When Humans Are Better Than God

(12 minutes)

“Who among you, if your child asks you for bread, will give him a stone? Or if she asks for a fish, will give her a serpent?” Matthew 7:9-10

Often, in an attempt to correct bad theology, I will ask Christians if they know people who are better than the God contained in their belief system. Most often they reply defensively, “Of course not! No one is better than God.” My response is, “I didn’t ask you if humans are better than God. I asked if you have known people who are better than the God you believe in.” They look puzzled by this question and ask for clarification. I then point out the inconsistency I see in their theological affirmations regarding God. Here are some examples of such inconsistencies: 

  1. Ascribing to God’s will such things as diseases, accidents, misfortunes, suffering, death, and even genocide for the divine purpose of punishing, teaching, or correcting humans–or perhaps to fulfill some greater purpose which we mortals cannot comprehend but God with infinite and omniscient knowledge inflicts for some greater good. [I have been told by Christians that the Holocaust was God’s punishment on six million Jews (children, women, and men) for killing and rejecting Jesus.] 
  2. Drafting God as though the Almighty were some potential “buck private” in whatever military, political, economic, or social agenda  we have given our allegiance to (or which we wish to pursue.) God’s’ love is unconditional and indiscriminate for all people and all nations. With God there are no favorites. A mature faith asks if we are on God’s side and does not presume that God is on our side. 
  3. “When your time is up, God takes you home. Don’t question the timing and will of God. The loss of your spouse, child, parent, friend, etc. is the will of God.” I trust that we are all ultimately in hands of God, but I cannot believe that God determines our deaths. When my father drowned, I was told by a church lady that it was God’s will. The grief his death caused my family and the financial difficulties experienced by my mother (whose household included two children, her aged mother, and a bedridden, paralyzed brother) could never have been “the will” of a loving God. Such perverted theology makes God the biggest murderer in the history of humankind. (I want to ask people who believe they die when it’s their divinely appointed time why they bother to wear seatbelts!)
  4. Cherry-picking the Bible to support our prejudices, greed, and convictions when the passages in Scripture we quote are taken out of context or are contradicted by the teachings and example of Jesus. Christians follow a Person, not a book. Jesus trumps the Bible!
  5. The arrogant assumption that those who do not believe as we do regarding God are destined to everlasting torture in the fires of hell. How can anyone claim that God is love and then assert that if others do not embrace a particular faith (which just happens to be conveniently our own— “Isn’t that special!”), God will condemn such people to an eternal “concentration camp of unimaginable suffering” with no hope of rescue? Of course, such “believers” maintain that God doesn’t send anyone to hell. People choose that destiny. But how in the hell can someone choose Christ if they have never heard of him or if the only presentations of God they have witnessed from Christians point to a schizophrenic Deity capable of abandoning most of his creation to everlasting pain and suffering? No one who is sane, much less caring, could ever trust such a god. It astounds me that hundreds of millions of Christians never recognize this contradiction in their theology. (Of course, they refer to Bible passages which they incorrectly believe support the idea of a hell of everlasting torture. There are no such passages in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures. They may be inferred from incorrect English translations, but neither the Hebrew nor Greek Scriptures ever entertain the notion of a punitive place of everlasting torture to which God abandons humans.)

In Matthew 7:9-10, Jesus points out that human, fallible parents who presumably love their children would never do anything to their sons and daughters which would be cruel and destructive. If we, being evil at times, know better than to treat our children in such a despicable manner, how much more will God, who is perfect love, treat us with kindness, compassion, and care. If God is essentially and eternally love, (which is the assertion of Jesus, Paul, John, and all other writers of the New Testament) and if love is defined by the life, teachings, and example of Christ, then GOD CANNOT NOT LOVE. If something is unloving, evil, dishonest for us to do, it is also unloving, evil, and dishonest for God to do. We may not understand everything about life, creation, and theology, but most of us do understand and recognize love when we see and experience it. 

The point is this: If you or someone you know is better and more loving than the God of your theology, you are worshipping the wrong God!

Jesus based his whole ethic on our being like God in our dealings with others. In the Sermon on the Mount, we are told to love our enemies. Why? “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) In Jewish thought to be “the son of” someone means to show the character of that person. Can any of us be both loving and the source of suffering and death for others? Would you describe anyone as loving if they consigned fellow humans to an eternal torture chamber from which there could be no escape? If you say “yes” to those questions, you know nothing about the love Jesus incarnated. If you say “no” but ascribe such will and actions to God, you are better than the God you profess. Love is love and God is love and God cannot not love. 

The point is this: If you or someone you know is better and more loving than the God of your theology, you are worshipping the wrong God!

[I am aware that what I have written above may be disturbing to some people, especially what was said about hell. I would invite readers to look at the articles on my blog “Reflections for the Journey” mentioned below to appreciate my claim that there is no biblical reference to “hell” as a place of everlasting torture. “Hell” is an English word which occurs nowhere in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. Earlier translators used “hell” to translate several words in the Bible, none of which refer to an eternal torture chamber. I believe many have abandoned the church or have rejected Christianity because of the doctrines of hell and penal substitutionary atonement. Such people know humans who are better than this cruel, schizoid, and child-abusing deity. These doctrines are not biblical concepts and were basically unknown for the first four centuries of the church. They are not a part of the good news of Jesus Christ. In fact, they are “bad news” which any rational and compassionate person should reject.]

Three articles on my blog regarding “hell,” judgment, and “everlasting/eternal” are:

“John 3:16 For God So Loved the World: Part Three”

“The Last Judgment: Part Two”

“Heaven or Hell? Part Three”

These three articles deal with different aspects of the question of hell, judgment, and the word often translated “everlasting/eternal.” All three articles need to be read to appreciate my and many others’ claim regarding hell.

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