God is Good to the Last Drop. Maybe.

I’m in the middle of an interesting book; “Ready for Rapture” by Daniel Radosh.  I doubt it is a book that many Christians will pick up – but they should.  Radosh, a practicing Jew that happens to be agnostic (?) brings an outsider’s fresh perspective to the inside of Christian pop culture. And that is what he is critiquing; not Christianity itself but the unique, separate and often silly world that many American Christians have created and so many have misinterpreted as the ‘faith’.

I’d like to discuss this book in more depth when I finish it, but every once in a while Radosh shares something that I think is worth mentioning.  At one point he tells us of attending a “Christian” skateboard event, ostensibly presented by Stephen Baldwin, (who never shows up). It’s a rainy day but just as the skate boarding demonstration is about to begin the skies clear:

“An MC hopped onto the central platform holding a wireless microphone. After a few words of welcome to the spectators—about four hundred lined up behind yellow caution tape—he pointed to the sky. “You noticed it stopped raining? That’s because God is good!”

Radosh says that he found the skateboarding pretty boring but the following BMX biker show much more exciting.

“Except that twenty minutes in, it started to rain and the event had to be cut short. The MC made no comment on this, but I could only surmise that either God was now bad, or that he prefers skating to BMX—in which case we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.”

Some Christians may think this a little naive or even cynical of Radosh, although perhaps expected of someone who professes to have no faith in any god. But simple statements  like “God is good” tend to sound a bit trite when they fall so easily and so often off the religious tongue. Because when any trivially ‘good’ thing is used to point out God’s goodness someone else can just as reasonably point to a significantly  ‘bad’ thing as proof of his lack of goodness. Or, his lack of existence.

If God is good when a cancer patient is ‘miraculously’ cured then what is he when the patient dies?  (In an earlier post I asked similar questions.) Perhaps the indiscriminate dropping of these little God-bombs are one reason why the ‘outsider looking in’ can sometimes only scratch his head in bemusement.

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  1. #1 by Doulos Christou on July 15, 2009 - 10:42 am

    Looking forward to hearing more on the book as you proceed. The church has allowed the God is Good ideal to become conditional and it continues to the weaken the Body. I learned in preaching to the Harvest Farm rehab brothers that God is good ALL THE TIME. Despite the ups and downs of life God remains consistently good, even when we don’t understand how He works it out.

    peace brother

  2. #2 by Christian Beyer on July 15, 2009 - 8:30 pm

    Thanks, Doulos. I’ve just finished the book but I’ve been in the weeds at work so haven’t had much time for posting or responding.

    Interesting note though; I read it in e-book format but then my wife wanted to read it so I picked up the hardcover at Barnes and Noble. Lo and behold, there was a blurb by Brian McLaren on the cover highly recommending this book. So perhaps more Christians will read it than I expect. Unfortunately his endorsement will likely discourage those who would most benefit from it as he is considered the anti-Christ by many of them.

  3. #3 by Alan on July 20, 2009 - 10:21 am

    Tough one to answer as I know from personal experience in the last year or so.

    Do you say “God is bad” when your two-day old daughter does not miraculously heal and dies in your arms? Lord knows, there is that temptation. You certainly get very angry with God about why this “bad” thing was allowed to happen to you…

    I don’t have an answer… I may never have one. Fifteen months later I still struggle to make sense of why it happened, even as I come to this strange sense of ‘peace’ this was what was ‘meant’ to happen… (Things are possible for our family now that might not have been with three children just due to practicalities, etc.) The pain has a purpose even though I may not know it yet. There is something God needs to do in me, that the “easier” road would not have accomplished. I try to keep Paul’s perspective that God does work all things for (the common good) of those who love him even though my specific circumstances today may suck.

    Though it is at times a struggle, I choose to believe this — to hold onto hope if you will. I believe that God’s heart toward me is good even though some of the individual circumstances that came my way last year were decidedly NOT good, and no amount of revisionist history will change that.

    • #4 by Christian Beyer on July 20, 2009 - 1:29 pm

      Yeah. You certainly would have a better understanding of this than me right now. But eventually, if I live long enough, I will likely experience some similar heartbreak. Almost all of us will. I hope my faith will stand up to the test.

      But are they tests? I understand and agree with your taking comfort in knowing that God can and does work through your pain and the loss of your child. But, correct me if I’m wrong here, I don’t think you believe that this was part of his ‘plan’, right? I mean, I imagine God (particularly as I see him through Jesus) wept right along side you.

      I think it must be your faith and love that enable you to allow God to strengthen you. I think that this is what is meant by God turning all things to the ‘good’ of those who believe. (I hope I have not misspoken here)

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