gambling

As I’ve been communicating with people about Luck, as a result of conversations I’ve had about my three previous posts, no fewer than four people have mentioned the Vern Poythress book Chance and the Sovereignty of God.

So by the time I’d put up the third post, I’d read the first 100+ pages (I’ve since read more), and I’ll say this – It’s a Biblical, smart, helpful, informative and necessary book that I almost completely agree with.

I’ll also point out this: Mr. Poythress believes in chance. I should qualify- In the beginning of chapter nine he shows the two definitions of chance from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

1 a : something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause b : the assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings : luck.

He confirms his belief in the first definition: “The examples that we have previously discussed, from the Bible and from modern life, conform to this description”

But he rejects the second: “This definition includes the assumption that some events are “impersonal” and “purposeless” in an absolute sense. In other words, the definition implies that God is not involved and that he is not in control. Chance in this sense does not exist.” He later calls this Chance with a capital ‘C’.

I agree with all this. Indeed, I tried (and apparently failed) to make this clear in my previous posts.

But then he says something that I think is overly broad – “There is no such thing as luck.”

He doesn’t explain this statement or give any defense of it.* But he says this, I think, because he assumes, wrongly, that the meaning of luck associated with Capital C Chance is the only kind of luck and that it’s the only way that people refer to luck.

It’s regrettable that he didn’t look at the first definition of luck in that same dictionary, which is “the things that happen to a person because of chance : the accidental way things happen without being planned”.

This is luck associated with the first definition of chance – the one he agrees with. And I think this is what people mean when they say they were lucky. I would encourage anyone to check this out the next time they hear someone say they were lucky.

Specifically, ask them “By lucky, do you mean an assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings caused you the fortunate thing to happen, or do you refer to the accidental way things happened without being planned?”

I’m pretty sure they’ll more readily agree to the latter.

It comes down to this – as I said in my last luck post, you shouldn’t use Luck as a predictor or something you can manipulate. But if by luck, you mean the way lower-case-C chance (which Dr. Poythress says is a biblically reasonable concept) plays out in a person’s life, then you’re fine.

* Although later in Chapter 14, he discusses the misuse of luck and chance by means of gambling, superstition, and good luck charms. Again, I agree with his premise that these practices are foolish and often sinful.

Luck Post Intro
Luck 2 – Biblical Evidence
Luck 3 – Disclaimers and Final Thoughts

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