August 23 – God On Trial

“Yes, I know all this is true in principle.
But how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?
If someone wanted to take God to court,
would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?
For God is so wise and so mighty.
Who has ever challenged him successfully?
(Job 9:2-4)

Read: Job 8:1-11:20, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28, Psalm 38:1-22, Proverbs 21:28-29 

Relate: Stop me if this story is familiar to you…

Grace Wesley is a teacher in a public American high school when she responds to an innocent question from one of her students with a quotation of Jesus. What seemed like an innocent remark gets her brought to the principal’s office where she is ordered to issue an apology. Believing she did nothing wrong, she refuses before the principal, and then before the school board, and then in court. For the trial, her defense is built on the need to prove that Jesus was real. After all, if He was an actual historical figure then it is completely OK to quote him just like you would any other figure in history. Right? I’m a teacher. Next time someone asks me why I am so happy all the time, I’ll just throw out a quote from Mein Kompf. Let’s see how long I can keep my job doing that. (Please don’t fret, I am just being cynical of a movie plot, I have absolutely no intentions of ever quoting Hitler as a positive source of inspiration.)

Honestly, I haven’t seen God’s Not Dead 2. I haven’t even seen the original. In general, I think overtly Christian movies make up in zeal what they lack in quality acting, directing, and production. Unless I am in company and didn’t have a choice in the movie selection, I don’t watch them. For the GND movies, in particular, I’ve heard they make a caricature of certain institutions and feed a martyr complex popular among some Western Christians. If you want to know what real persecution is like, come and visit me for a week or two. I know quite a few things you can do in the US without anyone batting an eyelash that would land you in prison or worse real quick over here. beyond this, the very idea of putting God on trial, even to defend Him, is just preposterous.

React: Preposterous as it might be, we do it all the time. We might not actually hire a lawyer, issue a subpoena, and all that jazz, but we judge Him. We call His justice, His timing, and His love into question all the time. How many times have you and I heard (or even said) things like, “How could God have let that happen?” “Where was God when x happened?” “God, that just isn’t fair?” “Where are You, God?” “God, if Yo really loved her, You wouldn’t have let her come down with x.”

Modern humans have this arrogant presumption that we are the height of civilization. Yes, we are more advanced technologically than any point in our past, but that does not necessarily mean we are more philosophically, spiritually, or morally advanced. I don’t for a second think doubt that in all these areas we have devolved, but even if that wasn’t the case, do we really think that we will not be wiser and smarter than we are today? In many areas we, as individuals and as a society, judge God today. In how many of those, will our forbears shake there heads and wonder, “What were they thinking? How stupid could they be?”

Respond: 

Dear God,
You are God, I am not. I realize that I am not as wise, or knowledgeable, or powerful, or as good as You are. So forgive me for those moments where I have the audacity to presume to question Your judgment or Your actions. Give me the moral courage and the simple faith to trust You even when I don’t have all the reasons why.
Amen

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9 thoughts on “August 23 – God On Trial

  1. Though I have often enjoyed your writings, at this particular juncture, I found myself looking for a dislike button. You are correct in saying that we often put God on trial without seeing ourselves doing it. I agree with you there.

    But I have so LOVED the “God Is Not Dead” movies. One of the reasons is that, back when I was about 14 (approximately 36 years ago), my dad told me of a particularly aggravating experience he had at a state university in which an openly atheist professor came right out on the first day of class (this would have been in the early 1960’s, and this was the only available teacher for that class) and declared that his main goal for the class was to, before the semester’s end, divorce every student under his influence from any belief they currently held in God and the Bible. His “success rate” remained sadly high, and one of his favorite topics was sharing this with anyone forced to listen to him. I can only assume that the numbers of people like him have only increased since then. THESE THINGS ARE REAL AND HAPPEN TODAY IN AMERICA. That’s why movies are being made about them. And though the immediate consequences for the victim of such persecution may not result in death or dismemberment, sometimes loss of career and reputation are equally as crippling.

    While I am not wanting to demean or discount the harsher forms of persecution you witness in your part of the world, I don’t want to sit back and watch you tell courageous people who are trying to do what is right here, WHO ARE SUFFERING FOR TAKING A STAND FOR GOD AND BEING PUNISHED FOR IT, that they are not really suffering anything worth mentioning. We stand on the precipice of a dangerous, slippery slope, and if the “smaller” persecutions are allowed to go unanswered here, in a generation or two, we will find ourselves here in the same position where Christians in harsher thought-climates stand today.

    On a side note, I cannot help asking if we really want God to be dismissed so completely from school and other public places? How many school shootings did society experience before God and His Ten Commandments were kicked out? Whereas I can’t give you any numbers for that, I can’t help believing that if any such number exist , they must be significantly smaller than what we have going on today. It’s become so alarming that one of my nieces, a girl who excels in school, has asked to be home schooled, rather than be forced to return to the site of a school shooting this year.

    Would not all Christians everywhere be better served by praying for each other and offering what relief we can to those who suffer for Christ, however they manage to do it, rather than trying to assign a grade or pain level (“GOLD MEDAL, OR PLASTIC?”) to those who are suffering?

    I know you mean well, and I also suspect that the suffering you watch daily breaks your heart. Please don’t let that heartbreak harden your heart to others in pain.

    Thank you for bearing with my rant.

    Best Regards,

    Gwennon

    • I grew up in America, I was a very vocal Christian who graduated from the public school system and I served for years on a State University as a religious adviser. I have had quite a few good conversations with atheist students and professors there. I admit more than once they even got a bit heated. I have Christian friends and family who teach in public schools in different parts of the US. (NY, Cali, PA, and Virginia come immediately to mind) I am sorry if you feel that I have belittled your father or niece’s experience but I am well aware of what the public high school and university experience is like in the US.

      Like I said, I have not seen either of the movies and have only seen reviews and heard discussions on them (I remember Christianity Today’s podcast “Quick to Listen” had a good discussion on it). I’m sorry if you feel I was unjustly harsh to the movies but again, my choice to not bother going to see them was not an uninformed one and my point that the very idea of putting God on trial is ludicrous.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I’ve struggled with the GND story line, simply because that hasn’t been my experience. I’m about to finish my 2nd master degree and have attended 6 different schools. I have yet to have my beliefs come into question. Where I have seen issues arise is when Christians have held unrealistic expectations of those who do not share their beliefs. I’ve seen some ugly tantrums thrown “In the name of Christ.”… and as someone who spent 8 years working in higher education, there is always a way to address harassment of a teacher.

  3. Actually there have been some very well made Christian movies the past few years with great writing and acting. Since you aren’t watching them, you wouldn’t be aware of this.

  4. Morality has not devolved. Christian torture on every inhabitable continent is the natural byproduct of Abrahamic faith. It is only in the last couple of hundred years torture has decreased, not due to more religiosity, but less of it. Christian morality has lagged behind men’s morals every step of the way and still continues to fight equalities as a way of life.

    • If someone does a Harris/Hitchens style extreme (and extremely biased) cherry picking of the facts I could see how they might arrive at such a view. Of course you would have to ignore the humans rights atrocities from atheist strongholds like the USSR, China, Cambodia, and N Korea. It would also be good to ignore the nationalism led atrocities of the 2 world wars and all they entailed. Let’s also not bring up that it was Christians at the forefront of the push to end legalized slavery, at the forefront to combating the modern slave trade, and leading the way in both giving and going for things like clean water projects, ending extreme poverty, disaster and war relief efforts and other charitable causes. There is even a strong case to be made that it is Christian efforts that are reducing torture now as well as point out that it was the spread of Christianity in the Roman world that ended probably the most prevalent torture culture in history what with the gladiatoral games, crucifixion, etc.
      If you want to argue that morality has not devolved that is fine. If you want to argue this is because of the decline in monotheistic faiths then you are radically off on two different levels.

  5. I still like Christian movies, and would still like to one day watch “God’s Not Dead”, but it is true that we often – without realising it – put Yah/God on trial.
    Incidentally, suppression of Christian beliefs in college etc does really happen, whether or not it happened to you. Watch the documentary “Expelled”.

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