Praise Report!

A reader writes:

I am a middle aged man with a disability who became the victim of a home invasion back in January. After that, my family and I were gravely concerned about my physical safety. My brother, in an incredible act of generosity, stepped up and took out a loan to buy a condo unit that had been modified for a person with a disability. Compared to what I had before, the place is a palace, and tonight I am writing this from my new home. I am amazed at the kindness and generosity of God manifested in the kindness and generosity of my brother. See how God provides!

Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ! Way to go, Body of Christ!

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Praise Report
  • jatheist

    Sure – praise the God that seemingly did nothing to help you (and gave you the disability in the first place) while your good brother does the heavy lifting and actually helps.

    You know, if your God is so powerful perhaps he could have arranged for the loan without having your brother have to foot the bill and the responsibility of owing all that money. Isn’t it amazing how the world works as if there isn’t a God at all?!

    • Mark Shea

      The weird combination of denial that God exists, coupled with anger at him for not doing so, is one of the Evangelical Atheist’s more strange mental tics. Not to mention, of course, his Napoleon Dynamite with a Mean Streak lack of normal human sensitivity that singles out a disabled man for special kicking and abuse, just in order to make sure that all rays of light are extinguished in his life.

      Clues for the clueless: Don’t be a dick. Mark Your Calendar: July 29

  • Will


    I’m sorry the reader suffers from a disability but this is a sad story of your reader slapping his brother in the face and calling his generosity “god’s kindness” forced through him. How dare that man be so unappreciative. God had nothing to do with it.

    • Mark Shea

      Don’t be stupid. Gratitude to God and to his brother are not mutually exclusive.

      • jollyroger

        Next you will be telling us that you can love more than one person at the same time!!!!

        • Mark Shea

          Yes. It’s a mystery that Extremely Intelligent Atheists[TM] seem to be clueless about. More sad fruits if worshipping instead of using the intellect.

  • ewok_wrangler

    But it doesn’t make sense, you know. “My brother, in an incredible act of generosity, stepped up and took out a loan… See how God provides!” Wait, what? Either his brother did something very generous out of his own uncoerced free will, in which case, why should God get any credit? Alternatively, God somehow coerced or controlled his brother to do this, in which case, God should appropriately be thanked, but the brother is merely a meat-puppet with no free will. Is there a third alternative? Please explain if so.

    • Mark Shea

      Unless God is the ground of his brother’s being, not a competitor for space. Unless the Holy Spirit is the very basis of his free choice to do good and somebody who cancel out his free choice. Unless, in short, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

      Many atheist are Calvinist fundamentalists right under the skin.

  • Barbara

    It’s not an either or proposition, but both and. Atheists somehow imagine two mutually exclusive types of intervention, one human, the other divine. If the intervention was human,–I.e. the brother bought the condo out of the generosity of his heart, then it couldn’t be divine. If the intervention was divine, God somehow magically leaves the money on his doorstep, then there was no human component. Yet no Christian believes in this dichotomy. An answered prayer almost always comes through some kind of human agency. God works through people. We know it’s divine because we see a very specific, very personal need being met in a manner that communicates “this is for you”, but it comes through someone else whom God inspires. I’ve had this experience myself in my own life, and I know countless others who tell stories like this.

    • ewok_wrangler

      Well, I too have certainly been the beneficiary of others’ kindness and generosity, and sometimes been generous in my turn. I would never deny the quite astounding heights to which the human spirit can rise. My problem is with the nature of this inspiration you insist upon: “God works through people… it [the beneficence] comes through someone else whom God inspires.” What is the nature of this “inspiration”, and how does it conform to free will? I realize there are several biblical supports for this idea of God tweaking people’s minds (“hardened the heart of the pharaoh,” etc.) but it has never been clear to me how this accords with the idea of the human mind as a completely responsible free agent. To what extent is a generous person to be praised for generosity, when it is impossible to say how much of the impulse is due to God pulling strings? Should we EVER credit anyone for good intentions? Perhaps all good works are the result of God directing us to behave nicely.

      On the other hand, what of evil works? Are we to be 100% responsible for those? Because, if our minds can be tweaked unknowingly by God to do good, obviously our minds must be equally tweakable all unknowingly by the Devil to do bad ones. So if God is responsible for a fraction (size unknown) of the credit for our good works, should not the Devil assume an equal fraction of responsibility for our sins?

      • Barbara

        It’s way simpler than you’re making it. It’s the cartoon of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on other. Don’t confuse being inspired with being compelled. God suggests and nudges but ultimately lets us have the final choice of whether we accept or reject his suggestions. You see a homeless person begging for change and God says “maybe you ought to give him something”, you’re arguing with your spouse and God says “she’s right you know, you’re wrong. Stop talking and listen because this is important.” You see a lady carrying six heavy bags of groceries and God says “maybe you should offer her a hand.” How many times have you felt a “nudge” to do something good for someone? even a complete stranger? God is that calm, quiet voice of conscience we perceive almost under our mind, telling us the truth even when we don’t want to hear it.

        And how many times upon getting that “nudge” have you talked yourself out of it, or suddenly felt resistance to the idea? or have been distracted by another thought all of a sudden. The Devil works the same way as God does, he can’t compel, only needle certain thoughts and make suggestions. The truth is the devil’s work is easier than God’s in that respect. He doesn’t need to turn you into a Stalin or Hitler, he just needs to keep you self-centered, comfortable and inert. God needs to nudge you out of your comfort zone so that you seek Him and willingly embrace self sacrifice.

        • ewok_wrangler

          If “inspiration” is merely this, a matter of a whispered suggestion or a passing image inserted into one’s consciousness, how can you be so sure that God deserves full (or any) credit for this man’s brother’s action? How can you be so sure that the brother did his good deed because of such a simple and passing notion? Do you suppose that he wouldn’t have gotten the idea to support his brother without an external suggestion? How can you be certain that the brother did not act out of family loyalty, or his sense of honor, and/or genuine affection for his sibling?
          For example, I supported my parents for a number of years before their deaths, paying a fair amount to maintain them in a house their social security wouldn’t have covered, then more to keep them in a care facility. This took a sustained intention over time, a determination renewed every month when the bills were paid. (This man’s brother also must renew his intention to help each month when the condo payment comes due.) I didn’t start supporting my parents out of a whim, or passing notion, or murmured suggestion from my right shoulder, and I certainly didn’t renew it regularly for years from such a cause. I did what some would call a good deed out a sense of obligation and care for my parents, and because the alternative of leaving them in dire poverty was unacceptable to me or my wife. My wife supported me in this; and we would have equally supported her mother except that fortunately her mother had plentiful resources of her own and didn’t need it.
          It would not surprise me if my late mother, who was devout, thanked God for her dutiful son. But what should she be thanking Him for? That she had a son? That was no miracle; they were fertile and would have had a child of some sort sooner or later. That she raised the son in such a way that he felt and accepted family obligations? That was her and my father’s doing. That 30 years of independent adult life after her son left home did not somehow warp him so that he would become heartless and ignore their needs? That he would turn out smart and achieve a comfortable financial position? That he would marry a woman who wouldn’t try to talk him out of spending money on aged parents? In what way, exactly, should she have felt gratitude to God for my support, as opposed to being grateful TO ME? Wherein should I have to cede one iota of credit to God when as far as I can tell, it was all my (and my wife’s) doing?

      • Mark Shea

        You are still conceiving of God as a competitor for space and control. As long as you keep doing that, you have not even begun to grasp the real relationship between God and free rational creatures.

  • Sunny Day

    What about praise to the burglar who offered the opportunity for god to show himself through your brother’s actions?

    • Mark Shea

      You are talking as though people do not make free choices. Why do you do that?

      • Sunny Day

        When good things happen its due to god
        When bad things happen its free will.
        Got it. Thanks.

        • Mark Shea

          Um. No. Would you actually like to have a conversation or are you just here to put words in my mouth and knock down straw men?

          • Sunny Day

            Hey you’re the one who went rambling off about free will.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Heh, these comments come after your post regarding a study that notes “symptoms of autism correlated with lack of belief in God”. I guess the trolls here were just doing their part to buttress a scientific endeavor.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Was switching to Patheos worth it? On one hand, less obnoxious commenters (I abhor competition). On the other hand, more exposure to the lost and wandering. Is it a fair trade? I do not know. I am not the Dark Lord, but i do wonder.