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God is unfair, thanks be to God.

March 16, 2007

Okay, I have to admit that since I came across links and references to this article via the MethoBlog I have been utterly fascinated with it.

I’ve never made any bones about the fact that I am prone to depression. I’ve mentioned it from the pulpit, I discussed it in seminary, and I own the way it influences my own theological thinking and formulations. In short, I tend to actively look for hope rather than despair largely because I need to do that; to do otherwise feeds my depression and renders me ineffective as a spiritual leader.

So when I read that Americans Get an ‘F’ in Religion, I look for hope. Some church leaders, if not the vast majority, will view this as a problem. I choose to view it as an opportunity. We have an opportunity to teach an new generation about God without years of biblical baggage, without questionable exegetical practices, and with a clean slate. It’s a more challenging job to be sure, but at least we know what we have to work with.

But here’s the part of that article that bugs me. I know diddley-squat about the Bible Literacy Project and the Bible and its Influence curriculum, but I find John Hagee‘s critique of it fundamentally flawed. From the article:

The Bible and Its Influence has been blasted by conservative Christians such as the Rev. John Hagee, pastor of the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Hagee calls it “a masterful work of deception, distortion and outright falsehoods” planting “concepts in the minds of children which are contrary to biblical teaching.”

Hagee wrote to the Alabama legislature opposing adoption of the text, citing points such as discussion questions that could lead children away from a belief in God. Example: Asking students to ponder if Adam and Eve got “a fair deal as described in Genesis” would plant the seed that “since God is the author of the deal, God is unfair.”

The fundamental problem is this: GOD IS UNFAIR. Teaching anything else is clearly unbiblical.

Don’t get me wrong – God is JUST, but God’s justice has nothing to do with our concept of fairness.

Read Genesis 4. Cain murders his brother Abel in cold blood. God knows it, hunts Cain down, and questions him. God hands down a rather lenient punishment (no “eye for an eye” here).

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.

Let me get this straight – Cain kills Abel, and God gives Cain protection for life? And God is supposed to be FAIR?

What about the parable of the laborers in the vineyard from Matthew 20? The Kingdom of God is like this: A vineyard owner goes out in the morning and hires some day laborers. He hires some more at noon, and some more close to the end of the day. At the end of the day, he pays them all the same amount – their day’s wage.

NOT FAIR! And when the laborers complain, the owner says, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?'”

If God were fair, we’d be screwed. If God were fair, Grace would be out of the question. God’s nature is this – we miss out on a punishment that we deserve, and we receive a gift that we do not deserve. Grace and mercy have absolutely nothing to do with fairness.

Hagee is wrong.
God is not fair. God is gracious.
God is not fair. God is merciful.
God is not fair. God is just.

God is not fair. Thanks be to God.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. John Wesley permalink
    March 16, 2007 12:36 pm

    I should not dare to interrupt your more weighty affairs with a letter of mine, did I not hold you to be a disciple of Him who would not have the smoking flax quenched nor the bruised reed broken. But since I am entirely convinced of this, I beg of you that in your prayers and the prayers of the Church that sojourns with you, I may be commended to God, to be instructed in true poverty of spirit, in gentleness, in faith, and love of God and my neighbor. And, whenever you have a little leisure, do not disdain to offer to God this short prayer, which I have heard frequently offered by your brethren at Savannah (would they were mine also!):

    Then the dauntless mind
    Which, to Jesus joined,
    Neither life nor treasure prizes,
    And all fleshly lusts despises,
    Grant him, Highest Good,
    Through Thy precious blood.

    God’s most humble servant, I remain,
    John Wesley

  2. Will Deuel permalink
    March 16, 2007 1:17 pm

    Thanks for popping by, John. Love your sermons and prayers, love your brother’s songs. Tell Chuck I said hey.

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