I read a handful of articles before sitting at the Right to Life booth yesterday afternoon. The timing (I’d been sent them just that morning in an e-mail) was impeccable (thanks Becky) and as I thought on them, I started having imaginary conversations where I integrated the information I was assimilating.
Inevitably the “conversation” would veer into “personal” territory and (after one awkward– imaginary– ending) I established a policy: no personal questions in a public place.
It’s not that I am secretive (HA!) or that I’m not willing to offer myself as an illustration. It’s mainly that answering one personal question gives permission to ask another and so on until you make another statement (by implication) at the point you quit answering. (The worship leader in this clip is a great example.)
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In a similar way I think claiming to answer questions about God can become a “slippery slope,” because there is a point at which our human ability to explain or understand just fails, and part of faith is accepting that limitation.
Apparently there’s this big-selling, self-published book out there called The Shack.
I had never heard of it before Boundless started discussing it and its questionable theology a while back, but apparently it’s not going away and they have a new article up this week discussing the implications of a part of the book. One of those is the idea we humans have the right to question God and call him into account about the stuff we don’t like (even Job– God’s “pet”— got an earful when he tried to insist on that).
To quote from the article, God’s not the Defendant, by Gary Thomas:
For 2,000 years, Christians have believed that God sent His Son because He put us on trial and found us wanting. The proper response of humans is, “I have sinned and fallen short of Your glory. Have mercy on me.” Today’s believer and non-believer is far more likely to respond, “There’s evil in the world; God, if You really exist, explain Yourself!”
As a man who has sinned and who continues to sin, how dare I judge God for allowing sin? To destroy all sin, He would have to destroy me, as I continue to sin on a daily basis. At the very least, He would have to remove all whispers of any notion of free will; and without free will, would I still be made in the image of God?
So many people who “question” (or accuse) God concerning evil assume that they are talking about something outside of themselves, either forgetting or never realizing that God doesn’t have a continuum of tolerances for the varieties of sin.
I love how Thomas points out the sufficiency of God’s plan: how those who wish to leave their sin now have a way, how those who don’t want to change are also provided a place for eternity.
As a compulsive explainer I usually have no problem answering my children’s interminable repetitions of why. But this is another tendency of mine that has recently come back under scrutiny. I was recently reminded that continually justifying myself will leave me vulnerable to that justification being judged.
That is, if I let my children think I have to explain everything to their satisfaction, there may come a day when I can’t do that.
In the same way, following Thomas’s line of thought, the unspeakable arrogance of people expecting God to justify Himself grows even more as these people then decide whether accept His answers as adequate.
(Many say two options simply aren’t enough.)
God is not threatened by questions. A god (or person) who is proves his or her smallness.
My “refusal” to answer personal questions (a situation which didn’t even arise, BTW) is a reflection on my own vulnerability and a felt-need to protect myself. This is equally true of my desire to answer questions.
God is not constrained by such petty efforts to be known. God continually reveals reveals himself to us– at each place of need and delight. He has revealed himself in His Word, and in the world around us.
Remember that last time you “got” something you’d never understood before? Maybe from something your dog did, or the response of a child?
But even this graciousness, and the intimacy God invites us to, does not entitle us to demand answers from Him, or to recieve “special treatment” that raises us above the rest of humanity. His height is so far above us that it makes negligible the difference between the most revered saint and the most reviled killer.
We all need the sacrifice of Jesus to be acceptable to God. No question.