Thomas J Oord on how God acts. Consolidated from a Facebook thread on God is Open:
Thanks for hearing me out. I know of no story in the Bible that EXPLICITLY says God acted alone and controlled a situation to determine it unilaterally. But I know of many stories that only mention God acting. Many people have heard those stories and, because they assume God can unilaterally determine, assume that God must have caused the outcome all alone by controlling some situation. But I don’t think we need to think God determines outcomes alone. The vast majority of stories in the Bible speak of other actors. Those that don’t speak of other actors contributing to God’s mission I assume also have other actors. We often talk about someone doing something — “Brady won the Super Bowl” — when other actors also were acting to make that happen.
So the story of Philip, the multiplication of food, etc., I assume other actors or factors contributed. Of course, none of us were there to verify if my hypothesis is correct or some other one is. But my proposal view fits our experiences and the vast majority of stories in the Bible. And, of course, it helps us solve the problem of evil.
I think donkeys and other creatures can cooperate with God. And, of course, we’ve taught parrots to talk! : ) Yes, I have no problem believing the talking donkey actually happened and that in some way Philip moved from one place to another.
What does make me different from most Christians is that I’ve thought carefully about the implications of saying God is a spirit without a localized body. While we can use our bodies to do certain things, God doesn’t have a bodied to do those things. But God CAN call those with bodies to use their bodies for some project. That may mean stopping bullets, for instance.
I’d say that the conditions were right for those occurrences or creatures (e.g. donkeys and humans) cooperated. This is why Jesus often talks about the faith required of those who are healed. And also why Jesus can’t heal those in his hometown; their lack of [faith].