Can you tell the difference?


An apparently all-powerful entity that crushes all those who rebel…

…that excessively blesses some while others starve to death.

An entity that expects people to be thankful that the entity lets them live (provided they sacrifice the things they love the most) rather than destroying them completely due to an offense their distant ancestors committed.

An entity that likes to take away the things people love the most to remind people how totally they are at its mercy.


Now, am I talking about the fundamentalist evangelical god, or am I talking about the first chapter of The Hunger Games?

I kept this short and sweet. Now, discuss.


55 thoughts on “Can you tell the difference?

  1. Brilliant. Your brevity allowed our thoughts to fill the space. Loved it.

  2. Pingback: God fulfills the sermon on the mount? (E. Stanley Jones) | Brambonius' blog in english

  3. My first thought was that this was describing the god of the Bible, even before I got to the part where the question was posed.

    Those of you who believe that the god of the Bible is a god of love, why? The first four paragraphs of this post *exactly* describe the hateful, vengeful, misogynistic, homophobic, capricious god depicted in the Bible (OT and NT – same god).

    I’m not asking to be provocative; I’m asking because there’s a part of me that *wants* to believe in a god of love and grace (and another part that doesn’t and can’t), but find it impossible to do so.

    • Hey Questioning,
      Your question about where I get my view of a loving God makes me wonder if we’re reading the same Bible. My question is where do I NOT find an image of a loving God? I first find Him when He gets down in the dirt and literally shapes a human being from the dust. Everything else He merely spoke into being, but this – His prize creation – He formed with His hands and breathed into being. That shows to me that He cared deeply enough for humankind to get that involved in what He was doing.

      The thing is, God didn’t HAVE to care. He didn’t have to walk in the garden with Adam and Eve. He didn’t have to make the first animal sacrifice to cover their sin. When Adam and Eve fell, He could have left them on their own and started from scratch. But He didn’t. He remained intricately involved in the lives of humankind.

      Deuteronomy 7:9 refers to a covenant of love that He has for us. (And that’s not the only place that covenant is referenced.)

      When I read the story of the Bible, I see a rebellious people who turn from God time and time again. And I see a God who steps down from heaven and rescues them again and again and again.

      Me, I can’t understand where you get your view of the “hateful, vengeful, misogynistic, homophobic, capricious god” mentioned in the above comment. You claim it’s from the Bible, but the Bible clearly states that God is love. (Check out 1 John 4 – it’s a must read to get a picture of God’s impossible love.) And then there’s the beautiful promise of Isaiah 54:10:

      “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

      I pray you’ll come to know that love of God in a way that is completely undeniable.

      • Throughout the Bible, God does the following things:

        Orders homosexuals to be stoned to death.
        Orders people working on the Sabbath to be stoned to death (and specifically orders the execution of one man who was picking up sticks on the Sabbath).
        Orders disobedient children to be stoned to death.
        Allows Job’s children and servants to be murdered in order to prove a point.
        Repeatedly orders the Israelites to slaughter men, women, and children.
        Allows a baby to die because of David’s adultery

        I don’t care how many times the Bible says “God is love”. Those actions are not the actions of a loving being.

        • What are the actions of a loving being, Heretic Husband? “I don’t care how many times the Bible says “God is love”. Those actions are not the actions of a loving being.” There must be a definition of love you base your comment off of. Please, tell me, where love is in chaos? Is this world in chaos? I would love to individually walk through your views on the stories mentioned above because if your previous post was all there was to each of the stories, I could see a point to you accusations. However, each one of those stories have been taken from an overall story and outside that overall story you have the views that many have…

          My email is:

          Please feel free to email me

  4. The more I explore the online blog world and read so many interesting viewpoints from a variety of different people the more I become thankful for the people who raised me and the church in which I was raised. Reading over the comments and even your entry and seeing the way a lot of you were taught about God as young children just breaks my heart.

    For me, a God that acted even close to the way described above did not exist. My parents definitely taught me that I needed to try to live a a life of holiness before God. But they also pressed into my heart that this desire for me to be holy came from a place of intense love and desire for me to achieve something great for the Kingdom of God on the earth.

    I’m thankful that God lets me LIVE not just live. He lets me LIVE a life on this earth that is better than one I would live without him. The life I LIVE with him is not always easy but I’m not alone in the times where it is hard. All throughout my childhood God’s love for me was the most prevalent thing I heard from my parents, and my church leaders. I grow more and more thankful for that every day.

  5. Sarah-
    You are a classic “tortured” soul. I feel for you. I’ve been there myself. The question is, does what I think about God have any impact on the reality of God’s nature. There is no “my” God because what I “think” about the nature of God doesn’t change the reality of the situation.

  6. There is a razor-thin line between God’s purposeful causation of events (yanking my sorry ass out of a suicidal depression) and His failure to act to prevent them (my stillborn full-term daughter). God may not actually be all-powerful (can God break covenant?). Written on that razor-thin line is “I don’t know” — a delicate balance between our knowing and our unknowing. For to fall off that line on either side means we are claiming to know how God thinks … we are making God in our image … we are trying to squeeze God into a box that He won’t fit into. I can find peace by leaving those things shrouded in mystery behind the mist of unknowing … holding my understanding of God loosely while standing immersed in Awe of a God who is way beyond my understanding.

  7. Does intent count for nothing? Or are you arguing that the intent is the same?

    I always get really unsure when reading things like what you describe. On the one hand, I want to say (and believe) that God is different, because the *intent* is different, even if the effects are similar. I want to say that there’s more to God, that the context makes it okay. On the other hand, I wonder if this is somehow illogical or a bad argument. On the other hand, I don’t think it is – because context, the specific situation, is extremely important.

    Also, I’m never sure if the view of God you’re talking about is actually what I believe at all. I just know that if you’re mad at God, even if he *is* good and loving and is letting these things happen because it will actually lead to the greatest good, then it will look to you as if he is a crazy abusive person. And then I feel incredibly uncomfortable, because I’m afraid that maybe he is…and I try to tell myself that he isn’t.

    I keep reading your blog because of these moments.

  8. Haven’t read all the comments, so sorry if this is a repeat one. I haven’t read/seen the Hunger Games, so I can’t speak to that. I would, however, caution painting with such a broad brush-stroke as though there were one “evangelical” view of God. Now, if you said, “fundamentalist, Calvinist, conservative evangelical” view, you might be a bit more accurate. And, of course, that view is held by other evangelicals as well. But as a self-proclaimed evangelical Anabaptist, it gets tiring having to defend the term “evangelical” when it seems to be used so generically, as with the media depiction of evangelicals as a conservative voting block, etc.

  9. I have a simple little thought. Maybe, now hear me out guys, just maybe… the bible was a middle ages version of the hunger games? Sorta like a reference of satire, meaningful mockery towards older religions… Now, I may seem a bit out there with my idea, but hey, it’s just an idea…

    • Now there’s an interesting thought! Obviously we don’t have the same view of the Bible as one another, but I definitely think that’s an interesting thought and would make sense for some parts of the Bible. I’ll have to think on that more–I mean, a lot of Bible stories closely resemble stories from older religions. Hmm

    • The bible was written long before the middle ages, but it is indeed thought by a lot of bible scholars (even evangelicals) that for example the creation story was a reworking and subversion of older creation ANE (Ancient Near East for those who don’t know the lingo) myths during the exilic period in which the Jewish people where struggling with their identity, with a new meaning and layering… I also can remember a comparison of one of the psalms and the Aron-hymn (from the short Egyptian monotheistic period) so there surely are parts that could be seen that way.

  10. Just don’t understand why a god would create people who had the great propensity to be deviant and then blame it on them for not resisting it. Or who would give them an intelligent mind and then tell them not to use it. Or who just flat out hates his or her creation and forces it to behave in a certain way to avoid destruction for being the way they were created.

    Good parents don’t want their kids to fear them. They just want to love and protect them. If we think God is like a parent, then why don’t more people see God in this way than as an out-of-control, destructive force who is supposedly protecting us from Godself?

    • The paradox is this:

      If, as a parent, you have a child who wants to commit suicide, is it more loving to let them do so or to violate their free will and stop them?

      If you stop them they may change and come to love you. But they may hate you for it and try again. Do you continue to stop them if they try again?

      If you continue to stop them they may hate you more and more every time. Does there ever come a point when it is more loving to give your child their desire even though you know it will ultimately lead to their destruction?

      Will someone that is being forced to act against their desire ever come to love the one who is forcing them to act against their will?

      • That is a great question.

        • As a suicide survivor, I think I will have to think that one over. I have lots of feelings but need to process them.

      • If the child is continuing to act in that way, maybe the parent would search for lasting solutions?

        • I will say that my parents trying to force me to drop out of college, move out of my house, and move back home to “protect me” was extremely unhelpful. it just made me feel like I was a failure as an adult. What was helpful was Abe forcing me (gently, not cruelly) to go to the doctor and get medical help. So, in both situations people were trying to get me to do something I didn’t want to do, but one was much more helpful.

          (p.s. I love my parents. They didn’t know what to do in this situation and they were scared. I don’t hold it against them)

          • True dat! Although I never committed suicide, I sure entertained thoughts of it before I realized that I was depressed and then medicated. But I still struggled – and being depressed means that the depressed does not want to be forced into anything. It’s a very trying and potentially lonely place to be.

            Some things worked, but frustration sure didn’t and eventually lent toward the dissolvement of my marriage.

          • I think it is definitely worth noting that the same action can be done in a right way and a wrong way so I want to be clear that I in no way meant to condemn parents like yours who are very well intentioned but perhaps go about it in the wrong ways.

      • I suppose the simple answer is, depends on the context. Which really isn’t that simple at all.

        • I realize that the example I used was rather extreme, but I think it is something that needs to be considered in discussions of love and protections verses free will.

          Is it possible that there is a point at which it is more loving to leave a hardheaded person to their destructive ways than to try to pull them out of it when clearly and passionately do not want to change?

          • That’s a difficult question that I’m not really sure there’s a good or correct answer to

          • I think trying to figure out why things are the way they are is the question we need to be asking about most things, but it’s the question most people never get to. They usually just pick one side or the other and leave it at that.

            Sorry if I sound vague, I’m trying to work through all this myself at the moment.

      • This is such a great comment.

        Less “extreme” examples: who to marry, what to do with one’s free time, whether or not to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, whom to associate with…

        There are lots of circumstances I can think of where sometimes the best thing to do is to let the person you love do what they want, even though you think it’s a big mistake – even when you’re right. I’m sure that if you’re reading this, you can probably think of one example from your own life. I sure can…several, in fact.

      • Ned… I am late to the game but this is exactly the kind of thinking that I have and wish I could put into words the way you did this here!!!

  11. Ah, the freedom to question one’s Creator. The freedom even to bring His existence into question. The freedom to denounce Him publicly, to curse Him privately, to chastise His followers, and to look out into the heavens and proclaim one’s own existence and beliefs to be paramount.

    Do it while you can, you only have a minuscule amount of time to get it done, and only a very few listeners to hear you, before you are cast aside by life. And, as time moves steadily along, ultimately you turn to dust and are entirely forgotten by the world – as though you had never lived at all.

    Sometime, maybe a million, or a billion, or even a trillion years in the future, God may again think of you. And perhaps he will be sad about the choices that you made because you were one of His children.

    But at least you knew freedom! Right? ….at least you knew freedom.

    • Freedom to not believe in a horrible god is a pretty good freedom. Freedom to not surrender to fear and control tactics is a freedom I do NOT take for granted. Fortunately, my God is a god of love and not a god of fear.

      But be warned yourself, if you want people to worship your god, maybe, just maybe, trying to keep them in line by getting them to obsess over their future fates – after death – may not be the best way to do produce amorous feelings in us.

      • “your God?” “my God?”

        Tell me then, how many gods to you think there are?

        And, which god are you assuming is “mine?”

        • Your god is a god of retribution and fear. That is not the God that I see through Jesus.

          • Wrong! How in creation did you come to that conclusion?!

            You should re-read my post. It is pretty clear that I am addressing non-believers in it.

            Furthermore, I too see God through my personal savior – Jesus Christ. And the New Testament is explicit on the issue that there is the repercussion of exclusion from Heaven without an acknowledgement of His sacrifice and it being the payment for my sins.

            That is the point that I have been making all along!

            Lastly, regardless of what you wish to think, there is ONLY ONE God. The concept of my God, your god, his God, her God, this group’s God or that group’s God ended eons ago. Those statements have no meaning and, if I were God, I would probably find them offensive.

            • shangreene- Your post said NOTHING about addressing Non-Believers… It was focused at anyone who Questions, and trust me, There are a LOT of “Believers” who question… And what about Christ COMING to set us free… THAT is the kind of Freedom I want… The freedom to live my life without having a ton of hoops I have to jump thru in order to “earn favor” with God… The freedom to believe with MY heart what I choose to believe… The freedom to express myself and my views without being “damned to Hell” because I disagree with you or anyone else on what I believe about God and Christ… The FREEDOM to have a PERSONAL relationship and understanding of God… And I believe what jasdye was saying about “your god and My God” is the distinction between the God of love and Compassion that was revealed to us thru the life and death of Christ, and the god of control and power and manipulation that so many “Christians” blindly follow, for no other reason than that this is the view of god that they were taught was right… -I am not saying that God doesn’t have control, or power, but rather that He doesn’t USE it to Manipulate the masses, as so many “Christian” men have done, by skewing the Bible to fit their own world views… Men have made “god” into what suits them, in order to make the rest of the world see things “THEIR WAY”. God is LOVE, and I believe anyone or anything that teaches otherwise is not following the one true God…

    • I said I wouldn’t delete any comments unless you were a jerk. I’m pretty sure your first comment falls under jerkiness. This is your warning–I’ll block you if you keep it up.

    • You can only terrorize people into obedience for so long. It worked for quite a long time with me, until the point where what scared me the most was an eternity trapped in heaven with psychoGod.

      • seriously, I had the same feeling. I didn’t want to go to heaven because I was so afraid of God. I’m still trying to redeem the idea of heaven for myself because at this point I’d rather just turn into dust and be forgotten, honestly.

      • My comment seems to have generated some interest… I suppose that is good. Everyone seems to have interpreted it somewhat differently, but always as if it had been directed at them personally…THAT is INTERESTING. What really blows me away, however, is that, no one here understood that it was a simple rumination. I never meant it as an attack on anyone.

        Sincerely – The “Troll”

        • I feel like this is one of those, “I was trolling, but people caught my troll so I’m going to pretend that I wasn’t talking about them the whole time and try to make them all seem foolish” comments. But, if not, feel free to have random ruminations in which you condemn hypothetical people (who just so happen to sound a lot like the author of the blog you’re commenting on) if that’s what floats your boat.

    • I do think Sarah questions not the Creator, but weird ideas about Him from people who seem to know everything about him. You sound more like a cynical atheist than like a real believer to me anyway. I call Poe’s law!
      There is one God (all monotheists will agree on that) that is beyond what we can describe with human language, and that God will not be afraid of our little questions, nor will God ever fit in our theories. But people always have a God-view and ideas about how God is, like you clearly do. And if you’re more offended by some questions than by the comparison of God with ‘the capitol’ your God-view is quite off I’m afraid. Quite scary.

      Frankly, I think it’s not Sarah but people like you who seem to know everything who need to learn some more awe and, in a sense, to fear God more. And putting God in a conceptual cathedral of certainty is bordering on dangerous conceptual idolatry… He’ll never be a tame lion…
      (Btw, the term ‘personal saviour’ is extrabiblical nonsense from a modern time, Jesus is the saviour of all of creation, not of some individuals! The story of redemption is much bigger)

      • thanks Bram. I think I’m gonna call Poe’s law too, because these comments are ridiculous! At the very least, this dude/dudette is a shameless troll.

  12. These two things are not even comparable. The capitol maintains its power solely by instilling fear in the hearts of its people (probably because they are afraid of the people). God isn’t like that. God is Love. And yes, bad stuff happens in the world, but that’s the result of our poor choices. That’s the result of Love giving the beloved free will. God doesn’t sit in the heavens and laugh at the things that hurt us; He sits beside us and cries as we do. Like any loving parent, God allows there to be consequences to our choices. Otherwise, we would grow up completely spoiled, selfish brats. But you have to remember that everything God does is motivated by love.

    • I should clarify that I’m talking about a very specific view of God that I’ve encountered within the evangelical movement. but I am always encouraged to learn that others have encountered more positive, loving views of God.

    • Rebekah,

      I’m struggling with my view of God at the moment. In fact, I was toying with the idea of doing a blog post on how I view God as being not much different than the Capitol.

      I say that to say this: please don’t think the bitterness and anger in this reply is directed at you. I wish I could see the God you see, I really do.

      But if God is all powerful and has the power to stop bad things from happening, it doesn’t impress me that he cries with us. I don’t need his crocodile tears. If, hypothetically, I had the power to stop one of your loved ones from dying but chose not to, and then showed up at the funeral bawling and gave you a big hug, what would your reaction be?

      And I don’t think that poor choices can be blamed for all the evil in the world. Our bad choices don’t cause tornadoes, floods, or earthquakes. In many cases they have nothing to do with people getting sick. And for the evil that IS caused by our bad choices, I don’t buy the free will argument. Is it loving if I allow my child to run in front of a car because I respect their free will? No. But God, if he exists and is all powerful, does this all the time.

      If God allows children to starve to death, women to be raped and murdered, genocide to be committed, out of love, then he’s at worst a monster and at best a mad scientist.

      Again, please don’t take this as anger toward you.


      • I will second HH’s comment. This is directed toward a very specific view of God based in fear, not love, that I grew up with throughout highschool and part of college. It’s the God of the Mark Driscoll, “God hates you” variety. I apologize if you feel that this is an attack on your view of God, and feel free to defend that view. I’m encouraged by it and it’s the view that I’m beginning to discover slowly on my spiritual journey!

  13. Well, not *my* Evangelical God – but then again, I don’t believe in *that* retributive god anymore.

    • Ah, neither do I. Not at all. I was obviously generalizing about the evangelical movement, but I’m not sure there’s a better way to invoke this image.

  14. Since you suggested that you were going to read the hunger games on FB I think you indeed read the first chapter, and then compared the capitol to the view some people have of God, which is quite frightening. I saw some blogger a while ago who indeed compared the capitol with God, which was quite weird for me. I can’t find that link again I’m affraid.

    I’ve never believed in a God like the way you describe the capitol here, but I see what you mean I’m afraid. I could never worship such a God though.

  15. I’ve had the exact same thought!

  16. Sounds like the evangelical god to me!

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