Sunday, May 31, 2009

If God is good, what is God good for?

I recently heard a Christian defend God from the 'problem of evil' by suggesting that God has voluntarily self limited Godself in God's knowledge of the future (and possibly power) and so when bad things happen to good people it is just because God has chosen to be weak. This is not helpful. Believing that God didn't stop the bad thing because God either didn't see it coming or couldn't help even if God did, may stop you blaming God for the bad thing, but it also suggests that if God is so blind and feeble he is no God at all, but just a fellow sufferer who might occasionally provide some comfort but really isn't good for much else. There really is no way around the Bible's affirmation that God is both in control and fully aware of what is going on in the world (whether or not God has the future mapped out in minutia - but that is another discussion) so the fact that bad things happen (and yes I am talking about really bad things) must be understood in a way that does not diminish God's power or knowledge.

The biggest misunderstanding in Christendom is this: that God's power and knowledge are entirely bent on not letting bad things happen to those who believe in him, so that when bad things do happen some sort of explanation must be sought. This misunderstanding is based only on our belief that God is interested in the same things we are: our security, comfort and pride. That is, that God is like us. Of course only a quick skim through the Bible is guaranteed to show you a God rather contemptuous of our security, comfort and pride. In fact if you value those things the very last thing you should ever do is get to know Jesus. Jesus, the author and perfecter of Christian faith, showed us what true living was when his naked and damaged flesh was hung up for ridicule and slow death one Friday. In fact the better question is: how come so many people who claim to be good don't have more bad things happen to them? How come so many of these good people have so much security, comfort and pride and God does nothing to relieve them of it? Does God really love them at all?

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