When 2 Deaths is a Blessing

Divine truthiness is a collision between the statement, 'God is love,' (1 John 4:8) and terrifying power that does not seem like love at all. When a tragedy occurs, we are left grasping for words. In those grasping moments if we engage in God-talk, our deeply held (sometimes truthy) theology becomes clear.

photo © Paul Joseph Greene, 2017

On August 3, 2017, two people died and nine people were injured in a gas explosion that collapsed a large section of Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis. This is a terrible tragedy. It is hard to write about an event like this. In the wake of that event people reached for words. In doing so, they expose a terrifying notion of how God's love supposedly wields power. For instance, ABC News reports a survivor at the scene who said, "We're blessed. This could've been a lot worse."

In a similar line of thought, KARE 11 News posted video of the community's prayer service the night of the tragedy where the school President, Dr. Donna Harris, said "God is in control."

But, words like those about blessings and divine control contain unsettling ideas about God. Since God is all-powerful, the logic goes, that means God controls and even intends the tragic fiery death of beloved people. How can that be? Please ask yourself, what kind of "love" expresses itself by destroying property, injuring people, and killing people?

Divine truthiness prevails whenever God's love seems to act violently. If God has all the power, and loves us, and perpetrates atrocities against us, the word love stops meaning anything like actual love. Head and heart are torn apart in a moment like this.

It is time to re-examine what we mean by God's power. It turns out that God's love is peaceable, gentle, compliant, and merciful (see James 3:17) power perfected in weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). And that's the opposite of violence.

God does not kill people. God mourns with us those who are lost, and calls us to take action to make a better world where lives are not lost in this way again.

When 2 deaths is a blessing from a controlling God, we've set the bar way too low.