Friday, May 29, 2009

Blaming God or the Devil

I think we attribute way too much to God and the Devil and way too little to ourselves.

For example, in almost any discussion, there is one side that says, in effect, "It must have been God's will," while another side says, “It is not right, and Satan is the cause if someone ’succumbs.’” ("The Devil made me do it.")

Both are cop-outs. Whatever we believe, we should own up to our own place as the chooser of our actions - relying on God's grace and mercy to cover those things we simply can't do differently. I understand the need for a “devil” in our theology, and I can accept the existence of a rebel leader named Lucifer, but I also would not grieve in the slightest if we learn that “the devil” is figurative and he disappears from our discussions – if we simply focus on progressing by understanding better and improving ourselves within the exalting grace of God.


adamf said...

I have thought a lot about not blaming the devil when we had plenty to do with an outcome. The other end of the spectrum is interesting--i.e. whatever happens must be "God's Will." I could see this belief used to avoid personal responsibility and even a lowered self-esteem in cases where some task or goal is not achieved.

As for the "need" for a "devil" I agree there at least needs to be a figurative one, or at least opposition, but so far the idea that Lucifer's (or someone similar) fall was necessary makes no sense, and is actually quite offensive to me (the idea, anyway).

Jen said...

I don't know if I understand this exactly how you mean it, but I would have agreed with you much more several years ago, but find myself unable to do so now. When I look at Emma Smith or Jonah in the scriptures I can think of instances where they did NOT want to do the Lord's will, yet the Lord make it clear what would happen if they didn't. Their agency was to be able to choose to do God's will or not, but there were clearly stated consequences if they didn't do His will. Can you blame God if you choose NOT to do His will when He has stated it to you clearly in such an individual way?

I have personally experienced this with the Lord over the past few years and experienced a side of the Lord I never knew before. I have come to understand those in the scriptures better through my own personal experience. I don't think it is about blaming God or the devil but I do believe there is definitely an individual plan for each of us and many things that happen ARE according to God's will, not just random happenings based on what WE are doing. I didn't believe this before but my experiences with the Lord have taught me He is much more involved in our lives than I ever thought or imagined. I don't think the devil is figurative, but know the he exists. He doesn't need to be a point of discussion but he is definitely working to stop the work of the Lord and he can be blamed for making things much more difficult than they need to be. That doesn't mean we have to choose to behave badly, but he is definitely a part of trying to make things more difficult for us. I feel it is important to recognize he does exist and has power, but that we are able to freely choose to be under that influence or not.

I can say that I have deeply struggled not to blame God for the situation I am in now because I did not do anything "wrong" to get to this place but was only striving to do the Lord's will. He has made it clear to me that what is happening in my life is for my experience, learning and growth. I have heard people say they think that the story of Job is allegorical but I do not believe that either. That is there for those who go through the deepest of loss and the most difficult of trials that they may not lose hope completely. I believe God only allows things to happen for a purpose and because everyone has a different purpose their trials help best prepare them for the work they are to do. Most people who suffer deeply, suffer silently and never speak of their deep suffering, therefore the Lord has given us the scriptures to find those who we can relate to, who have felt the frustration, the pain and the sorrow that we have as well. There is a story there for everyone and thank heavens the Lord made sure to include us all.

Papa D said...

Jen, I actually agree with your main point. I just see so much "blaming" as a reflexive denial of personal responsibility that I think it's important to carefully distinguish between what God is putting us through and what we are putting ourselves through - and, in general, eliminating the entire concept behind, "The devil made me do it."

No, the devil didn't "make" you do it.

My newest post deals with the idea that God really does attempt to inspire us to do what He wants us to do - and that we really do pay consequences when we choose to not do what He wants us to do.