If you read the Old Testament, God comes off as rather a harsh character. On the one hand the writers talk about God's mercy and goodness and on the other hand they describe in detail, His vengence and anger. So which is it? Is God merciful or vengeful? Love and peace or war and revenge!
Does God, who tells us not to kill, for instance, kill people Himself in violation of his own law? What happened to the God of Love?
The best explanation I ever heard for this conundrum was given to a group of us by a brilliant theologian I knew. He explained the whole thing using gravity and a pair of glasses. His explanation went like this:
"If I let go of this pair of glasses," he explained extending his hand with a pair of reading glasses in them, "What would happen?" he asked.
We all looked down at the tile floor and answered, "They would break."
"Why would they break?" he asked again.
"Because you dropped them," we explained.
"And not because of gravity?"
"Well," we hesitated.
"And whose fault would it be that the glasses were broken?" he challenged us.
"Yours," we answered (we thought quite reasonably).
"And not God's?" he suggested. "After all God was the one who created gravity in the first place."
"Yeah, but you dropped the glasses..." someone protested.
"Yes, but without the law of gravity and without intertia, both laws of physics created by God, the glasses would never have broken would they?"
"Well, no, but..."
"Then the broken glasses are ultimately God's fault aren't they?" he asked.
"Well, uh..." We opened and closed our jaws, like a row of stunned goldfish.
Elder Lewis went on to say that he believed that God does not bring death, but that, in fact, the text that states, "The wages of sin is death" is quite literal. Sin and evil inevitably leads to death. This is a law like gravity. If we observe this world for any length of time, you can clearly see that unrestrained evil leads inevitably to death. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Saddam, Napoleon - all purveyor's of massive death in an effort to satisfy their lust for power.
If God is the ultimate good, then he can hardly be responsible for death. He gave his Son specifically to conquer death and evil. Notice, it was we who took Christ's life, not God. In this world we have a choice. If we let go of the glasses, they will fall and break. That's what happens if you drop something fragile onto a hard surface. In the same manner if we choose to do something which we are warned will lead to death, who do we blame for our choice. If we place a gun to our head and pull the trigger, who killed us.
God was not responsible for the holocaust or Stalin's or Saddam's or Atilla's extermination of millions of innocent people. At the end of the world, I suspect He will not be responsible for its ultimate destruction either. God has told us what evil leads to just as my physics teacher told me what would happen if I released a fragile object from a height and let it fall.
It's funny how we are so quick to blame God when bad things happen. It effectively draws attention away from who is actually responsible - the one who chose to do the bad thing; the one who inspired the evil deed in the first place; the one who would assume the place of God.
Kind of reminds me of U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan's farewell speech this week in which he blamed the U.S. for pretty much all the bad things going on in the world. If things are bad, why do we always want to blame it on the good guys - never on the guys who are actually beheading and blowing up people willy nilly. Why is that?
Now who could be behind all that misdirection. Who would want to blame God or Christianity or the U.S. for all that nasty terrorism? Who, who who?
Could it be, uh............
Just one man's opinion.
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