God Don’t Make No Mistakes Says Ray Lewis

God Don’t Make No Mistakes Says Ray Lewis October 12, 2013

by Bruce Gerencser cross posted from his blog The Way Forward

Or so says Christian Ray Lewis, retired linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.

I love the way Ray Lewis played football. A hard-nosed, no-excuse, disciplined player, sure to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in a few years

However, when it comes to Lewis’s outspokenness about Christianity, my love quickly cools. I don’t have a problem with Lewis being a Christian as much as I have a problem with Lewis interjecting Christian drivel into media interviews.

Last year, the nineteen year old brother of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.  A few days later, Smith played in the emotionally charged football game and played a crucial part in the Ravens defeating the New England Patriots.

Mary Smith, Torrey Smith’s Mom, said, “He wanted to get out there and win that game for his brother and the Lord made that happen for him.”

It seems that the “Lord” was everywhere in this tragedy except where it mattered, keeping a nineteen year old man from dying in a motorcycle accident.

I understand that calling of the Lord is a coping mechanism. It is a way of finding strength during, and making sense of, tragic circumstances. I have no criticism for those who appeal to religion when life turns on them. I have no desire to rob people of whatever it is that helps them make it through the darkness of night. The bigger issue for me is the general idea that permeates of our culture, the idea that, to put it in Ray Lewis’s words, God Don’t Make No Mistakes.

Behind Lewis’s profession of faith in the non-mistake making God is the notion that the Christian God is the Sovereign of the universe. God has a purpose and plan that he is working out and that includes people dying in accidents like the accident that tragically killed Torrey Smith’s brother.

Connected to this notion is that the Christian God’s purpose and plan must NEVER be questioned. God is perfect and he makes no mistakes. When we begin to question God’s so-called perfect actions we are quickly reminded that, God’s ways are not our ways. In other words, shut up, God knows what he is doing.

This is one of the reasons I left Christianity, this notion that God is perfect in all his ways and that we, as fallible, frail, created human beings, must submit to and accept, anything and everything that God does. (or doesn’t do) No matter what tragedy, adversity, or trial comes our way:

  • It is happening for God’s own purpose and glory
  • God is trying to get our attention
  • God is making us stronger
  • God is chastising us for disobedience
  • God is preparing us for an eternity with him

The Bible says in Romans 8:28-31:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

The God who don’t make no mistakes is a God who foreknows and predestines everything in our lives. We are called according to HIS purpose and everything in our lives works together for good. (not that everything is good but everything works together for good) This is why Paul could say to those who dared to question the actions of God:

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (Romans 9:20)

I am a rational human being. With my senses I take in the natural world I live in. As a Christian I was forced to interpret what I saw and heard through what the Bible said about God’s purpose and plan for the universe. I was forced to ignore what I thought was true and instead I accepted what an ancient book told me was true.

I came to a place where I could no longer accept this way of viewing the world. Everything I saw and heard told me that God was not working out his purpose and plan. I came to see that the Christian God was no different from Baal. In 1 Kings 18 Elijah said of  Baal:

And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

When Baal didn’t show up, Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal and said that Baal must be busy talking to someone, taking a shit, on vacation, or sleeping.

And this is exactly how I came to see the Christian God. He is nowhere to be found. The world cries out in pain and all that is heard is silence. Everywhere we look we see pain, suffering, and death. Where is God?

When it comes to the big things of life the Christian God is conveniently paralyzed and silent. Now, according to Christians, in the small things of life God can be found everywhere. While God cannot be troubled with  of pain, suffering, and death, he is Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to determining who wins football games and who wins an election.

Such thinking is cognitive dissonance on the grandest of scale. Why would anyone want to worship a God who can’t keep a nineteen year old man in the prime of his life from falling off a motorcycle but who can easily help a Christian find their lost car keys?

If I were to believe in a God it would not be the God don’t make no mistakes God of Ray Lewis. At best, God set everything in motion and said, there ya go boys and girls, do with it what you will. A personal God that controls our lives, a God that does everything for our good, a God that has the whole world in the palm of his hand? Such a God is not supported by the evidence that those with a mind not clouded by religious faith can clearly see.

I understand WHY the God of Ray Lewis is so appealing, however I find no comfort or peace from believing a myth. Life is what it is. Shit happens. People die. Tragedy is part of the human experience and it will come our way whether we want it to or not.

I find no comfort in writing these words. I wish I had a magic wand I could wave over people who are suffering and make all their pain go away, but all I have to give them is my sympathy and support. This is all any of us have to give.

 

[Editorial Note: This article is written from the premise that the Bible is not the authoritative last word for faith and practice. If you are not one of those readers, please be understanding of the intended audience and refrain from commenting on whether the Bible should be taken as such. Please show some respect for the writer and others of their faith or own belief/nonbelief by discussing the topic, rather than questioning whether the topic is one that even should be discussed or attacking the author. We try to be supportive of everyone coming out of abusive theology and Religious Trauma Syndrome. For more info on the site please visit – Is NLQ an Atheist Website?]

Comments open below

Read everything by Bruce Gerencser!

Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Bruce Gerencser blogs at The Way Forward.

Bruce Gerencser spent 25 years pastoring Independent Fundamental Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Christian Union churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. Bruce attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. He is a writer and operates The Way Forward blog. Bruce lives in NW Ohio with his wife of 35 years. They have 6 children, and nine grandchildren.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 


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  • Laura Turner

    As a Christian, I wish your posts didn’t make so much sense.

  • Madame

    As someone who doesn’t want to throw out all of Christianity; Who still sees truth in the Bible, but who can’t just accept that God says he’s good, therefore, whatever he does is good, I also wish this post didn’t make the sense it does.

  • Guest

    It seems that at the very heart of the author’s reasoning is that he has a worldly view. In understanding Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus declares to “store up treasures in Heaven…” Paul references fixing your eyes on what is unseen. Hebrews 11 defines faith as, “being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.” Sure it’s easy to question, and God wants you to wrestle with him (see Jacob), but it is also important to understand that God sent Jesus to die on a cross, a horrific symbol of torture and a haunting symbol of beauty, because of His unfailing love for humanity.

    It is also important to realize that God cannot be fully God if He is only loving. He must be fully just, fully loving, fully mighty, fully tender and fully personal (also many more, but you get my point). If you look at just one of these attributes with more favor than the other, you are not worshipping the God of the Bible, you are worshipping the god of your ideology, which is idolatry.

    Did God create evil? No. Did he create humans that have the free will to turn against Him? Yes. Tragedy is the result of a fallen world, we see that in Genesis, but God’s grace and mercy is also a result of a fallen world and for that I am thankful.

  • Madame

    Guest,
    How is it fully loving, mighty, tender and personal to kill (or allow one person to die) in a road accident, and grant someone else’s prayer for something as insignificant as a football match?
    Sure, the author has a worldly view. So do I. We ALL have a human view that we either ignore or we try to reconcile with what the Bible says (if we try to believe it). You may agree with Bruce or not, but what he is saying here is true. It seems like God is either not as involved in things as we have been taught to believe, or he is involved and chooses not to stop horrible things from happening while granting very small things to some “faithful”.

  • Guest

    Madame,
    I’m not arguing with Bruce being incorrect in what he is saying. I probably should have clarified that better in my post. That was simply something I was looking at as a possible reason he would have walked away from his faith and his ministry position.

    Answering your question is hard. If you are a believer, do you have a Calvinistic point of view where God predetermines everything that happens? Or do you believe in free will? I believe in free will. God did not design us with death in mind. God designed us to love Him and to worship Him. We chose to disobey him and through scripture we know that our choice of disobedience brought a chasm to our relationship with God. Man lived in a world with no pain, no heartache, only God, it was perfect. Through sin, that heartache and strife entered the world. Jesus was sent to reconcile that sin and redeem us as sons and daughters of God. Everything that God does is for His glory.

    I have a friend whose son drowned at the age of two. My friend spoke at his son’s funeral and more than 400 people came to have a relationship with Jesus because of that. Sure we could question why God would allow my friend’s son to die, but we know that he is in Heaven in perfect peace. We also know that since through that, 400 more people were changed for eternity. So wouldn’t that also be personal and loving and mighty? John 15:13 “Greater love has no on than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

    At the end of the day, it is hard for us to wrap our heads around, but I also think that we can rest assured that we don’t have to.

  • Reasongal

    Quick clarification:

    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil:
    I the Lord do all these things.

    —Isaiah 45:7

    “He must be fully just, fully loving, fully mighty, fully tender and fully personal (also many more, but you get my point). ” Guest, when you write the above you quickly segue into not examining one trait over another, but “many more” includes jealousy, anger, and vengefulness. Looking over this list equally includes recognition that the god of the Bible is fickle, unpredictable, and outright cruel. It’s not surprising that many believers choose to “favor” a more positive view of their deity, because the big picture requires submission and devotion of the human life to a roulette wheel.

  • RustbeltRick

    We need to stop thinking that football players have insight on anything other than football. I love watching football but these are young men with absurd physical gifts who have been coddled since age 10 and get paid huge sums to play a game. Few of them adjust well to life after retirement. These are the people who can tell you about resiliency, overcoming challenges and dealing with frustrations? Please.

  • Guest

    You’re right. He is an angry, jealous and vengeful God. Like I said, he must be fully everything. My apologies for not including those, the former were just the first that came to mind. I would argue that the reason believers have a more positive view of God is because we have seen evidence of it in our lives.

    To clarify Isaiah, light and darkness simply refers to creation. “Evil” in the Hebrew text, in which it was written, refers to adversity and calamity, not necessarily moral evil. Evil is only used in the KJV of the Bible. When it was written and the audience to which it was written used a different dialect. Similar to southerners saying y’all and northerners saying you guys, different words same meaning.

  • houstonschic

    I really think that people who don’t allow questioning of their faith are simply ignorant, and scared of their ignorance. Heck, there’s an ENTIRE BOOK OF THE BIBLE that’s all about questioning during suffering, and asking God for answers!! (Job) And throughout the whole narrative of that book, jerks were sitting around telling Job that it was all his fault, and God told them they were *wrong.* If someone doesn’t have the answer, he needs to say, “I don’t have the answer,” not, “God won’t give you an answer,” or “God doesn’t want you to question him.” That’s not biblically supported. The verse in Romans that the (very good) author quoted was specifically talking about predestination, not the ability to ask God *any* questions about why something is happening.

  • houstonschic

    And this is the problem with KJV-only churches–they screw up the perception of the Bible for *everyone* they reach. What if the news only spoke in Shakespearean English?? No one would know what the heck was going on!

  • I assume you believe in evil?

    Take a look at Genesis 2:9. The same Hebrew word for evil is used in the phrase tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    If it is moral evil in Genesis 2:9, then it moral evil in Isaiah 45:7. There is nothing in the text that suggests anything but. You are reading into the text your own personal view of God. I understand why you do this but the text itself does not warrant such a rendering or interpretation.

    If God is the first cause, then God is ultimately the source of, and responsible for, evil. How can it be otherwise? Even if you posit that evil came from Satan, god is still culpable since he created Satan.

    It is often wrongly assumed that Arminians believe in what I call naked free will. They don’t. Arminians believe in prevenient grace, a grace that God must give a sinner in order for them to be saved. It is a grace that God freely gives, for a time, but it is also a grace that God can, and does, withhold. (Unpardonable sin, reprobate mind, falling from grace)

    It is Pelagians who believe in unrestricted, naked free will. They wrongly assume that humans are free moral agents, free of influence or conditioning. Such a view betrays reality. We are anything but free. Every choice we make is influenced by someone or something. Choices are never made in a vacuum. (Pelagianism was roundly condemned as heresy)

    As far as the reasons I am no longer a Christian. I was a Christian for 50 years, an Evangelical pastor for 25 years. I came to the place where I no longer believed the Bible was God’s Word. I came to understand that the Bible was an errant, fallible text written by men. It is riddled with internal contradiction. Worse, it presents a God that is a moral monster, a God who shows little interest in the plight of those he purportedly created. Even if I thought a God exists, and I don’t, I would not worship the God found in the Christian Bible.

    You use the phrase, worldly view. Isn’t this a phrase that only has meaning in the religious culture you are a part of? It is a religious construct that is loaded with all kinds of assumptions, starting with the assumption that there is such a thing as sin and that humans can be neatly categorized as worldly or spiritual. (And I reject such thinking)

  • Madame

    I would argue that many of us have a more positive view because we choose to. Who wants to worship a fickle, unpredictable and cruel deity?

  • Guest

    See how things are taken out of context, Madame?

  • Madame

    “do you have a Calvinistic point of view where God predetermines everything that happens? Or do you believe in free will?”
    I don’t know what to believe. The Calvinistic belief that God predestines some to be saved and some not to know him, is cruel. That’s not a loving God.
    Free will seems more plausible and in line with a God who loves and wants us to love him.

    But the Bible seems to teach both as being true.

    You say “we chose to disobey”. Well, Adam and Eve chose to disobey, and messed the whole thing up for all of us.

    I agree that “everything that God does is for his glory”, and it’s troubling sometimes. It seems like his glory is more important than his creation. We didn’t ask to be made, yet we have to live whatever life we are thrown into, for his glory, and if we don’t, well, we get hell, for whatever that means. (sorry if I sound flippant or bitter, these are my biggest issues with the Christian faith).

    If the child’s parents find comfort in the 400 people who were “saved” that day, then let them find comfort in that.

    Yes, it’s hard to wrap our minds around God.

  • Madame

    I don’t think I follow you…

  • When people tell me God is cruel (or a lot of other negatives), I look at the God I accepted into my life – Jesus. Is he cruel (or those other negatives?) No. Yet here is the One I believe to be the embodiment of God!

    So, the Christian (Christian = Christ-ian, or Jesus-following, Jesus-like) version of God is not cruel. Did Jesus endorse every bit of the Old Testament we can call negative? No, not unless you have an unusual definition of endorsing. Do I understand all of those bits? No, but my faith – the one I believe is testified to by the Holy Spirit – say the embodiment of God is Jesus. So don’t tell me my God is all those ugly things. Because I don’t see them in the embodiment of God, the one who came to “proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
    If you want to defend the idea that God is cruel, speak to people who are not Christ-ians, who don’t look to Jesus to see God.

  • Can we really say God allowed something horrible when God allow someone to leave this world for another world? It is inconvenient – and tragic – to us if we want him here, but is it morally ugly of God to take someone there?

  • Guest

    Bruce,

    Thanks for taking the time to read my response. I hope that I haven’t offended you or given you any animosity toward me, because that was not my intent. I fully respect your decision to believe what you will, we can just agree to disagree! (A little light-heartedness there, since this is commonly assumed to be a cynical area of debate) I also respect that you are knowledgable of the Bible and didn’t write this thoughtlessly.

    I do agree with you on about 90% of what you said in your response. God did create Satan yes (in my belief), but in giving free will to choose to follow Him, evil is created in not following Him. Which is what Satan did, and you yourself wrote that after a given time, God can withhold that grace, or harden one’s heart, correct? When Satan refused to follow God, his heart was hardened and he was banished (the justice that I was speaking of earlier). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was there, but did God create evil? Maybe He did, maybe not, I’m not claiming to know all the answers, but I am confident that a man named Jesus fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament and provided a way for us to mend our relationship with God.

    Might I ask what you think of Jesus? I think we can both agree that He lived. I’m curious as to what you view him as.

  • Jesus was a Jew, raised in the teachings of the Old Testament. There is nothing in the words of Jesus (actually the words of people who said this is what a person named Jesus said) that remotely suggests he repudiates the God of the OT, the God of his culture and family.

    I find no way possible to reconcile the God of the OT with the God of the NT. Two completely different Gods. I would further suggest that the Bible actually presents a plurality of gods, beginning in Genesis where it says, let US make man in OUR image. Christians read trinitarian theology into this verse, but this is not how a reader would understand this verse without be inititiated in trinitarianism. Robert Wright’s book, The Evolution of God is an excellent read on this subject.

  • I think Jesus was a person who lived in Palestine in the first century. He lived, died, end of story. Reason and history tell me dead people don’t get out of the grave, virgins don’t get pregnant, people don’t walk through walls, and dust and spit doesn’t cure blindness. (All acts attributed to Jesus)

    That said, I am not an enemy of religion or Christianity. People suffer and they die. In religion, people find comfort, meaning, and hope. Something doesn’t need to be true for it to have value. For me, I don’t need it. I know I am going to die, much sooner than later. It is what it is. Several generations from now I will be but a line in a genealogical chart.

  • Reasongal

    As far as the translation of the word, the KJV is a more accurate reflection of the Hebrew; more modern Bibles soften it up to “calamity,” etc. so you are continuing that misrepresentation I assume because it feels better. Quoting Adam Lee: “The Hebrew word translated by the KJV writers as “evil” in Isaiah 45:7 is “ra“,
    and from textual evidence, it is clear that in the Bible this word does
    mean evil in a moral sense. Here are some of the other contexts in
    which it is used:

    In Genesis 2:17, God instructs Adam and Eve not to eat from “the tree of good and ra“. The tree of good and disaster? The tree of good and calamity? Clearly not: it is the tree of good and evil.
    In Genesis 6:5, God resolves to destroy humankind in the great flood because “the wickedness (ra) of man was great in the earth”.
    In Genesis 13:13, the men of Sodom were “wicked (ra) and sinners before the Lord exceedingly”.

  • Guest

    I agree with you, I don’t think that the Calvinistic view of God is a loving God. The majority of what I’ve read in scripture about predestination is referring to believers (see Ephesians and Romans).

    Adam and Eve did choose to disobey and seemed to mess everything up for us, but if you look at God’s declaration to Satan, He immediately talks about Jesus crushing Satan’s head and Satan striking his heel. Jesus comes from the line of Adam, seen in John 1.

    God’s glory and His creation go hand in hand to me. Read Ephesians 2:8-10, we are his workmanship, his masterpiece. He cares about us more than anything else He has created. We were created to love selflessly and receive love.

    You don’t sound bitter, you sound like you’re wrestling with it, and that’s okay. That’s not a bad thing.

  • Reasongal

    Yes, the trinity was one of, if not the, most contentious subjects hashed out with Constantinople and the Bishops. Once they decided on it, it had to stick for consistency; it would seem though, that with so many people identifying only with Jesus as God, would disavowing the trinity be a personal option? Christians all over are struggling with and choosing the “nice Jesus” option and avoiding the term “religion” or “church” as an organization and not a deity.

  • Reasongal

    What Bruce said – exactly…

  • Catherine

    They have not all been “coddled since age 10.” And many of them can tell us a lot about resiliency, overcoming challenges, and dealing with frustrations — the challenges and frustrations of injuries, of losing games, of wondering what they will do for a living after losing games, being injured, or outliving their careers. But your point is well taken that insight into football is not necessarily insight into theology or reasons for faith. People must mature in their faith just as they mature physically and emotionally. It doesn’t happen in a day.

  • Catherine

    “I have no criticism for those who appeal to religion when life turns on them.”
    I’m not sure that’s what was happening in this particular case, but it’s worth pointing out that people who appeal to religion when life turns on them are, by definition, people whose faith has not yet matured. Many faithful people have found this a good starting point, but it is only a starting point.

  • Guest

    Bruce,
    Thanks for your insight. I will certainly look into Robert Wright’s book, if nothing else because I am fascinated by this topic.
    I’m curious as to how the trinitarian theology was started if nobody would understand it initially. We see many passages written later in the OT that point to Jesus’ coming, then we see in the Gospels that Jesus came to fulfill the OT. We see many passages in the OT and NT where the Holy Spirit intercedes in people’s lives.

    I admit, I have a hard time wrapping my head around it, but i also have a sense of peace about it. Nobody has all the answers, right?

  • Catherine

    “And this is exactly how I came to see the Christian God. He is nowhere
    to be found. The world cries out in pain and all that is heard is
    silence. Everywhere we look we see pain, suffering, and death. Where is
    God?”

    Perhaps He is in the doctors, the nurses, the first responders, the people of faith around the world who pray daily for people they do not even know and will never meet. Perhaps He is in the researchers looking for cures, and the ordinary people with very little money to spare who donate to their causes. Perhaps He is in the people who build the hospitals and the clinics.

  • Catherine

    Perhaps it’s a matter of timing. Parenting an infant is different from parenting a toddler, and parenting a toddler is different from parenting a teen or a mature adult. The God of the OT was “parenting” a humanity much less mature in its understanding of many things. God had to make Himself known over time.

  • Madame

    Retha,
    have you lost a child? I haven’t. I don’t know how it feels to lose someone who should die well after you leave, but I’ll guess what it may be like. It probably hurts like nothing ever hurt before, and depending on the circumstances, parents will be left with guilt, regret, unanswered questions, or unresolved issues. If one of my children should die now, I don’t know how I’d keep on living.
    I think that’s somewhat more than just “inconvenient”.
    I can’t tell someone “God let that happen”.

  • Who defines what a mature faith is, what it looks like? How could know that the faith mentioned in my post is not a mature faith? Are you not appealing to a subjective standard that varies from person to person?

    Even faith itself is quite subjective, with no two Christians agreeing on its nature, influence, or manifestation. Like most religious things, faith is inherently subjective, influenced by things like culture, upbringing, and religious indoctrination and experience.

    Now, if you are saying faith and mature faith is defined by the Bible then that is a completely different conversation.

  • Catherine

    You say you are not an enemy of religion or Christianity. But in all frankness, you don’t come across that way.

  • Guest

    Oddly enough, God did that for us, Madame.

  • Catherine

    I think one of the mistakes some Christians make is believing that they must have an answer for everything that happens in this world. But there are some things we will never understand completely in this world, and the mystery of suffering and evil is one of them. We should stick to what we know, and that is that God clearly has the power to stop evil, yet He does not, so He must have a reason that is beyond our understanding in this life. It makes sense that a God who is powerful and intelligent cannot be fully comprehended by us in our present wounded state.

  • Except the Bible presents God, Jesus, and humans as changing not. Are humans less sinful today? Doesn’t the Bible say God changes not and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

    Even when it comes to modernity, are we really more advanced, more mature than people of the past? If so, what made us so. Egyptians built pyramids that have lasted for millennia. We can’t build a cell phone that lasts 2 years. 🙂

    I think humans confuse different with improvement and maturity. We are hell-bent on destroying the world we live in. One could argue this is a sign that we are anything BUT mature and advanced.

  • Madame

    Because he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, find a different way.
    God had the power to do things differently.
    I don’t feel sorry for God. I do feel sorry for parents who lose a child.

  • Madame

    “Perhaps He is in the doctors, the nurses, the first responders, the
    people of faith around the world who pray daily for people they do not
    even know and will never meet. Perhaps He is in the researchers looking
    for cures, and the ordinary people with very little money to spare who
    donate to their causes. Perhaps He is in the people who build the
    hospitals and the clinics.”

    This makes sense.

  • Then that is your problem, not mine. Sorry to be so blunt but there is nothing in this post or anything else I have written that suggests that I am an enemy of religion or Christianity. I am one man with a point of view, with a story to tell. I am not out to convert anyone.

    That said I think fundamentalism, and I consider Evangelicalism to be fundamentalist, is harmful and hurts people mentally and emotionally. It is what drives the culture war, climate-change denial, evolution denial, etc. The world would be a lot better off if Liberal/progressive Christianity became the prominent expression of Christian faith.

  • Except you have no evidence or proof for this claim. Christianity is a religion of faith, believing without evidence. I have no problem with this view. However, when you say to me the doctor who just performed surgery on my hand had God in him….I am going to ask for proof.

    When I seek out medical treatment I don’t care what the professional’s religion is. All that matters is their training and skill. Some of the worst doctors I have ever met were Christians. If it is God in them, why did they suck at their chosen profession?

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Did you not read the above disclaimer in the posting where I specifically spelled out that commenters were to refrain from trying to claim that the Bible was the be all and end all? I don’t mind if you have faith, I do mind if you try to beat the original author over the head with it. Tone it down or I’m going to start removing/locking comments.

    Please do not make me put on my moderator hat this evening.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    You need to knock it off please….
    Did you not read the above
    disclaimer in the posting where I specifically spelled out that
    commenters were to refrain from trying to claim that the Bible was the
    be all and end all? I don’t mind if you have faith, I do mind if you try
    to beat the original author over the head with it. Tone it down or I’m
    going to start removing/locking comments.

    Please do not make me put on my moderator hat this evening.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Bruce’s posts often make me think that he makes entirely too much sense while I’m still hanging onto my belief.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Great point houstonschic

  • You are right that inconvenient was a bad word choice that could seem heartless. I am sorry for the word choice, not the argument: I still say that objectively, if God takes someone that was loaned to this world over to heaven, we cannot logically argue that this was a bad thing for God to do. Our hearts can be broken over how the good gift from God, this person, is no longer with us. But we cannot, with the mind, say God did a bad thing.

    But I understand how the heart would feel different, and I am sure God understands too.

  • On that, nobody has all the answers, we can both agree. 🙂

    I try to live my life as a decent, kind, man. I love my wife, children, and grandchildren. If, when I die, I found out there is a God, I hope how I lived my life is far more important than what I did or didn’t believe. If right belief is the ultimate measure of life, hell will be filled with good people who, due to where they were born, believed the wrong things.

  • “There is nothing in the words of Jesus (actually the words of people who said this is what a person named Jesus said) that remotely suggests he repudiates the God of the OT, the God of his culture and family.” – BG
    That is called “argument from silence.” And if I want to make the opposite argument, there is nothing in the actions of Jesus that suggest Jesus was the embodiment of a God of, say, genocide, and plenty to suggest the opposite.

  • ” “church” as an organization and not a deity.”
    Church is not a deity – it is a gathering of believers. Believers could gather with or without the sense of organization, but are not a deity.

  • I think the best sense of meaning is to see that this is a set of opposites: God makes light/ darkness and peace/ [disputed word]. So among the possible meanings of “ra”, in that particular spot the opposite of peace will be the best one.

  • Brennan

    Continuing the discussion about “ra,” I’d just point out that the same word can mean different things in different contexts. I tend to believe the many sites on Hebrew that my google-fu has found me when they tell me that “ra” translates roughly to “dysfunction,” but even if it is used in Genesis 2 to mean evil in the moral sense, that doesn’t mean it can’t mean “calamity” when used in Isaiah (written I-have-no-idea-how-many centuries later). Context clues matter. The verse that you originally quoted uses opposites–light and darkness, peace and “ra.” I think it’s inherently reasonable, given several possible definitions for “ra,” for scholars to use the one that is most nearly the opposite of “peace” in this particular context. For that matter, even in English “good” does not always indicate moral good, and you could make just as strong a case for “Tree of the Knowledge of What Works and What Doesn’t” as for “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

    And even if none of these things were true, it would still be unfair of you to imply intellectual dishonesty on Guest’s part by saying “you are continuing the misrepresentation, I assume because it feels better.”

  • Brennan

    “It is often wrongly assumed that Arminians believe in what I call naked free will. They don’t. Arminians believe in prevenient grace, a grace that God must give a sinner in order for them to be saved. It is a grace that God freely gives, for a time, but it is also a grace that God can, and does, withhold. (Unpardonable sin, reprobate mind, falling from grace)”
    I can’t speak for all Arminians, but in the United Methodist Church (which, to my knowledge, is the largest Arminian denomination in the US), prevenient grace is not withheld from anyone. There’s no time limit and no sin is “unpardonable” so long as the sinner repents. And while prevenient grace is acknowledged, the defining feature that separates it from predestination is that it is “resistible.” Humans do not *just* have free will, but free will is as necessary as grace in attaining salvation.

  • Adrian Hill

    Where is your evidence God must be all YOU say to be God? Is this basically something you gather based on your Biblical beliefs? Or did you brainstorm this? Why can’t an all mighty God just be all loving and still be God? Why does jealousy and revenge have to come in to play? Shouldn’t the Almighty have a choice? God “can’t” just forgive everybody? God “can’t” refuse to be jealous? Because…?????? When you start asking the right questions, you realize how incompetent your idea of God truly is. He’s a moron. A weak one, apparantly. He has no control over being really mad all the time!!! Run and hide!

  • Adrian Hill

    They’re actually scared of making God mad. Many are taught that God requires 100% faith. To be a true believer, you can’t question. That’s faith. They are not scared of their ignorance, they are just taught it’s normal.

  • Madame

    I guess we differ in our perspective of what is good and not good for God to do.

  • houstonschic

    Then they were taught by ignorant people. I’ve seen generations of ignorance flourish in rural, uneducated areas. [I’m sure they happen in urban uneducated areas too, but I haven’t grown up in those.] Faith, according to Hebrews eleven, is being “sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you don’t see.” It never says that faith is being “sure of what someone tells you, and certain of what someone preaches.” For many of them, questioning their faith isn’t going against God, it’s going against Grandma. Honestly, that may have far deeper and wider repercussions than they like. Any true believer should welcome questions. Truth must hold up under scrutiny.

  • Just for the sake of curiosity, speaking of things in which you believe God does bad things, do you think God does worse when:

    a) … God gives a woman who wants children some children, but take one away to heaven after some years, while his mother will miss him, OR

    b) … God never gives another woman even one child?

  • Madame

    Both are painful and avoidable. I can’t put them on a scale of bad-worse-the worst.

  • A question I asked to Madame – and her response – seem to have dissappeared from this conversation. I admitted that I did not answer the heart, but only the head, of tragedies like losing a child with my previous answer. (That makes it unsuitable to answer someone who lost a child, but suitable for an intellectual conversation about tragedy and God allowing it, as Bruce started here.) I asked whether she thinks God not giving a woman children at all is worse or better than giving a woman several, but taking one back later.

  • Suzanne, could I suggest, if you still want to believe, that you read “The problem of pain” by CS Lewis? You may have a wrong conception of what God could do.

    To explain briefly: God can do any thing (God wants to do), but God cannot make a square circle. Because a square circle is not a thing, but a nonsensical combination of words.

    A painless world in which we still have individual personalities and our love can make a difference may be as self-contradictory.

  • According to orthodox Christianity, God exists outside of the constraints of time and space. Since God is the first cause of all things and omnipotent, he can and does do things that we consider impossible. He causes virgins to get pregnant, dead people to come to life again, heals blindness with spit and dirt, walks on water, walks through walls, to name a few impossible things the Bible says God does. I suspect a square circle is not beyond God’s capabilities.

    Now this is just an intellectual exercise for me. I do not believe anything I wrote above. I find Lewis’s books unsatisfying. I would recommend Bart Ehrman’s book, God’s Problem: how the Bible fails to answer our most important question-why we suffer.

  • Impossible (to us) things – yes. Walking on water, for example, is controlling actual matter – a physical body – in an unusual way. Self-contradictory non-things, like square circles: No.

  • Self-contradictory only to us due to the language we use to define and explain things. For all you know, God calls a square a circle.

    We could endlessly discuss things like this. I am more concerned with what I can see with my eyes and understand with my mind. I see no evidence for a supernatural God, and suffering and death, not only of humans, but all animal life, suggests either God does not exist or he is not the loving, caring God some Christians say he is.

    If a Christian wants me to accept the supernatural claims for God found in the Bible, they are going to have to give me a lot more than, the Bible says. Something like a dead person coming back to life after they have been dead for three days. I’ll be waiting 🙂

  • Bruce, hae you ever read “Brave new World”, by Aldous Huxley? The story is of a society where pain and trouble is pretty much avoided by programming everyone to fit into their places, and taking a soma (pill) ast the first sign of distress. It is a world with no heart, where being kind or cruel can make hardly any difference. God could have made us avoid pain if he set up a world like that, only more precise. But would you reason that the Brave New World is better than the one we have, that the guy who chose to leave was wrong? Most readers of the book will not.