Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Phil 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

What would have to be true for these verses to be giving good guidance?

I think it would have to be that Christians have almost no control over the major events and occurrences in their life, although it often seems that we do. Instead, God must really be the one in control, who orchestrates the major and many of the minor points of our life. Otherwise worry would be the proper, rational response.

The reason for saying this is that anxiety and worry are always about trying to control something that you believe you have power over, and/or the feeling that it will be awful if you mess something up that you can mess up.

So for example, if I didn't think that I had any control over whether a job interview went well, but I just turned up determined to go through with it, then it stands to reason I wouldn't worry at all about how it would go. It's only if I thought I had it in my power to make or break the interview that I would worry.

Also, if I'm taking an exam that isn't very important then I won't worry either, because I can't mess things up by doing badly. Even if I have the power to do well or do badly, the fact that I don't care how I do on it means I'm not going to try and exert any control over its outcome beyond just turning up and doing it. My lack of concern for control means I won't worry about it.

So it's obvious that anxiety and worry is about control: about believing you can control and affect whatever issue or thing you're worried about.

So for God to tell Christians, "Do not be anxious about anything," God is pretty much saying we have almost no control over the major events of our life, or that they can't be messed up against God's will. Otherwise we ought to try to control these events, and therefore should experience a lot of anxiety and worry as part of that control. Also see Matt 6:24-34 where God says the only things that we should worry about are things that we can obviously and easily affect.

A possible exception to this is that, if we reject what God obviously and unambiguously wants for us, then we can completely go against God's will. But even then God could work around it, and in any case God is assuming in these verses that we won't do that.

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