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Keep bad theology out of Oklahoma

Keep bad theology out of Oklahoma

The opening lines from Episcopal priest Ian Punnett’s op-ed on CNN’s Belief Blog:

“God never gives us more than we can handle.”

God, have I learned to hate that cliche.

As a clergy person, as a hospital chaplain intern and as a father, I

have come to believe that, at best, that platitude is a classic

example of meaningless bumper-sticker theology. It’s easily said and

only makes sense when it goes by you so fast you don’t have time to

think about it.

At worst, however, claiming that God scales a tragedy up or down

depending on our ability to handle loss is as heartless as it is


Rachel Held Evans also writes on “deserved theology” upon observing predictable reaction:

This abusive, shame-based theology that responds to disaster, abuse, and pain with calloused flippancy at best and perpetuation at worst, all because suffering is what people “deserve” anyway, has gained far too much ground within evangelicalism. It’s hurting our witness. It’s hurting the cause of Christ. It’s hurting innocent children.

But more often than not, those of us who express concern are encouraged to quiet down and make nice in the name of Christian unity. This is a mere theological difference, we are told. If the world sees us disagreeing with one another, it will hurt our witness.

I disagree, and in the strongest of terms.

This type of thinking permeates not only in outlandish statements that some public figures make, but dangerously in subtle remarks by people trying to cope. Consider this that accompanies a video on The Huffington Post:

The 41-second clip shows a man, whose voice can be heard offscreen, climbing a set of stairs and lifting the hatch of the storm cellar where he and his family had sought shelter. The camera then pans across the debris-strewn landscape. “The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away,” he remarks.


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Ted Garvin

Back in the Age of Sail, they’d blasphemously say (just before receiving fire): For what we are about to receive Lord, make us duly thankful. Or words to that effect.

Who knows what their thoughts were.

James Mikolajczyk


Those verses imply specific times when we know God to have used natural or historical distress to judge the Israelites. However, Jesus saw fit to repudiate the idea that disasters are always an “act of God” for a reason.

Susan Zimmerman

From a theological nerd to

all pastoral putzes: concerning ??? see

Isaiah 45:7 (yes God does do ???!!!!!)

Ecclesiastes 7:14-15

Job 2:10

Lamentations 3:38

Psalms 137:1-2;8-9

Only from a cosmological view can one understand that a creative one has a tendency to ???

James Mikolajczyk

In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus actually condemned the idea that tragedy is always a divine punishment by discussing an accident at the Tower of Siloam:

“At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” -Lk 13:1-5, NRSV

James Mikolajczyk

Weiwen Ng

I do not subscribe to the idea that God purposely gives us tribulations either. I feel it is faulty theology. However, this ‘bad’ theology is humans’ attempts to understand and cope with a bad situation. Let’s have compassion on people who’ve been hit by a tornado. Let’s not have compassion on the people who try to use that theology for evil ends.

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