It is hard to look at all the Mitchell is going through and not question and challenge and even, shamefully, accuse God. My friend Greg Boyd examines just this sort of thing in his blog today.
Regarding that lawsuit against God. God is accused “of making and continuing to make terroristic threats of grave harm to innumerable persons, including constituents of Plaintiff who Plaintiff has the duty to represent.” It says God has caused “fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like.”
Now, it seems to me everything rides on which God takes the defense stand. If the omni-controlling God of classical Calvinism shows up, I suspect God’s defense attorney is going to have a rough time of things. He would have to concede that God in fact did all the things Chambers alleges, but that he had good reasons for doing so. His glory would have been displayed less brilliantly had each disaster alleged in the lawsuit not transpired.
The burden would then be on God’s defense attorney to explain why his glory requires such massive nightmarish suffering (intensified to an infinite degree if Chambers brings in the traditional view of hell as eternal, hopeless, conscious suffering). This could be very rough going for God.
But I suspect a very different God will take the defense stand. In fact, I suspect the defense attorney himself will take the stand as God.
This heavenly defense attorney will no doubt testify that God is not to blame for the horrors Chambers alleges, for he had to make humans and angels free if the world was going to be capable of genuine love. And free agents themselves, not God, are responsible for the way they use their freedom. Then, given this attorney’s New Testament track record, I suspect he may turn the case around on Chambers himself. “I gave my life to free the world from sin and suffering,” he may argue. “Are you doing everything you can to rid the world of sin and suffering Mr. Chambers? Why aren’t you joining my cause?”
It’s just possible Chambers will come to see that he’s actually the one on trial and just possible he’ll come to realize and confess his guilt.
This is where the defense attorney will really shine. For he’ll step down from his defense chair, put his arms around this confused senator, and remind him that he’s not really in the court to defend God: he’s in the court to defend Chambers (I Jn 2:2).
And there, perhaps it is – no matter what, God is near even when we don’t see him or feel him. Maybe that is what Mitchell’s family sees more clearly than I do when they write, “If God chooses to heal Mitchell, it will indeed be a miracle. If not, then we shall give praise and thanks for time we have gotten to spend with him. Either way, Mitchell wins. Either way, God reigns.”