Is God terrible? Response to There Be Dragons Quote

Browsing around on a Christian video site, I found a promo for a new movie, There Be Dragons.  Thinking it must be a Christian movie, I visited the official website.  The website features movie clips focused on spiritual themes of isolation, unforgiveness, doubt, and selfishness.

I clicked on the “doubt” clip I think second.  I don’t really remember the other clip after seeing this one, something like how you wouldn’t remember what the bird looked like you were birdwatching after a UFO showed up.

The movie clip is hosted by a man who seems to be in some kind of employment between a pastor and counselor.  He asks thoughtful questions and explores the theme (unforgiveness, doubt, etc.)  A real life testimony is given.  Then the movie clip is shown.  Then, the host follows.

The host, the questions, the real life testimony escaped me afterwards.  What became branded in my mind was what the actress said.

In the scene, a clergy man is asking a woman how she can still believe in God after her rape.  She responds in a beautiful, haunting manner:

“I have accepted that God can be terrible.  And now my prayers are deeper.  I fight Him with love.[1]”

I stared at my computer.  I waited for the clergy man to make a response.  Then I waited for the host to make a response.

The rest of the clip rolled by, words of encouragement to those who doubt flowing from the host’s mouth, and not one single word spoken about the crafty abomination that had gone undefended against the very name of God.

If I am accused of being harsh, in this case it would unfortunately have to be because of a low opinion of God.

I don’t say this flippantly or by personal judgment.  I say this out of fear for God, and out of fear for the people who have entangled themselves in a very serious accusation against the Creator.

While pure rationality would tell you that speaking against a Holy and Perfect God who created the zillions of stars in our universe as an “afterthought” (see Genesis 1:16) and knows when every little bird falls (see Matthew 10:29), that’s not going to be my focus here.  God’s power, His magnificence, and His intelligence would be infinitely enough reason to never speak against Him, but there is an even better reason.

God’s justice is that better reason.

Throughout the Bible, God has revealed Himself as a God of all-knowing justice, fully complete truth, and incorruptible goodness.

God casts the first two humans out of the perfect garden He has created for them when they betray their Almighty Creator for the advise of a worthless snake powered by an evil angel (Genesis 3).

God has the ground open up to swallow up a man and his whole family when he rebels against God’s authority (Numbers 16).

God calls for the death of people who sacrifice their children to idols and do what is right in their own eyes (see Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles).

God strikes a woman barren when she scorns her husband’s worship of God (2 Samuel 6).  God sends bears to kill teenagers who mock His prophet (2 Kings 2).

God sanctions the stoning of people who break His rules about the exclusive worship of God and the value of human life (see Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).

God destroys all but eight people in a worldwide flood (Genesis 6-8).

God sends the men and their families who try to kill His prophet in the den of lions into that very den themselves (Daniel 6).

God strikes a ruler who takes credit for being God with worms that eat him alive (Acts 12).

God takes the life on an infant because of the grave sin of his father (2 Samuel 12).

God allows drought, famine, disease, and war upon people who refuse to obey Him . . . and ultimately, eternal separation from Him (Genesis to Revelation).

God’s sense of justice would be reason to never speak against Him, but there is an even better reason.

God accepts all repentant people to Himself who come through His Son (see all the New Testament).

God covers Adam and Eve’s wickedness with the skin of innocent animals, illustrating the only way they can escape eternal separation from Him: to be covered by the innocent righteousness of Christ Jesus (Genesis 3).

God gives time before He destroys the world in a flood, time for people to change their hearts and go on the ark of salvation (Genesis 6-7).

God teaches a liar His truth (see Peter’s story in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).

God forgives a man for murder (see David’s story 2 Samuel 11-12 and the Psalms and Paul’s story in Acts).

God purifies a woman from prostitution (see Joshua 2 and 6).

God sends prophets to warn people they must face His wrath if they do not turn to His mercy (throughout the Bible–Revelation is the final warning).

God gives a coward what he does not deserve to receive back—twice (see the story of Abraham, Genesis 12 and 20).

God leads a man who ruins His foreshadowing of the most precious event in history (see the story of Moses in Exodus).

God protects a woman from the consequences of her sin (see Luke 7:46-50 and John 8:1-11).

God heals a man paralyzed in his sin (see Mark 2:1-12).

God gives sign after sign to a man who doubts (see Gideon’s story in Judges 6 and 7).

God manifests Himself through miracles so that nations may believe (throughout the Bible).

God gives a deluded king a chance to learn humility (see Nebuchadnezzar’s story, Daniel 4).

God gives hope to a widow despite her past sins (1 Kings 17:7-24).

God gives honor to a thief (see  Luke 23:32-43).

God releases a murderer from a tortuous death (see Barabbas’ story, Luke 23:13-25).

God changes a bitter woman to sweet by His grace (see Naomi’s story, the book of Ruth).

God restores His favor to a king who repents from burning his children as sacrifices to false gods (see Manasseh’s story in 2 Chronicles 33:1-20).

Time and time again God gives chances for people to turn from their sin—even sin we find it almost unimaginable to forgive–and come to Him for healing.  God’s compassion wouldbe reason to never speak against Him, but there is a reason above all these, a reason written in blood on a wooden cross.

The ultimate reason not to speak against God, not to insinuate He is evil or that we are somehow more kind than He . . . was driven in by nails, not by fear of God’s power, magnificence, intelligence, justice, or compassion.

The ultimate reason not to speak against God is His love.

You see, I cannot and will not accept that God, who carried my sins up a hill, is terrible.

I cannot and will not accept that God, who came as the Man of Christ Jesus, who sweat drops of blood in anguish thinking of what He was going to choose to do, who gave Himself over to be ripped apart with whips and spit on and hit and beaten and stabbed with thorns crushed into His head and dragged a wooden beam up a road of condemnation and hung by nails on a cross as God Himself . . . I cannot and will not accept that this God can learn anything about love from me.

There is nothing we suffer that God has not been pained by infinitely more.  And while I have had pains in this life not caused by my own sin, God experiences all pain uncaused by personal sin, since God never sins.  He is the true innocent.  And He is the deepest sufferer.  And so the cry of my heart is not

“I have accepted that God can be terrible.  And now my prayers are deeper.  I fight Him with love.[1]”

but rather

I have accepted that I can be terrible.  And now my prayers are deeper.  I fight me with God’s love.

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3b, NIV)


Note: But didn’t “terrible” used to mean “mighty” more than “awful”?  Couldn’t the movie have meant that God is mighty?  The context doesn’t allow for this interpretation.  I wouldn’t fight God’s mightiness with my love; to do so would be to imply that God’s mightiness is unloving, when John tells us that God is love (see 1 John 4:16).

[1] There Be Dragons © 2011, Mount Santa Fe

Published in: on September 13, 2011 at 9:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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