The Life Foundations Nexus
WHEN GOD IS CRUEL
This article is about things you have never heard before; so don’t assume that you know what we are going to say. However, we will start out with a few things that you do know.
First, of course, the Bible teaches that God is never cruel to anyone. We note in passing that God’s punishment of the wicked is not cruelty. His punishment demonstrates (shows) justice, not cruelty. Now, the fact that God is not cruel can be contradicted by human experience. Remember, human experience does not always consist of truth, (correct) conception, memory, reality and perception. It can instead consist of delusion, misconception, fantasy, imagination, illusion, and hallucination.
It is possible for a person to have the delusion that certain painful experience demonstrates (shows) divine cruelty. A person might be in a car accident and lose a leg or have a loved one killed in a mugging or have any of an endless number of bad things happen to them. During such an experience a person can have the delusion that God has treated them cruelly. Now, as Christians, we are taught that we are to reject such delusions. That is good advice. However, it is incomplete advice.
There are people who have certain experiences that are of such a horrific nature that, no matter how hard they struggle (and one should always struggle against delusion)…that, no matter how hard they struggle, they are UNABLE to overcome the delusion by conscious rejection, in the knowledge that the delusion is a delusion and that God is always kind, never cruel. These type of people fall into two categories.
First, there are those TO WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ENOUGH FAITH SO THAT THEY WANT TO BELIEVE GOD. They need to hear the following:
God has sent the delusion to get you to act AS IF (not really but AS IF) he is cruel.
How would one act who was acting as if they believed that God was cruel? Very simply, they would act as if God does not keep his word. This would mean that one would act as if they are not relying on God for anything. They would act as if they were seeking to supply everything they need through their own efforts and/or the efforts of one or more other people and/or the operation of one or more other agents and devices.
Now, there are those who will object to all of this. Such people have limited life experience. Such people have never experienced profound misery. Such people, though they may have suffered, have never suffered “hell on earth.” Also, such people are not well-read in the Scriptures, nor in the sciences of anthropology, sociology, psychology, and psychiatry. Reading the Scriptures and written works in these sciences will, at least, expose a person to the depths of human misery and suffering that have been the lot of many in times past and present.
The other type of person who is UNABLE to overcome delusion by conscious rejection, in the knowledge that the delusion is a delusion and that God is always kind, never cruel, GOD HAS GIVEN NO FAITH. This second type of delusion victim, as hard as they might try, CANNOT MUSTER (CALL FORTH) THE FAITH NEEDED TO BELIEVE THAT GOD WANTS THEM TO ACT AS IF HE IS CRUEL. These people need to hear the following:
You are justified in expressing your belief that God is cruel.
How would one act who believed that God was cruel? Very simply, they would express the belief that God does not keep his word. This would mean that one would not rely on God for anything. They would seek to supply everything they need through their own efforts and/or the efforts of one or more other people and/or the operation of one or more other agents and devices.