Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, May, 2016

posted Apr 28, 2016, 7:38 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Apr 28, 2016, 7:38 AM ]

The Problem with Half Truths

     The “Current Issues Sunday School Class” is currently working through the latest book and lesson material by UM Pastor and author, Adam Hamilton, entitled “Half Truths.” Hamilton deals with statements (Half-Truths) such as “God helps those who help themselves,” “God won't give you more than you can handle,” and “Everything happens for a reason.” This later statement is the first of those “Things the Bible doesn't say” that are found in Hamilton's book.

    To say that “Everything happens for a reason” has both theological and philosophical ramifications. It has some serious problems too, because it's only true in certain respects. That's why it is a “half-truth.”

    It is true, of course, if we mean by it that our actions have consequences. There is a certain sense in that we can/do reap what we sow. However, sometimes we also reap what we haven't sown. Now that can be a real downer. In taking a drive in the country, for example, one may come over the breast of a hill only to be confronted by a fallen tree, sink hole, horse, cow, moose or anything in the way of an unexpected obstacle more threatening than a rabbit, skunk, squirrel or chipmunk. That can be a real catastrophe for which one might have difficulty assigning a reason other than that this driver was unlucky or happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

     To say that “Everything happens for a reason,” can raise some very troubling questions:

Does God really want little children to die in a school shooting?

Why would God will millions of Jews to die in the Holocaust?

Was it God's will that many lives be lost when the Twin Towers collapsed?

     One of the problems with the notion that everything happens for a reason is that it makes God responsible for the actions of others. If God actually intended ahead of time for everything to happen, then God is responsible for every terrible thing that happens in our world. It would mean that tragedies occur as the result of God's will not in spite of it. That would be a hard pill to swallow.

     Another problem with believing that everything happens for a reason, and that whatever happens is part of God's plan, is that it leads to fatalism and indifference. A fatalist thinks, “Whatever is going to happen, will happen. Whatever will be, will be. Human beings are powerless to change it.”

     According to Adam Hamilton, “If you're a committed fatalist, there is no reason ever to wear a seat belt; if you are meant to die in a car accident, you will. If you are not meant to die, you won't. If you take a fatalistic view, why work out, eat healthy foods, or take care of your body? After all, when it's your time, it's your time. It won't matter how much you exercise, or what you eat?"

     Obviously, I have only begun to scratch the surface of this topic. If you want to learn more, I recommend you read “Half Truths” for yourself (We'll make sure there is a copy in the Church Library) or better yet, join us Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. in the Current Issues Class.

 George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries