I had a timely reminder last night that it matters what we think and teach about God, even down to the nitty-gritty, the details we might be tempted to think of as 'merely academic'.
My doctrine essay is on Open Theism (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Theism). This is an increasingly popular view of God that sees him as so committed to human freedom that he doesn't completely know the future. He has goals for the world and for his people which he works towards (and, say the Open Theists, he'll eventually achieve them because he's so much better at doing stuff than anyone else in the universe) but because he gives human beings absolute free will he doesn't know the details of how things will pan out. Which means that in our lives stuff can happen that God didn't know beforehand, things he didn't plan and things he isn't totally in control of.
As the idea gets more popular in evangelical circles, some people are loving Open Theism, others are quite upset. Then others are saying that it doesn't matter all that much - Open Theists and those with a more 'traditional view' should be the best of pals because after all its only about dotting the i's and crossing the t's rather than fundamental stuff isn't it?
So, last night I was having a conversation with someone who is going through the mill and finding it hard to cope on a daily basis, unable to see how things are going to resolve, but is nonetheless aware of God's help and strength and is trusting him regardless. What did she say was sustaining her through it all? Knowing that God sees the end from the beginning.
A God who isn't in control of our lives, doesn't know the detail of the future, and will never violate human freedom to make his plans happen cannot ultimately offer any real comfort in dark times.
Maybe those i's need dotting and those t's need crossing after all.