“If there is a God, it’s obvious he turned his face from us long ago.”
“I stopped believing in this sort of thing a long time ago, but it still has the ability to tug at my heartstrings. When my mother was so sick with cancer, she posted pieces of paper with scriptures on them all around her bedroom – scriptures that promised healing. I searched everywhere for a copy of the old Swaggart album she had once loved so much. I thought that listening to it would comfort her. I finally found a CD version online and ordered it – it arrived a couple of days after her doctor told us that she had only a few weeks to live. I tossed it in the trash.” – American Secularist

This is something of a sad post. I’m currently reading Anthony Weber’s book, “Learning to Jump Again”. He says this while speaking of the death of his father.

“When the jaundice morphed into a cancer diagnosis, many people thought God had to heal him. For various reasons, God couldn’t let him die; God needed him on earth; God had given them a magical wand, a verse that they could wave over his yellow skin. Dozens of people called my parents to assure them that “God has given me a Word.” The verse, “You shall have one of these diseases,” magically left its Hebraic, post-Egyptian context and landed just a bit off Broad street. It was a typical verse-bite, full of nothing but happy thoughts. Two thumbs up for the power of positive thinking. Nobody called with, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be His name.” Job had apparently been banished from the canon of promises. In fact, a friend (one of Job’s 21st century friends, perhaps?) has since explained to me how God’s rebuttal at the end of the book rebuked Job for that pithy statement. “Just pray and trust God.” That sentence I heard more times than I care to recount. But the universe does not operate by the secret; even if it did, I am not the secret keeper. I am not God’s master. He is not a tame lion, said C.S. Lewis, and none of us are lion tamers anyway.”

 

I understood those statements. For some of us who have been in pain long enough, the idea that God heals is always close to our minds, but never close enough. God does as he wills and his name will always be praised. He will heal if and when he desires. But lately I’ve been finding that a lot of people don’t think that way. Yet the pain I experience does not turn me away from God, nor do I think he has abandoned us as this writer does. I keep remembering Jesus and with that, God’s love for us. I also can’t find it in me to think evil of him. For me it is always “God gives and God takes away. May his name always be praised”. That is what he has asked of us, after all – to accept whatever he gives us, to always give thanks and to trust him regardless of the circumstances.

american secularist

In my last post, I discussed the documentary The God Who Wasn’t There, a fairly pedestrian movie promoting an idea which is much more prevalent than I knew – the idea that Jesus never existed. I suppose, coming from a fundamentalist background, that I always thought that almost everyone believed that Jesus was a historical character, but that unbelievers thought he was just a good guy, an unorthodox teacher, and Christians worshiped him as the Son of God. I wasn’t really aware of the fact that some intellectuals considered the life of Jesus to be entirely mythical.

That documentary showed a few scenes from another, much more powerful movie, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Brian Flemming, the narrator and director of the documentary, said that Gibson’s movie is far and away the most popular Christian movie of all time, and he criticizes Christians for their love of blood…

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Tracy

I’m Tracy

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  1. Tracy, thanks for re-blogging my post. I never felt that God had abandoned me or my Mom due to her cancer and death just a few months later. In fact, realizing that God doesn’t in any way operate the way we think he should, and that what we call scriptures reveal nothing of his true character – this actually makes one less sad, not more. If you think there’s a God who could heal you, who’s healed others before, but he’s chosen not to heal you – that’s really painful. But to realize that God has no role whatsoever – that whatever happens just happens, and God is not involved – this actually makes things better.

    I know from past discussions that you and I are not going to agree on much, but I can appreciate the discussions, nonetheless. I think it is a step in the right direction to say ‘I don’t understand God’. The next step would be to say that ‘Others who claim to understand God really don’t understand him either’. But once you say that, you start to slide down that slope, and the logic starts to go something like this: I guess the only people who really understood God were the writers of the Bible – but their writings tend to be interpreted in so many different ways. It doesn’t really matter if they knew what was going on – they didn’t pass it on to us in such a form that a consensus can be reached on its meaning. How ‘inspired’ can writings be when no one can agree on what they say?

    What you eventually have to end up with is a God who could make himself clear, but for some reason has chosen not to do so – ‘blinded the eyes’ of some I think the Bible says. He could heal, but he won’t. I don’t know how to explain this but to say he’s turned his face from us. Or perhaps, unlike humans who find it impossible to watch human suffering without intervening – he is unmoved by our sorrows.

    1. It seems we do agree on a few things. Of course no one completely understands God. I’m pretty certain there’s a few Bible verses about that but I can’t go looking for them right now. That doesn’t mean that we can’t understand him at all, though. We can get a lot. I know that God loves us because of what Jesus did. I know that about him but even then I can’t seem to wrap my head around a love so great. I understand it, but only a little. I don’t think even the writers of the Bible fully understood God. How could they? They were human too.

      I don’t see how the understanding that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend God leads to the claim that he did not produce the Bible though. Who says we must be able to understand whatever God says to us? I can barely understand my textbooks sometimes and it’s rarely because the writers’ explanations are inadequate. Sometimes the concepts are just too complex for me. I’m reading ‘Intellectuals and Society’ and I have to read very slowly because it doesn’t make sense otherwise. But someone with a better vocabulary and more familiarity with the concepts could understand it faster.

      In some places, the Bible is clear and we just disagree because we have different presuppositions. In some places, we disagree because we wish it said something different. That is not because God has not clearly explained himself.

      “He could heal, but he won’t. I don’t know how to explain this but to say he’s turned his face from us. Or perhaps, unlike humans who find it impossible to watch human suffering without intervening – he is unmoved by our sorrows.”

      I didn’t say that believing God has abandoned us makes you sad. I said that the belief itself is sad – like my sister’s belief that my parents could not really care about her because they gave her the wrong birthday present. I find it hard to imagine a God who would send his son to a torturous and humiliating death for us but who is unmoved by our plight. That’s why I pick the other option – that he has reasons like he did for Jesus’ death. I imagine those before us asking ‘what Kind of a God would let his son be crucified unless he cared nothing for him’, not knowing that God’s plans go into the future. We can’t see the future.

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