Have You Ever Disagreed with God?

This is an honest question to the faithful (and previously faithful, and anyone else who wants to add constructively) of the Ricochet community. It is not meant to be inflammatory or insulting. I use to be quite religious and Catholic, as I was raised. I know many will admit that logic and faith cannot be totally intertwined, though there is a lot of crossover. But these are the type of questions that pushed me to become secular, and I am truly interested in seeing how others deal with these …

  1. R. Craigen

    I’m not sure we’re using the words in the same way.  I suspect that, as a believer, my understanding of what that phrase implies about my relationship to God carries different meaning than for an unbeliever.

    That said … “disagreeing with God” is at the very heart of our scriptures and faith tradition.  Practically all the great men and women of God in the Bible and in history have had famous disagreements with God (I’d be interested in counterexamples).    Mary and Jesus had at least two famous disagreements.  Abraham bargained away God’s wrath.  Jonah was furious with God’s mercy.  Moses pleaded with God to send his brother instead of himself.  Peter forbade Jesus from carrying out his prime directive.  In his appearance to Paul, Jesus told him that he was only hurting himself by “kicking against the goads”. 

    So disagreement with God has a rich tradition through Judaism and Christianity.  In my view it is almost a necessary requirement of faith to  wrestle with the Almighty over something (whether large or small potatoes).  Our obedience and submission must be understood in this light.

    The Arabic word “Islam” means, “submission”; disagreeing with Allah is strictly forbidden.

  2. jkumpire
    Amy Schley: I have no answers, but I can describe my struggles, at least… So on the one hand, it’s reassuring to know that some of these feelings are not my fault; I was born this way.  On the other hand, I get really mad at God for making me this way. 

    Amy, With all due respect and care, you and others are missing something. the fact of the matter is all of us are flawed individuals because we all sin. The effects of that sinfulness in all of us affect all of us. It’s why babies die, tragedies happen, and bad things happen to good people.You were born that way, but it’s not God’s fault.

    A/the classic theological answer to the problem is we ultimately choose to sin when we are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, and our sin affects us in so many ways. You have a nasty burden to bear, others walk in your shoes; people like Martin Luther suffer like you. Don’t quit on God’s Grace. Talk to a clergy person who will help or refer you to people who will help. 

  3. jkumpire

    Yes, as R. Carigen states above, religions are very different in how they view God, or gods, or no god. Christianity and Judaism have it right, the others are wrong, IMO, and I’d love to debate that point too.

    The major question I think Micheal asks about without meaning to is the question of Theodicy; Why do things happen the way they do, or in popular literature “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”

    The question can be a difficult one to answer, especially since we have perceived differences in the status of people that we blame on God, thinking that all should have equal status in everything.  Like we all should be the same, as people like John Rawls tried to argue.

    Problem is we humans are free beings, and because we are sentient thinking beings we are ultimately responsible for our own actions, unless we are so ‘defective’ we cease to be human. It’s a big question.  

  4. John Murdoch
    jkumpire: 

    The major question I think Michael asks … is the question of Theodicy: “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”

    Because–mixing my Ricochet threads–God isn’t Santa Claus. This isn’t “naughty vs. nice”–we’re talking about the sovereign God, Creator of the universe, whose omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence overwhelm the limits of our imagination. 

    And sometimes that means what we perceive to be bad news. Like, for example, when your pediatrician asks, the morning after your daughter is born: “did you have an amniocentesis test done?” 

    By Santa’s rules, I’d been nice–hey, I was literally a choirboy. Yet here I was with a severely handicapped child. How could God do this to us?

    Reflecting upon my life to date, it was pretty clear: because Annie was not a curse. Annie was a calling. Not to a lifetime of wearing sackcloth and ashes and whining about my suffering–but to a lifetime of working with, and advocating for, the handicapped.

    To paraphrase John F. Kennedy: ask not what God can do for you; ask how God is shaping, molding, and forming you to serve His purposes. 

  5. KC Mulville
    R. Craigen: That said … “disagreeing with God” is at the very heart of our scriptures and faith tradition.  [...] So disagreement with God has a rich tradition through Judaism and Christianity.  In my view it is almost a necessary requirement of faith to  wrestle with the Almighty over something (whether large or small potatoes).

    In the cases you cite, the people who “disagreed” with God were wrong. The exception you might make was Mary “disagreeing” with Jesus, but that was hardly over anything relevant – it was about the wine inventory. (I once had a rabbi who taught the Old Testament, who said that Mary’s behavior proved that Jesus had a Jewish mother.) Indeed. when Peter rebuked Jesus, Jesus said, “get behind me, Satan.”

    I wouldn’t consider that a rich tradition.

    The notion of wrestling with God is ancient (Jacob wrestling with an angel, etc.) and I’ve read that several cultures have that imagery. But I wouldn’t say that it makes it right, or makes it praiseworthy.

    So, let me ask the question another way: in religion, is obedience required? What does obedience mean?

  6. jkumpire

    KC,

    You might want to be a little less strident here, people from Job to Mother Theresa disagreed with God, and even got angry at Him. If you take the idea that we are created in His image seriously, then we are going to get mad at God.

    The question becomes what do you do in your anger?

  7. jkumpire

    John Murdoch,

    Very interesting post, just make sure your remember Grace in your understanding. I have much more to say, but I was created with two eyes and ten fingers and given a mouse to scroll through other people’s posts, not dominate the conversation by volume.

  8. Schrodinger

    I cannot disagree with what I cannot fully comprehend. God is so far beyond my power of understanding that disagreements are impossible.

    Do I complain about my circumstances? Of course! But, mostly I realize that I am responsible for my situation. My general philosophy is that I am responsible for the bad things that happen to me, while God is the source of the good things I receive.

    Would I have migrated to Catholicism? Well, prior to converting I had been an atheist, an agnostic, a theist, an evangelical Christian. I dabbled with Taoism, was a member of a Reform Jewish synagogue and a member of a New Age church. So, been there done that.

    I find Catholicism the fullest expression of The Truth.

  9. KC Mulville
    jkumpire: KC,

    You might want to be a little less strident here,

    If so, I apologize – I certainly don’t feel aggravated by the discussion. After all, I love these kinds of discussions. I don’t agree with the point, but that doesn’t mean I’m aggravated by it.

    But I’m curious – why do you associate being made in God’s image with … anger? I’m not sure I get that.

  10. CandE

    I don’t know if this is really what you’re looking for with this question, but it reminds me of the Trial of Abraham, in which he was required to sacrifice Isaac.  It was something that he didn’t want to do, he didn’t understand, and was fundamentally at odds with his values.  Nevertheless, his actions showed no hesitation or doubt in the Lord’s command.  This is probably one of the key reasons that Abraham is the preeminent Patriarch in both Jewish and Christian scripture.  Moses was the law-giver, but Abraham was the father of the covenant.

    In the context of this discussion, it seems to me that there will always be divine actions or commands that don’t square with us.  That is what faith is about: trusting in the Lord when we don’t understand or even agree. 

    -E

  11. Amy Schley
    jkumpire

    Amy, With all due respect and care, you and others are missing something. the fact of the matter is all of us are flawed individuals because we all sin. The effects of that sinfulness in all of us affect all of us. It’s why babies die, tragedies happen, and bad things happen to good people.You were born that way, but it’s not God’s fault.

    I recognize a difference between suffering caused by sin and suffering caused by the external world.  My sister can’t handle romantic relationships because she was raped as a child; that is suffering caused by sin.

    But if what God says is true — I shaped you in the womb — then He shaped me to be defective.  He is the potter, and I am the clay pot with a crystalline defect that makes me all but unusable.  Is it unreasonable to be angry that my intended function and actual usefulness are so wildly at odds?  And is it really so unreasonable to blame my Creator for making me so poorly?

  12. Sabrdance

    “You can only say really pious prayers when things are going well.  You know, those prayers that have lot’s of thees and thous and sound like you have four marbles in your mouth.  ‘O Lordeth, we thanketh thee that we art thou childreneth.  Lordeth.’

    “But when things are going bad, you can’t get that out, instead you fall to your knees and the prayer sounds more like ‘GOOOOD!  What are you doing wrong?’

    “And that’s when God looks down and says ‘not meeth, youeth.’”

    That the source was Mike Warnke doesn’t make it wrong.

     

    I’m reluctant to invoke God’s omniscence in this case – the Whirlwind doesn’t tell Job “oh, really, I had a plan the whole time, and it totally worked out for the best.”  God’s responses are usually along the lines of “Who made men’s mouths?”  and “Were you there when I laid the foundations of the world?”

    God desires willing obedience, in the same way we desire others to do what we want them to do because they want to.  Sometimes, us men don’t want to do it, so disagrements naturally happen.  God is still God, though.

  13. Boss Mongo

    I think, here, you’re drilling down on the questions asked by every serious practitioner of every serious faith.  Your queries to start this conversation could well elicit 5,000 words each, just as a “conversation” starter.

    When I think of my disagreements with God, I think of my three-year old’s disagreements with me (my youngest is now 14, but go with it).  My three-year old may want me to put the knife block, which holds all those lovely bright shinies, on the kitchen floor so that he can play with them, and considers it an injustice of universal proportions when I don’t.

    I’ll often disagree with God, and my perceptions of the way i think his plan for me is unfolding, but I (try to) have enough humility to realize maybe He knows more than I.  Then I’ll watch one of those IMAX films about what they’ve seen through the Hubble telescope, and be pretty sure that he does.

    I’m waaaay too tired to start expounding on other faiths, and how mine rubs up against them; but I will say…that I’ve run out of words on my word count.

  14. Mike H

    @Boss

    Thank you, this is just the type of thing I wanted to hear.

  15. Donald Todd

    I haven’t argued with God since shortly before becoming Catholic.  I don’t understand is permitted, but disagreement does not seem warranted.  

    One is permitted to pray, and one is permitted to offer moral, physical and financial support, but telling God how to arrive at the right conclusion is presumptive, and therefore morally wrong.

  16. raycon and lindacon
    Amy Schley

    But if what God says is true — I shaped you in the womb — then He shaped me to be defective.  He is the potter, and I am the clay pot with a crystalline defect that makes me all but unusable.  Is it unreasonable to be angry that my intended function and actual usefulness are so wildly at odds?  And is it really so unreasonable to blame my Creator for making me so poorly? · 14 minutes ago

    Amy: Do not let the world around you determine what is a defect. 

    Read John Murdoch above;  “Reflecting upon my life to date, it was pretty clear: because Annie was not a curse. Annie was a calling. Not to a lifetime of wearing sackcloth and ashes and whining about my suffering–but to a lifetime of working with, and advocating for, the handicapped.”

    Amy, you are God’s unique child.  In you He has created what He knows is the perfect person to fulfill His purposes.  I have no doubt that life is difficult for you.  But, God proves His greatness by creating us weak and flawed people, and then using us to prove His love by the way we live.

  17. CandE
    Amy Schley

    But if what God says is true — I shaped you in the womb — then He shaped me to be defective.  He is the potter, and I am the clay pot with a crystalline defect that makes me all but unusable.  Is it unreasonable to be angry that my intended function and actual usefulness are so wildly at odds?  And is it really so unreasonable to blame my Creator for making me so poorly? · 5 minutes ago

    He shaped all of us to be defective:

    “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

    Or, as Paul said:

    “…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh…  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

    -E

  18. raycon and lindacon

    To the question.  We first have to make a decision.  Is there a Creator, and am I accountable to Him?  Once we decide to accept the Creator God, He says He will accept the job of leading us to Him.  Hebrews 11:6 “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

    Our desire to be accountable to the Creator God is His opportunity to prove Himself to us.  It is the accountability to God that is the stumbling block for so many.  They want the comfort and salvation of religion, but stop when God begins to reveal Himself as the Perfect, and we balk at the standard which we must meet.  But God is personal.  He knows my heart and His standards are achieved in my heart, even though my flesh is weak and I cannot meet those standards consistently in my life.

    What brings me into the “Perfect” isn’t my efforts, it is God’s power.  It is Him working in my life which completes my salvation and assures me of an eternity in His presence.

  19. Donald Todd

    CandE:  He shaped all of us to be defective

    He made us in His image and likeness, and He gave us free will.   He did not cause the Fall of Man (eg, “shaped all of us to be defective”), which extends to Him a culpability for which He is not guilty.

    James 1:13  Never, when you have been tempted, say, “God sent the temptation;” God cannot be tempted to do anything wrong, and He does not tempt anybody.

    But we are once again discussing the difference between Mormonism and Christianity.  He never failed us, including in our creation.  It is we who have failed Him.   You and I view this much differently.

  20. Schrodinger
    “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? 3

    Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; 9 When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; 10 When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; 11 When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!’

    Job 38:2-11

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