Friday, October 29, 2004

Bible Man

Artist's concept of what Bible Man may look like.
As many of you may have guessed, I am not a Christian. However, I was flipping through the blogosphere urging people to vote for Kerry when I came across this man struggling with his life and his faith. His wife is threatening to divorce him. He seems to think most everything is a test from God. His wife has said he is angry and controlling. It being the nature of the blogosphere that people you don't know can post their most intimate thoughts, and you can comment on them, I commented:

> From what I have read in your blog, I think your
> wife may be on to something about you. You seem way
> too overwrought. And you have warped your
> relationship to God to the point where you are
> doubting everything, and tormenting yourself. A
> little healthy self-doubt is important, but you also
> have to have the ability to laugh at yourself. Your
> God does not want to sweat you and put you through
> pain. If you were with him, he'd put you in a
> reclining chair, turn on the TV, and ask if you want
> pretzels. God loves his creatures, and is not into
> hating. Not even divorce. I hate divorce, and we
> should, and you should. But God wants his creatures
> to be happy and live free of pain. I think God is
> very far away from the man who thinks he sees God's
> challenge in every daily thing.

He replied:

> While I disagree with much of what you wrote, I
> thank you for you comment.
> It appears that you are the one with a warped belief
> in God. Read Ecclesiastes. Clearly God does not
> wish to "he'd put you in a reclining chair, turn on
> the TV, and ask if you want pretzels." This is a
> very naive opinion of God. Moreover, for a better
> picture of tests, struggles, and problems, read
> James. James wrote, "Consider it pure joy, my
> brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
> because you know that the testing of your faith
> develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its
> work so that you may be mature and complete, not
> lacking anything."
> According to Proverbs, the Lord disciplines those he
> Lastly, as you so aptly noted, I do struggle with
> doubt. However, you must not have read close enough
> because you don't seem to understand the concept of
> spiritual warfare either.
> In closing, permit me to offer you a few
> suggestions. First, read up on that with which you
> wish to challenge somone. Apparently, you know
> little of or understand the God of Abraham.
> Secondly, research something called passive voice.
> It would greatly improve your writing style.
> Finally, pray friend, that you might know the peace
> of the God that challenges and disciplines those
> that call him Father, Beloved, and Savior.

I replied:

OK, fair enough. I hoped not to offend you, and though I may have annoyed you, at least I think I haven't offended.

If my concept is naive, then perhaps that is a good thing. It is true that the first definition (in English) of discipline is punishment, but the obsolete, and for our purposes perhaps more accurate, meaning is instruction. Teaching. As reflected by the other meanings of the word.

Certainly there are many tales of suffering in the Bible. But I believe that the instructions of God may also come in the form of pleasure and happiness, of acceptance and relaxation. These are among the means with which he instructs you.

I know there is a great deal of scholarship regarding why a god of love would inflict so much on his creatures. I am not going to take up that thorny issue. I would only suggest that pride and arrogance attend the man who thinks he can divine for others, his wife, and himself, the meaning of scripture. You were not equipped to fully understand and navigate the intricate plan of God. Our best response is to accept the simple message of Jesus: Love and forgiveness. Let God figure out the meaning of punishment and evil.

How odd, this internet, to bring me into conversation with someone I might shun with a shudder in corporeal life. I notice that he has now turned off commenting in his blog.
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