Monday, March 31, 2008

A child dies in the name of God

At 5:04 on March 26, Iztok brought up a news story that would make anyone cringe: Police: Girl Dies After Parents Pray for Healing Instead of Seeking Medical Help . Especially disturbing to him was the police chief's statement that the girl's parents said she died because "apparently they didn't have enough faith." Iztok asks, "Was it lack of faith or too much of it?"

I'd call it a lack of common sense and a fatal misunderstanding of how God heals.

The best response to this story I've seen is from Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom, Trusting God's Hand Should Not Idle Yours. The whole column is worth reading, but here's a sample:

"Now I know there are many of us who believe 'God has a plan.' And I hope and pray that's true.

"But I'm betting His plan doesn't include us sitting around doing nothing. We work, yet have faith. We have fun, yet have faith. We eat, yet have faith. If you can indulge in some form of 21st-Century activity, why not others?

"Faith is good. In my view, it's vital. But in this day and age, to refuse to see doctors is living in a time warp. And when a child's life is threatened, ignoring the modern world should not be an option."

Sounds right to me. What do you think?

25 comments:

Iztok said...

I think the poor child was abused. I think other children should be taken into protective custody. Deluded parents of dead child should also be put to trial. (Together with everyone else who supported their crazy idea and not telling them to take their child to a regular doctor instead.) This form of child abuse has to stop!

Anonymous said...

I heard a story once - a joke really, but it's apropos here. A man lived in a flood zone. One night the radio emergency broadcast system kicked in - EMERGENCY: Massive flood expected -- and you guessed it - for the area where the man lived. He leaned back in his rocker and said "God will take care of me." His neighbors woke him a few hours later -- come with us! There's going to be a flood! He said "God will take care of me." The flood waters rose - he was watching out of his second story window when a man came by in a boat -- come with me! "God will take care of me." Later he was on his roof when a helicopter came by. A man yelled from the copter - come with us! "God will take care of me" the man yelled back. The flood waters took him and he drowned. When he got to heaven, he sought out God and asked, "Why did you let me drown? Why didn't you take care of me?"

God replied: "Hey. I sent a radio announcement, your neighbors, a boat and a helicopter. What do you want from me?"

Anonymous said...

Jesus said to him [Satan] in reply, "It also says, 'You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.'" -- Lk 4:12

D.J. said...

Yep, the fact that God is sovereign (in control) over all things does not negate human responsibility. God is a God of ends, but also a God of means. Consider this admonition from Paul to the Philippians concerning the Christian life...

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (responsibility of man), for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (sovereignty of God)." - Philippians 2:12-13

This is a sad story indeed, and a humbling admonition to me to carefully study the whole counsel of God.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

This is so tragic. To me, the death of an innocent child, whatever the cause, is the most compelling evidence of the nonexistence of a diety, or at least a benevolent one.

It is a shame that the Bible can be "interpreted" to support such a failure to act. If truly inspired by God, wouldn't this have been a good time for a little more clarity in the inspiration?

Iztok said...

"Yep, the fact that God is sovereign (in control) over all things does not negate human responsibility."

Now let's see some logical statements out of this:

Doctor's help = D
No doctor's help = !D
God's help = G
No god's help = !G
Kid lives = L
Kid dies = !L

Atheist parents taking their kid to atheist doctor: D and !G

Religious parents taking their kid to a doctor: D and G

Atheist parents not taking their kid to a doctor: !D and !G

Religious parents not taking their kid to a doctor: !D and G

D and !G => L
D and G => L
!D and G => !L
!D and !G => !L

Result?

D => L
!D => !L
G => L or !L

So what we can logically conclude? Having god in the mix doesn't change the result. However having doctor in the mix does.

D.J. said...

A couple points…

Anonymous (4/1 8:27 AM) said…
“It is a shame that the Bible can be "interpreted" to support such a failure to act. If truly inspired by God, wouldn't this have been a good time for a little more clarity in the inspiration?”

I don’t think the problem is one of clarity, but of poor human judgment. There is nothing in Scripture that says that medical treatment is evil. Those (very few) who take such a position do so because of some erroneous assumptions that, ironically enough, Iztok repeats here…

Iztok said…
“So what we can logically conclude? Having god in the mix doesn't change the result. However having doctor in the mix does.”

Here’s the fundamental flaw in your logical progression, which is the same fundamental flaw that lead these parents to make their tragic decision. You work from the presupposition that divine and human actions are two completely separate categories, and that either a doctor fixes a problem, or God does. A compatiblistic view of divine sovereignty and human responsibility (which I hold to and which is taught by Scripture) holds that often times God fixes a problem through a doctor – i.e. he uses “natural” means to accomplish his purposes. Scripture speaks of God sustaining all of creation by his power, which takes place through natural means (laws of nature, physics, etc.) that he has set in place. Scripture talks of God sending out the good news of Christ to the whole world, a task which he accomplishes through Christians carrying that message to every nation. Likewise, Scripture calls us to turn to God when we are in need, and he will often meet that need through “natural” means – such as modern medicine. Anonymous’s (3/31 5:56 PM) illustration is a good one.

So, when you argue that having God in the mix doesn’t change things but having a doctor in the mix does, you are ignoring the fact that I believe in a God who “works all things according to the counsel of his will.” In other words, it is impossible for there to be a situation where God is not in the mix, whether you believe he is or not. So your logical argument is waged against a straw man.

Soli Deo Gloria

Iztok said...

DJ: "In other words, it is impossible for there to be a situation where God is not in the mix, whether you believe he is or not."

I am glad you brought this up. It seems that I am right when I claim that we should held your God responsible for everything that is going on. That includes innocent babies dying and massacre in Darfur.

Now you can't have your cake and eat it too. Your God seems to be a very bloody one according to your own testimony.

Anonymous said...

Iztok wrote, "Your God seems to be a very bloody one according to your own testimony."

I can't wait for Iztok to tell God that, face-to-face. Iztok won't be so smug, then.

D.J. said...

Iztok said…
“I am glad you brought this up. It seems that I am right when I claim that we should held your God responsible for everything that is going on. That includes innocent babies dying and massacre in Darfur.

Now you can't have your cake and eat it too. Your God seems to be a very bloody one according to your own testimony.”

Depends on what you mean by responsible. Is God in control of all things, good and bad? Yes, absolutely. Nothing is outside his control, and that includes the tragic deaths of infants and the massacre of thousands in Sudan. He works all things together according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1). Sometimes, that plan encompasses tragedy, whether through disease and disaster (see Job) or human evil (see Habbakuk). For Christians, our hope (and I mean hope not in a “please, please, maybe” sense but a “confident hope for the future” sense) is that God is working all these things together for a redemptive purpose (Romans 8:28). Many times, we cannot see this purpose and ask the big “why” question (as both Job and Habakkuk did), but at the end of the day we trust in the one who “does all things well” (as both Job and Habakkuk did). So yes, God is in control of all things - neither dying infants nor Darfur are “oops” moments for God. As Jesus himself said, even the most insignificant bird doesn’t die apart from God’s control.

Now, if by responsible you mean that God is morally culpable, then no, he is not responsible in that sense for every event. Genesis 50 and Isaiah 10 are good examples of human sin being a part of God’s righteous plan, used by him for his good purposes – yet the responsibility for the evil is on those who willfully committed it, not on God. As for the sovereignty of God over what we would consider natural calamities, Pastor John Piper in Minneapolis, MN says it far better than I could hope to in this reflection on last year’s bridge collapse.

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/745_putting_my_daughter_to_bed_two_hours_after_the_bridge_collapsed/

Ultimately, yes, Iztok, God is in control of all things.

Soli Deo Gloria

Iztok said...

"Now, if by responsible you mean that God is morally culpable, then no, he is not responsible in that sense for every event."

So if he is not morally culpable for every event we can claim that he is not culpable for what doctors do to heal people either. So why not just attribute to those who actually get the work done? If doctor cures person it is he/she who gets the praise. If person kills someone it is he/she that gets to be blamed for. No god or gods required then.

I think you are trying to make exceptions so you can wash away with inconsistencies and are creating new ones here.

I remember once a response to an article which went something like this: "Plain crash, God saved 3 passengers, killed 115."

Iztok said...

Anonymous: "I can't wait for Iztok to tell God that, face-to-face. Iztok won't be so smug, then."

Since your God is all present and all knowing I am considering I told that face-to-face. I guess being anonymous (vs. using real - and rather unique here - name) makes you smug.

I am not afraid of God, just its followers. Imaginary things don't scare me.

Anonymous said...

DJ, you may just as well argue with a cement wall -- it's less dense.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Izzie, I never knew a "plain" to crash.

Anonymous said...

Izzie said, "Since your God is all present and all knowing I am considering I told that face-to-face."

Careful, Izzie. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin. You'd best leave yourself an out.

D.J. said...

Iztok said...
"So if he is not morally culpable for every event we can claim that he is not culpable for what doctors do to heal people either."

You can claim whatever you want, obviously, but Scripture teaches that God is sovereign over all creation. His common grace working in believer and unbeliever alike is what allows us to do any good. He is not morally culpable for human sin - we are. God uses even human sin to accomplish his good purposes.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

DJ wrote, "God uses even human sin to accomplish his good purposes."

Waaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy over Izzie's head. Nice try, though.

Iztok said...

Anonymous, my name is Iztok, just so you know.

Also, English is my 5th language so sometimes a typo plain vs. plane gets in. But at least I use my real name, not hide behind "Anonymous".

"Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin. You'd best leave yourself an out."

Here it goes. I deny existence of the Holy Spirit.

Is it clear enough? Think it got the message? Not afraid of imaginary, it never turns out to be real. What I am afraid is followers who think like you and only brave when they have masses behind them but cowardly anonymous otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Izzie wrote, "Not afraid of imaginary, it never turns out to be real."

That will change when you leave this life, my dear boy.

Iztok said...

"That will change when you leave this life, my dear boy."

Sure will not. I've been dead for millions of years before I've been born and I can tell you that there is nothing there.

Anonymous said...

Izzie wrote, "I've been dead for millions of years before I've been born and I can tell you that there is nothing there."

So, by your own statement, there is life after death!

Satan's grip on you is VERY strong, my dear boy. Pray for the strength to turn your life around now.

Iztok said...

Anonymous, please use my real name when addressing.

Iztok wrote, "I've been dead for millions of years before I've been born and I can tell you that there is nothing there."

You say: "So, by your own statement, there is life after death!"

??? I said "there is nothing there". How do you make this into something is beyond me. Nothing is not something.

Me: There is nothing there.
You: So you admit that X is there.

WTF? With the same twisted logic you could say that I said there is a strip bar after death?

"Satan's grip on you is VERY strong, my dear boy. Pray for the strength to turn your life around now."

Satan isn't real either.

Anonymous said...

Iztok said, "Satan isn't real either."

So sad....

Iztok said...

Anonymous, I bet you would enjoy it if Satan were real, now you are just sad because it isn't. Sorry to have busted your bubble but most of people I know are happy that Satan doesn't exist. Except sadists like you who want the idea of eternal punishment. (So much for love thy neighbor.)

Anonymous said...

Iztok, you miss the point (other than that atop your head). I was referring to you when I said, "So sad...."