Blaming God

 

 

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It used to be that “the devil made me do it.”

Now it appears the devil has lost his job.

God, it seems, is now in the business of making people do some not so wonderful things.

In an interview that aired recently on Fox News accused murder George Zimmerman told Sean Hannity that Treyvon’s tragic death was, in fact, “all God’s plan.” In other words, according to Zimmerman, God wanted Treyvon dead. He just pulled the trigger.

After being called out by Rachel Held Evans, Scot McKnight, and many others, Doug Wilson played the God card in his defense against accusations of misogyny. As he explained, he shouldn’t be blamed for his views because he is simply relaying what God has to say.

And, of course, there are the religious extremists who perform heinous acts of terror, destruction, and death. They do so, as we all know, because they believe themselves to be God’s instruments of wrath and judgment.

So what gives?

Has God suddenly pulled a 180 and started doing evil?

Probably not. At least I sure hope not. I think, more likely, what we are witnessing is a refusal to take responsibility that is spreading in epidemic proportions.

I have no idea why playing the God card has suddenly become so popular. Although, if I had to guess, I would suspect it stems from a combination of things.

God makes a great scapegoat. There’s nothing good about the devil. If we had allowed him to posses us, forcing us to do evil, then that just makes us look bad. But if it is God who is pulling the strings, then we think ourselves, and whatever subsequent actions we take, to be just, or worse, divinely ordained. In short, we blame God because it allows us to convinces ourselves that, despite what others may say, who we are and what we are doing is right and good.

Likewise, as much as we don’t want to be associated with the devil, we don’t want to be associated with sin. Even if the devil made us do it, we’re still sinning. But if God forced our had, then what we are doing is, in fact, the will of God, which in turn lets us to keep our conscious clean, allowing us to sleep at night no matter how many people we may hurt, offended, or outraged. If God is making us do everything, then sin no longer exists. (And sadly, that means there’s also no more need for Jesus.)

Finally, I think, if we are really honest about it, there is a fundamental lack of courage that goes along with playing the God card. There’s nothing brave about killing unarmed teenagers, suppressing women, or terrorizing innocent people. But if you do those things everyone else despises because God told you to ignore popular criticism, that makes you brave, right?

I think that somewhere inside themselves, those that participate in these sorts of behaviors know this. But rather than admitting their lack of the real courage it takes to do the right thing, or simply not participating in the wrong thing, they instead choose to do things that seem brave, but in reality are not, because those things give them a since of courage without really having to be brave. Then, by employing the God card, they give these cowardly acts, at least in their own minds, a sense of divine nobility.

The truth of the matter is, God or devil, we are ultimately responsible for own actions. This is why there is such a thing as sin. If the devil or God made us do a thing, and we had no control to do otherwise, then we could be not held responsible for our actions. Likewise, if we were not able to choose to do the right thing, there would be no such thing as “good”, but that is a philosophical discussion for another day.

What I want to suggest, is that we all find the courage to stop blaming God, the devil, or anyone else for the decisions we make, the actions we take, and the words that we say.

If you feel God has called you do something, then do it, but do so acknowledging you are doing what you think or believe God has called you do. That way, if in fact you are wrong, God doesn’t get the blame and God’s name isn’t smeared all over the news or across the blogosphere. And, of course, if you’re right, then God’s name will be praised all the more.

All that to say, if we are going to claim to be “real men” or “real women of God” (whatever that means), then let’s act like “real men” and “real women”, stop passing the buck, and take responsibility for the things we believe, we say, and we do.

Otherwise, we should just shut up and keep our opinions to ourselves.

 

Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt

 

  • http://www.natepruitt.com Nate Pruitt

    Old school blame. Even Adam turned to God & said, “the woman YOU…”

    Not only was Eve to blame, but so was God for creating her. Just so long as it wasn’t Adam.

  • http://aborrowedflame.com AndrewF

    In an interview that aired recently on Fox News accused murder George Zimmerman told Sean Hannity that Treyvon’s tragic death was, in fact, “all God’s plan.” In other words, according to Zimmerman, God wanted Treyvon dead. He just pulled the trigger.

    After being called out by Rachel Held Evans, Scot McKnight, and many others, Doug Wilson played the God card in his defense against accusations of misogyny. As he explained, he shouldn’t be blamed for his views because he is simply relaying what God has to say.

    Wait a second… are you seriously comparing Doug Wilson defending his theology (and moreover, his defense against misrepresentation of) by referring to scripture with an accused murderer trying to justify a killing?

    If a pastor or theologian is not allowed defend their theology via scripture, by what means do they?

    • Zack

      “are you seriously comparing Doug Wilson defending his theology (and moreover, his defense against misrepresentation of) by referring to scripture with an accused murderer trying to justify a killing?”

      You say that as if it’s irrational. When Zimmerman claims “it’s all part of God’s plan” he is simply carrying the neo-Reformed understanding of God’s sovereignty to it’s logical conclusion. If that makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps neo-Reformed theology isn’t the paradigm for you.

      Certainly a person can (and should) defend their theology with scripture. That wasn’t the point of the post. The point of the post was that we have a responsibility to make clear that it is our own interpretation of scripture, our personal theology that we are acting upon, rather than pretending that our perspective of God is the exclusive and authoritative understanding of who God is and what God desires, even and especially when it is scripture that we base that perspective on.

      • http://aborrowedflame.com AndrewF

        You say that as if it’s irrational.

        No, I say it as if it’s entirely unfair.

        he is simply carrying the neo-Reformed understanding of God’s sovereignty to it’s logical conclusion. If that makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps neo-Reformed theology isn’t the paradigm for you.

        Well, strawman descriptions of reformed theology aren’t for me, at least.
        I don’t think it’s fair when people argue that open-theism is the ‘logical conclusion’ of Arminian theology, either, btw. In any case, it still has nothing to do with theological convictions based on scripture.

        Certainly a person can (and should) defend their theology with scripture. That wasn’t the point of the post. The point of the post was that we have a responsibility to make clear that it is our own interpretation of scripture, our personal theology that we are acting upon, rather than pretending that our perspective of God is the exclusive and authoritative understanding of who God is and what God desires, even and especially when it is scripture that we base that perspective on.

        I think you’re splitting hairs, and almost certainly strawmanning Wilson – I very much doubt that he would claim or presume to hold an ‘exclusive and authoritative understanding’. But it seems that if he holds any kind of conviction regarding his understanding, you’re going to accuse him of that, and therefore playing the ‘god card’, and I think that’s stacking the deck.

        • Zack

          Drawing out an argument or statement to its logical conclusion is not a strawman argument.

          There are implications to the things we say. If we’re not comfortable with those things, then we should do a better job of thinking through the consequences of what we claim, rather than defaulting to accusations of strawman attacks when those consequences are presented to us.

  • Samuel

    Thank you for a very well-written-post. I find it very fascinating that people first claim that they hold a certain theological view and then when someone points out the ugly consequences they respond by argue that you are misrepresenting them, when you are take their belief to its logical conclusion. The neo-calvinists of course have their own secret weapon to respond to criticism and it goes something like, you are so totaly depraved so of course you hate to see Gods will happening on earth as it is in heaven. This basically means that the outrage we feel when we hear a story like George Zimmerman killing an unarmed youth is not a sign of a God-given morality and sense of justice even if it has been comprimised by our sinful nature, but instead it shows just how sinful and God-hating we are. This of course leads to an extreme perversion of what to consider righ and wrong, to a total oppression of your own feelings towards things like murder, rape genocide and to a total apathy towards what is happening in the world.