God? Wrong? STFU

Lately I have been scouring around reading some new blogs. It helps me rekindle my passion for what I do here and helps me to gain a fuller perspective on my journey.

So in the last week I have added a new person to my current must-read list, since she (another female – there seems to be a trend developing here) is saying things in such a raw, honest and refreshing way. I just can’t wait to read what she will write next.

She goes by the name Slapdash, and in her most recent post she refers to something I have struggled with for many years. Why is it that we always let God off the hook? We praise him when things go right, and when He seemingly fails to come through for us, we still praise him anyway (or we are encouraged to at least). God is always in a “win-win” situation for Christians… and he can never do any wrong.

Slapdash says it so much better than I can, and minces no words in doing so:

Christians will not blame God when disappointing or unexpected or bad things happen. “It was God’s will.” “I needed to crucify my desires, anyway.” “It was selfish, what I wanted, it wasn’t what God wanted.” “God is trying to teach us something through this suffering.” “We just can’t understand…God’s ways are higher than our ways.”

In other words, God always gets let off the hook. Always, always, always. It’s the assumed stance: God can simply do no wrong.

At risk of offending the Christians that read this blog: isn’t this pretty much the same dynamic you see play out in abusive human relationships?

A woman falls in love with a man. He treats her well, at least at the beginning. She feels loved, she gets attention…she’s getting something out of it. But over time, the abuse begins…

Yet, when a woman is way deep in the relationship, she will defend her man no matter what he’s done: “He just had a bad day.” “You don’t know him the way I do – he is actually very tender and loving.”…

A Christian reading this entry might well be offended that I’ve just compared God to an abuser, and thus immediately dismiss the whole idea. But what I am trying to describe is a dynamic in which Christians repeatedly, consistently, and perpetually try to explain away clearly terrible things that don’t square with their notions of who God is – because those notions of who God is are inviolable. Psychologically, I don’t see any difference from that which happens in an abused woman’s mind. And I am finally in a place where I have stepped outside of my faith and my church to examine who it is I have believed in all these years. To allow for the possibility that maybe my notion of who God is isn’t inviolable.


There’s a whole lot more to this post and I strongly suggest you go read for yourself. It’s an interesting notion and I think she is right: For people armpits deep in the church culture, this concept of seriously calling God into question can be frightening. For paid staff people the idea is unconscionable. But the longer I stand in that place of doubt, I see asking such questions as an indispensable vehicle for finding faith… even if it’s a vastly different faith than the one with which I started.

122 thoughts on “God? Wrong? STFU”

  1. You know what… I take that back. Just because it is not the traditional view does necessarily mean that it does not have some value.

  2. here’s the thought process.i think a student is someone that learns from a teacher, at the least, but usually from a school. recovering wanted to know why i didn’t but spiritbear in the same boat of “scholarly”. spiritbear claimed to be studying (informally / individually – my interpretation) whereas recovering claimed to be a student (formally / under tutelage – my interpretation). in my view, it takes more than just books to be a student of anything; it requires a teacher. Therefore, according to my interpretation, no one here can be student of the Collection of Books (or any collection of books, for that matter); we can only study it (or them).feel free to look up the first definition of scholar. i didn’t post it because that wasn’t the definition i was using in my interpretation.do you understand my position now?

  3. “feedback…anyone?!!?”Is this really open to anyone? Because after posting my thoughts I’d hate to be told I’m of the wrong mindset to answer this question. So, if it’s open to everyone I’ll post my thoughts. 🙂

  4. Zec… it just seemed to me you were being defensive… I could be interpreting it wrong. And it is hard to read tone on these things that’s for sure. Trust me, I have been abrasive here before so I don’t have a problem with intense discussions. My bad… don’t want to police this thing… you guys can each handle yourselves…So let me give you my perspective on this… and I have spoken of it before.As an eleven year old boy my dad lay dying in a hospital bed after suffering his second major heart attack within 3 months time. Led by my pastor, my family and I prayed for God to heal him. We prayed before he went into surgery that God would guide the hand of the doctors and save his life.Well, he died.Now, just a few weeks earlier we were thanking and praising God for saving his life and sending him home to us after his first heart attack. Now, as a family, we were left wondering why God hadn’t intervened when we knew full well we believed he could have done so. This situation has nothing to do with sin, or free will or any of that. This has to do with God (according to the way I believed then) picking and choosing when and where to intervene. This isn’t about me as a little boy doing something or my dad doing something that caused his death. This isn’t about an 11 year old boy whining over something trivial. And, from what I believe the way the Bible describes God’s qualities, he cares about the numbers of hairs on my head… so was it that God just wasn’t interested in my Dad’s life and found my prayers a trivial matter from his perspective?So… I guess I was left with this… God chose not to intervene and save my Dad. Certainly I could take the spiritual stance (which I did for years) and spout platitudes about it being “God’s will” and “God’s ways are higher than mine” and “who am I to question God’s plan”. So what am I left to do but hold God accountable for my Dad’s death? He could have stopped it but didn’t… I guess that’s what I mean by letting God off the hook… we explain it away rather than holding him accountable for his choice not to act in situations like this.This statement right here Zec… <>The Christian life is hard, suck it up and deal with it and stop whining like little kids who don’t get their way. <> completely and utterly pisses me off when it comes from someone who claims to want to spread the love of God. The situation I describe above is what has me questioning God… not whether or not I get a parking spot at the mall or an XBOX for my birthday. If this is your way of dealing with folks who are working through their faith issues or life crisis… then you might want to choose a different tactic…. cause your bedside manner sucks!

  5. If I may toss in my 1 & 3/4 cents into this discussion.I think you both have valid points. I believe there is real value in meditating and studying the scriptures in private. This sorty of secluded and quiet study allows for Godly communication (IMO).However, there is also an important need for sharing and teaching/learning scripture in fellowship with others. Rob Bell makes wonderful references of this in his book “Velvet Elvis”, where he describes the process of binding and loosing.Balance is the key. Too much alone-time, and we are vulnerable to skewed interpretations. Too much “public reading” and we rob ourserselves of the “still voice of God” via the scriptures.

  6. Just curious…Does labeling it mean it’s wrong? (I’ve seen some discussions where an argument is dismissed with a wave of a hand and a comment like “That’s just simple whatever-ism…”)

  7. that’s a good point, Slap Dash, as was your original one. When we hold God to the same standard we hold people (torture me so that you can praise me for how I handle it? That’s just sadistic and megalomaniacal!) God comes across as much, much different from what we’ve been taught are his characteristics.

  8. Oh, wanted to add: I think a lot of Christians *already have* become lazy and adopted an “I’ve got my ‘get out of hell free’ card” mentality.

  9. <>Jews in Jesus’ time memorized the psalms much like you know praise music today. They also directed people to passages by quoting either the opening lines or by quoting the most memorable sections. When Jesus quotes Psalm 22 on the cross he does it knowing that people will be thinking about the Psalm as a whole.<> Yes, I’m well aware of the theory that Jesus was “merely” quoting the psalm as a way to say “Hey y’all! Look at me, fulfilling ancient scripture!” I was wondering if anyone was going to bring it up. But that is just one explanation. The verse immediately following Jesus’ cry of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” says that the people around said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”Not: “Listen, he’s quoting a psalm/song!”So it’s not a foregone conclusion that Jesus was necessarily quoting the psalm as some sort of “signal” to those in the know about His connection to the Suffering Servant. Perhaps he was quoting the beginning of the psalm because it was His own heart’s cry at that very moment. Maybe he started reciting it as a way to comfort Himself in the midst of His suffering, and just didn’t have the strength to get to the happier bits. These suggestions and others have all been offered up as possible explanations for why Jesus said what He did, but the truth of the matter is, <>there’s literally no way of knowing for certain<> what was going through Jesus’ head at the time. He never gives further explanation after His resurrection or subsequent appearances, and the rest of the NT doesn’t feel the need to explain it, either.<>The idea that Jesus himself doubts when he quotes a song seems short sighted at the least.<>Ah, but you’re working backward from the assumption that he <>can’t possibly be questioning<> and then looking for evidence to support your premise.In the garden of Gethsemane, we have a picture of Jesus sweating drops of blood and asking God if there is any other way, please let the cup [of suffering] pass from him. If Jesus was so confident that God’s plan was the only way, why would he ask for an alternative?Yes, he does say in the end, “not my will, but Thy will be done,” but I see a beautiful picture of Jesus moving forward with courage <>in spite of<> his own fears and doubts. If Jesus was never afraid and never doubted, I don’t think Hebrews could make the claim that he was “made like His brethren in all things….[F]or since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”I understand that to mean that Jesus may have been <>tempted<> to try a different method to bring about the Kingdom (even in the last hours), because he doubted and feared what he was about to endure, but he did not give in to that temptation. He was obedient in spite of his questioning God’s plan.That takes more courage and faith than knowing for <>certain<> that “it’s all going to turn out right, I’ll be alive and well in three days.”Doubt is not the opposite of faith, certainty is.I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t know many people who use tragedy or calamity to say, “screw God, I’m going to live the way I want because She didn’t come through for me!” At that point, they’re using the tragedy as an excuse for something they really wanted to do anyway. But many people experience tragedy, doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness, but don’t abandon their morals or belief in God as a result.Steve said, <>“and my bubble-gum theology doesn’t jive with his hard-core theology.”<>To quote Jack Black, “You’re not hardcore unless you <>live<> hardcore!”Or as the book of James says, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves, <>do what it says.<>“Lots of people confuse <>having<> correct beliefs with <>living<> correct beliefs. Or, to put it another way, some people are so spiritually-minded, that they’re no earthly good. :pp.s. I’m talking in generalities here, not attempting to single anyone out. Just something I try to remember when I get all caught up in trying to get all my (or anyone else’s) theological ducks in row, at the expense of my neighbor’s well-being.

  10. Zec… geesh… take a deep breath man. Relax.Your initial response has been pretty defensive and since then abrasive… not sure where that’s coming from…You are illustrating the point SlapDash has made and it’s that people can be defensive and closed off to any discussion of God’s weaknesses. It’s not going to end the world or change God to talk about it now is it?

  11. Okay, cool, let’s carry on.I think somehow the idea came across that I’m bitching because I don’t like what God has done for me lately.That’s not quite what’s happening here. I am trying to understand God’s character. For example: I read Job and I see that God blatantly stood back and let Satan torture Job. Then I see God give Job a smack-down for asking why.To me, that reads as a story of God f***ing with Job just because he could. To me, asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac also was God f***ing with him just because he could. Why is it so important for God to test his people’s faithfulness? If he is omniscient, he already knows if they’re faithful. I have never understood why it is wrong to ask why. And I am asking why on behalf of innocent suffering people, not because I didn’t get a bonus I was hoping for, boo hoo. Are we really to believe that a Rwandan who survived a hatchet blow to his head should look heavenward and praise God for it? Is that “tribulation”? Is that “discipline”?These are genuine questions for me.And if I am punished, temporally or eternally, for “talking back” to God and asking why and how he can allow such horrors here on earth for people who have done nothing to ‘deserve’ them… well, I’m not sure that is a God I am ready to worship heart, mind, and soul.

  12. <>Sarcasm is when you say the opposite of what you mean.I’m belittling him and insinuating that he doesn’t understand simple concepts… you know, simple concepts like sarcasm. <>I stand corrected. You’re more of an asshole than a dick, because at least assholes speak plainly.Welcome to the club.

  13. Oh A couple of things. The cult I was in had me convinced the world would end in 1993 so I had no point in having a life.Steve, You seem to be hanging out with deconverting or deconverted people. Are you falling away man?

  14. Hi Zec,Thanks for your efforts to understand where I’m coming from. At the same time, I am not sure why you’re having such trouble, especially if you’ve read everything on my blog. Thanks also for the offer to converse via email. At this time, I don’t plan to write. In part because I’m not sure what the purpose of such an exchange would be.So far what I have experienced of you isn’t dialogue. You don’t seem to listen to what I’m saying – on this comment thread anyway, you have taken things I have said out of context, you have ascribed negative, and incorrect, intentions to why I’m questioning, I am having to explain and defend my faith upbringing…In short, I am under the impression you are looking for the piece(s) of evidence you need to be able to say I was a false convert, too.I don’t have any sense that you truly want to learn about me… I don’t have any sense that you think any of my questions are legitimate or real. I am under the impression you want to dissect and analyze me, in order to proclaim what’s wrong with me. I may be overstating it, and if so, I apologize. But I personally don’t see anything to gain by continuing this privately.

  15. “I think you are identifying one of the major problems of the Bible – taking it as a whole creates a lot of problems, as a lot of jarring, and disparate images emerge of who God is. (And thus I think you get various ‘pop-theology’ versions of God.)” – SlapI don’t see how taking it as a whole creats a lot of problems. It seems pretty obvious to me that God has more than one facet to his personality. Much like we do. I think there is a part of Him that demands justice and excercises wrath. I also think there is a part of Him that longs to extend grace and mercy. But He does promise a consistency in our eternal inheretance – we’re chosen or we’re not.I don’t think we’ll ever come to any consensus unless we all decide that God has to make sense to us or we decide together that God can remain mysterious and seemingly “unfair.” I don’t think we’ll get to that point, at least through blog comments.However, I am reminded of the Scripture (Isaiah, perhaps?) where He compares us to Potter’s clay. God says something to the effect of “who is the clay to say to the Potter, why have You done this to me or why have You made me this way?”I kind of agree with Ha Kohen. I believe that you can ask the question, but the tone I’m getting is not one of humility or reverence for God…but one of His character being questioned. I just can’t go there. And there aren’t many (if any) examples of godly men or women treating God this way in the Scriptures, either.

  16. Slap,I have asked the questions I have asked to try and understand where you are coming from, not to label you as anything. Hell, I could have done that in the first post and have been done with it. I didn’t do that. I feel that the questions I asked in my initial response are equally as valid as the one you’re asking and should be at least considered before they are labelled as defesnive and rejected out of hand.I love to learn about people and where they’re coming from and the best way for me to do that is by asking questions, which is what I’ve done here. Do you really believe that I would ask all those questions, offer advice on how you could read the Bible, tell you about Hermeneutics and point you to a resource that could help you with this problem if I were going to label you as a false convert and walk away? I have never said “I’m right, you’re wrong.” I told you that you definitely should not take my word for it, that my initial answer was incomplete and that my understanding of the scritpures could be fatally flawed.Alot of what I said to you was directed not at you but at people in general who come to faith because of what they can get from God, namely the Word of Faith crowd and the prosperity preachers and adherents. Who think that not only are they entitled to salvation, but everything else under the sun, because they have faith. So alot of the anger you that you thought was directed at you, was just me assuming that you were one of those people who were promised something by someone at some point, didn’t get it and were now wanting to hold God accountable or put him “on a hook” because He didn’t live up to His end of the bargain. I’m sorry, I’ve jumped to a conclusion when I shouldn’t have.

  17. I believe this “conversation” has degraded. I appreciate the original question but I think Gone Fishin’s reference to Job is the real crux of the issue. He lost much more than we ever will and have every reason to question God by anyone’s standard…but…Job 1:22Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.Man, that is the whole issue. It doesn’t matter how angry, how doubtful, or how many feelings of how “unfair” life is, Job didn’t blame God. And God honored him for it. I also like the verses that follow. God basically says, “Who are you? Did you create the heavens, give the eagle its wings…?” And Job’s very wise response was to put his hand firmly on his mouth.

  18. Look I do not mean to be rude, I really don’t. BUT It’s called orthodoxy. It is the normal/traditional interpretation of the church and has been for about 1400 years. If you believe differently, fine… but the onus of proof for a differing opinion is on you. It is not “just an opinion” or “what some radical believes” it is and has been the opinion of some of the world’s most profound thinkers for over 1,000 years. Don’t get snotty and act like every stupid thought that crosses someone’s mind (not revering to anyone in particular) is as equal and as valid as these. They and I could be wrong but don’t act like I’m the oddball. If you think differently then you had better make with the proof and do a better job of it then the few and far betweens that have come before you and failed. I’ll all about thinking of alternative interpretations but that is just it. The views that you are talking about are alternative; not mine is not. I know of no credible theologian anywhere that agrees with the alternative opinion as it has been stated here.

  19. Steve. Good points. I disagree that Job is allegorical or fictional but even if it was, shouldn’t Job’s response in light of God’s apparent pleasure at his reponse to pain and suffering be what we aspire to?Also, I don’t think the Matt passage is saying that he doesn’t distinguish amongst humanity when he sends blessings or curses…only that both the chosen and the wicked receive blessings and curses for His purposes…I think the whole argument boils down to wether or not we can be content with God as being somewhat mysterious and we humans deserving little more than death because of sin. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where God honors someone for blaming Him for anything…I see God honoring humility and gratefulness in spite of tribulation. So why depart from that model?

  20. “Having said that, I can’t see why some people have a problem with questioning God. Surely that is how we arrive at our theology?”Is that what we are really doing here is just questioning God to arrive at correct theology? Or are we projecting our dissapointments in life on God? Are we truly seeking to understand God, take responsibility for being a fellow human sinner, or are we looking to justify our feelings of blame and anger toward God?…I’m just askin’…

  21. Slapdash. Nice to meet you. I am pretty messed up but I hold my core beliefs and I suspect that deep down you may still too. I too was in what I now consider to be a “cult” back in the 80s when I was a teenager. This cult would be considered a charismatic church by some. I nearly gave up on God but hung on. My way of dealing with it was people do evil things in the name of God. God does not (of course I will offend calvinists with that but lets not go down that road) just realize I am more of an arminian. Anyway, I got back into Church in the late 90s and became a good republican and believed I was in Gods will. Now I am having another meltdown but again, I blame bad choices, bad people, not God. I believe bad things happen because God doesnt control people. Love is not controlling. I dont see God as abusive. I sure do see religion that way though. My most recent meltdown was that I could no longer worship with war loving republicans. I am now considering becoming a mennonite to reconcile that. Many of my years have been away from Church yet with God. As for the Bible, I struggle with biblical innerancy, but I believe its core values are right.

  22. ***Besides…from a strictly pragmatic standpoint…what do we have to lose not blaming or questioning the Creator of the Universe? ***And what do I have to lose by ‘blaming or questioning the Creator of the Universe?’ Is my eternal salvation at stake?

  23. I agree Steve, we can talk about it and perhaps we should. I’m not defensive or abrasive, but succint and to the point. I don’t mince words, either. As you know vey well by now.But Slap seems to be inconsistent. First she says she wants to hold God accountable for His actions, but never says which actions He should be held accountable for. Then she says she simply wants to petition Him, which means to make a request to a person in authority. Which is it? Because the two are radically different actions. The only promise from God is salvation and eternal life, when you have repented of your sin and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Happy life? Health? Wealth? Your heart’s every desire? Can’t find scripture that supports that those are promises He has made. So people who are brought to faith with promises like these, are often left dissatisfied and often times bitter, when things go wrong and want to blame God, when the blame should be laid at the feet of the clergy and evangelists who have employed empty promises to get “decisions”, as opposed to true conversions. So far, we as readers, have no idea what she was promised or by whom she was promised these things that she wants God to hold God accountable for. Was it really God or was it those in positions of authority at the church? Until some parameters are defined for this situation, no clear answers can be obtained.

  24. Job 1:22Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.You have certainly been given the option to choose to live righteously or to choose to be an SACP (stupid anti-church person). I would suggest the former. wink.Dave

  25. ***I believe that you can ask the question, but the tone I’m getting is not one of humility or reverence for God…but one of His character being questioned. I just can’t go there.*** If you had such questions on your mind and heart, how would you articuate them? What would it sound like to do it with humility and reverence? Yes, my original blog entry was starkly written… so as to get a point across and to raise what I think is a legitimate question. Mind you, I started my blog after YEARS of struggling with these kinds of questions, and trying to do so with humility and reverence for God. Let me try an example. Let’s take a Muslim woman. Let’s say she starts questioning what she is being taught about God and her relationship to God, yet the leaders within her mosque tell her it’s not her place, and she has no right to question the teachings, she shouldn’t treat God disrespecfully like this. What would your advice to her be?

  26. “Uh, thanks, Zec, but I was sort of asking the people who are actually doing the examining. Not that I don’t appreciate your take on things, but I don’t think you’re of a mindset to seriously answer my question.”Why the do I even bother?

  27. “No, actually, I’ve had a fair number of discussions with people I disagree with on the internet, and we’ve managed to be civil and still call each other friends at the end of the day, and I didn’t take their tone as condescending.”I haven’t called anyone an enemy. Aren’t you projecting just a little bit here? I’m simply expressing what I believe in as short of a space as possible.“But you do, in fact, come across as being judgmental and defensive to the point of being offensive at times. For instance, the need to nitpick this woman’s life and insist she share all the particulars of her faith struggle so you can make an accurate assessment of her argument is just wrong.”Thanks for the tip. Has it dawned on anyone yet that I already know this about myself and that maybe THIS was part of the reason that I wanted to do this in a private email as opposed to here on a blog that isn’t really intended for this type of long drawn out discussion. “It’s called an ad hominem attack, where you dismiss someone’s argument because you disapprove of the way they live their life.”Show me where I’ve done that. I’m just asking for specifics so we don’t assume facts not in evidence and work off of presuppositions instead of the truth.“You may not mean to come across this way, but you have, on several occasions. And honestly, that is the main reason I’ve given up discussing things like this with you.”You’ve given up talking to me, period. I have sent you a few emails that you have not bothered to respond to in any way, shape or form. “To me, you come across as needing to be right and win arguments, over and above preserving fellowship or promoting love.”I’m not arguing with anyone. I’m trying to ascertain specifics so I can better address her questions and really solve her problem.“In short, you’re acting like a level six (or worse) Type 1 Personality.”And what is that?“You have personally insulted me and hurt my feelings on this blog, and while you tried to apologize (even tho’ you weren’t sure what you did wrong–I give you props for that), you continue to badger others in the same manner.”See, what you’re doing here? You’re being judgmental and engaging in the same ad homs you accuse me of. “At least, that’s how it looks from where I’m sitting. I could be wrong.”Let’s not forget that I have also repeatedly defended you on this forum as well. In fact, the last time I did so, your husband had to thank me for it. “I just thought you should know that while you see yourself as being “succint and to the point,” others, such as myself, do indeed read your tone as being defensive and abrasive. I know you’re not here just to be a troll, like so many others that come on here and make hurtful remarks, which is why I’m taking the time to share my take on how you come across. I care about you, Zec, and I think it would help whatever point you’re trying to make immensely if you’d make a more honest assessment of how your words affect others. You call it “telling the whole truth about God,” as if that’s justification for your condescending and absolutist tone. But I’ve never met anyone who was convinced by someone’s argument when that person took an “I’m right, and you’re wrong,” approach.”I haven’t said she’s wrong. Nowhere have I said that. But since I’m such a colossal prick that’s not accomplishing anything but to hurt people, I apologize to all I may have hurt in the past and present. That is not my inention at all. As of right now, I’m bowing out.

  28. “in my view, it takes more than just books to be a student of anything; it requires a teacher.”But couldn’t the author of a book also be a teacher? Isn’t the author trying to teach you something with his work? “Therefore, according to my interpretation, no one here can be student of the Collection of Books (or any collection of books, for that matter); we can only study it (or them).”I think one of the ways we learn about any subject is by studying it and it’s books or works. Why is the classroom environment more acceptable or preferable in your eyes than the private study environment of reading on one’s own time or studying on the internet? What makes university or public education better as opposed to private learning? I’m not trying to debate this, I’m just really curious about your view, because I’ve never really run into this before.

  29. <>The point is clear that God turns from sin as Christ takes on the function of the Pascal lamb.<>The only thing that’s clear is that this is what you believe. That’s hardly the only possible or even sensible interpretation.

  30. ***We cannot keep rejecting all the things that we are not smart enough to understand!***Why not? I am genuinely curious. Maybe I’m not catching your drift, but are you suggesting that we should just accept things we can’t understand?Are you saying that be the presumptive direction we should go when things don’t make sense? If so, why?

  31. I think you might benefit from a little more study. You are wrong on both counts. Next time try and avoid google and check out a book or two… those are the things with hard covers and pages in between that have words printed on them. Try it you might learn something. Oh and when you think you might be ready – try a Bible (preferably not the picture book one).

  32. I guess I am wondering more and more how much we are really created in his image if every time I try to understand God using human relationships or reasoning, I seem to get the “God’s not like us so you can’t apply human reasoning to him.”I agree that we can’t really understand Him. But the whole image of God thing is probably more about ancient stone effigies left behind as reminders of who really rules the land that presents reside on. I don’t really think it applies to this scenario in the slightest. It would apply better to someone auguring for environmental concerns. If a proponent of any other major world religion said that as a way of answering some question about their theology, but then said you should just accept and believe, would you not view that as suspect? Would you not want a better explanation before accepting their claim?I’m not saying you should just believe. To be honest I would say that if you don’t believe that this is because you have not been chosen to do so (at lease not at this time). It’s that simple. ***We cannot keep rejecting all the things that we are not smart enough to understand!*** Why not? I am genuinely curious. Maybe I’m not catching your drift, but are you suggesting that we should just accept things we can’t understand?Nope. I’m saying that people need to stop trying to create their own God by the dilution of the Christian tradition and the God of the Bible (this quote came under the context of this). I’m saying that people should either take it leave it; ask all the questions you want but why wallow in it? Is your turmoil and difficulty with the question for your personal betterment? Has your life improved due to this ambiguity? Are you saying that be the presumptive direction we should go when things don’t make sense? If so, why?Again I say… Nope. Obviously some of the people that come here do so for the main purpose of “bringing the lost back to the fold” (they are good people and mean well although they are continually mistreated here). Others are just here to bitch and moan and occasionally toss in a good point or query but mostly just want to feel like they’ve been heard (or maybe that is how they work the question out). I’m here because I’m a jerk and a snob. I basically just represent orthodoxy (though this is now the unknown and the minority) because that is what I generally believe. Ultimately your faith is under God’s control. For the most part, I think people ask questions because they reject the answers they got from Sunday school. I say, “Good!” Dump the baby food. Dump the church growth movement and any other attempt at being “relevant”. Go read your Bibles (all of it). Be a grown up. And then… then… take it or leave it.

  33. Sarcasm is when you say the opposite of what you mean. I’m belittling him and insinuating that he doesn’t understand simple concepts… you know, simple concepts like sarcasm. Oh but you are right about the “DICK” part. Hey Steve, this ignoring the topic and just dropping stupid insults at each other is fun! But I promise, this is the last one from me for this post. I’ll be good again.

  34. You know… I’ve had some similar thoughts myself recently. Although I think I see it more as a “freedom/maturity” thing than a “god pulling back” thing. I think more in terms of a primitive people that had very little understanding of the world and the dangers that surrounded them. In essence “the Law” was a way that God’s chosen people would survive their period of human history. (so may of the laws seem to speak to health, safety and societal/cultural relationsip issues)This also fits somewhat with some of the more modern theologists (Moltman, etc.) who suggest that the Kingdom of God arrived with Christ. Maybe we are responsible for changing the world in whatever way we can and accept that whatever good we can do was worth it?Perhaps it is an issue of organization/devision of christians that result in our (God’s) perceived ineffectiveness?I don’t have a good response to the original post yet because I have almost the same questions. I am an ex-charismatic type who was taught to believe that a little God/Scripture dribbled around would be all it would take to change anyone or anything. I only found our later that reality doesn’t seem to work that way when you really try to apply it.I may come up with some more after work, but that is all I have for now.

  35. “God himself ordered genocide in the Old Testament (Deut 20:16-20; Joshua 6; Joshua 10:40-41), including the murder of women and children; and yet most thinking Christians today condemn genocide. How do you (general you, not specific you) make sense of this?”I’d like to, if I may, to take one last stab at this. When someone is referred to read specific verses, like the ones you’ve posted here, it’s helpful to read the surrounding verses so we can get an idea of what’s going on and why.From reading the entire chapter of Deuternonomy 20, I see that the nation of Israel is at war with another nation. I think now we have to ask ourselves a question, because I’m assuming here that no one has been reading the entire book of Deuteronomy to find out the whole story up to this point. The two questions that are begging to be asked in my opinion are, why are the two nations at war and why has God decided the other nation must be wiped from the face of the earth?I think the reason might go back to God’s 10 Commandments and perhaps more laws than those too. There are 613 laws for the Jewish people. When a law is violated in the OT, I see that a sacrifice must be performed to cover the sin. I think what may have happened in this case, is that the nation that God has decided to hand over to Israel as an inheritance, was living in such opposition to God and His laws that He decided they were not ever going to repent and come back into line, so He passed righteous judgment on them. Remember when a law is broken, something, usually an animal has to die. Sin sacrifices involved the spilling of blood to cover them. It seems to me that the payment for sin is blood. So God, I think said that this nation shall pay for it’s iniquities with their own blood and thus handed them over to Israel. This may seem harsh but this is what God’s law demands. He is upholding His own law here and not being a big cosmic meanie for the fun of it.“If God ordered genocide today, what would you think? What if he, today, ordered the genocide of *your* loved ones because of sins of other people?”It was suggested by the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that the attacks of September 11th, 2001 were God’s judgment on America for their wicked living. They were immediately dismissed as lunatics, and I myself chastized them for delivering a thought provoking message at the wrong time. The nation was grieving, people were mourning the deaths of fellow Americans and loved ones and we were in a crisis. That was not the time to be laying blame and engaging in finger pointing. But the message is though provoking. We are a nation that likes to think of itself as being Christian for the most part. But do we live like a Christian nation? The numbers and statistics don’t seem to reflect that.“How does genocide even reflect divine justice?”If the law has been violated, someone needs to pay. Is it fair to you that when a person in the OT sinned or broke God’s law, that an innocent animal, that was perfect and without blemish should have to die? What if that happened today? What if we as a nation were still under the sacrificial system? What if we offered up dogs, cats, birds, etc. because we sinned against God? What would you think of the person killing the family pet to cover his sin? Would you really buy the excuse of ‘this is what my religion demands?’ or would you be calling the cops to come arrest him for animal cruelty? I think one of the problems you may be having with this text is one of perception.“It’s overkill, punishing an entire group for the sins of a few (how were women and children guilty and worthy of death?).”How did you determine that God has punished an entire nation for the sins of a few? The Bible is clear, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory (perfection) of God. The word “all” is pretty clear and inclusive. This idea is reinforced by the scripture that says “there is no one who is righteous, no not one.” If you are one of those people, and I’m not saying you are, that thinks you’re a good person, run yourself through the 10 Commandments. And answer the next question for yourself, have you kept all 10 always, without fail? If you haven’t, you have a sin problem. The Bible says “for the wages of sin is death”. To me that means if you sin, you have earned death from God. Why do we freak out when God pays us what we’re due, like He did the people in the account in Deuteronomy? Why do we think it’s massively unfair? “The laws God set down in the OT strangely resemble today’s Islamic sharia laws that I think most christians condemn (though, correct me if I’m wrong on that score – raise your hand if you are pro-sharia-law!). If someone truly believes God is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and further believes that God is completely in control, I do not think they can blithely dismiss God’s actions in the OT, or as EASILY or QUICKLY say God is still 100% good. If your heart doesn’t skip a beat, if your stomach doesn’t sink, if you don’t at the very least frown in confusion at how God behaves in the OT, I have to wonder what is wrong with you, as you seem to be missing the human empathy & compassion chip. (Again, I mean a general you, not a specific you.)”I don’t think anyone blithely dismisses what happened in the OT or lacks compassion for the people we read about there, because the people in the OT are just like us. Human beings with a sin problem. What separates Christians from the rest of the world is that we are now, thanks to Jesus Christ in a right relationship with God through faith. So when we sin, we immediately are conflicted about what we have done and are driven to repentance before God. That’s what I think was lacking in the nation that Israel was sent to destroy by God. Repentnace for their sins. If you live in opposition to God long enough, God has every right to say ‘enough is enough’. Why is it that we think we can do whatever we want and God has to deal with it? Then when He does deal with it, as the law demands, by blotting us out, we complain with “not fair! You can’t do that!” God, like any parent has a standard of behavior that He expects His children to follow. If your kids don’t behave as you want them to, do you just let them go on misbehaving or do you punish them?“The other area that has caused me to seriously question God’s goodness is my first and second hand witnessing of serious suffering in the world. (I have traveled extensively and come alongside a lot of people who have truly suffered. And several friends of mine have worked in similar places, eg Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, the US-Mexico border). If you believe in God’s overpowering love as described in Romans 8:38-39, God’s complete control over our circumstances, and God’s omniscience, how do you make sense of the unbelievable suffering real people, innocent people, experience in this life?”Because of our own freewill. We do choose alot of what we do. I don’t believe that God dictates 100% of our actions. I don’t believe God is a micro-manager, who is into every little detail of our lives. Also as to the suffering in Darfur and other regions, yes God could put an end to it. But what gives a better testimony about God’s saving power of people? Where is it better reflected? Is it better that God’s chosen followers do what they are called to do, due to their new heart and new desires, which they receive when they are saved by Christ through faith and grace, and try and end the suffeirng themselves or ease the suffering? Or should God just step in and take care of it while the field workers become lazy and adopt an attitude of “I’ve got my ‘get out of hell free’ card”?“The question is captured very well in this blog: http://unbelieveanot.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-is-suffering.htmlThe God I have been taught to believe in – omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent – who I am invited to see as my loving Heavenly Father, Abba, chooses not to do anything in the face of this kind of senseless suffering. And further, someone who suffers in this way is somehow expected to bless and thank God for it.”The only people who are expected to bless and thank God are the ones who have been chosen by Him to do so, believers. The passage you’ve cited in Romans is addressed to believers, not to the world at large. I don’t expect the world out there to bless and thank God for anything. Why should they? They have decided that they know best how to live their lives and their actions reflect it. The very actions you are horrified by in Darfur. Those aren’t Christians in power over there who care about other people.“Does this stuff lead me to “blame” God? You betcha.”I hope with what I’ve typed here today, you will at least consider what I’ve said and take another look at the situation.“If a human being acted (or failed to act) in the ways I have described above, we sure wouldn’t call him or her as a good person regardless of any other good acts they might perform.”I myself am not a good person, why would I think anyone else is either? “We would probably jail them. We certainly wouldn’t line up to worship them. So are we then worshiping God because “might is right”? Because he’s powerful and could squish us if he wanted to? How is that an authentic relationship? How does that not descend to ass-kissing and lip service?”I think once a person understands the law, and what the law demands as payment when it is violated, a person will then see God in a different light. “In light of that, and in light of the fact that we are supposedly made in the image of God, which I take to mean reflecting some of God’s character even if not perfectly, then I will not ignore the deep gut level discomfort, angst, even anger that I feel toward a God who behaves this way.”Understood.“I realize my tone bothers some people. I guess I am at a point where I am not willing to gloss over things that I think Christians are all too good at glossing over.”You shouldn’t gloss over then, you should investigate them and see if your anger is warranted.

  36. Slapdash – as a good Calvinist I would have to say “no.” However, I still wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of that equation. I’m not saying the question isn’t worth asking…but the wrong conclusion could have consequences nonetheless.It DOES make for a very interesting post. Thanks!

  37. A quick perusal through the Psalms will show you some very human frustration and anger at God, life, and the world. So it’s absolutely biblical to question God. However, at the end of the day you must land on one of two conclusions, for on this foundation lays the entire Chrsitian faith: either God is infallible, or He is not. The bible also does not mince words in this department, so that begs the follow up question: do you believe in His word?This entire, and very common (even amongst churchy people!!), concept of God not listening, or fullfilling our wishes is a direct product of a weak or non-existent relationship to God. Now I know that sounds extremely harsh and judgemental, but I am not pretending to know anyones heart or spiritual health…this is totally scriptual: if we are in TRUE alignment to God, that our will IS His will, but when we are out there fishing on our own, then our will has nothing to do with His, and therefore we should not expect any or our wishes to come true.What is most telling to me, that the only people you here asking these kind of questions, are those who, by there own confession, have either moved away from God, or removed themsleves all together. Not that we actually have the ability to do this. All we are doing is denying Him, but His presence and love for us is unchanging.To be clear, I am not condeming the questions, all I’m saying is, maybe instead of wondering where God is in relation to us, maybe you should be looking to where you are in relation to Him.

  38. Completely agree Jeff… I would say most evangelical Christians view God as all-powerful, all-knowing and active in the world… that he is a God that is in control of his creation. They believe that until something goes wrong and then they let him off the hook. Some are asking me why I am questioning God, but in this instance I guess I am questioning people and asking them to be consistent (not so much God) in their views of God. And if they can’t be consistent at least acknowledge the inconsistencies in their beliefs. Mr. Calvinsm (Ha Kohen) gets it… he is consistent. His view of Scripture has God embroiled in all types of unpleasantries but he admits it… and he would say the same of the tragedies today. That Gods hand is in them… they are predestined to happen. But that’s being intellectually honest based on his high view of Scripture. I don’t share that view… and my bubble-gum theology doesn’t jive with his hard-core theology. But I have dismissed most of the world’s religions and cults without much (if any) deep study… so I guess I will just have to be OK with muddling through to the best of my ability.Giving you a hard time Mr Kohen! Glad to have your brain among us.

  39. Slapdash, I’m sorry but J. Jeremias’s theory that Abba was a child’s way of speaking to a father has been widely rejected by scholars for some time now. For some reason ministers just do not do their homework and instead keep rehashing these memorable yet silly ideas in their sermons. Rest assumed the problem is not in the text itself. The problem (in this case) is merely due to a defective sermon illustration.

  40. I agree… (holy crap – did I just agree with Sheildsy)… well I think I agree…Here’s what gets me thinking about this. Christians are completely myopic when it comes to these things… especially when things go well.How many times has there been a tragedy and you hear the person say… “As the plane was going down I prayed and the Lord reached out and He surely saved me. It was God’s will”. Yet, the person on the other side of them died as did several others on the plane… so were these people not praying, or have enough faith or was it that God didn’t hear or what?? You never hear anyone say, “God chose not to save them!” We don’t use that language… we use euphemisms such as “It was God’s will” (for some reason that sounds better) or “They are in a better place now”.So I think I like what Ha and Sheildsy are saying… at least it is honest and consistent. I just don’t think Christians like to view it that way… makes God sound too mean. And if that’s how it is, that’s how it is.

  41. Low-D, this sounds a bit like a process theology approach to scripture. Not that I actually know much about process theology, though it’s something I want to look into…I hypothesized last week that given the sea change between how God deals with humankind in the OT and the NT…that perhaps God is learning how to relate to US better. 🙂

  42. Yes… let’s get it back on track shall we… let’s have a big SCP group hug… (Josh is now calling me gay I am sure).As for Job… isn’t he a fictional character? It’s like an Aesop’s fable… it’s a good story that illustrates a point… but it is no way meant to be take literally. And is that really the crux? It’s a matter of control and if you believe God does control everything, then giving God credit for the bad things that happens in our lives is quite appropriate isn’t it?

  43. Or put another way…to quote scripture (raise your glasses everyone and have a drink on me):Matt 5:44b-46<>Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?<>Isn’t Jesus himself saying that God is does not distinguish among humanity when he sends blessing or curses… seems like he wants the credit for all things towards all men and women.

  44. <>Forming light, and preparing darkness, Making peace, and preparing evil, I [am] Jehovah, doing all these things.’<> (Isaiah 45:7; Young’s Literal Translation; go to biblegateway.com and you can check it out in other versions/translations)The spousal abuser analogy is somewhat interesting to me. While there are some wives–or probably even husbands, in some cases–who are oblivious to the abuse they receive and don’t do anything about it, there are others who–either on their own or thanks to a friend’s intervention–figure out they’re being abused and take steps to get out of the marriage, sometimes risking their lives in doing so.Taking that analogy and applying it to one’s Christian walk in general: Yes, there are some Christians out there who are totally oblivious. However, there are some who are realizing what is happening (either on their own or through the intervention of others) and doing something about it. They start questioning. (Nothing wrong with that.)

  45. Hi zec,I will assume that you do not intend a condescending tone here (but please be aware that that is how it reads to me):“Get into the Bible and see what God has to say about this. You’re not the first person to feel this way.”Please rest assured that I am well versed in what the Bible says, and I am well versed in most of the interpretations Christians give it, including the one you have expressed here.Your advice also assumes that I accept the Bible as an authoritative document of some kind, AND that whatever it has to say is crystal clear and easy to understand. “Meh” to both points.

  46. “schol·ar 2.a student; pupil.”What was the first definition?“stu·dent1.a person formally engaged in learning, esp. one enrolled in a school or collegethis is my interpretation of the words presented.”So, according to you, the only people who can be students are those who formally enrolled in a school or college. So no one here should consider themselves a student of the Bible, unless they’re in seminary? Why doesn’t that make sense to me?These definitions are really interesting but it still doesn’t answer my question of how many books a person has to read before they’re considered a student. To refresh everyone’s memory this is the question by you that prompted my question of how many books does it take to be considered a student of church history: ‘Does it only take one book to be a student of church history?’

  47. Yeah Steve, my bedside manner can suck. But we as a species along with every other species on the planet have a 100% fatality rate. We are all going to die of something at some time. My guess for me, is that I’m most likely going to die of kidney failure, as I recently found out I only have one. But my question is when does God get to pull the plug on our lives? When we say so or when He says so? Also, I disagree with your statement about death not having to do with sin. Just how did sin enter the world? Was it not through man’s rebellious actions towards God? Also, when did I claim to want to spread the love of God only? I’m spreading the truth about God. If you seek just the warm fuzzies, you’re not gonna get just that from me. From me you get both sides of God. The holy, righteous judge, who has plenty of wrath in store for the unrepentant sinner, and you also get the warm, loving, kind God who loves His children who have come back to Him in response to His drawing them back to Himself. Law and grace. A presentation of grace only, without a presentation of the law and God’s wrath, just isn’t as sweet and it also is not going to make much sense. If you want only the love of God, you can find any number of churches that will tickle your ears and not tell you about His wrath. I thought you were interested in the whole truth. Both the law of God and the grace of God.

  48. Hi ha kohen:Thanks for mentioning the Isaiah verse – it was in the back of my mind but I couldn’t remember the reference. Here it is, NIV:7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.I think you are identifying one of the major problems of the Bible – taking it as a whole creates a lot of problems, as a lot of jarring, and disparate images emerge of who God is. (And thus I think you get various ‘pop-theology’ versions of God.)Also, I *think* other possible translations of “disaster” include calamity and evil. (Maybe someone can verify?) If so, it is very clear here, as well as in the book of Job, that God himself authors “bad sh*t”. as in, it’s way more than “don’t lead us into temptation.” God himself can author temptation! And if that is true, that paints quite a disturbing picture of God.I am desperately trying to harmonize the very different ‘pieces’ of God’s character as I have known them in the Bible… and they’re just not harmonizing very well. I am not, right now, content to shrug my shoulders and say “God is a mystery, I need to get over it”. I don’t know how to be in relationship with a deity whose character I can’t fundamentally understand.To ninjanun’s point, I have started comparing what we know of God in the Bible to what we would expect of God if he thought at all like humans, and acted like humans. Yes, of course I know the “God’s ways are higher than our ways, his thoughts are higher than our thoughts…” I know all that stuff. Have for years. But for too long that reasoning has been used to avoid or dismiss very real questions. I guess I am wondering more and more how much we are really created in his image if every time I try to understand God using human relationships or reasoning, I seem to get the “God’s not like us so you can’t apply human reasoning to him.”If a proponent of any other major world religion said that as a way of answering some question about their theology, but then said you should just accept and believe, would you not view that as suspect? Would you not want a better explanation before accepting their claim?

  49. slapdash,are you taking a literal view of the Collection of Books (bible)?i think i had assumed one way and wanted to clarify.thanks.

  50. The error is not in the question of “did God abandon Jesus”. The point is clear that God turns from sin as Christ takes on the function of the Pascal lamb. The error is in assuming that this statement of reality is equal to “doubt”.

  51. it’s amazing to me that we can all read the same Collection of Books and come to different conclusions about it. but, when that happens, those that have a certain position think that the rest haven’t “read it all the way through”, or something to that effect, and are, therefore, wrong.we’re all at different stags of different journeys. my path is not your path and vice versa.as to the post, good questions, slapdash.

  52. Like many people, I am growing increasingly more and more tired of pop-theology and the cotton candy Christianity that is heavily circulated in today’s churches. People should either learn to worship the God of the Bible or reject Him. One cannot continually water Him down until they produce a version of Him that they can handle; all the while maintaining that the two are one and the same God. Do not all of our Bibles contain II Kings 22? Is Isaiah 45:7 missing from the NIV? While our ministers waste their lives away trying to grow their egos with Bill Hybels and Rick Warren has Job gone completely unnoticed? We cannot keep rejecting all the things that we are not smart enough to understand!

  53. i am simply giving the technicalish term for what lowend was describing so that research on that line of thought is more easily come by.

  54. I can’t remember who’s blogoworld I left this thought on, but I wish to restate it…It seems to me, that the “larger picture” issue at hand here, is our insatiable love for things that are perishable. I believe the reason God presents us with said challenges, is so that we might strive to live eternally-focused lives, not terminal ones.That is not to say that the loss and pain of Steve’s father wasn’t real and significant, but when compared to the heavenly design that God is continually reminding us of…well, it’s kind of petty.And Steve, you know I don’t have to restate that I say this with the up most respect and love for you and your family! I just think that we have become so drunk with the things of this world, none of which we’ll be able to take with us (regardless of your final destination) in the end. So why not try and look at things through God’s perspective once in a while.I can’t even really explain to anyone here what that might look like, but I have been able to grasp the concept and importance of it…now comes the hard part: doing it.

  55. When did I say I was above reproach? If I ever try to force my beliefs on someone or prevent someone from questioning my beliefs, by all means, call me on it.To the effect that my words were not kind, I apologize for calling your statement: “But I feel many have let the pendulum swing too far to questioning the orthodxy of the Scriptures” shit. That statement was, rather, repressive and mean.You accused yourself of being scholarly by claiming to be “a student of church history”. Spiritbear studied a book. Does it only take one book to be a student of church history?(As a side note, why don’t you two go challenge the Wikipedia entry for Calvinism if you have such a problem with spiritbear’s conclusion?)Furthermore, yours and kohen’s words were towards spiritbear, while sb’s words were towards Augustine. Are you equating yourself with Augustine and Calvin now?I believe very well that my opinion could be wrong; I don’t believe I’ve ever stated differently. I also believe that you are just as wrong as I am.And is not the original post, specifically, and this blog, generally, about questioning? By what authority to you claim to prevent others from questioning?

  56. it’s just cause i’m lazy . . . do you prefer kohen?and if orthodoxy is such a big thing, why all of the different denominations and branches of Christianity? why was Catholic orthodoxy not good enough for Luther or Calvin? (rhetorical)

  57. to further that thought, what really chaps my hide is when you supposed scholarly types try to shut down discussions because others haven’t read the same books you have. there is a way to correct facts, but calling others’ faith and statements “shit” and mocking their intelligence and trying to “fix people” isn’t it.how about applying the whole “love your neighbors” business?if you can’t take even a question or challenge to what you believe, you’re never going to survive an outright attack (which we have never seen in the u.s.)

  58. ““God is trying to teach us something through this suffering.” “We just can’t understand…God’s ways are higher than our ways.”” (Slap)The same idea could be used of Buddhism – who find meaning in suffering. I think Christians can find meaning in suffering – in losing a loved one – in not having something happen the way we want it, etc. Life is that way – we live then die and wonder why? We win and lose and wonder why it can’t all be one way? I can’t speak for someone else on here but as for me – I learned from being burned. ” But what I am trying to describe is a dynamic in which Christians repeatedly, consistently, and perpetually try to explain away clearly terrible things that don’t square with their notions of who God is – because those notions of who God is are inviolable.” (Slap)All i can say is I feel sorry for these ‘shiny happy people’ of the Christian world…life is made up of a lot of things and experiences – but one thing I have noticed for me – even the evil I have recieved – made me who I am. “because those notions of who God is are inviolable. Psychologically, I don’t see any difference from that which happens in an abused woman’s mind.” (Slap)Well there’s a lot of differences between that idea and what God is. First off, the idea is not promoted by this same God anywhere in any passage via the gospel/letters. Secondly, if God is that way – then explain an Exodus story – which is held by the Jewish community as an event that happened…that was a freedom event and not one where God continued to allow this severity. Thirdly, I come from an abusive background as a kid and read the same texts everyone here does – not one single time have I ever felt God was abusive towards me (in the texts). If that was so – I would ignore this faith altogether and likely continue the pattern set forward by father (earthly). But I don’t have the answers to a deep problem for someone else on this issue – but I have not seen ample evidence for this ‘evil God character’. I don’t mind sharing my problems and successes with everyone in humanity – and I am also quick to let them know I experienced evil things in my life – but funny enough those same experiences showed me pieces of actual humanity I would rather not enjoin myself to or have learned to come to grips with (ex: my 25 yr old brother’s death). I learned about personal healing through all of this and guess what…anything is possible for anyone (in my opinion) – if they are willing to deal with their inner issues and come to grips with base reality. I can’t say whether God allows evil or all the good in my life – but I have seen he allows me to make choice – and I think that is the life He gave me to live and it makes sense. I don’t fear bad things happening (hell I know I have to die one day) or fear good things happening to others over and above me – congrats to all. But for me blaming God for problems never jived well – when I knew damn well every single problem (even the one’s I was born into) had answers/solutions that were overlooked in the name of apathy. But I got angry with God and others about this – and nothing happened nor changed.

  59. Uh, thanks, Zec, but I was sort of asking the people who are actually doing the examining. Not that I don’t appreciate your take on things, but I don’t think you’re of a mindset to seriously answer my question.

  60. Zec,I appreciate the change in tone. We may get somewhere yet. I guess for right now I would say that I definitely appreciate your sentiments that my childhood church may have screwed me over. What you may not know is that I have also explored the theologies of a few other denominations, including catholicism, and also found them lacking in certain ways.I think the erroneous impression you are forming in your mind is that I had some kind of inauthentic conversion to Christ, and as soon as we can clear up what I was “promised” by yucky bad church people way back when, everything else will work itself out.Part of what makes this dialogue difficult is that I started my blog very recently. I’ve written about some parts of my background, but not others. And I think that makes it easy for the casual reader to assume that I was just part of the wrong communities, or that I had one bad experience that we need to just put right.Without giving you my entire life story, I ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt when I say that I was a faithful follower of Christ for decades. Decades, Zec. Over twenty years of my life was dedicated to the Lord. And not in a fakey, surfacey way that would make it easy to dismiss. I also feel a little bit put out that I somehow have to justify my faith to others. I know what it was, and God knows what it was. It was real. As to the word “accountability”, I’m pretty sure you brought that word into the conversation, not me. My original blog entry merely makes the argument for putting some blame on God for bad stuff. I didn’t take it any further than that.

  61. Dufflehead: “You accused yourself of being scholarly by claiming to be “a student of church history”.”How is that an accusation of self? I see that more as a statement of fact. “Spiritbear studied a book. Does it only take one book to be a student of church history?”You gotta start somewhere. How many books does it take to be considered a student of church history? I know it’s like the Tootsie Pop question, but I’d really like to know. How many books do you have to read and/or study to be considered as student of church history?

  62. You know ninjanun,I know that I sound like a snob… I don’t mean to, I just have that tone about me. Apologies, -Ha Kohen

  63. I stumbled onto your blog while searching out illustrations for this Sunday’s sermon on God’s Blessings.Your question is a good one but I want to suggest a different slant-try to answer your own question without God in the picture-pretend that there is no God and wrestle with your question. Christians may “let God off the hook” as you say when things go wrong or a prayer isn’t answered-you should try to answer your question with NO GOD.Asking questins isn’t wrong-it is an excellent way to solidify your faith-enjoy the journey.John LovePastor First Assembly of GodStatesboro GA

  64. “…what really chaps my hide is when you supposed scholarly types try to shut down discussions because others haven’t read the same books you have.” – duffleheadI’ve never been accused of being scholarly but, hell, I’ll take it. I don’t think my comments went any further than spiritbear calling Calvin a “dipwad.” He also claimed to have studied the subject but I noticed you didn’t call him ‘scholarly.’ Just as well. As far as loving my neighbors, I don’t feel my your comment was any more loving than mine…sorry if being wrong makes it harder for you to be above reproach on this subject.Steve – I have really enjoyed reading through this and participating…I apologize for getting off subject and will not comment again on this particular post.

  65. “Well, now you have a new problem. Why isn’t God renewing more peoples’ hearts, why isn’t he spurring more people in positions of power or authority to DO something about it?”I am not in a position to speak for God, which is what it sounds to me like you want me to do. You want me to tell you why God does the things He does. I can not do that. I believe God does speak to people through their consciences and that our consciences let us know when we have done right and wrong. Do we as people always listen to our consciences or do we ignore them, because by doing so, we can the things that make us happy?“Why don’t we see armies of Christians with new hearts and new desires very visibly battling, and winning, over the evils of this world?”What would you like to see, exactly? What would it take for you to think that God has not turned His back on the poor and suffering? “God has to do the work to renew our hearts, does he not? Isn’t he in the business of changing us?”Yes.“IMO, that’s not a very powerful gospel, then.”What is the good news of the gospel to you? The good news to me is that Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and was resurrected to pay the penalty for my sins so I wouldn’t have to. Ending the suffering of the world at large is the job of the people whom have been saved, but is not the point of the gospel message to me. Yes that’s an important thing and something all believers in Christ should strive for, but it is not the point of the gospel message itself. If it were, then Christianity would be a works-righteous faith, and it clearly isn’t. Are you looking for more of a social gospel, that addresses social needs as opposed to spiritual needs?*** Or should God just step in and take care of it while the field workers become lazy and adopt an attitude of “I’ve got my ‘get out of hell free’ card”?***“You’re making an assumption that for God to intervene, EVER, would make us lazy. I don’t necessarily agree that that is the inevitable outcome.”God has intervened on behalf of humanity many times in the Bible. For instance when He rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt through Moses and also when He sent His only begotten son to die in our place, so we wouldn’t have to. What more does God have to do, to win your heart? How many hoops does He have to jump through before He squares with whatever it was you were told as a child? Also, why are you assuming that what you were told as a child and throughout your adult life about God is true? What if what you were told, wasn’t true? Would you still hold God responsible then?To me, you are asking “why doesn’t God…?” and I’m countering with “why don’t the workers of the field spurred on by their new hearts and desires, provided by God,…?” It’s my personal belief that we exist to glorify God and that we can both honor and dishonor Him with our actions, thoughts and motives. In my opinion, the Christian no longer lives for themselves, but for their neighbor. Our needs do not matter as much as the needs of our neighbor. Not everyone shares this mindset obviously and we have a world that is proof of that. But think of what a radically different place this world would be, if we actually lived by the Golden Rule. What if we actually did for others, instead of doing for ourselves? What would this world look like then?“By the way, you sound like you’re making a salvation-by-works argument here.”I have never mentioned salvation by works here. I have never said “do good works and you wil be saved.” Never. Good works, the ones you’d like to see more of in the world, come as a direct result of being saved. When a person is saved, they want to do good works, it’s proof of a changed heart with new desires. We no longer live for ourselves but for others and by living this way, we glorify God. Ephesians 2:8-9 is clear. We are not saved by works. If we could be saved by works, then we could work our way towards salvation and Jesus would not have needed to come to earth to end up on a cross.“Oh, wanted to add: I think a lot of Christians *already have* become lazy and adopted an “I’ve got my ‘get out of hell free’ card” mentality.”I think so too, and you are seeing the results of it and are speaking out against it, which can only benefit the kingdom of God on earth. Well done good and faithful servant. 🙂

  66. I agree that an author may be trying to teach something, but without the author there to explain what they mean, we read our own bias and context into the work and therefore can arrive at various understandings of what the author “really meant” (cases in point: Biblical and Constitutional interpretation). I think this is one of the reasons (the altruistic reason) the Catholic church suppressed the printing of the Collection of Books into the common tongue.The Catholic church has this aspect going for them from what I understand; you cannot teach without having gone through a certain amount of training from the elders.You can study up on some particular topic independently, but you will only be well-read in that subject, not a true student of it and, for me anyway, less of an “authority” on the subject.

  67. ***Do we as Christians no longer take any responsibility for our own stupid choices and actions? Why is it that when things go bad it’s automatically God’s fault? Can we REALLY do no wrong? ***I can’t believe I didn’t catch this earlier. Zec, you’re making quite a leap from what I wrote. Where do you see me saying we should no longer be responsible for our actions? Where did I say anything was “automatically” God’s fault?I am arguing that Christians say NOTHING is EVER God’s fault – that everything is always, “automatically” OUR fault. Why did you “automatically” take the polar opposite perspective?

  68. Correction: He doesn’t send curses on the righteous…but He does send “tribulation” and he does “discipline” us.

  69. I see what you’re saying now. As to the Catholics, I’ve always attributed their desire to keep the Bible out of the hands of the people because of feudalism. They saw themselves as noblemen and the people as peasants. They believed that the scriptures were too complex for the common priest to understand, therefore the common man didn’t have a Hindu’s chance in Hell of understanding them. They also believed that if the people could read the Bible for themselves that mass confusion and arguments would ensue and a situation like that is the last thing they needed to deal with at that time. This was one of the few areas where Luther was in agreement with them. But Luther thought it was worth it for the people to be able to read the word of God for themselves. That’s one of the reasons he set about translating first the New Testament into German while he was in hiding at Coburg Castle.

  70. Dorsey…It’s an interesting question you bring up… and one that I think deserves honest reflection. (Guess that’s why you asked it).If you examine things and you discover that at the end that God is found wanting (or non-existent) then what is the problem? If you end up believing God doesn’t exist, what will it matter anyway.If you shut off asking questions or searching just b/c you are afraid of the outcome, then, IMO you are not being honest with yourself.

  71. ***You have certainly been given the option to choose to live righteously or to choose to be an SACP (stupid anti-church person). I would suggest the former. wink.***Thanks. Do you believe it’s just one or the other, full stop? And could you define “live righteously”?

  72. my source is NOT google. Its a book called will the real heretics please stand up by david bercot.Though I did find a Villanova University site with the writing of the Church Fathers. When I find out that I am right, I will post it on my blog

  73. just question for you and hope to get the answer. You said you are finding the faith even though it is not the same with the first faith you had, so what is your NEW faith based on if you think God is not perfect and inviolable?

  74. “I did a bit of studying and Calvin didnt invent Calvinism. It actually originated with Augustine. The same dipwad that came up with just war theology. Augustine is single handedly responsible for more doctrinal corruption than any one person. Before him, people believed much like the anabaptist do. or did.” – SpiritbearWow. I may not be very smart but as a student of church history my blood boils when people say shit like this. I agree with Ha that this theology did not begin with Calvin or Augustine…it started with the Scriptures and was a non-issue until heretics began to spread a works-based theology resulting in Augustine and others having to address it…it’s in the Book…which Dorsey rightly stated was the best we’ve got…outside of the Scriptures we simpley have 150 more blog comments about how people “feel” about doctrine while getting nowhere…fast.I love you guys in general for not being “church people.” Church people suck. And church politics, church ‘business models,’ and the hijacking of the Church by pastor/teachers all suck.But I feel many have let the pendulum swing too far to questioning the orthodxy of the Scriptures because they are pissed at PEOPLE in the church…I suggest letting the pendulum settle in the middle ground of Scripturally based anger at an irrelevent church structure.

  75. I definitely believe that we can be honest about our disapointments and frustrations with life and ask God what the heck is going. The previous comment about David’s Psalms are a perfect example of that. But I think that is very different from blaming God, putting Him “on the hook,” or in some way suggesting that God owes us a problem- and pain-free life. I believe God owes me nothing and the fact that He calls me one of His is enough for me. I’ll put up with this current cursed existence for the “vapor” of time that is my life…the arrogance of blaming God for my suffering or putting Him “on the hook” for my bad fortunes is not something I want to answer for.Besides…from a strictly pragmatic standpoint…what do we have to lose not blaming or questioning the Creator of the Universe? The chance to vent? I think I can find other ways to relieve my stress and find peace in life…and I’d venture to say that drawing strength from Him instead of trying to go toe-to-toe with Him is a good way to do so.

  76. I love all this Calvin/Ortho/Greek/Praxy stuff.I did a bit of studying and Calvin didnt invent Calvinism. It actually originated with Augustine. The same dipwad that came up with just war theology. Augustine is single handedly responsible for more doctrinal corruption than any one person. Before him, people believed much like the anabaptist do. or did.

  77. Slapdash,I have failed in trying to figure out where you’re coming from. I have read your blog about this topic. If you’d like to find out where I’m coming from go read my blog at: http://zecryphon.blogspot.com/2006/12/confession-from-false-convert-part-1.htmland then you can read part 2 here:http://zecryphon.blogspot.com/2006/12/confession-from-false-convert-part-2.htmlI was a false convert for 12 years. So when I try and ascertain people’s backgrounds and theology through questions, it’s not to nitpick or badger. There’s a good reason behind it. If you still wish to email me, you can find my address in the comments, so far.

  78. “I will assume that you do not intend a condescending tone here (but please be aware that that is how it reads to me):”I’m sure it does. Because anytime we read an opposing viewpoint on the internet, we automatically assume the person responding to us is condescending in their tone. That’s one of the perils of internet communication, unfortunately.Zec: “Get into the Bible and see what God has to say about this. You’re not the first person to feel this way.”“Please rest assured that I am well versed in what the Bible says, and I am well versed in most of the interpretations Christians give it, including the one you have expressed here.”Which is what? Which interpretation have I expressed here? Let’s not forget that in your first response to me, you backpedalled from the position of keeping “God on a hook” to merely “petitioning” God. When you petition someone you make a request. Rest assured that is not the same thing as keeping God on a hook. Also, when someone is on a hook they are usualy being held accountable for an action. How is it that you think you are going to hold God accountable? Just out of curiosity.You’re comparing a relationship with God to that of an abusive husband. I see the point you’re trying to make, but where you fail is where you are assigning blame. You have not been abused by God, but by the church and His faulty representatives in the church. I read your blog and you said you were not happy with the way life is playing out. Well just what were you promised and who promised that to you? Was it the church or God? That’s why I told you to get into God’s word and start holding those who are teaching you at church accountable. Nobody does this. No one sits there with their Bible open and reads along to make sure what they’re hearing is being kept in context and taught correctly or to even see if the whole verse is being read. They just follow along with the Powerpoint and trust that the man in the pulpit is telling them the truth. For instance, you say on your blog that you were told the Second Coming would happen before you got to college. Whoever told you that is disregarding God’s own words on the matter. It is written, as you must well be aware, if you’re as familiar with the Bible as you claim you are, that no one knows the hour of the Son’s return, except God in Heaven.“Your advice also assumes that I accept the Bible as an authoritative document of some kind, AND that whatever it has to say is crystal clear and easy to understand.”If you don’t accept the Bible as authoritative, that’s your issue. Where did I say it was crystal clear and easy to understand in all of it’s contents? You can’t read the Bible like any other book because it is NOT like any other book. It is a collection of writings that are supernatural in origin.“”Meh” to both points.”Meh? That’s the best you’ve got to both points? Your attitude and comments make it clear that you do not wish to have an intelligent conversation about this, but would rather bitch and moan about how unfair life has been for you, and how you didn’t get what you were promised. This is situation is easily rectified. I won’t waste your time any further.

  79. Wow Steve, sorry about your dad. That must have been hard to take at that age. God did see you through it though. I wont pretend to explain why it happend.

  80. <>Try it you might learn something. Oh and when you think you might be ready – try a Bible (preferably not the picture book one).<>Hey, wait a minute–are you being sarcastic? Because if you were, you would really be a DICK.

  81. schol·ar 2.a student; pupil.stu·dent1.a person formally engaged in learning, esp. one enrolled in a school or collegethis is my interpretation of the words presented.

  82. “I am not trying to backpeddle. If God promises that I can petition him, but then doesn’t deliver, I absolutely think it’s fair to call that out, to ‘blame’ him for setting up a false expectation, if nothing else.”God can deny your petition too. He can say no to your request. “Jesus said “seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you”. I relied on that promise for years while I tried to make sense of what was not making sense in my faith. I didn’t find, and the door wasn’t opened to me – at least not in any discernable way. Jesus wasn’t there for me. That, to me, is a promise unfulfilled.”How were you seeking? Were you holding up your end of the bargain as a dutiful servant? These are questions only you can answer. Alot of people treat God as a cosmic genie or gift giver. That since they have put their faith and trust in Christ, they are now entitled to whatever their heart wants. We have already been given more than we deserve. We have been given salvation through grace.“I’d also like to add that just because I can’t hold God accountable (what, punish him or something?)”You’d have to tell us what “holding God accountable means. It’s your contention that He should be held accountable. I have no idea what accountability means to you.“does not mean he can’t be “on the hook” for discrepancies in his character or behavior. Those are two separate things.”I haven’t experienced any discrepancies in His behavior or character. So you would have to tell us where this has happened and all the particulars of the situation, so we can properly assess the situation.“It’s a fair question. At this point I would say it’s a combination of both.”Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. First, what exactly were you promised. If you put your faith in Christ, what did the people at the church tell you you would receive?“I can appreciate this. And, questioning is not generally welcomed in the church. Those who question are frequently accused of being sinful, rebellious, or blind, while the question goes unanswered, or I get the same answer I’ve heard for most of my life. Out of curiosity, do YOU ask questions in your church community (I am assuming you are part of one)? What is the reaction when you do?”The reaction has always been positive. People actually consider what I’m asking and then usually come back a week later, when they’ve had time to find the appropriate scriptures and we discuss it some more. We’ve even exchanged emails about questions I’ve had. I’m an LCMS Lutheran and haven’t really had any questions since joining the Lutheran church.“here are lots and lots of “Christian” groups out there who make predictions on when the end times are coming.”And every one of them has been wrong. Makes ya wonder when man is gonna realize that he really doesn’t have a clue on this one. LOL“Unfortunately when I was a young, impressionable kid, I was in a church that took Revelation literally, and it was a frequent occurrence for those in the church to comment on how many prophecies from Revelation were coming true, all around us, all the time. The clear “wrongness” of their interpretations of Scripture later started to blow a big wide hole in my trust in the Bible. Obviously my childhood church’s interpretation was wrong. So whose interpretation is right?”Okay, so you were influenced by bad a bad interpretation of the scriptures. You were a kid and trusted those in a position of authority over you, to tell you the truth. They obviously failed miserably. To properly understand the scriptures, you have to read them correctly and try to figure out what message the author was trying to convey to his audience. Hermeneutics can be hugely beneficial for this task. If something is confusing in the English translation, go back to the Hebrew and Greek words and work it out from there. “I apologize for putting words in your mouth.”That’s okay. I forgive you.“How do you think I should read the Bible?”The difficulty in reading the Bible is that it’s written in a variety of styles, history, poetry, apocalyptic, narrative, etc. So when you read poetry, accept it as poetry.“How do you read it?”In the style appropriate to the writing. If it’s poetry, I read it as poetry. If it’s historical narrative, I read it as history. If it’s apocalypitc I read it as such. “How do you know that’s how I should read it – what makes your view of the Bible right?”I never said my view was right. My view could be fatally flawed. I just ordered Herman Who from http://www.wayofthemasterradio.com to help me understand the scriptures properly. It’s a crash course in Hermeneutics on DVD. I’m doing this so I can avoid making common errors. Errors such as the ones you were exposed to in your church as a child. Look how it’s affected you to this day. I’ve been where you are, I don’t want to be there again. “No, it’s not the best I’ve got for both points. “Meh” is borne of my long and very deep frustration to a set of questions whose answers have become very unsatisfying. I apologize for the dismissive nature of it.”That’s okay. Faith is a frustrating thing. This is also part of the reason I wanted you to email me and gave you my address, so we could deal with these things in private.“In turn, I would appreciate if you would not take one line of my profile and turn me into a petty, whiny bitch. One line about life not going as expected does not reflect the entirety of my existence,”No it doesn’t reflect the entirety of your existence but it is a huge give away as to the type of Christian past you may have had. You were most likely sucked in with false promises, designed not to bring about true conversion but rather a decision for Christ, to inflate the church’s numbers and stroke the pastor’s ego. Most people who buy into such promises are lukewarm about their faith in about three months. These promises are usually always followed by the totally unscriptural teaching of “just ask Jesus into your heart”. You’re not the only one who’s been dicked over by the church.“or the sum total of why I am questioning God; did you read my entry about serving the sick and dying in India? That’s not about me.”Which one was that? I don’t think I did.

  83. eh? religious?i used to see the bible as progressive revelation but have since changed my opinion to see the bible as progressive realization: there are many facets of God and the way most people learn is by associating new information with what they already know. therefore, the jewish mythology as presented in the Collection of Books is the ongoing process of a people in flushing out what it is they believe.

  84. ***Happy life? Health? Wealth? Your heart’s every desire?***I am not sure if you are addressing this to me specifically, but please show me where I have said that all I want is a happy, healthy, wealthy life.Seriously. You are painting a caricature of what I am saying or why I am doubting God.***But Slap seems to be inconsistent. First she says she wants to hold God accountable for His actions, but never says which actions He should be held accountable for.***The biggest one has to do with God’s lack of intervention in the world today to stop atrocities and human suffering against innocents such as is occurring in Darfur…or the delibitating disease and poverty that occurs in many other places in the world, a few of which I have visited, many more of which I have read about.God’s “standoffishness” in the face of unwarranted suffering does not square in the least with the message of God’s everlasting mercy and love for us that is found throughout the New Testament.This kind of suffering is a far cry from the “problem free and a big party” life that you seem to think I am after. If you believe that God is active in the lives of men and women today, can you help me understand why he would answer prayers for, say, good weather for the church picnic, but not answer prayers for the Darfur genocide to end? If we are to understand God as our “father”, what “father” stands back and lets his children be victimized?No, I am after the God who is supposed to be merciful and full of a fatherly love that we cannot even fathom. This isn’t primarily about me getting my personal jollies met courtesy of God, though you seem to be stuck on that as your primary way of engaging this topic.

  85. Hi shieldsy,Thanks for the comment. I would agree with you about Jesus – I don’t see anything abusive about HIM. And maybe in the end, that’s where I’ll end up…except that seems problematic too, because Jesus points back to the God of the OT as his Father, and also says that he came not to abolish the (OT) law but to fulfill it. So I can’t entirely ignore the OT. And thus, around and around we keep going…

  86. Dorsey, the only answer I can give to your question is this:If a person examines God and finds Him wanting, then that person would probably start looking for a new god, one that suits them better, according to whatever standard they used to determine that God was wanting in the first place. When we do that, I think we have started down the slippery slope of idolatry. But no one will ever admit to creating a god in their own image, one that just happens to like the same stuff they ilke and hate the same stuff they hate. While we won’t admit to doing it, we all do, to some degree, myself included.

  87. “Zec, I would have said something similar to you. And, increasingly, I find the kind of response you bring to the table as somehow incomplete.”You should find it incomplete. This is a blog and there is of course, not sufficient room to discuss this topic in the kind of detail that it demands. So, if you wish to discuss it further, email me at: zecryphon@gmail.com Also, don’t take my word or anybody else’s word as the final or authoritative answer on this or any subject. Get into the Bible and see what God has to say about this. You’re not the first person to feel this way.

  88. ***Which is what? Which interpretation have I expressed here?*** (Zec)This: “And anyone who thinks that by becoming a Christian your life is gonna be problem free and a big party has never read the New Testament. The Christian life is hard, suck it up and deal with it and stop whining like little kids who don’t get their way. Everyone on the planet has the same problem, sin.”***Let’s not forget that in your first response to me, you backpedalled from the position of keeping “God on a hook” to merely “petitioning” God. When you petition someone you make a request. Rest assured that is not the same thing as keeping God on a hook. Also, when someone is on a hook they are usualy being held accountable for an action. How is it that you think you are going to hold God accountable? Just out of curiosity.***I am not trying to backpeddle. If God promises that I can petition him, but then doesn’t deliver, I absolutely think it’s fair to call that out, to ‘blame’ him for setting up a false expectation, if nothing else. Jesus said “seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you”. I relied on that promise for years while I tried to make sense of what was not making sense in my faith. I didn’t find, and the door wasn’t opened to me – at least not in any discernable way. Jesus wasn’t there for me. That, to me, is a promise unfulfilled.I’d also like to add that just because I can’t hold God accountable (what, punish him or something?) does not mean he can’t be “on the hook” for discrepancies in his character or behavior. Those are two separate things.***You’re comparing a relationship with God to that of an abusive husband. I see the point you’re trying to make, but where you fail is where you are assigning blame. You have not been abused by God, but by the church and His faulty representatives in the church. I read your blog and you said you were not happy with the way life is playing out. Well just what were you promised and who promised that to you? Was it the church or God?*** It’s a fair question. At this point I would say it’s a combination of both.***That’s why I told you to get into God’s word and start holding those who are teaching you at church accountable. Nobody does this. No one sits there with their Bible open and reads along to make sure what they’re hearing is being kept in context and taught correctly or to even see if the whole verse is being read. They just follow along with the Powerpoint and trust that the man in the pulpit is telling them the truth.***I can appreciate this. And, questioning is not generally welcomed in the church. Those who question are frequently accused of being sinful, rebellious, or blind, while the question goes unanswered, or I get the same answer I’ve heard for most of my life. Out of curiosity, do YOU ask questions in your church community (I am assuming you are part of one)? What is the reaction when you do?***For instance, you say on your blog that you were told the Second Coming would happen before you got to college. Whoever told you that is disregarding God’s own words on the matter. It is written, as you must well be aware, if you’re as familiar with the Bible as you claim you are, that no one knows the hour of the Son’s return, except God in Heaven.***There are lots and lots of “Christian” groups out there who make predictions on when the end times are coming. Unfortunately when I was a young, impressionable kid, I was in a church that took Revelation literally, and it was a frequent occurrence for those in the church to comment on how many prophecies from Revelation were coming true, all around us, all the time. The clear “wrongness” of their interpretations of Scripture later started to blow a big wide hole in my trust in the Bible. Obviously my childhood church’s interpretation was wrong. So whose interpretation is right? Which leads to…***If you don’t accept the Bible as authoritative, that’s your issue. Where did I say it was crystal clear and easy to understand in all of it’s contents? You can’t read the Bible like any other book because it is NOT like any other book. It is a collection of writings that are supernatural in origin.***I apologize for putting words in your mouth. How do you think I should read the Bible? How do you read it? How do you know that’s how I should read it – what makes your view of the Bible right? ***Meh? That’s the best you’ve got to both points? Your attitude and comments make it clear that you do not wish to have an intelligent conversation about this, but would rather bitch and moan about how unfair life has been for you, and how you didn’t get what you were promised. This is situation is easily rectified. I won’t waste your time any further.*** No, it’s not the best I’ve got for both points. “Meh” is borne of my long and very deep frustration to a set of questions whose answers have become very unsatisfying. I apologize for the dismissive nature of it.In turn, I would appreciate if you would not take one line of my profile and turn me into a petty, whiny bitch. One line about life not going as expected does not reflect the entirety of my existence, or the sum total of why I am questioning God; did you read my entry about serving the sick and dying in India? That’s not about me.

  89. Just what kind of hook should God be on? Does He answer to us or do we answer to Him? Do we as Christians no longer take any responsibility for our own stupid choices and actions? Why is it that when things go bad it’s automatically God’s fault? Can we REALLY do no wrong? And anyone who thinks that by becoming a Christian your life is gonna be problem free and a big party has never read the New Testament. The Christian life is hard, suck it up and deal with it and stop whining like little kids who don’t get their way. Everyone on the planet has the same problem, sin. If you have a way of dealing with that, that takes care of it in the eyes of God, without God’s help, then by all means ditch God, you don’t need Him. But it’s news to me if someone has found a way around their sin problem without Jesus.

  90. Is not part of the problem that we want to create God in our image rather than accepting that we are created in His? I realise this fall a bit into the “His ways are higher” kindof platitude, but I think it is sort of what goes on debates like this. To use the C S Lewis analogy, we are to God what a concrete statue is to it’s sculptor … just an image. The comprehension we have of Divinity is as limited as a statues understanding of humanity.Having said that, I can’t see why some people have a problem with questioning God. Surely that is how we arrive at our theology? If God were human He would be like Jesus. That’s how I see it. I don’t perceive anything that appears abusive about a relationship with Jesus. My advice to you slapdash … ignore the OT and just keep reading the gospels!

  91. <>They tended to see life a lot more through the lens of eternity I believe. In some parts of the world right now they ask how loving parents can smack their children. Other civilisations – ancient & contemporary – see the death of individuals or even nations as little more than a cosmic smack on the bottom in the grand scheme of things! Our tiny, culturally blinkered, historically ignorant, hear-and-now mindsets give us such a warped view of Gods eternal plans.<>It’s interesting that we blame <>our current paradigm<> as being the wrong one, yet who’s to say the ancient peoples <>really<> were seeing things from a more “eternal” perspective? Theirs was just as tiny, blinkered, and historically ignorant, and there’s not much about the afterlife in the OT, if you really try to look. Even in the NT, the afterlife isn’t near as fleshed-out in the text as we’d like to think (a lot of what we believe about heaven and hell is thanks to later writers like Dante and Milton).While I agree that Americans specifically have a more individualistic mindset, I don’t think the brightest among us [us generally, not us specifically] have a worse mindset about God than the writers/thinkers of the ancient world. If anything, we possess more knowledge about other cultures, past and present, than any other people group, and that tends to give one a more expansive and accurate view of things, not a more selfish or warped one.Another thing I’d like to add is that even Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” while he was dying on the cross. He questioned God during his suffering, so why is it not okay for us to do likewise?

  92. I just had an interesting thought while reading through this discussion.What if the OT was our adolesance phase, where we needed God’s close supervision and stricter rules? IOW, we needed to mature as a species in order to understand/appreciate the freedom through Christ we now enjoy. But just as young adults leave their parents home, we too must face the realities of “the world”. Not that the world didn’t exsit prior to us, but we no longer have the privelege of God’s tangible nearness.Maybe the oxygen mix is off in the office today, but this is really makes sence to me.God was a far more “present” and “hands-on” kind of father during the OT. And one could almost see the gift of Christ as a gradutation from childhood (in a spiritual sence) into adulthood.I see this as a beautiful vote of confidence that God has placed on us. However, this also means the stakes are much higher, and His expectations in us are far more greater (how’s that for crappy english?). Thus the consequences are equally elevated.feedback…anyone?!!?

  93. Ortho (Correct) Doxa (teaching). I like how people keep calling me “The”. Oh and the Greek Orthodox Church believes in predestination they just don’t call it “Calvinism”. But who says I’m not Orthodox Church of Jerusalem or Russian Orthodox? Or maybe I’m just Presbyterian(Crazy liberals).

  94. Zec, do you know what an < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem" REL="nofollow">ad hominem argument<> is? Because you’re doing it, and not really dealing with the issue at hand.<>Because anytime we read an opposing viewpoint on the internet, we automatically assume the person responding to us is condescending in their tone.<>No, actually, I’ve had a fair number of discussions with people I disagree with on the internet, and we’ve managed to be civil and still call each other friends at the end of the day, and I didn’t take their tone as condescending. But you do, in fact, come across as being judgmental and defensive to the point of being offensive at times. For instance, the need to nitpick this woman’s life and insist she share all the particulars of her faith struggle so you can make an accurate assessment of her argument is just wrong. It’s called an <>ad hominem attack<>, where you dismiss someone’s argument because you disapprove of the way they live their life.You may not mean to come across this way, <>but you have,<> on several occasions. And honestly, that is the main reason I’ve given up discussing things like this with you. To me, you come across as needing to be right and win arguments, over and above preserving fellowship or promoting love. In short, you’re acting like a level six (or worse) < HREF="http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/TypeOne.asp" REL="nofollow">Type 1 Personality<>. You have personally insulted me and hurt my feelings on this blog, and while you tried to apologize (even tho’ you weren’t sure what you did wrong–I give you props for that), you continue to badger others in the same manner. At least, that’s how it looks from where I’m sitting. I could be wrong. I just thought you should know that while you see yourself as being “succint and to the point,” others, such as myself, do indeed read your tone as being defensive and abrasive. I know you’re not here just to be a troll, like so many others that come on here and make hurtful remarks, which is why I’m taking the time to share my take on how you come across. I care about you, Zec, and I think it would help whatever point you’re trying to make immensely if you’d make a more honest assessment of how your words affect others. You call it “telling the whole truth about God,” as if that’s justification for your condescending and absolutist tone. But I’ve never met anyone who was convinced by someone’s argument when that person took an “I’m right, and you’re wrong,” approach.

  95. How do we know anything that we know about God? Is it scripture? Intuition? What grandma told me?In the absence of another credible resource, I go to scripture, because, frankly, I don’t know where else to go. I’m not of the inerrancy camp, but while I don’t subscribe to the idea that God inspired every comma and semicolon in my NIV, I do believe that the story of the bible is, essentially, the truth (if we can stop parsing its passages it to get it to mean what we want).It’s tough for me to think about putting God on <>my<> hook, because, well, it’s God. I don’t think I have a big enough hook. My attitude largely stems from the book of Job, toward the end (I also tend to believe Job is allegorical, but that has no bearing on the truths it communicates.). Job and his “pals” have questioned God, and when God speaks, He doesn’t really give Job an answer. He just says, I’m God, I’ll do what I want. What’s it to you?That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially in a culture (like ours) that demands fairness. If there’s one thing I try to communicate to my kids, it’s that life isn’t fair. No one (not even God) owes you an equitable outcome. Someone, somewhere, is always going to have a bigger piece of cake than you do. The only equity is that life is unfair to everyone equally. [/irony]All that to preface my real question (the one that tends to keep me from digging as deeply as has been attempted here): What happens if you examine God and find him wanting? What is your next move? I am also using “you” generally, but I want a specific answer from someone. ; )

  96. “But I feel many have let the pendulum swing too far to questioning the orthodxy of the Scriptures”well, my blood boils when people say shit like this.

  97. ***It’s tough for me to think about putting God on my hook, because, well, it’s God. I don’t think I have a big enough hook. My attitude largely stems from the book of Job, toward the end (I also tend to believe Job is allegorical, but that has no bearing on the truths it communicates.). Job and his “pals” have questioned God, and when God speaks, He doesn’t really give Job an answer. He just says, I’m God, I’ll do what I want. What’s it to you?***When I mean God gets “off the hook” I am saying – look the things God claims HIMSELF to be in the Bible and through the predominant Protestant theology I have lived – those claims don’t square up. I am trying to hold the mirror up and say – hey, God is supposed to be positively dripping in love for us. God invites us to call him ABBA, FATHER. I am saying – huh?! That doesn’t fit with the other stuff about God I’ve outlined above. “ABBA, how come if I come ask you a question because my heart is breaking in two and I can’t make sense of You, You will smack me and say ‘what the fuck is it to you? I’m GOD, I can do whatever I want! Don’t ask questions!’ “What kind of ABBA is that? What kind of ABBA murders innocent babies in the OT? How can Christians who are vehemently pro-life (I am pro-life, by the way) be horrified by women who abort innocent children in the womb, but not be horrified by their own God committing infanticide in the OT? How can Christians shrug and say, “well, we all deserve death, so it’s a-okay for God to murder (or order the murder of) the babies. They were stained with sin anyhow.”So I don’t understand why people have gotten so bent out of shape when I say I want God to be on the hook – it’s a hook of his own making, people! – it’s what he claims himself to be in the Bible. I am not making the hook up. And what I find is that most Christians, including myself for many years, would twist and squeeze and try to smoosh together and otherwise harmonize very disturbing aspects of this God we are supposed to know and love. It reminds me of Clinton arguing the definition of the word “is”. It is obvious from a plain reading of the OT that God did horrible shit to people; but I find Christians twisting and justifying and defending actions under the “justice” rubric that fly in the face of God’s other attributes.***That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially in a culture (like ours) that demands fairness. If there’s one thing I try to communicate to my kids, it’s that life isn’t fair. No one (not even God) owes you an equitable outcome. Someone, somewhere, is always going to have a bigger piece of cake than you do. The only equity is that life is unfair to everyone equally. [/irony]***I am not sure why this argument keeps slipping back into an individual wanting more for themselves, “wanting a bigger piece of cake.” I still think those kinds of arguments completely gloss over the many horrors of this world that we in the US fortunately don’t have to deal with very much. Would you make that argument to a Holocaust or genocide or tsunami survivor? ***All that to preface my real question (the one that tends to keep me from digging as deeply as has been attempted here): What happens if you examine God and find him wanting? What is your next move?***Dumping all the theology I learned as a kid; probably admiring Jesus’s teachings and trying to follow them; but probably giving up on trying to figure out if God really exists or who he is, if so.

  98. ***But what gives a better testimony about God’s saving power of people? Where is it better reflected? Is it better that God’s chosen followers do what they are called to do, due to their new heart and new desires, which they receive when they are saved by Christ through faith and grace, and try and end the suffeirng themselves or ease the suffering?***Well, now you have a new problem. Why isn’t God renewing more peoples’ hearts, why isn’t he spurring more people in positions of power or authority to DO something about it? Why don’t we see armies of Christians with new hearts and new desires very visibly battling, and winning, over the evils of this world?God has to do the work to renew our hearts, does he not? Isn’t he in the business of changing us?IMO, that’s not a very powerful gospel, then.*** Or should God just step in and take care of it while the field workers become lazy and adopt an attitude of “I’ve got my ‘get out of hell free’ card”?***You’re making an assumption that for God to intervene, EVER, would make us lazy. I don’t necessarily agree that that is the inevitable outcome.By the way, you sound like you’re making a salvation-by-works argument here.

  99. It’s interesting to compare all this stuff with the Islamic point of view. They call Allah “the merciful” yet when the Tsunami swept 10’s of 1000’s of ‘innocent’ muslims to their deaths, it was them who said “Allah’s will”, whilst most western Christian leaders who I heard speak out said the sort of things Slapdash is saying.We read scripture through 20th century western postmodern democratic spectacles … the idea of feudal wars … of going to war because it was that time of year … the idea of tribal allegiances … these – and countless other ideas – all make no sense to us.Much of the Islamic world today sees no contradiction with “Allah the merciful” and suicide bombers. Neither did mediaeval Christians with the Crusades, or ancient tribal nations such as Israel.They tended to see life a lot more through the lens of eternity I believe. In some parts of the world right now they ask how loving parents can smack their children. Other civilisations – ancient & contemporary – see the death of individuals or even nations as little more than a cosmic smack on the bottom in the grand scheme of things! Our tiny, culturally blinkered, historically ignorant, hear-and-now mindsets give us such a warped view of Gods eternal plans.

  100. ***But I don’t have the answers to a deep problem for someone else on this issue – but I have not seen ample evidence for this ‘evil God character’.***I am not sure how else to make this clear, but I will say it once more just to try to clear up any remaining confusion: I am not whining because my life personally has been screwed over. *I* am amply blessed, materially and relationally.I didn’t used to have a deep problem with God. Until I really started pondering the God of the OT, who, according to orthodox Christian teaching, is the same God we worship in the Trinity with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I commend the following site to you merely as a place to read in one place, many scriptural references to God’s, shall we say, less than charitable actions:http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm (If there were a different HTML address, I’d be psyched. I don’t endorse this site other than as a place to see, in stark relief, Scriptures that I think a lot of Christians gloss over or ignore altogether. I don’t hear a lot of sermons on Deuteronomy 23, for example.)God himself ordered genocide in the Old Testament (Deut 20:16-20; Joshua 6; Joshua 10:40-41), including the murder of women and children; and yet most thinking Christians today condemn genocide. How do you (general you, not specific you) make sense of this? If God ordered genocide today, what would you think? What if he, today, ordered the genocide of *your* loved ones because of sins of other people?How does genocide even reflect divine justice? It’s overkill, punishing an entire group for the sins of a few (how were women and children guilty and worthy of death?). The laws God set down in the OT strangely resemble today’s Islamic sharia laws that I think most christians condemn (though, correct me if I’m wrong on that score – raise your hand if you are pro-sharia-law!). If someone truly believes God is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and further believes that God is completely in control, I do not think they can blithely dismiss God’s actions in the OT, or as EASILY or QUICKLY say God is still 100% good. If your heart doesn’t skip a beat, if your stomach doesn’t sink, if you don’t at the very least frown in confusion at how God behaves in the OT, I have to wonder what is wrong with you, as you seem to be missing the human empathy & compassion chip. (Again, I mean a general you, not a specific you.)The other area that has caused me to seriously question God’s goodness is my first and second hand witnessing of serious suffering in the world. (I have traveled extensively and come alongside a lot of people who have truly suffered. And several friends of mine have worked in similar places, eg Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, the US-Mexico border). If you believe in God’s overpowering love as described in Romans 8:38-39, God’s complete control over our circumstances, and God’s omniscience, how do you make sense of the unbelievable suffering real people, innocent people, experience in this life? The question is captured very well in this blog: http://unbelieveanot.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-is-suffering.htmlThe God I have been taught to believe in – omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent – who I am invited to see as my loving Heavenly Father, Abba, chooses not to do anything in the face of this kind of senseless suffering. And further, someone who suffers in this way is somehow expected to bless and thank God for it.Does this stuff lead me to “blame” God? You betcha.If a human being acted (or failed to act) in the ways I have described above, we sure wouldn’t call him or her as a good person regardless of any other good acts they might perform. We would probably jail them. We certainly wouldn’t line up to worship them. So are we then worshiping God because “might is right”? Because he’s powerful and could squish us if he wanted to? How is that an authentic relationship? How does that not descend to ass-kissing and lip service?In light of that, and in light of the fact that we are supposedly made in the image of God, which I take to mean reflecting some of God’s character even if not perfectly, then I will not ignore the deep gut level discomfort, angst, even anger that I feel toward a God who behaves this way.I realize my tone bothers some people. I guess I am at a point where I am not willing to gloss over things that I think Christians are all too good at glossing over.

  101. Imagine my surprise to check your blog and find this entry! Wow – thanks for checking out my blog and for bringing more attention to this topic. I appreciate it.Zec and LD, I appreciate your perspectives. Not long ago, Zec, I would have said something similar to you. And, increasingly, I find the kind of response you bring to the table as somehow incomplete. ***Just what kind of hook should God be on? Does He answer to us or do we answer to Him?***Well, I guess I think the kind of hook he should be on is one that is consistent with what we are taught his character is supposed to be like. I’m not making up the attributes of God…I’m looking hard at what my faith and church have TOLD me God’s attributes are…and then finding God’s action in the world to not be matching up with those attributes. And I’m asking why.Why does asking the question merit a response, basically, of “who the fuck do you think you are? Does God answer to you?”Uh, no. But shouldn’t God be consistent with himself?(Not to mention I find that “does God answer to you?” response kind of silly given that God himself, in the Bible, invites us to petition him. Why would he invite us to petition him if he were not, at some level, willing to ‘answer’ us?)LD, yes, I berated myself for a long time for having moved further away from God. And certainly in this moment of time in which I have started this blog, I am much further away from God than I was a year ago, two years ago, 5 years ago.But the questions did not begin only after I was far away from God. I was desperately seeking to know God, I spent considerable time praying, journaling, reading the bible, consulting other Christians, trying to find the truth, the right answers. I was seeking as hard as you could ever ask or observe. And God was silent. After a certain period of silence from God, it does start to beg the question of whether God is really there; or at the very least, what purpose the complete silence is supposed to be serving. When I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer to that, well, yeah, the questions started piling up, and I started getting upset.

  102. What I was referring to–snottily, I suppose, but I prefer to think just succinctly–is that you meant that Jesus’ cry on the cross <>clearly<> was in reference to his being the Pascal lamb. Like, how could anybody come up with any different conclusion?Orthodoxy gets sustained from generation to generation just as much due to inertia as to anything else. Is your interpretation the “right” one? I dunno, maybe. But the funny thing about orthodoxy is that people have been burned at the stake for questioning it, up until the time when other people decided that we should have a different orthodoxy and then started burning the burners.

  103. Jews in Jesus’ time memorized the psalms much like you know praise music today. They also directed people to passages by quoting either the opening lines or by quoting the most memorable sections. When Jesus quotes Psalm 22 on the cross he does it knowing that people will be thinking about the Psalm as a whole. The idea that Jesus himself doubts when he quotes a song seems short sighted at the least. “Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me”, “Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.”, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.”, “You lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”, “From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.”, “all who go down to the dust will kneel before him”, “They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it.”

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