SCP Observed

A Pastor walks by one of his church members and the following conversation is observed.

Pastor: Hey brother, I hear good news about your mom, eh?

Brother: Yes it was. She is doing much better now. Thanks.

Pastor: That’s good to hear. God answered that prayer didn’t he?

So here’s what I want to know. What if the mom in question wasn’t doing better? What if the worst had happened and she had died? If this had occurred would the pastor and church member assume that God did not answer the prayer? Actually, couldn’t you assume if she had died that God in some way wanted her to die or in effect was a part of the cause? Or does God only get credit if the outcome is positive? Why don’t we credit God with the bad outcomes?

No, I suspect that if the outcome would have been negative the pastor would have said something like, “It must have been her time”, or an even more generous spin that says “God must have wanted her in heaven with him.”

So why is it that God always comes out looking like the hero and not the villian in all of this?

60 thoughts on “SCP Observed”

  1. Death is God’s gift. Sure it sucks, but it’s better than the alternative. Fallen humans would have come up with some sick ways to screw each other over given an eternity to stew in it. So, He says it stops here, then unveils the plan He had all along…to pour His life into us that His great love would be displayed.e.P.S. God does not have a pissed side and a loving side. It’s all love, even sickness and death. Hell, there must be something good about death in His plan for Him to have subjected Himself to it. Sacrifice for love without death would have been meaningless.

  2. <><>My use of scripture is only to support where my personal beliefs come from. But should I apologize for that? Should I apologize that on this site everyone is so sensitive that a scripture is immediately interpreted as ‘Bible-thumping’, and blindly discarded with the bathwater?<><>no jeff, you don’t have to apologize for anything and you can keep on quoting the bible all you want. that wasn’t the point i was trying to make.<><>Still, I guess I do wonder why there is so much animosity regarding scripture, since it is the primary book related to the discussion of God (isn’t it?).<><>maybe because it’s typically wielded like a weapon instead of being a source of personal inspiration… maybe it’s because most people can benefit and respond to a personal touch more than they can from hearing someone tell them what a book says no matter how important it is to <>you<>.<><>I know there are those who are considered ‘Bible-thumpers’ and hold to the thought that ‘I quoted scripture, so you cannot argue with me’. I’ve never said that.<><>no, you never did say that, but you did follow your quote with comment that suggested you’re stupid if you didn’t find comfort in it… at least, that’s how it seemed to me.<><>The funny thing to me is, when I quote Isaiah, people are offended. But when I quote Lao Tzu, people are ‘moved’ by the wisdom… what’s that about?<><>i can’t speak for anyone else, but you quoting the bible does not offend me… it just doesn’t mean a thing to me. in fact, quoting lao wouldn’t do a thing for me either unless i could see or you could tell me how it has changed <>your<> life.<><>Once again, it kind-of feels like the Emergent church. Everyone is welcome to the conversation, so long as they are on the same page as us, or something…<><>lol! why do you care so much about what everyone else thinks? that’s what the emergent types obsess over. you and i are rarely on the same page but i can honestly say that you’re one of my favorite bloggers 🙂<><>I believe the Bible. I will continue to quote it, as it is the primary source of what I believe. If that is mistaken as condescending, then maybe I’m hanging out with the wrong bloggers… or my view isn’t welcome… or something like that.<><>this is a sincere question. if the bible is so much a part of you, and i truly believe that it is… why do you <><>need<><> to quote it at all? i’m not saying that you should deny the bible or what it means to you, but if you don’t have anything original to say, i’d have to wonder if it’s taught you anything other than how to quote from it.eddieO

  3. God a villain? hmmmm. Don’t think so. The reason Pastors don’t make out God as a villain is because he isn’t a villain. And the reason people die is because of Satan, taking a peice of perfection out of Eden, and Adam and Eve, taking a big juicy bite out of it. Face it, man, we’re all dying. “He who isn’t busy born is busy dying”… a once Christain folk singer sang that, Robert Zimmerman. Since we screwed things up, we die. And so, it’s never God’s fault. The big game of life has been on TILT since then, and we’re just dropping down and down, and it’s all just a matter of time till: GAME OVER

  4. Well, Steve, honestly, I just read Josh use the word ‘fucking’ and I made a snap judgement that things were heated. I had a chuckle about this, and make a quick comment.Lately, unfortunately, I haven’t really had the time to keep up with such discussions because of the hecticness of my life. And, I don’t think it’s particularly fair of me to jump in on a discussion I can’t hold up my end of the conversation in.That said, I’m also without two cents here because, I have no good answer as to why God comes out looking like the hero and not the villian. I suppose I would speculate that it’s all a matter of perspective. If you’re a Christian, sure, God’s the hero. Others with different perspectives actually DO view God as the villian.I think the problem, in this discussion, is with the prayer mentioned above rather than with the attribution of the health of one’s mother to God. That is, why are people praying so that God would just give them stuff. That puts you in the awful position of having to think that when things don’t work out your way that either a) God didn’t hear you b) God didn’t think your request was holy enough c) God thinks you’re too selfish d) God doesn’t care e) God has no power to act f) there is no God.Perhaps the very purpose of prayer isn’t so much to ‘get stuff’ (supplication) as much as to draw near to God and be changed through prayer.I don’t know, though, that’s all just off the top of my head.

  5. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”What’s so terrible about that?Death should be glorious. If you ascribe to theories of eternal judgement, death without Christ (spiritual death/separation from God) will more-than-suck.The only people who hate death are the ones left here to deal with the grief.So, it could be said that the argument that death is a negative is simply from the vantagepoint of selfishness, from those who are still alive.If I were dead, I’d be happy, cuz I’d be with Christ. (even more than I am right now…)

  6. I think you’re getting closer, Jeff.Look, Mrs. Zeke is not in the best of health. She’s come close to death a number of times and will very likely leave this life before me and our daughter.Is this good? Totally inconceivable to me. Yes, I know things will be glorious when we leave here and be in his presence. If my wife leaves us behind, I don’t know how I would survive it intact.I don’t even <>try<> to square that with scripture. There is much misery in this life, and the death of loved ones is a big part of it. One day there won’t be any death anymore. Great! Until then there will be much tears. Hope outlasts grief, but it can never displace it.

  7. Here’s what worries me about death:1. Taking care of my family. Yeah, I’ve got half a mill in life insurance, but I won’t be around to help out in any other way.2. I don’t want to leave a legacy that looks like what I’ve done so far. I want to leave with a better batting average, so to speak.3. Similarly, I want to build up some more treasure in heaven before I pierce the veil. I’m too concerned that I’ve got a lot of wood, hay & stubble.4. Most ways I think about it, dying will hurt really bad or have some sheer terror that’s part of the process. Cancer, car accident, plane crash, and such.Hard for me to see death as a benefit, but I admit that some days suck so bad that death would seem like a relief. But that’s just my mind ****ing with me.

  8. Jaden….You seem certain about many things. Seems as if you are so certain about prayer, and how God works and other mysteries of the faith….is faith even necessary for you? I am truly not trying to be mean. It just seems you have such certainty and what I have found throughout my life is that doubt is a great catalyst for my faith…in fact doubt, questions, and skepticism have strengthened my faith. I see them as necessary. The more I live, the more I experience, the less certainty I possess.Oh and not to get on a tangent (although this is related to your child/dad illus), but just because I know what I think (or even know) is best for my son does not mean he will choose to live that way. I do not control my sons (or anyones will for that matter)….and from what I believe, neither does God. We are not robots in my theological paradigm.Dorsey and Jeff….Are you guys brothers or something? You think so much alike. And you are both so literal? I did not mean to imply that God is an actual villain. Geesh. 🙂I just think we need to be more logically honest the next time we credit God for a miracle in our lives. If God doesn’t come through for us in a certain situation, it just isn’t logical to let God off the hook if we believe that he intervenes and works in our circumstances. Deep subject for a blog discussion but interesting nonetheless.But as you have said Dorsey… and I agree…it is a mystery. I have my opinion and I cannot say definitely how it all works…and I do not think anyone can honestly claim to know it all in this arena.Brandon…Some things get a little heated around here, huh? Where’s your two cents brutha?I don’t say much at all for awhile, I play it safe and talk about fun little things like my kid riding a bike. Then BOOM…next thing you know, prayer, politics, poles and everyone gets excited around here. But seems like everyone is being fairly civil….well sort of.

  9. I have a somewhat unorthodox answer to the question of God-as-hero-not-villain question.Tradition Christian theology claims that God is benevolent and almighty. You have to wonder about that when you look at the world. Why isn’t God interfering with matters such as these dang hurricanes if God is so good & powerful?To me, it is infinitely more important that God is benevolent than powerful. My concept of God is that God is the source of being, the source of good. I wouldn’t credit God with a bad outcome because I don’t think God is responsible or even capable of dictating outcomes. I am not a deist; I believe that God is intimately involved with the good and bad of life, rejoicing with us and suffering with us. I’m glad to find this blog.

  10. Brandon… AMEN. (Oops, I can’t believe that just came out of my head). You are pretty good at this writing thing, ever thought about starting your own < HREF="http://www.badchristian.com" REL="nofollow"> blog<>. 🙂I totally agree with you on the purpose of prayer…it isn’t about the asking for stuff or desiring God to change our circumstances or magically lead us in this direction or that direction.Since it is too long here I will post on my thoughts on prayer and offer others to comment there. No reason to bury that discussion here.In a round about way I was trying to move this conversation in the direction you just took it Brandon, I just am not very good at doing that. I am also an SCP and get caught up in other tangents quite well.Dorsey…I often find myself “blindly trusting God”. Don’t forget I live in So Cal and drive the freeways all day everyday. Yikes!

  11. ~~ entering this conversation late– sorry. [sarcasm] I have a job.[/sarcasm] 🙂<>So why is it that God always comes out looking like the hero and not the villian in all of this?<>In my estimation it’s because God IS a hero and He’s NOT a villain. Makes sense to me…<>Ps 116:15- Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.<>Granted, I skimmed the other posts and I may not be completely informed (so don’t chastain er, um I mean chastise me…). But why do we think dying is such a bad thing?I never figured that out.I hear people talking about raising people from the daed & such. If I were in heaven and someone ‘raised me’, I’d be freakin’ pissed!!! It just shows how tied to this world we really are…

  12. brandon,The ‘death’ of which you speak is spiritual death (separation from God), not the physical death Erik is speaking of.Jesus’ victory wasn’t over physical death. Otherwise, we’d live forever in these physical bodies. Jesus’ victory was over spiritual death. He restored fellowship, relationship and access between God & man. Erik makes an excellnt point in that death can be viewed as God’s mercy in its extremist form.Think about scriptures like, “To live is Christ and to die is gain”. Sounds like a good deal to me.But before Christ, even the righteous were separated from God.Brandon, you make good points, as does erik. But, it would appear you’re not debating the same thing.Still, thank God Jesus conquered spiritual death. That way, when we die physically, we can be with Him!

  13. All’s I know is that I have not had tragedies in my life yet.No deaths. Well…except for my dog Hershey a few years ago. He was my first death experience. It was terrible. I was miserable.Anyhow, that isn’t my point. I’m not sure if I even have a point. However, I have been fortunate enough in my life that I have not experienced the death of my mother, father, or brother. OR anyone extremely close to me for that matter, other than that damn dog.I am interested to see how my faith will withstand such a tragedy.

  14. You do not know the specifics of the conversation (or at least have not given us enough of it to make any of the assumptions that you have made) The mother could have been laid off and looking for a job and now that she found one she is “doing much better”. Or she could have been suffering from depression and they had prayed for comfort for her and now she is “doing much better.” Therefore God had answered the prayer.But let’s assume that she was indeed sick (again to what degree we do not know, but will assume that it was severe). People prayed for her and there are three possible scenarios: A.) She dies. B.) She stays the same C.) She gets better. If this were my church here would be my pastor’s replies: A.) “God chose to take away her pain and bring her to be with Him. Praise God that he always knows the right thing to do.” B.) “We will keep praying for her health and pray that God comforts her during this time.” C.) “Praise God for that answer to prayer.” But don’t you get it…he would be saying basically the same thing each time. God answers the prayers of His people…just not always when and how we want Him to. But each situation calls for a slightly different bedside manner, if you will.How is this making them Stupid church people? And how does your judging them (especially based on minimal information) make you a better Christian? And how is God the villain if He chooses to bring her to Heaven when that is the place that all Christians long to someday be?

  15. Steve,I didn’t at all think you were saying God is a villain. And Jeff and I sound alike because we went to the same christian college. But we’re feeling much better now.<>“If God doesn’t come through for us in a certain situation, it just isn’t logical to let God off the hook if we believe that he intervenes and works in our circumstances.”<>My point was that, in the end, it’s His hook, and well, logic is His, too. That He chooses to intervene and work in our circumstance from time to time is a matter of grace, I suppose, but it’s still His grace. We don’t get to decide whether it’s distribution is equitable. I know It doesn’t make for very good debate, and [caveat] I don’t know where to draw the line myself [/caveat], but I’m completely unqualified to [churchywordalert] judge God’s sovereignty [/churchywordalert] . PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT saying that you are judging God, but it’s where this type of argument can sometimes logically (lol) lead. Then we’re doing the same thing that we’re railing against (albeit in far cooler fashion) 🙂If my comment makes me sound stupidchurchy, let me say that I have no problem…ok, little problem…ok, I have not so much of a problem blindly trusting God. It’s the self-righteous idiot who claims to know God’s mind that freaks me out. And that’s what we’re talking about, right?<> For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 <> OK, that’s one drink for the scripture, double for Old Testament, bonus shot for KJV. Drink up Steve! (Hey, christian college had it’s moments!)

  16. Steve and Joshua,Let me attempt to clarify my statement regarding death. First, I in no way was minimizing how much death sucks. People I love have died and it hurts. I’m sorry if I made your pain worse Joshua. I’m sorry for your loss (I cried and cried when I lost my Grandpa).And yes Steve, it would be very sad if you or I died while our kids were young.Second, I wouldn’t give the answer I gave to someone who was hurting.Third, I was trying to communicate God’s mercy and goodness in imposing death on a fallen world. Most see death as a negative (God didn’t answer my prayer/God took my Dad), but think about the upside…-Imagine all of the most evil people you can imagine (Hitler, etc.) living forever-Imagine no end to pain and suffering, just constant deterioration of your body (people riddled with cancer for all of eternity)-Also, without death, there would be no salvation (no remission without shedding of blood – and lest you accuse Him of being a sadist, the Almighty inflicted that death on Himself for us and it was good)Again, I wouldn’t give someone suffering loss these answers. I would most likely silently share in their grief. And I’m not minimizing how much death hurts the dying and those left behind. But, I still believe that death is a gift of love to a fallen world. Not just so we can die and go to heaven, but it’s a gift for those left behind as it puts a limit on evil and suffering.Thrash if you want…I’ve made it as clear as I can. If you think I’m full of shit, you don’t know the half of it.e.

  17. Now this isn’t what the original post was about…but we just go where the conversation takes us. That’s cool.Jeff…How stupid of me. Thank you SO very much…now that you have shared that scripture with me, suddenly my desire to not want to die is gone. It’s a miracle!! Thank you Jeff. What would I have done without you? (Now THAT’S sarcasm!) 🙂You aren’t being a “scripture spouter” are you? C’mon now…do you think I do not know that Scripture? No Jeff, you are wrong. I HATE the idea of my death. I will hate it if it happens to me if I am 42 or if I am 82. Right now, I have a friend and she is very sick from cancer. VERY sick! Yet she continues to take the chemo and fight that bastard so that she can LIVE! See, I think she sees death the way I do… “To be present with the LORD, is to be absent from her 5 yr old son and 11 yr old daughter and her loving, caring husband!” Her and I talk have talked about it and she knows the same scriptures, but while those are in the back of our mind, and they do comfort on some level, yet it doesn’t change the fear of the unknown. And that’s what death is (the unknown) for those who can admit that FAITH is not CERTAINTY.Now she and I may be wrong. But I am going to shoot straight with you. You absolutely DO NOT KNOW that to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. You cannot say for CERTAINTY that that is true. You cannot convince me, no matter how many scriptures you spout that this is a CERTAINTY.You may believe, have faith in it, (as do I) but you DO NOT KNOW! (See the caps emphasize that I am passionate about this – however not angry). And do not start telling me about people’s after-death experiences, the light and the tunnel and all that…that has been scientifically recreated in a controlled setting by stimulating certain parts of the brain.Maybe when I do get to heaven I will understand, but I cannot imagine that if I were to drop dead right now (from the stroke I am having from responding to Jeff’s comments – thanks again Jeff) that when I “cross-over” that I could be happy being absent from my two little boys. I know about “no tears” and “no sadness”, and I HOPE that is true, but I just don’t get it. Maybe I wil when (and if) I get there…. but then again MAYBE I won’t and I will just close my eyes and absolutely NOTHING will happen.

  18. Steve,There are things that I am certain about: 1.) I am totally fallible 2.) God is completely infallible. I doubt so many things. But I try not to doubt God (although there are times that I catch myself doing so). I agree with you 100% that questions and skepticism strengthen faith. I am a pastor’s daughter who went to Bible College and then COMPLETELY turned away from God. I totally doubted everything and thought that doing my own thing would be best. Through my questions, I began to learn more about God then I ever could have imagined. I now feel closer to him than I ever have and continue to seek that closeness daily. The one thing that I have learned is that He is unchanging. He loves me as much now as He did when I wasn’t living for Him. The only difference is that now I feel His love! I am all for coming to a deeper knowledge of God and of the Bible, but not at the expense of people who are seeking comfort. There are times when people need softer more encouraging words. That is not the time for a pastor to tell them all the theology behind prayer. Your post seemed to make fun of people in need. The Stupid Church people are the hypocrites, the people who are saying that they are Christians yet continuing in their sin, the people who use Christianity for political gain, etc. Stupid Church People are not those who are seeking comfort or who just want to worship and please God.I understand the question behind your post. And I will agree that if the congregation is not being taught the true nature of God and of prayer that it is “stupid”. But the time to be taught that is not during a crisis. Your judgment of this situation seems harsh; although the questions you pose are ligit. I am new to your site and I am not sure if all your posts are like this, but I don’t think that you realize that this post seems like you are attacking the weakest members of the body of Christ…the ones who are not stupid, but are merely hurting.Sorry my comment is so long. 🙂 I admire people who are willing to delve deeper into theology and look forward to challenging questions and thoughts from you.

  19. By the way Jaden, when I say that I am sure you are a sincere Christian and nice person, that’s not a slough-off. I have no reason to think otherwise about you. Tough to keep personalities out of these kinds of posts… it’s too easy to take things personally.However, I have a lot of energy around stupid church stuff these days. I can’t tolerate it in myself anymore, and that blows over onto other people sometimes when I comment on it.And stupid church stuff isn’t just hypocritical or self-serving. It’s the nicey-nice, superficial talk… the poorly formed theology that leads to silly doctrines… the emphasis on don’ts rather than do’s… the pecking orders and power struggles… the obnoxious Christianese that just sounds like mumbo-jumbo to the uninitiated… the spiritualization of normal human disagreements (i.e., rock music is “from the devil” for those who just aren’t comfortable with the noise)… the treating of non-believers like marketing targets rather than human beings… and worst of all, the creation of Christian ghettos to protect ourselves from “the world” and all it’s “depravity.” Stupid church people shop at Christian book stores, buy Christian music and books, watch Christian TV, make sure all their friends, plumbers and drywall hangers are Christians, foresake their non-believing friends and family, and try to be not just “not of this world” but just plain <>out<> of this world.So… somehow we have to have the space to call stupid church stuff out when we see it in ourselves and each other and not have it be about personalities or sound mean when we say it. Any advice, anyone?

  20. Rich was always good at catching glimpses of that eternal perspective, and conveying it in his songs.His death sucked (from my perspective)…

  21. <>I’m sure people will tell me I’ve misinterpreted these scriptures.<>No, we’ll just say you have a lot of drinking to do for quoting six different scriptures.

  22. <>Oh yeah that’s right! What should I drink Bushmill’s or Goldschlagger? Oh and do I have to bless it before drinking it?<>Let no man judge you for your brew of choice, and all things in thanksgiving, my friend…

  23. I’m not sure I know how to answer this question. There’s so many ways to go with it. But here goes. Steve would you please hand me that shovel over there so I can make the hole I’m already in a little deeper LOL.I think there are too many factors to mention. I think alot of it has to do with how people view God. Christian or not, the prevailing idea is that God is good. God is love. He wouldn’t do anything bad to me. I’m such a good person. From this mindset I think we reduce God to a cosmic vending machine of sorts. We put our money in by going to church, paying the offering, giving him praise, and trying to live holy lives. In return God gives us everything we want.But is that realistic? Who has a relationship that works like that? Or better yet who wants to be in a relationship like that. To me that’s a business contract.What we fail to understand is our role in God’s plan. Everything we have is because of God. From our lives, to our jobs, to our families, to our money. It’s all His. We are stewards of His possessions. When God decides he wants something of His back and takes it back, in this case a loved one, we get angry. We think, “I held up my end of the deal, I was a good person! Why are you punishing me?”And in turn we hate God.I think the church sees it’s role as to keep us loving God. To keep us convinced that God is good, and our best friend. And if you just trust in Him, your life will be an easy ride. They don’t want us to see the other side of God, the side that is holy and just. The side that will one day run out of patience and judge all mankind for it’s sins. So there’s two sides to God, just like there’s two sides to us. Kinda like Frosted Mini-Wheats. My favorite side is the sweet one. Which would be the loving side of God.

  24. What I said in my second to last paragraph is not limited to just SCP. I was making a generalization of most people I have come into contact with. I was drawing from my experiences, not making a statement about the views of those in SCP per se.I think the church wants to keep us focused on the good and loving side of God. They do this when they say things like “well, it was God’s will or It was just her time.” I think they try and keep us focused on the fact that God is a good guy and would never do anything to hurt us. Even though God is the only one who knows how many days each of were given by Him.God will run out of patience one day. When that happens Jesus will return for His church, this is known as the rapture. There will be a time of peace, then Israel will sign a treaty with the anti-Christ, and then the tribulation begins. This is a brief timeline. When the judgements start happening, I think that’s a pretty good sign that God has run out of patience with a rebellious world.Some references:Jeremiah 46:10Joel 1:15Joel 2:29Zephaniah 1:7Acts 2:201 Thessalonians 5:2-3I’m sure people will tell me I’ve misinterpreted these scriptures.

  25. Dear Mrs. Etcetera,I’ve read your post a number of times now, and although you’re probably a very nice person…It is my humble opinion that you’re gloriously wrong about death.<>But, I still believe that death is a gift of love to a fallen world. Not just so we can die and go to heaven, but it’s a gift for those left behind as it puts a limit on evil and suffering.<>See, the thing is, death was never a part of the plan. God never intended that death ever be a part of the picture. Instead, though, it crept in.Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale Philosophy professor, wrote about death in his book, Lament for a Son–a book he wrote about his own son’s tragic death.He told the story of how a church member at his church asked him at one point if he was able to come to peace with his son’s death. Nicholas, and I’m paraphrasing here, had this to say…I’ll never be at peace with death. Death is the enemy, death is the ultimate evil. When God created the heavens and earth he never had death, sin, or suffering in mind as a part of the picture.I agree with the good doctor on this one. It’s one thing to acknowlege that grief can be overcome…but let’s never, NEVER say it’s because death is a good thing. Death will never be good, death will always be the enemy.I would encourage you, strongly, to consider that perhaps it’s BECAUSE of death that we even have problems like Hitler, and cancer, and you name the crippling condition. All these things are a result of sin, a result of the fall, a result of death. Thus, I cannot accept in any way, shape, or form that death is an alleviation to our suffering. Death causes our suffering. Without death there’d be no need for suffering.Death is no ‘gift of love.’ Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t good. If it was, what was the point of the resurrection–Jesus’ victory OVER death.If death was a ‘gift of love’, isn’t euthanasia okay, then? How about abortion, should we kill babies (and yes, I know I’m sounding uncharacteristcally ‘Slice of Laodicea-ish’) just to save them from having to live as unwanted children. Should we just give to them the ‘gift of love’?How about hundreds of thousands of Iraqis? If we gave so many civilians over there the ‘gift of love’ why are they so terribly pissed at us right now?Dear Mrs. Etcetera, I don’t hope–by writing this–to upset you. I don’t hope, either, to say that you’re fundamentally wrong. I’m merely saying I disagree. I disagree strongly–very strongly.And, my position is this: Death is the enemy.

  26. Steve:I guess the answer then is that there is no comfortable way to fulfill an uncomfortable goal: to call stupid church stuff out and let the chips fall where they may. I just don’t want to burn energy convincing people that these are not personal attacks… that we are all stupid church people and we just want to stop doing stupid church stuff. How many times have you had to reiterate that your posts aren’t personal and that you consider yourself a stupid church person? Let me answer it for you: pretty much every time you point out stupid church behavior.I guess it comes with the territory.

  27. Rover:There’s help available. They’re called Selective Seratonin Uptake Inhibitors, and they will change your life.LOL… Peace, man.Zeke

  28. damned Etcetera!< HREF="http://pingetcetera.blogspot.com/2005/09/haiku-review-rob-bells-velvet-elvis.html" REL="nofollow">haiku<> quarantine has failedwe’re infected now

  29. Jaden, for the record I am a stupid church person. In recovery.Stupid church people are not judged by who they are but what they say and do. It’s the <>stuff<> that’s stupid, not the people.And I did read back what to the earlier exchanges, and it still sounds like stupid church people talk to me. And that’s for having spent the last ten years neck deep in it. I can say that because like stupid church people, you repeatedly glossed over the real issue: hurting people need more than stupid church people talk. Steve was a pastor, and you were talking to him like he was a noob in the Lord. God’s ways are not our ways, and talking about him like he’s our daddy and we’re his kids, and what daddy wouldn’t want to do for his kids, is frankly just totally non-responsive to the basic issue that that metaphor can’t explain what people feel when life deals them a shitburger. Trust me, they don’t feel like daddy’s well-cared-for little kids.And “man” is a generic term for me, no offense intended.

  30. …anyway, the point I was trying to make is that Jesus conquered spiritual death, giving us victory in physical death.Does dying suck? Totally, from this point of view. But if the Bible is true, we have nothing to fear in death, because the Bible was written, not from the vantagepoint of humanity, but from the view of eternity.If verses like, “God has not given us a spirit of fear”, “death is swallowed up in victory”, “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” & “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”, are true… if they’re really the Word of God, there’s real hope in them… hope that God may very well know more than we do (God I hope so…).

  31. Steve,Am I sure that God answers all our prayers? Yes. Why? Because I have seen it and also because the Bible says that He hears us when we pray and that He is our loving father; therefore what father would ignore his child?Why pray? There are many reasons why you should pray. The most important would be that Jesus told us to pray. As for God not caring what you want, I will again go to the Father/child analogy. A child comes to his daddy and tells his daddy that he hates school and doesn’t want to go anymore. Does Daddy say “OK, son. No more school for you.”? No a loving father would comfort his son, explain why school is necessary and send him on his way. Did the daddy care what the child wanted? Of course, but he knew what is best. God cares what we want, but knows what is best for us. If we want His will to be done and trust that He knows what is best for us, then everyone involved is content.

  32. Erik… you aren’t hijacking anything…feel free to come and go as you please…Everyone else… regarding death…. I don’t want to die. Plain and simple. Call me short-sighted but I plan on fighting that bitch off as long as I can. I realize there are circumstances, such as a terminal disease or other such tragedy, that could change my mind. I am very, very scared of closing my eyes for that final time. But maybe that’s just me and maybe I am a man of little faith. Either way…I’ll just stick around as long as I can.

  33. Zeke,Read my first post and then Steve’s response to me. I was answering his specific questions. Careful who you call stupid 🙂1.) Steve did ask me in his response those specific questions2.) I am a woman (not a man)3.) If you are going to respond to one of my posts then at least have the decency to follow along with the WHOLE conversation.

  34. Jeff, as long as we are in these bodies our faith will be imperfect. I know you know this, but consider your audience here. We’ve (pretty much) all heard and know these scriptures by heart, and we are left to cope with the tension between what the Bible teaches and what we experience on this side of the veil.When you quote the scripture “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” and ask, <>What’s wrong with that?<>–well, that’s stupid church talk. For me, it just makes me roll my eyes back and think “Gee, I never heard <>that<> one before.”You are a great guy and have an excellent, thoughtful blog. I think you just defaulted to an all-too-common stupid church practice of talking past people with scripture. What would you have said to Paul when he agonized that he did what he knew he shouldn’t do, and didn’t do what he knew he should? Quote him some scripture, or nodded your head and commiserated with him? The point is that like Scott Peck wrote (to quote some human wisdom), “life is difficult.” Not <>should<> be difficult, or <>can<> be difficult, or is difficult <>unless<> you have Jesus. It’s just freaking difficult, period. This is what we are left with, and scriptures should build hope and comfort and provide strength, not make the difficulty go away.We are dealing with struggling souls here, and we must handle with care. Stupid church people are clumsy and come across as uncaring and hurtful… though that is rarely the case on the inside. We all care. I know you care. What you did was, in my opinion, just a little clumsy.Peace, bro.Zeke

  35. OK, I’m going to come off sounding like the ultimate stupid church person. <>“So why is it that God always comes out looking like the hero and not the villian in all of this?”<>Because He IS the hero in all this.What makes the people in your illustration SCP is that they think they can understand God’s purpose at all. But the fact that I’m an idiot doesn’t change who God is. The universe…the whats, the whys, the hows, the whens…are all His. He is the only One who can define existence.Some would call that the overly-simplistic blind faith answer. I don’t think it is, because no matter how deeply I struggle to understand, no matter how desperately I wrestle with the Truth, my attempts to define God or to understand His purpose ultimately result in an idiotic shortsightedness similar to that of the people you describe.Just as God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” my response to both boundless blessing and gut-wrenching sorrow must be the same: The Lord gives, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.Good post. Peace.

  36. Okay…so you say there are two sides to God. The pissed off side and the loving side. The loving side is in charge now until ‘he runs out of patience’. Where are you getting this from, zecry?Your second last paragraph observes the <>opposite<> of what Steve observes. You’re saying that SCP hate God when something goes wrong and Steve is saying when something goes wrong “God always comes out looking like the hero” to SCP…which is it?You and Steve are generalizing <>in completely opposite directions!<>Personally, I live in the gray area…I hear some people constantly thanking God for everything and others are only thanking him when good things happen and yet others are constantly shifting. SCP cannot be so easily categorized into one group, methinks.

  37. beneathrover,I absolutely love you. Please put out more content. I don’t care what, just get it on the internet and tell me where it is. I’m serious here.brandon,beneathrover is right, death is a consequence of rebellion against God’s love and care. Therefore, the rebellion is the real enemy. Death is simply what happens when you reject Life.Blah, blah, blah. I get so sick of seeing my thoughts in print. What do I know?I’ve started a church called the Church of No Fucking Bullshit. I’m very proud of myself. There are four rules in the Church of NFB.Rule #1 – I’m full of shit.Rule #2 – You’re full of shit.Rule #3 – Jesus loves us anywayRule #4 – Take care of each otherDuring this discussion Rules 1-3 have been in full effect. And please forgive me if I violated Rule #4.e.

  38. Hey guys, for what it’s worth Tony Myles (http://dontcallmeveronica.blogspot.com/2005/09/like-elijah.html) reminded me in one of his posts of the chorus from a Rich Mullins song that always makes me think of his death:<>When I leave I wanna go out like Elijah…with a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fireand when I look back on the starsit’ll be like a candlelight in Central Parkand it won’t break my heart to say goodbye<>But he left plenty of broken hearts behind. That helps me to appreciate a little better what I think Jeff has been trying to say.

  39. Yeah Zeke. I see what you’re saying. I’m sorry for the suffering you’ve experienced.But, in the face of even that kind of pain, (I may be labeled the poster-boy for stupid church people everywhere for this one) I believe grief can actually be displaced.Isaiah 53 tells us that Christ bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. Okay, I can’t explain it, but I do know if Christ bore something for us, it’s so we don’t have to.Sure, it’s kinda pie-in-the-sky, but I think there’s something to it… And I do find hope in it.

  40. What’s stupid in how stupid church people <>in general<> deal with issues like this is that they issue really meaningless platitudes that try to take a painful situation and make it nicey-nice instead of just being with that person in their pain.Me, if someone at church makes me aware of a painful situation that they are in I do my best to empathize with the person <>in their pain<>. They’re hurting, and they don’t need meaningless stupid church talk.

  41. ok erick…Death is a gift? Who is the gift for? Is it for the person who dies? Or is it for all the people who live in close community around them?That idea is FUCKED UP!!!!!So, a couple months ago my grandpa died. Not of “natural causes”, but on the operating table. I prayed for days that the surgery would go fine. While my grandpa was in surgery, I prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. When my granpa died…was that because of God? Was it God’s timing? Was it part of His “divine plan”? Did God not hear my prayers? Were my prayers powerless? Obviously they were. It wasn’t as shallow of me “not wanting to go to school”…I just wanted to keep my grandpa. Prayer is not magical. Prayer doesn’t have a quota. Prayer is just a conversation with God and I don’t believe that because of our conversation He will *poof* make everything better.Oh yea…Death is a gift. If the gift was for me…I don’t want a relationship with you God.

  42. Zeke said:Stupid church people shop at Christian book stores, buy Christian music and books, watch Christian TV, make sure all their friends, plumbers and drywall hangers are Christians, foresake their non-believing friends and family, and try to be not just “not of this world” but just plain out of this world.Zeke, you forgot some activities we do that I particularly enjoy:Wearing Christian jewelryWearing Christian clothingGoing to Christian concerts and events (I have yet to do these. Guess I just like Iron Maiden better.)Decorating my car with Christian emblems.I’ve also thought of getting my balls blessed before going bowling LMAO

  43. Jaden, two points for a perfect stupid church person response. 🙂Stupid church people often answer questions like Steve’s by answering another completely different question that was never asked. For instance, here’s what Steve said:<>the question is (in my mind) does God normally interfere in our circumstances to answer prayers (whether it be a job, depression or life or death).<>And in response, you answer as if the questions was <>Am I sure that God answers all our prayers? <> And then you answer that of course, Yes, because you’ve seen it and the Bible says so.I’m sorry man, that’s just stupid church people talk. Own it, and take the conversation to the deeper place that Steve was trying to hit.Look, I’m sure you’re a great person and a fine Christian. I’m just getting more and more blunt about this stuff, so please don’t take it the wrong way.

  44. Steve,You’re absolutely right. I have no way of knowing/proving what I believe, other than the hope I find from scripture.For those who have fought things like cancer, it is a tough battle. I’ve sat with people dealing with this very thing. I’ve prayed with them. I’ve prayed for them. And still they died.Did I like it? No.But the hope I have as a Christian is that from an eternal perspective (a perspective I just cannot fathom, no matter how much I try), they’re better off with God (once again… hanging onto my beliefs), than they were rotting in that hospital bed.I’m sorry I actually believe in something, Steve. And I’m sorry the fact that I hold onto hope in Christ causes you so much grief.But last I read, when Christ died, He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53– okay- now I’m TRYING to piss you off… :).Still, if we’re Christ-followers, shouldn’t there be an element of trusting Him? Sure it may suck for the kids & the husband. I don’t doubt or diminish that one bit. But at some point, God is still God.If this makes me a Bible-thumper or something, I DON’T CARE!! I believe there in an eternal perspective where Gods ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55). I agree with you. I don’t understand it all either. But I keep coming back to this little thing called ‘faith’. I refuse to relegate my spiritual walk to only those things I can understand… and that includes the subject of physical death.Of course I understand that I cannot convince you of anything eternal. hell. I’m still trying to come to terms with my beliefs. But, for crying-out-loud, if you only want to blog about those spiritual things you can absolutely understand, I thing your posts are going to be a lot shorter.

  45. No, we’ll just say you have a lot of drinking to do for quoting six different scriptures.Oh yeah that’s right! What should I drink Bushmill’s or Goldschlagger? Oh and do I have to bless it before drinking it?

  46. <><>“The only people who hate death are the ones left here to deal with the grief.So, it could be said that the argument that death is a negative is simply from the vantagepoint of selfishness, from those who are still alive.<><>you know jeff, i have to say that i completely agree with these statements and, i can even totally respect your personal belief that if you were dead, you’d be happy, cuz you’d be with christ. in my opinion, both your statements and your expression of faith would have been more meaningful without quoting the bible. after all, who can argue with what <>you<> personally believe. however, quoting the bible to make a point about something as sensitive as death really rings hollow at best and sounds arrogantly condescending at worst.i don’t think it’s your “beliefs” that bothered steve so much as it was your <>it’s printed there in the bible, why don’t you get it<> attitude you had about it. whether or not it was intentional, that’s how it came off and that’s how it sounded to me.eddieO

  47. There have been moments when circumstances appeared too f*cked up to salvage, that I have imagined death as a gift. But it wasn’t true. What a tragedy when someone can’t see their way out of that lie. I’ve lost friends that way. There’s nothing good about it.

  48. I’ve got an idea!! Start a website called “Stupid Church People”? Maybe that will help?Ooops… some other dorks already did that!Great synopsis Zeke

  49. Jaden…Thank you for your comments and I am glad you have joined in the discussion. And thank you for explaining your view of my post. If that was your view, that my post was making fun of people in need, then you definitely misunderstood me. We should have started here with this discussion first.If you read my post as <>attacking the weakest members of the body of Christ…the ones who are not stupid, but are merely hurting<> as you have said, then you do not know my heart, because there are many here that will attest to this not being the case one bit.If you can take the time at some point to read my past blogs and follow the site, you wll certainly find that I side with you on what a Stupid Church Person is in general.I agree with you and possibly my post is incomplete. The purpose of the post isn’t about the church member and it isn’t necessarily about the pastor. It is more about the concept of how we view God operates in our lives and more specifically how our prayers are viewed as being answered. I just think pastors (and other SCP – myself included) propogate through our language certain inconsistencies about faith that need to be addressed during times of non-crisis.It was kind of open-ended and I was not very specific on what I was looking for…but that’s me. Sometimes I have these random thoughts and post them. How can I expect that anyone can read my mind?Possibly others commenting have an advantage since they have been around a while longer and kind of know some of my thought processes. Finally, it is nice to have women like yourself around here chiming in. Too much testosterone and all makes for a truly strange blog… bring on the estrogen! Thanks Jaden for hanging in there. Talk to you soon.

  50. Etcetera:Death is only a gift if your name is Buffy Summers and it’s the end of season 5. Seriously though, I’m gonna have to side with Josh on this.The reason I trust in Jesus for salvation is not so tbat I can die, it’s so I can live, forever, in paradise. Everyone dies, whether you believe in God or not.The only way that it could be seen as a gift is if you look at death as a release from the pain and suffering of this world. But when you die your pain and suffering only end, if you accepted Christ as your savior. If you didn’t then you spend eternity separated from God, and the pain and punishment continue. But, wait a minute, that’s a form of eternal life too. I guess it boils down to how you want to spend eternity.Cloud:I never said God had a “pissed off” side. I said he had a holy and just side. Plese don’t put words in my mouth. My words get me into enough trouble around here by themselves as it is. LOL

  51. thatcloud….Now I don’t know what I am saying? LOL Thanks alot thatcloud. 🙂Actually I was just asking some questions and making some observations based on an actual conversation that I witnessed. I had an immediate response…”what would the pastor have said if the man would have told him his mother had died?”I just think that we credit God when things go our way, i.e. “the Lord was watching out for me”, “God saved me from that tragedy”, or “It was a miracle of God I wasn’t killed in that car crash, one minute later and I would have been crushed”…that kind of thinking.If we give him that much credit for intervening in our lives when things work out, don’t we also have to attribute blame to him when they don’t? Without getting too deep or crazy on this thread, I think it would be interesting to hear your responses. Oh and all you theological types….make your responses in plain english for us, OK?Jaden… I am not judging anyone. Oh and I am not a better Christian then anyone….this is apparent. I am also not saying anyone other than myself is a stupid church person in this scenario (although I believe many qualify). As I have said before I am a stupid church person and I made this observation. The name of the site is SCP so hence the name of the post. Also, the specifics surrounding the prayer really aren’t that important in my opinion…the question is (in my mind) does God normally interfere in our circumstances to answer prayers (whether it be a job, depression or life or death). And if so, shouldn’t he receive credit (or blame) for the prayers that don’t go the way we want them to.And this thought Jaden….<>God answers the prayers of His people…just not always when and how we want Him to.<> is quite simplistic. Does he? Are you sure about that? And if doesn’t answer them how I want then did he really answer them at all?And then this. You say, <>Praise God that he always knows the right thing to do.<> Then if God knows the right thing, then why should I even pray at all. Doesn’t sound like God cares if I pray or not now does he? He’s gonna do what he wants anyway right? Etcetera…Sorry. But I do not see death as God’s gift. To be apart from my two sons here on earth sounds like the exact opposite of a gift. I know heaven is wonderful and it’s gonna be great and all that crap…but to be apart from children and not see them through their formative years (if I was to die today) doesn’t sound like the best plan to me. As a matter of fact it sounds like a big ripoff, for them and for me.

  52. I quote scripture all the time… but it’s most effective when it’s spoken into the hearing of the listener. Like eddie said (essentially), how you quote scripture–insofar as what it means in your life and how it will help the other person in their circumstance–is what adds the real juice. Otherwise it can just go in one ear and out the other.In other words, we need to use scriptures as lovers of souls rather than stupid church people.Of which I, again, am the worst.

  53. So you’re saying that God was surprised by the fall? If you believe in an omniscient God, then that option is not open to you. Death didn’t creep in anywhere. In fact God was the first one to kill (remember the animals for Adam and Eve’s covering). And He ordained it as part of the consequence of the eating of the forbidden tree.The scriptures say that Jesus was slain from the foundation of the earth. The Father knew men and women would fall before He created them, and the cross was already a reality when they did. I don’t want to further hijack the comments here. So, I’m not going to talk about it anymore.

  54. <>According to your rubric, he’s going to hell to burn for all of eternity, right? The eternal toaster, weeping and gnashing of teeth and all that jazz.<>Is that what I said? Funny. I thought I said, <>He restored fellowship, relationship and access between God & man.<>My only mention of eternal judgement was <>if<> you ascribe to that theory…I’m sorry for your loss, brandon. I cannot imagine the pain you’ve experienced, so I won’t pretend I can.Peace.

  55. <>The ‘death’ of which you speak is spiritual death (separation from God), not the physical death Erik is speaking of.<>Well, Jeff, next time before I post I’ll just check with you first to find out what my opinion is prior to my posting it. That’ll save me the trouble of being talked down to.[insert pissed off diatribe here]Anyway, I disagree. I don’t think we were talking about different things at all. Physical death is a manifestation of spiritual death.Jeff said:<>Erik makes an excellnt point in that death can be viewed as God’s mercy in its extremist form.<>Again, I disagree. There is no mercy in death. Death is the enemy. Period. It’s really that simple. I don’t have to be corrected because you disagree; it’s completely logical though to think that death is the enemy. Plain and simple.Why? A fair question. Try this example on for size. We’ve been talking about death against the backdrop of Christianity. We’ve also been talking about Death as if it’s been called for by God (‘it was just her time’ theology). Well, what about non-Christians. Does God cause their death? Seems plausible to expect that if you want God to be the supreme orchestrator of everything and all that she should be in charge of when both Christians and non-Christians die. AND, if death is really a gift of God, God should be its orchestrator, right?So suppose God decides a non-Christian should die. Perhaps, a 17 year old non-Christian…maybe even a boy-scout. God decides to pull him for the rest of the game. How is that a blessing? According to your rubric, he’s going to hell to burn for all of eternity, right? The eternal toaster, weeping and gnashing of teeth and all that jazz.If you set God up to be the ‘orchestrator of ultimate blessings’ in death, you also set her up to be the executor of good people that might have otherwise found their way to her.Another example, a more poignant one, perhaps. This one’s about my baby sister, Christi. She’s dead. Died at birth. I suppose God just, ya know, chose to yank her before things got rough. But, you know, that’s cool and all because it was ‘before the age of accountability’ (a theological tenant without much substance to back it up.)If God chose to positively ruin my mother like that for a year or so, I don’t think I really care to know her. You see, you’re free to think what you like, but don’t think I’m just ‘misunderstanding the argument’ when I don’t tote your party line.Etcetera, you wrote:<>In fact God was the first one to kill (remember the animals for Adam and Eve’s covering). And He ordained it as part of the consequence of the eating of the forbidden tree.<>First, I would point out that God ordained hunting as a part of the mandate to humankind to cultivate and make the world their own. To build culture upon it. This was post-fall.Covering of Adam and Eve. Also, post-fall, a RESULT of death. From the beginning of time, (or as I belive, from the beginning of scriptural allegory) Death was the enemy.And, I believe, it still is.

  56. Eddie,Thanks for your insight. I didn’t mean to come off that way. My use of scripture is only to support where my personal beliefs come from. But should I apologize for that? Should I apologize that on this site everyone is so sensitive that a scripture is immediately interpreted as ‘Bible-thumping’, and blindly discarded with the bathwater?Still, I guess I do wonder why there is so much animosity regarding scripture, since it is the primary book related to the discussion of God (isn’t it?). I know there are those who are considered ‘Bible-thumpers’ and hold to the thought that ‘I quoted scripture, so you cannot argue with me’. I’ve never said that.The funny thing to me is, when I quote Isaiah, people are offended. But when I quote Lao Tzu, people are ‘moved’ by the wisdom… what’s that about?I guess if I had quoted the scripture and followed it up with some sort of sarcastic apology for its use, then it wouldn’t seem so condescending.Once again, it kind-of feels like the Emergent church. Everyone is welcome to the conversation, so long as they are on the same page as us, or something…I believe the Bible. I will continue to quote it, as it is the primary source of what I believe. If that is mistaken as condescending, then maybe I’m hanging out with the wrong bloggers… or my view isn’t welcome… or something like that.And if that’s the case, then everything I’ve read here is spoken by the ‘pot’ and directed at the ‘kettle’…

Leave a Reply