Some things make my stomach turn. This is one. Though I have been feeling nauseated today...maybe it's just making it worse. Still, I felt fine yesterday when I read this and in seconds my tummy did a 180*.
I was reading my new issue of Answers in Genesis, which I LOVE. Get it ASAP!!!! No, I'm not getting paid to say that...but GET IT! It was just a little blip only three paragraphs long.
The God Problem
"If there's an all-powerful and loving God in this world, why is there so much excruciating pain and unspeakable suffering? This variation of an often asked question opens a new book entitled God's Problem. The author, who trained at a well-known Bible institute and then earned his doctorate in New Testament studies from Princeton, eventually rejected Christianity because that question seemed unanswerable.
As he studied the nature of evil and God's existence, the writer drifted away from his evangelical upbringing and eventually became an agnostic because he found no satisfactory answer.
Apparently, the author of God's Problem never took seriously Genesis's account of the origin of death and suffering."
(Taken from Answers in Genesis magazine Vol. 3, #4 (and it goes on a little)
I didn't have to read more about this man (you can learn more about him here), or his book to feel very, very sorry for him. It drove me to thinking and accumulating thoughts scattering here and there the last few weeks in my brain. Here is the scrapping in random form. Please excuse the jumbling.
1- God does not have problems, He is all righteous....we are the ones who have problems. Every single thing He does, did, will do fits together perfectly in the awesome pattern of his desire for His glory and we only benefit from taking part in that.
2- As Donna said in a post comment here, we will naturally disagree with God. I found it so profound, and I have been contemplating it's truth the last week.
Yesterday I was closing the door to my fridge to find the smiling face of my dad staring back at me. I keep his memorial service picture there. I was overwhelmed with remembering his quiet submissive response to God making clear it was time for him to die. The God who he loved for years, trusted, served and held onto for His very soul was telling him it was time to die. Did he agree with God? I can tell you, absolutely not. He wanted to stay. He wanted to see my kids, his grand babies, grow up. He wanted to be there for my mom and brother. You could see the struggle on his face. But people, it was not a struggle to believe, it was a struggle to accept. God did not expect my dad to agree with Him, expected him to submit and trust.
I should not be surprised that I disagree with God at times, just like I'm not surprised my daughter disagrees with me when I say she can't do an extra educating activity after school three nights a week because it takes away from our family. I do expect her to submit to me and trust me. I owe the same to God.
The fact that the fate of humanity involves suffering for now anyway, does not take away my faith in God. I don't agree that we should suffer, but I don't think God expects that of me.
3- The author says that the bible does not answer why we suffer. This is not true. The bible tels again and again that we suffer because of sin entering the world. As Answers in Genesis goes on to say:
"Genesis 3 explains that God cursed the world because of mankind's sin, beginning with Adam. But God's Word also reveals that HE had a higher purpose in mind. HE promised to send a Seed of Adam- God's own Son, Jesus Christ (BTW, aren't you glad it's almost Christmas!) who would one day 'conquer death' and remove the Curse."
4- God does not have a problem, Bart D. Ehrman has a problem with God. He disagrees with Him. God has ordained that man should suffer for a time (Indeed, he must since he is the complete author of all time and nothing happens that he has not allowed. We may not like this, but it does not make it false) This is the dark hue in the amazing painting of history. We don't like that it's black, but we also cannot see from heaven's perspective, how amazing the finished piece will be.
5-What is the other alternative? And this is where I feel truly sorry and deeply sad for this man. He has traded the truth for a lie and it will, in the end lead him into utter despair. Where is the triumph in proving that God does not exist by saying that God does not answer why we suffer?
Let me spew for a moment:
IF there is not God, and man suffers so, he is truly the saddest product of evolution or what ever other belief system there is. There is no future solution to his sin and suffering, no promise, no redemption, only despair. Why does man suffer if not for the reason that God allows it for a beautiful result in the end? Are we just plain miserable, in a miserable world, haunted by a miserable existence?
Let's take this a step further:
If there is not God, I declare my right to do exactly as I please. I declare my right to seek my own happiness and comfort at the expense to all. Perhaps that sounds shocking. Yet, who do I own anything to? Do I owe the world my being a good humanitarian? Why? It does me no good. Do I owe the earth my kindness? Why, I won't be here forever. Why should I seek anything besides my own peace and fulfillment? Because it's just the right thing to do? Says who? Says other people? Why should I do what they say? If there is no God, I don't have to be anything I don't want to. I am just existing in a sad and meaningless circle of despair. Even the very beauty of the world would begin to mean nothing to me because it would not save me from my meaninglessness because it does not stand for anything beyond itself. I would do what I want, when I wanted. I would not love one man, I would lust after many. I would not stay home and give of myself for my children, I would strike out and find a new thrill. Why not? There is no reason to be good, helpful, responsible, accountable, loving.....etc. There is only me.
I truly believe if it were not for God, my one life would be one shot at something satisfying because there would be no reason for otherwise.
People might say: "Well, you should do what you can for the future!" Why? Why should I care about the future of humanity? That has nothing to do with me!
People also say that all of creation is working toward a better tomorrow and a better species. If it's getting better, I'm not seeing it. Furthermore, if there is no God, I really should not have to care what anyone else thinks or does. ME would be all that mattered.
Why do people do unselfish good things outside of God then? One reason, it makes them feel good, and THAT is how it's still about THEM.
To reject God would be to reject my own happiness. They are one in the same. My happiness is wrapped up in His. To reject him would mean to loose that happiness in the eternal future, and to loose it hear in the temporal present. As the quote on my blog says:
"Aim at heaven, and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth, and you get neither."
Men reject God because they want to do what they want, to be the god of themselves. Little do they know that because they were not made by the creator to achieve happiness this way, they cut off their only link to true happiness. Even doing what they want their whole lives will make them completely miserable.
Ehrman has a problem with suffering, so he rejects God. Unfortunately, he has just signed on for a present and eternal existence of true suffering.
To suffer is to be separated from God. That is the ultimate suffering.
We are created to be with Him. We are separated because of sin. The solution to sin was Jesus. Now we can endure our present suffering with joy. Joy of the redemption we have been given. To reject all these is to reject the only answer to our suffering that the universe is offering.
There is no other offering of healing to man's suffering. He will only make himself more miserable the more he rejects his creator.
6-In essence Ehrman is saying: "Because God can't show me a good reason why He has allowed for me to suffer, I reject Him as God."
The irony is that this man has rejected God because he does not feel that a loving God could do this, and in the end, he has rejected the amazing love that can be trusted. For indeed, it can. We are the ones who have to choose if we trust. God remains the same. He does not have a problem because we say he does.
Many men will run to this book and will praise it, because many men are looking for more "smart" reasons to reject God.
"But we know that our present sufferings cannot compare to the joy set before us" Romans 8:18
Mr Ehrman...what better has the universe offered you?
I'll stick with the joy set before me instead of trading it for meaningless suffering and a evolutionary race going nowhere but further on in their existence of meaningless suffering.
As a matter of fact Mr. Ehrman, if you reject God because he does not answer why you have to suffer, yet he promises a glorious end to your story anyway, if you trust him, why then would you trust yourself to an agnostic exchange? Having no God doesn't answer your question either and it has no such glorious promise for you to look forward to.
I plan to read this book. I think it is probably a highlight example of when man let's his own understanding trump his faith. The end result is always complete despair. I was angry at first at this man, but the more I think of it, the more I am truly overwhelmed with sadness for him.
I will be there the day God explains why he let us suffer. Where will you be Mr. Ehrman, or will you still be suffering?
I pray you will trade your manly wisdom for godly faith.
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. C. S. Lewis
Lord, thank you that you are truth and that you are unchanging. Thank you that because you are the author of love, you are incapable of doing anything that is not truly loving. Thank you that you hold the mysteries and you can be trusted with them. Thank you that faith is believe what is unseen and yet faith is the assurance greater than what is seen. Thank you for not leaving me to myself and therefore utter misery. Most of all thank you for Christ, the great answer in the universe to our suffering.