Stopping Kirk Cameron’s Unstoppable

WordPress will probably delete this post because it’s talking about Kirk Cameron’s new Unstoppable movie. Also because it links to his site and includes the video, and the world is all about religious persecution. (Just kidding). The video:

Kirk Cameron says that he has an answer to the question of why God allows evil.

He came out the other end of this “meat grinder” with his faith stronger than ever before.

With all due respect, I don’t believe him.

When you encounter tragedy, really encounter it, not just examine it from a distance, you don’t come out the other side with more faith.

Scripture tells the story of a guy named Jacob who wrestled with God. Jacob and God fought all night long. Jacob didn’t come out the other side stronger.

He came out with a limp.

If you come out the other side stronger, you’ve been wrestling with people.

If you come out the other side stronger, I doubt that you’ve been wrestling with God.

Now maybe Kirk Cameron has some insights. Maybe he has some theodicies (theoretical explanations of how God works in the world). But I don’t see the limp, so I doubt that I will respect his “answers.” The fact that he has answers at all makes me suspicious that he has failed to engage with the content. You don’t come out of something like this with answers. You come out with uncertainty, and fear and trembling. You come out with a limp.

The psalmists never gave an answer to the problem of evil or the problem of pain. Jesus never gave an answer. I suspect that giving an answer may be a sin. If you come out the other side able to speak at all, let alone confidently, I have my doubts about the level of suffering that you have encountered.

If Kirk’s answer is anything other than silence, or lament, if he has an answer at all, there may be a problem.

C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain was nothing compared to the sheer beauty that is his A Grief ObservedThe Problem of Pain dealt with grief on a theoretical level. A Grief Observed was personal. Theory will only get you so far, and when Lewis himself was faced with the reality of death, he lost his answers and had left only prayers.

Truth is found in the silence of Job’s friends; the lies begin when they open their mouths to explain God’s reasons.

The answer is that there is no answer.

The answer is God’s solidarity with our death in his own death on the cross.

The answer is God’s solidarity with our loss in his loss of his only son on the cross.

But that is not an answer. That does not answer our all-important question why.

It is not enough to say that evil is simply the absence of God. If that is true, then God is absent from a great many places where he aught to be, and that is no better, and that is no comfort.

Greg Boyd argues that evil is meaningless, and neither caused nor allowed by God. I think that’s the closest I would get to allowing an answer, but even that answer is not comforting. I long to worship a deity who can get me out of trouble every time. But the God described in scripture refuses to be that deity. He refuses to be an answer, a solution.

We are trapped, it seems – trapped between answers that feel disingenuous, and answers that do not comfort. We fear mystery, but know deep down in our hearts that the easy answers are lies.

Kyrie eleison. 

David M Schell About David M Schell
I am a doubter and a believer. I have a Master's in Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, but because faith grows and changes, I don't necessarily stand by everything I've ever written, so if you see something troubling further back, please ask! Read More.

Author: David M Schell

I am a doubter and a believer. I have a Master's in Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, but because faith grows and changes, I don't necessarily stand by everything I've ever written, so if you see something troubling further back, please ask! Read More.

One thought on “Stopping Kirk Cameron’s Unstoppable”

  1. You are right to disagree with the man you disagree with here. I am not so sure of your solution’s completeness.

    The apparent problem — based on your summary, not on his comments — is the expectation of reward in this life for suffering. He expects signs and wonders where others expect wisdom. But these are wrong approaches, and approaches of men. (We are granted signs sometimes, and sometimes wisdom, but we shouldn’t expect them.)

    The Book of Job is the answer to the problem of evil: Why does God let men righteous in His sight suffer in this life? Answer: Would you be talking about God right now if there weren’t suffering? Would you even give Him a passing thought? And would you cry out to Him if you never suffered? Solution: Each occasion of suffering is an occasion to put on again the cross and expect a death of yourself, and a death to the world, an occasion to call out to God and love him, to rely on his mercy.

    If you do not suffer now, expect to suffer soon, because Jesus promised we would. When suffering comes for you and your faith is tested, will you be sturdy? (When the Son of Man comes, will there be any faith in the world?)

    The Gospels are passion narratives with long introductions. So, too, often enough, are our lives.

    Lament — yes, lament! — but do not despair. Lament when suffering comes, and lament to God.

Join the conversation!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.