Formulas for Faith Equal One Bad Theory
by Donna Morton
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My oldest son is taking Algebra II Honors. The text book is loaded with things like this:
“P(A)=0.2, P(B)=0.3 “ and “cos 0=0.43; 270 degrees <0<360 degrees”
What in the world? That doesn’t look like math. That looks like something you will have absolutely no use for in your natural life. Whatever happened to the good old’ basics—things you’ll need to balance a checkbook or bake cookies?
Apparently, Algebra II Honors requires the use of formulas to solve the conglomeration of letters, numbers and symbols. Well, you would certainly need something to make sense of the stuff in his extra-thick text book. Is there any chance I could understand this course? Not on my best day.
Now, chemistry formulas—those I get, sort of. Mix A with B and you get C. Add in D and you get E. Toss in some F and you blow up your kitchen. Back when I was a kid, my friends and I discovered a lot of things from those metal-cased, rattling home chemistry sets our parents used to give us for Christmas. In high school, we learned a lot about what not to do, as there was always some Louis Pasteur- wannabe who did scary things with the Bunsen Burner—and had us all ducking behind our lab desks.
Life is full of formulas. We see them advertised on late night TV all the time. The “Formula for Success”! The “Formula for Weight Loss”! In hopes of selling a book or a remedy, somebody always has a formula guaranteed to get results.
What about a “Formula for Faith”? Is there such a thing? Actually, there isn’t—but try telling that to people who are always experimenting with ways to get God to respond.
"Let’s see…I’ll go to church every Sunday, pray three times a day, do seven good deeds a week and memorize 10 Bible verses…maybe then God will answer my prayers.”
When that doesn’t work, they adjust the formula. “Okay, I’ll add Wednesday night prayer meeting and belt out ‘Amazing Grace’ every morning.”
Their behavior rings lightly of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, but let’s not add psychology to algebra and chemistry. Besides, we can obsess-compulse all we want, mix elements and devise formulas until the cows come home—none are going to harness All-Mighty God into someone we can manipulate.
“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115: 3 NASB)
I don’t think people literally believe they can control God, but when they test “ways” to get Him to respond as they wish, they try (unsuccessfully) to treat Him like a remote control or a marionette. If they do this, He’ll do that.
I’ve actually been told that if I have “enough faith” and “claim” certain scriptures, that God MUST honor my requests. Oh really? Surely these folks aren’t talking about the One Who declares: “Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. (Isaiah 46: 9-10 NLT)
Surely they refer not to He Who inspired the words, “He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him… ‘” (Daniel 4:34-35 NLT)
Fact: God Almighty does not have to do what Donna Morton says. Certainly, He is capable of answering my prayers and He might be willing to answer them, but He does not bow down in obedience to me or anyone else!
My pastor recently discussed the attitude that’s needed when we go to God with prayer requests. Consider Matthew 8:2, where a leper asked Jesus for healing. Though the leper knew that Jesus could heal him, he didn’t say, “You have the power--now use it.” Instead he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” (NLT)
While we’re to acknowledge God’s power, we’re also to accept that He must be willing to answer prayers as we desire. Sometimes He is and sometimes He isn’t. What we trust when we go before His throne is that He is willing to do what is best for us and glorifying to Him. (And such isn’t always obvious from the get-go.)
“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. “ (Isaiah 48: 17, NLT)
Formulas for faith are bad science…but God’s way will never blow up.
c. Donna G. Morton
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