'And lead us not into, uh, change': 12-13-17
'An almost pitilessly literal' New Testament translation: 12-15-17

Is this really the God you mean? 12-14-17

I wish people caught up in news events would either leave God out of it or think carefully about what they say when asked by a journalist to respond.

God-MarionetteThe latest example of what I'm talking about happened Monday in New York when a man detonated a low-tech explosive device in a New York subway-bus station corridor.

This ABC News story quotes a woman who was near the explosion as saying this: “It shakes you up. If I didn’t believe in God, I believe in God today.”


The cryptic nature of the story requires the reader to interpret what the woman really meant, but I surmise that she was glad to have survived and is crediting God with that.

Let's think about that.

What kind of God would be making micro-management decisions about exactly how far one single woman in a New York subway happened to be away from an explosion so that God could be sure this woman survived?

One answer is this: The same kind of God who decides that when a commercial airliner crash lands, the person seated in 18-A dies while the person in 18-B survives.

That's one extraordinarily busy God, what with more than seven billion people whose lives need this kind of hourly micromanaging.

Now, I'm not saying God isn't theoretically capable of that. And I'm not denying that Luke 12:7 in the New Testament says that "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

Keeping track of every hair on the heads of seven-plus billion people sounds like a full-time job, if you want to take what Luke wrote literally. Which I don't.

The biblical witness is trying to tell us that God loves us individually -- enough to allow us to be free to accept or reject that love. A lover like that doesn't create animated marionettes whose every move must be arranged. If we're all marionettes on divine strings, why would there be evil, random chance and suffering in the world? Is God an incompetent puppeteer?

That's what the woman in New York was suggesting, whether she knew it or not. Which is why I hope that if you're ever in something like that woman's spot, you'll not pretend to be a learned theologian.

* * *


The surprising victory by Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race may have made you wonder what faith connections Jones has. Religion News Service, in a piece written before the election, has five answers here. My hope is that we've now heard the last of Roy Moore.


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