God must be relieved! Read ‘Legal case against God dismissed‘. The plaintiff – a state senator for thirty-eight years! – claimed that since God is omniscient, he knows of the case against him. The judge dismissed the case, because there was no address at which God could be served with the papers. That’s a question of (a) not being able to deliver papers to Heaven; or (b) recognising that although God is omnipresent, he’s hard to pin down!
They forget the problem of how God would defend himself in such a case. Who would be his appointed representatives? How would that work in the USA, with its clear separation of Church and State? In the UK, the Church of England would be at the front of the queue – if they were brave enough! Would any representatives be self-appointed, as some in the religious world are?
Even that begs the question of whether God would want to defend himself. He felt no need to do so in the story of Job. Or, indeed, whether he already has defended himself.
Which brings me to the old story ‘The Long Silence’, which I first found in Bob Moffett’s book ‘Crowdmakers‘ from 1985. I could quote some theodicy arguments from theologians such as Moltmann, but try this instead:
At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Most shrank from the brilliant light before them. But some groups near the front talked heatedly – not with cringing shame but with belligerence.
‘Can God judge us? How can he know about suffering?’ snapped a pert young brunette. She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. ‘We endured terror, beatings, torture, death.’
In another group a black boy lowered his collar. ‘What about this?’ he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn: ‘Lynched for no other crime than being black!’
In another crowd was a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes. ‘Why should I suffer?’ she murmured. ‘It wasn’t my fault.’
Far out across the plain were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the eveil and suffering he had permitted in this world. ‘How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred! What did God know of all that we had been forced to endure in this world? For God leads a pretty sheltered life,’ they said.
So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he or she had suffered most. A Jew, a black, a person from Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic an a thalidomide child. In the centre of the plain they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever.
Before God could be qualified t be their judge, he must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth – as a man.
Let him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges. Be tried by a prejudiced judge. Let him be tortured.
At last let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a whole host of witnesses to verify it. As each leader announced his portion of the sentence loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled.
When the last had finished pronouncing sentence there was a long silence.
No one uttered another word. No one moved.
For suddenly all knew that God had already served his sentence.