Feb22 2010

Where Was God? – Part 2

This post is Part 2 in the series “Where was God?”. Click here to read Part 1.

In an earlier post, I was reflecting on the earthquake disaster in Haiti and I pointed out that when such disasters strike, the one question that seems to emerge more than any other is the question, “Where was God?”.  Or, to put it another way, “What was God’s role in all of this?”.  Whenever a tragedy of this magnitude takes place, there will always be those who will ask whether it may have been an act of God’s judgment and they will sometimes make comparisons to, or point to examples of God’s judgment in the Old Testament.  While I, for one, do not wish to assume as much in this case, or to make that connection, I think that it is important enough to take a moment right here to address that issue.  After all, the accounts of God’s judgment in the Old Testament have drawn a tremendous amount of attention and criticism from many of the more notable atheist authors living today who continue to hammer on this point as they seek to “build their case against God”.

It is no secret that the Old Testament does, in fact, record several events where God clearly demonstrated His justice through the destruction of a particular city or group of people.  Not wanting to get too far from the main topic, I will not take time here to specifically address each and every instance.  But let it suffice for now to say that when you get into the details, you begin to realize that in each case, God was justified in what He did and that it was consistent with His nature, knowing that God is perfectly holy, righteous, and just.  That, by the way, is the point that most of God’s critics tend to overlook, either intentionally or unintentionally.  Whenever they ask, “How could a loving God do such a thing?”, they are picking and  choosing which of God’s attributes they like and which ones they don’t like.  While it may sound contradictory to ask how a “loving” God could judge, there is nothing at all contradictory about judgment coming from a God Who is also absolutely holy, righteous, and just.

But even in such unmistakable examples of God’s wrath and justice such as we see in the Old Testament, the question that we really need to consider is this: “Does God, as the Author and Giver of life, have the right to call that life back to Himself as He sees fit to do so?”.  The clear and obvious answer to this is “Yes”.  I think that all of us, even the most ardent skeptic, intuitively knows that this is true.  This is why we often respond to life and death decisions by such comments as, “Who are we to play God?”.  Reality dictates that God does, in fact, have that right and that He will call each and every life back to Himself at some point -  all of us will eventually die.  I find it ironic that even those skeptics who feel that God doesn’t have the right to take life, are oftentimes willing to claim that same right for themselves!  A great example of this was given by Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias as he shared some comments that were made during a Q&A time that followed a lecture that he had just delivered at a major university.  A young lady in the audience had commented earlier about an airline disaster that had occurred, and how “wrong it was” for God to take the lives of those passengers.  Later in the discussion, the same girl was defending her right to take the life of the unborn through an abortion.  Ravi responded to her by rightly pointing out the obvious contradiction between the two statements.  He said to her, “So, when it comes to the taking of a life, when God ‘plays God‘, you’re saying that He doesn’t have that right, yet when you ‘play God‘, you’re saying that you do have that right”.  She gave no response.

Turning our attention back to Haiti, even if we could somehow prove that there was some causal agent other than God that was responsible for the destruction in Haiti, this would only encourage the skeptic to proceed to the next question: “Even if God didn’t cause this event, He obviously allowed it.  Why would God even permit such a thing to happen?”.  Hence, the question, “Where was God?”.  In tackling this question, it’s important to point out that if we are perfectly honest with ourselves we have to admit that deep down inside, the question that we are asking is not just limited to the events in Haiti-  it goes far beyond that.  Ultimately, what we really want to ask is, “Why does God allow ANY evil in our world?”  After all, even if God had spared Haiti such destruction by divine intervention, that still would not be enough to satisfy us, nor would it stop us from asking this question.  We would simply brush that example aside, moving on to an example of some other catastrophe and ask why God didn’t intervene in that situation.  There would always be another example to point to.  As I said, what we really want to know is why God doesn’t remove all evil and suffering from our world, right here and right now.  That is a fair question, so we will take a closer look at it in my next post.

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  • In today's world, there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to matters of truth, meaning, morality, our origin, and our destiny. The purpose of Renewed Thoughts is to bring clarity to such issues by examining them in light of a Biblical worldview, using the tools of science, philosophy, and critical thinking.