“If we could understand everything God does, then He’d have to be a small god–small enough to fit in our little minds.”
Given my profession and beliefs, this story naturally caught my attention:
Injunction sought against Him for allegedly causing deaths, making threats
LINCOLN, Neb. – The defendant in a state senator’s lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He’s everywhere.
State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he’s trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.
Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terrorist threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”
The Omaha senator, who skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians, also says God has caused “fearsome floods … horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes.”
He’s seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty.
Suit in protest
Chambers said the lawsuit was triggered by a federal suit filed against a judge who recently barred words such as “rape” and “victim” from a sexual assault trial.
The accuser in the criminal case, Tory Bowen, sued Lancaster District Judge Jeffrey Cheuvront, claiming that he violated her free speech rights.
Chambers said Bowen’s lawsuit is inappropriate because the Nebraska Supreme Court has already considered the case and federal courts follow the decisions of state supreme courts on state matters.
“This lawsuit having been filed and being of such questionable merit creates a circumstance where my lawsuit is appropriately filed,” Chambers said. “People might call it frivolous but if they read it they’ll see there are very serious issues I have raised.”
U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, in an order last week, expressed doubts about whether Bowen’s lawsuit “has any legal basis whatsoever” and said sanctions may be imposed against Bowen and her attorneys if they fail to show cause for the lawsuit.
The Associated Press usually does not identify accusers in sex-assault cases, but Bowen has allowed her name to be used publicly because of the issue over the judge’s language restrictions.
Cheuvront declared a mistrial in the sexual assault trial in July, saying pretrial publicity made it impossible to gather enough impartial jurors.
Putting aside the fact that Chambers is abusing the legal system and wasting the scarce taxpayer resources he was elected to preserve and protect, his lawsuit is a wonderful illustration of the underlying meaning of this week’s quote.
First of all, note the contradictions. Chambers is said to skip legislative prayers and ridicule Christians, yet he acknowledges that God “is everywhere,” thereby making Nebraska — or any other wordly venue — an appropriate place for his lawsuit to be heard.
He also admits God’s awesome, incomprehensible power with his allegations that God causes, among other atrocities, natural disasters. But therein lies the fallacy in Chambers’ reasoning, common to so many believers and nonbelievers.
Have you ever said, “I don’t know why God let _____ happen?” Or “I don’t understand why God let a terrible thing happen to such wonderful people”? Many people conclude that, if God is all-powerful, bad things should never happen because He should step in and prevent them. Thus, they develop a perception of God that is at odds with the loving, caring Father-image many of us grew up with, and lose faith.
Why things happen is a mystery that we cannot solve. The answers transcend the capacity of our “little minds” to reason and understand. The best we can do is recognize that there are two distinct forces at work in the world: Good and evil. We are living in, as the saying goes, a “broken” and sinful world.
I do not believe, however, that God just sits back and allows horrible things to happen nor have I lost faith in the face of catastrophic events. That does not mean, however, that I don’t question, on a daily basis, God’s plan for my life and the lives of those I love.
I only half-jokingly say, “Questions? You bet I have questions. And when I cross over into eternity, I am going to conduct the deposition to end all depositions. I know how to ask questions and by God, — literally — I am going to get some answers!”
Just for starters, I want to know why my mother spent the last few years of her life slowly slipping away until she finally became completely unreachable. How was “the long good-bye” we were forced to experience part of an overarching divine plan for her life or ours? If I were to pose the inquiry using Chambers’ vernacular, I would insist that God “caused” my mother’s mental state to deteriorate slowly to the point that she no longer recognized her family. She spent the last two years of her life in a completely debilitated state, causing my sister and I to sit by her bedside on more occasions than I can count, look at each other and rhetorically ask, “What is the point of this?”
If I looked at the world through the veneer of Chambers’ ridiculous lawsuit, I would also contend that my sister, having endured with me the ordeal of losing a parent to Alzheimer’s disease, was “caused” by God to develop cancer and suffer surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Taking Chambers’ logic to its ultimately illogical conclusion, I would then curse God and seek an injunction against him for causing but letting so many others succumb to the same disease from which my sister was cured, thereby asking a court to “balance the equities.”
All such attempts to conceptualize and characterize God within a distinctly human framework are, ultimately, inadequate and futile. The Bible is replete with references to God’s awesome power (“He is more awesome than all who surround him.” Psalm 89:7), but instructs that we cannot and will not fully understand God’s actions until a specific time:
For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection of reality as in a riddle or enigma, but then when perfection comes we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood by God. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
So unfortunately for Chambers, faith is not a quid pro quo (Latin meaning “something for something”) proposition. And God’s actions are not only incapable of human comprehension, they are not susceptible to constraint or the injunctive relief Chambers seeks.
There is, of course, humor in the notion of tracking God down and serving him with a civil complaint. (Can you imagine the plight of that poor process server?) As noted, the idea of deposing God is an attractive one, but thinking that we can hail God into a court of law and have him answer before a judge or jury for his actions is an attempt to impose human authority — just as Alcorn suggests — upon a deity clothed with infinite power, authority and glory.
Chambers should quit wasting his time — and his constituents’ tax dollars — on his frivolous lawsuit, but engage in serious trial preparation. Because there will be a trial, ultimately, but not in relationship to the case discussed in the article above. It will be a bench, not jury, trial. Chambers will be a litigant, as will God, but God won’t be a defendant. Rather, He’ll be functioning in the same capacity as the individual who usually wears a black robe — and swinging a very special gavel. Most objections will likely be overruled and the court will award a remedy addressing all of the things about which Chambers complains — and more.
The court will also be empowered, however, to impose punitive damages. And the judgment will be unappealable as soon as this phrase is uttered: “Case dismissed.”
“In other Words” is hosted this week at Joy in the Morning.