise for me to respond to it. You can read his post here.

My first thought is that, for being a writer by trade (and a fairly good one), Miller makes some egregious writer’s mistakes. There’s the huge logical fallacy that he makes. His logic boils down to this:

Since God does not interact with me through wrestling angels or talking donkeys, He does not have a plan for my life.

That goes against the entire teaching of Scripture about God’s works of providence in the world. Ephesians 1-2 and Psalm 139 are just two passages that immediately come to mind that prove Miller’s thesis is bunk. But even if we grant Miller the benefit of the doubt and think that what he said is not what he meant, why didn’t he say what he meant? The Trinity planning and covenanting from all eternity to save God’s elect sounds like a plan to me.

Another writer’s mistake is that Miller paints in broad, unhelpful, and inaccurate generalities while building up straw men. I can understand Miller’s reaction to his caricature of Christianity – that of not taking action until one hears from God – and disagree strongly with those perspectives. The John Eldredge camp of waiting to act until one hears from God on whether I should paint my toenails or scramble eggs before work is silly. As Kevin DeYoung says, just do something. But in generalizing this to all Christians and then reacting against this straw man he has built, Miller collapses God’s decretive and prescriptive wills into “God’s plan.” It’s just sloppy reading of Scripture and sloppy writing.

Further, Miller uses no scriptural backing for his arguments. They are just top of mind, personal arguments that do not hold up when compared with Scripture. Ephesians 1 and 2, in which Paul writes that God has planned for the salvation of His elect from the foundation of the world and has prepared beforehand the works in which they will walk, dismisses Miller’s assertions. It’s not just a matter of narrowly debating the doctrine of predestination, but it concerns the nature and character of God. Miller’s assertions go against everything that the Bible teaches about how God works in and through history.

I’m not ignoring the freedom we have in Christ to make decisions and the freedom we have from the pressure to “find God’s will for our lives” or to “be in the center of God’s will.” But Miller tips his hand by showing his low view of the sovereignty and holiness of God, incomplete view of sin, and even disregard for the biblical notion of vocation. God has, in fact, “planned” for all of His people to be redeemed because of Christ’s work. God doesn’t just “desire it” as Miller writes, but He has accomplished it.


5 thoughts on “Does God Have a Specific Plan for You?

  1. Great post Joel. Keep up the good work. When I read Blue Like Jazz my initial thought was – this guy needs to get a real job, man up and serve. According to a brief read of the "About" section on his webpage – it appears that among his other writing gigs, he has been asked by the Obama Administration to assist in the "Presidential Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families." That sounds like a good task force to work for. What is noticeably absent, however, is any reference to his own family. "He lives in Portland with his dog Lucy." The guy is recognized as a leader in the American family movement but he doesn't seem to have one of his own. Therefore – I say again. Grow up, get a real job, take responsibility, get married, raise kids and after 10 years of that get back to us about God's plan for your life. Cheers, JRM

  2. In one sense God does have a "plan" for us, one that he has known in its entirety since before the beginning of time. That is not what most people mean when they talk about a specific plan for their lives. They are looking to find the "perfect will of God" for themselves in everyday choices as well as in big choices, like spouses. People who believe that they need to discover God's will through signs, hints, nudges, open of shut doors etc struggle constantly to divine God's will out of all the things that they see and feel.A common logic fallacy is to say that God is sovereign and numbers every hair on my head therefor, I can (or should) discover God's Plan for me. We are called to know God's will via immersing ourselves in his revealed word and through the council of wise elders.I do not believe there is a biblical basis for the idea of a "perfect plan" for my life that God directs me to if I follow his "signs." That is very different from denying God's Sovereignty.IMHO

  3. I think Miller was trying to be provocative toward those who are not "just doing something" as Kevin DeYoung writes. But yes, I agree with you Joel, that he goes too far in this direction by not understanding there is a third way that is neither "control freak" nor "life coach." And it is the doctrine of providence.As a blogger, I've sometimes allowed myself to be provocative at the expense of subtlety (or accuracy?), and I usually regret it… so I'm not going to let this post serve as Miller's statement of faith. But maybe it should? I don't really know.

  4. To Jess I wanted to say:Hey Jess!Also: I think he's on that task force because he grew up without a dad and has started some kind of national mentoring program for kids (boys?) without dads. Interestingly, this was part of his "manning up" process–he details it in his most recent book. That's a book I read and thought, "This guy just needs to man up!" but by about the middle of the book he did, so I was glad!


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