084 – Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People (With Thomas Jay Oord)

Why do bad things happen to good people? Does God allow bad things to happen to His children? What part does free will play in all this?

Have you ever asked yourself, “why do bad things happen to good people?” DO you find yourself being mad at God in times of crisis or feeling like He has abandoned you? How do you feel about asking God for healing? 

If you have ever gone through any kind of tragedy, you know these questions all too well. That’s why this week, we invited Thomas Jay Oord, Author of God Can’t on the show to address this common, yet so deeply painful topic. Thomas’ book speaks life into our tragedy and paints a picture of God that we can relate to in a more intimate way. 

This week we talk about:

  • Sin and judgement.
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • does God punish me?
  • guilt vs shame.
  • demonic entities vs Spiritual forces.
  • Does God allow bad to happen to his children?
  • Victim blaming for lack of healing.
  • faith and it’s relation to healing.
View Transcription (by Otter.ai)

Cody Johnston 1:25
Hey, everyone, welcome to the reckless pursuit. My name is Cody. And my name is Elaine and this is episode 84. And today we are talking with Thomas J. Ord author of God can’t. This was a amazing conversation. It was like from I guess my side of it like it was super easy to edit. It was just like non stop great stuff. Like I love this episode. And the reason I also love this episode is because of the topic we’re talking about. And we’re talking about why do bad things happen to good people. And this is just a heavy topic. It’s something we hear about all the time. I mean, like on a weekly basis. This is something that comes up to us. Whether we read it online, people are talking to us about issues constant, constant constant. And Thomas has some amazing points, like just being honest and real. Like this guy has some perspectives that are so enlightening, enlightening, and just life in giving. And so I’m super excited to present it here. We talk about everything from like I said, Why do bad things happen to good people to just God allow bad things to happen to good people? What is healing? What is supernatural healing? We even talk for a few minutes on just kind of like dark entities and do demonic entities calls us to do bad things versus our own selves. And I think it’s really cool because next week is our kickoff to our Halloween month in unit. If you guys weren’t listening last year, you know how excited how.

Elaine Johnston 3:00
Yes, this is my favorite time of the year, my favorite holiday fall vibes, everything. So I’m excited.

Cody Johnston 3:07
So this is just a great episode is so, so So, so deep. And I just encourage you to listen all the way through and check out Thomas’s book, God can’t which is linked up in the show notes below. And before we get into that, just a quick invite to nomads if this sparked something in you, you have a friend maybe who needs to hear this or maybe you’ve went through some stuff and you’re in this is life giving to you because I know even to me it was life giving. We encourage you to go down there and click that link and asked to be a part of nomads a safe community for Christians ask unsafe questions. Also, one other thing, we would really appreciate you going down there and leaving an honest review those reviews do wonders for people who are just scrolling by and see this, see this episode of the show and encouraged them to click and those reviews hearing your words, not just ours hearing other people’s perspectives really create an inviting atmosphere and we desire to keep as many people in the conversation as possible. With all that let’s get into today’s conversation with Thomas J or author of God can’t. Hey, everyone, welcome to the reckless pursuit. Today we are here with Thomas J. Ord author of God at can’t Thomas, how are you?

Unknown Speaker 4:30
doing? Well, how about you guys?

Cody Johnston 4:31
Doing well. And just for everyone listening, Tom gave us permission to call him Tom. The rest is interview. So we’re going a little more informal. So if you’re looking for his book and searching for its Thomas J Ord, but otherwise, we’re going to call you Tom. Sounds good. Thanks. So Tom, I guess how can we even dive into this man? Okay, first and foremost, you were gracious enough to let us kind of take a peek at your work. And I just want to say that you were addressing some seriously big questions here. Probably some of yes, some of the biggest questions we get asked. And so I’m super excited about having this conversation first and foremost. So thank you for coming. And thank you for all you’re going to share.

Thomas jay Oord 5:13
Yeah, you’re welcome. And these are the big questions. I think polls say that this is the number one reason why atheists can’t say they can’t believe in God. And although I don’t have polls to support my next claim, I think it’s the number one question, people who do believe in God are asking.

Cody Johnston 5:33
Oh, absolutely. I completely agree. I mean, I think if you’ve been in any kind of face circle for any amount of time, you would almost have to at some point, because it just doesn’t make sense. And it’s explained so terribly. And speaking of explaining things terribly, in case you’re listening, and we haven’t made it clear enough, we’re talking about why do bad things happen to good people, or just God calls bad things to happen to good people. And so we’re a dive all into this, which, Tom, you already do a great job of the books, I’m just gonna go ahead and give a plug on the front end. If you want to pause this now and go down and buy is it is your book available available digitally, anywhere by chance?

Thomas jay Oord 6:12
Yeah, you can get it through Amazon or other online booksellers, you know, Barnes and Noble or whatever, and you can get the ebook, you can get an audio book, there’s even a hardback if you really want to hunt for it.

Cody Johnston 6:23
Very cool. So if, if you’re one of those people that like to have stuff like in your hand right now, you can pause this, go to the comments, there’s a show notes section below this video in the comment section, Show Notes section below and grab a copy of the E book or if you’re a physical book person like Elaine and I are, you have to wait a couple of days if you’re a Prime member. So anyway, so I’m just going to kind of open this up and let you share a little bit about your your history or church background and kind of bring us up to speed on what brought you to write God can’t.

Thomas jay Oord 6:56
Sure thanks for the opportunity. I’m

A person who grew up in a pretty traditional Christian home Evan Joel go home. I went to church an awful lot. I gave my life to Jesus many, many times. I was a person who felt like I was called, perhaps to some kind of ministry. And I was one of those freaky guys who did a ton of witnessing door to door and bars. I was a part of Campus Crusade for Christ. So I took the whole Jesus thing super seriously. Then, my final year of college, I took a course in which for the first time I took seriously the ideas of agnostics, atheists, those of other religious traditions. It was a philosophy of religion course actually. And the things that they said threw me for a loop.

And for the sake of intellectual honesty, I gave up believing in God, the reasons I had for thinking there was a God didn’t make much sense anymore. And so for a time, I was, I called myself an atheist, maybe I was an agnostic, I, I just didn’t think there were good reasons to believe in God. But unlike some people who turned to atheism, for you know, maybe they’ve been burned by the church, or some pastor let them down, or their girlfriend broke up with them, or whatever it is. For me, it was an intellectual issue, it was a question of, are there good reasons to believe that God exists? And I eventually came to believe there are good reasons. I today don’t, you know, walk around saying I know with absolute certainty, there’s a God. But I do think it’s more plausible than not that there is a God. And the issues of this particular book, especially the issues of love, were at the center of my reading turned to faith in God.

Cody Johnston 9:03
That’s extremely interesting. So what, what were some of the points if you don’t mind asking that actually lead you away from God from the church originally?

Thomas jay Oord 9:11
Well, you know, I, like most people thought the beauty and design of the world pointed to a designer, a creator. And yet I wasn’t really taking seriously all the flaws of the world, all the evil, all the disorder, all the chaos. And I was blaming those on, you know, creatures using their freewill wrongly or maybe satanic powers or whatever. And yet, I continue to think that, that if there was a God, or at that time, I was convinced there was this God ought to be powerful and strong enough to prevent those things. And so all kinds of, you know, tensions arose in my mind. Yeah, I mean, really, it was those kinds of questions that also brought me back to Faith in God, because I had this deep into tuition, that I ought to be a loving person that other people ought to be loving that in some way, love was the goal, or the answer, or whatever. And I couldn’t make sense of those deep intuitions if there wasn’t some kind of source for them. The source that most people call God, a God of love. I also had this deep sense that life could have no ultimate meaning if there wasn’t some ground of meaning. Again, we use the word God to try to capture that. And so in my quest for meaning, and in my quest to have some sort of ultimate basis, for my intuitions about love, I came to think that there was a god and for for quite a while my, my Christian faith was pretty thin. I thought there was a god. I thought Jesus was pretty cool. That’s about it. Yeah.

Cody Johnston 11:05
You know, it’s interesting. There’s a book I’m reading right now, it’s taking me forever to get through because it’s ridiculous, Lee, it’s one of those books, you just have to like, kind of work your way through. It’s more like an encyclopedia at this point. But it’s called the secret teachings of all ages, by manly p Hall. I believe it’s an older book. But there’s a quote in the book that says people who dabble in religion, ultimately will end up as atheists, but people who look to further their education and religion will ultimately find their way back to a god. And I don’t know why they were saying they’re just really just kind of stuck out to me. And I think that’s a very interesting point. I think it’s, it’s kind of where those wrestle I think we all wrestle with this at some, even if you don’t claim you question things. At some point, you’re going to wrestle with the idea of, well, if there is a God, then why is there all this chaos? Well, if God is a creator, then ultimately he created the chaos because he created the thing we blame for creating the chaos. So like, it still goes back to God’s some kind of way. And that I think, is I completely agree with what you said earlier is like, that’s a huge point in people’s deconstruction.

Thomas jay Oord 12:11
Yeah, I think most people have a default view of God’s power, in terms of God creating in terms of God, you know, being providential in the world. And this book, this God can’t book, as the title suggests, is asking the reader to do a complete rethink about what God’s power is like

Cody Johnston 12:34
that that answers the question is about Yes. It’s about to ask you what the title came from. Thank you. So with that this is a does the argument of like the whole predestination versus Free Will thing ever come up? Which I mean, I’m not going to throw my opinions in here right this second. But like, you have one camp saying, Well, God predestined everything, one camp saying, like, no, he actually gives us free will. So how does that play into all of this?

Thomas jay Oord 13:00
Yeah, that’s an important set of questions. And I really wrestled through those when I was younger, and came off on the side of free will not because I thought that, you know, even freewill was more important than divine sovereign T. But because at the end of the day, I was committed to divine love. And so if I begin with God’s love, it just made no sense to me, that God would predestined some to hell, and actually predestined others to heaven, even if they didn’t want to go there. So it was really the claims about God’s love. That brought me back to classic views of predestination.

Unknown Speaker 13:42
Yeah, that’s interest. And

Elaine Johnston 13:43
so what was your purpose for writing God can to help people with those questions to to push people towards the godly love that you were just talking about? What was the purpose in writing that book?

Thomas jay Oord 13:57
Yeah. Well, a few years early, I wrote a book called The Uncontrolled Love of God in which I laid out in a more academic fashion, the kind of arguments that support the the arguments, and God can’t. And that book, I’m happy to say is had great influence. A lot of people have responded, there have been people doing dissertations on it, etc. But some of the people who found it helpful were writing me notes, saying how much they appreciated it, how much that it changed their views of God. But they wanted to share the ideas with others who didn’t have an academic background. Yeah. And so they were saying, look, you need to give these, you know, give these ideas to people in way is in language they can understand. Plus, there were some ideas that I did not include in the Uncontrolled Love of God book that I wanted to articulate. And so those are added into this new book, God can’t in a style that’s accessible.

Cody Johnston 15:02
Very cool. So let’s just kind of get into like the meat of the conversation here. Why do bad things happen to good people?

Thomas jay Oord 15:10
The reason bad things happen to good people is because sometimes people use their free will wrongly, sometimes other creatures and entities of reality, don’t cooperate with God, or the conditions of reality are not aligned correctly. And sometimes there’s just plain old bad luck. I’m a person who believes in luck. It’s good and bad luck or accidents, chance. I think that’s not the only thing that’s going on in our world. But those things do occur. And we have to have a theology that takes that into account. Yeah,

Cody Johnston 15:49
that’s really good. So whenever someone and this is an interest me, so I’d love to hear your take on it. A lot of people have this idea that everything bad in their lives is spiritual. Everything happens because there’s a pitch for demon walking around prodding them in the rear

Elaine Johnston 16:07
that are they have like a hidden sin.

Cody Johnston 16:09
Yeah, we’ll get into that one to say, Let’s wait on that one for say it. What what are your thoughts toward that? Is it more people? Is there? Is there an angry Pitchfork demons, prodding people, but in the back?

Thomas jay Oord 16:18
Yeah, my proposal is neutral. On the question of whether or not there is demons and a devil. If there are demons and is a devil or Satan, then I say those are just negative influences in the world that don’t control us. We don’t have to blame every bad thing on them. But if they exist, they must have influence in some things. But if you’re a person who doesn’t think there’s such a thing as demons and the devil, then my book can appeal to you as well. We just say that the negative thing negative things that occur occur because of natural causes humans, whatever.

Cody Johnston 16:56
It’s the it’s actually one of my favorite I love. I just kind I did like a reasonably in depth study on like the history of demons. And one of the, one of the few beliefs in at least Greek mythology, which is where we grew a lot of our demon influence from because it’s not in Jewish history. That’s not even a word in Jewish history. And one of the interesting things about that is it’s actually almost like a poltergeist, like it’s negative energy left behind from bad deeds down on earth. And so when you kind of look at demons to that light, if like, if we have created these things, whether it be like energy influences, or just whatever our mindset or if it’s actual, physical creatures, or whatever that is, it’s an interesting thought to think like, that still ties back to us and ties back to the free will, that God gave us as creatures that were created to create. So that’s, that’s Yeah, that’s a,

Thomas jay Oord 17:48
that’s good. I think, generally speaking, you know, well, I should, before I say this, I’m the kind of person who does a lot of speaking. And I go to tuitions, universities, churches, in which some instances, people are very conservative, traditional, even fundamentalist, and others are more progressive, liberal, whatever. And generally speaking, in the more conservative places, people believe in personal demons, or individuals who have who’ve, you know, flutter around in the invisible world fighting against angels, and that sort of thing. And in general, and liberal circles, they believe in demonic forces or systems of reality. So both of them are looking to account for some of the evil in the world and attribute them either to, you know, demonic agents, or demonic systems structures of reality that have gone awry or that have been set up in negative ways. So I think we have to deal with both those if you’re a conservative or liberal, you have to come to terms with those kinds of issues.

Cody Johnston 19:01
Yeah. Is there any validity in spending time trying to invest toward trying to blame bad things on those things? What’s a good way to kind of circumvent getting caught in that cycle of trying to blame something else? or trying to find an answer? Because I feel like a lot of times, there’s just not an answer for why bad things happen?

Thomas jay Oord 19:23
Well, yeah, I mean, I think the people who try to shirk responsibility by saying, the devil made me do it. You know, that’s, that doesn’t work, no matter what you’re saying, no matter whether you believe in demons, demons or not. But I think there are some smarter people who aren’t trying to shirk responsibility, who simply look around the world and think it’s much worse than it should be. If there were just negative causes alone, I think of my good friend, Greg Boyd, for instance, who spent a lot of time writing about angels and demons. for him. That is an important category, making sense of the world as we know it. But I’ve got lots of other friends for whom that’s not an important category, they are still trying to fight against demonic systems, in other words, political systems, or ways of cultural habits or whatever, but they just don’t attribute them to personal agents.

Cody Johnston 20:21
I think that kind of ties into what you were about, so I’m gonna let I’ll turn it over to you now. Quick. Yeah.

Elaine Johnston 20:25
So something that I’ve been talking with a lot of people about is how your personal sin affects other people. And a lot of people have thought that well, their personal sin is the cause for the bad things in their life. Maybe they cheated on their spouse, and that’s why their kid has cancer. And, you know, just stuff like that. And so I just wanted to hear like, what, if you talk about that in your book, or just what you think of like, the is byproduct of sin or bad situations?

Thomas jay Oord 20:57
Yeah, that’s a really good question and requires a complex answer. Because sometimes we do know that there’s a direct link to something we do and how it affects our lives. If I continually abuse alcohol, and my liver goes bad, I got no one to blame me, you can see the direct things. The problem, of course, is that a lot of bad things that happened to us aren’t caused by something we did, they’re caused by something other people did to us, or, you know, just the accident is random genetic mutations or, you know, accidents in the world. And it’s easy for us to see something that goes bad in our lives, and then try to point to some sin that we did and say, Well, you know, even though I don’t see a direct cause and effect relationship, somehow, you know, God is getting me back. Or, you know, if you’re not a Christian, you might say, karma is getting me or whatever.

In my view, God never punishes.

All of the bad that happens to us is not, because God decided to whack us across the side of the head for some sin that we did. However, there are natural negative consequences that come from sin, both our sin and the sin of others, and sometimes natural negative consequences that come from random genetic mutations or things in reality that aren’t caused by freewill agents. So I think the key link, though, is that claim that I’m making that God never punishes us in the sense of deciding whether or not to, you know, kick us in the butt for something we’ve done. If we say that God is not in the business of punishment, but always seeks the good, are good and the good of the whole, then we can get past, I think, some really negative views of a punishing God. That’s good.

Cody Johnston 23:01
And you know, I struggled so much with this, I grew up in like a very charismatic upbringing. And this was never taught directly to me. But it’s kind of one of those things, you just kind of pick up along the way from other people, right. And one of the big guilty things that I had was, anytime something in my life, what happened or something to a loved one of mine would happen. I somehow strung it through this weird manipulated truth and took it back to some sin in my life. Everything was filtered through this idea that I had something that I had to work on. And God was trying to bring it to light in my mind without if I didn’t fix it, that I was going to cause harm to someone else, then I think that a lot of times we I don’t understand where this theology comes from. But I think we, we take on that guilt and shame. And I would love to hear your thoughts on this too. But I feel like that’s almost more damning than the actual sins we commit at times.

Thomas jay Oord 23:59
Oh, yeah, shame can really ruinous. And again, it’s one of those complex things. Because I’ve done things that are same were the same, some of the things I’ve done. But then what we do is we multiply that we charge seeing the world is somehow all connected to the negative things we’ve done. And then we we feel, we feel guilty for things that aren’t directly related to anything we’ve done. And so and then it stifles as at least stifles me. It makes me feel impotent. I don’t have the confidence. I don’t feel loved by God and capable of loving others. And it’s it’s a negative cycle.

Elaine Johnston 24:39
There’s a lot of freedom and knowing that you are responsible for your actions and your life and how you feel about things. And the freedom comes from realizing that you’re not in control of what happens to somebody else, unless you are that direct byproduct of that situation. And I think that’s where a lot of people get hung up is thinking, What’s my responsibility for that person? health because I have a hidden sin, or I haven’t asked for forgiveness, or just I’m doing something that has nothing to do with what they’re going through. But you just feel this heaviness whenever you try to take on the responsibility of somebody else.

Thomas jay Oord 25:15
Yep, I think that’s well put thanks.

Cody Johnston 25:18
Kind of shifting gears here to just kind of more of the churches reaction. We’ve been talking a little bit about this topic. It’s been kind of some has been brought up a lot to us, like literally in the last month. And we have been kind of hearing some really weird things like I was told a story of a woman who was in church who witnessed a pastor tell from the pulpit to a woman that because of her husband’s infidelity was that what it was or her infidelity, that is why her child died. And then once she gets right with God, he is going to burn in hell and only way is to repent,

Elaine Johnston 25:56
and that if they don’t repent, other babies will die too.

Unknown Speaker 26:00
Be livable.

Cody Johnston 26:01
Yeah. So obviously, there’s some weird things he gets talked to us about tragedy, what are some of those wrong things you may have heard? And how can we kind of remould that mindset and kind of break out of some of those cycles? Some of those weird theologies?

Thomas jay Oord 26:19
Yeah, I mean, the illustration you gave, I think, is going to strike the vast majority of your listeners as like, out of out of control. Yeah, so um, I’m going to pick something that’s going to strike a lot of your listeners probably is not so out of control, but is a new way to think a lot of people don’t think God causes death, suicide rate, torture, genocide, whatever. But God allows them, God, and I don’t think God even has the power to allow them. In other words, what they’re saying is that God, their view, has the kind of power to single handedly prevent some horrific thing. But God chose not to intervene to stop it. Maybe because it’s part of some mysterious divine plan. Or maybe God just wanted to honor the free will have someone more than he wanted to stop the free will. Or there’s all kinds of justifications given. But the problem is, is that it says two victims and those who suffer, God could have stopped what happened to you, but God decided to allow it. And that in my view, makes no sense. In fact, I hadn’t planned to doing this. But I’ve been getting tons of letters from people who’ve read this, God can’t book and I’ve decided to print some of them off. And let me read a couple of letters from people who have seen have known the problems with the God allows evil view or the god perfect mitts suffering view this woman rights. I’ve always heard people speak of God, allowing something and it’s never sit well in my soul. If God allows one thing, then where do we stop with how much he does allow good or bad? If God can control then where do we stop with that idea? I’ve never been able to accept that God controls or allows, because that meant he allowed my childhood torture. He did not exercise control to stop it unacceptable. This bad view of God had left me to walk in and out of a crisis of faith. I thought God was controlling or allowing everything. I had no other way to conceptualize it. And I was told it wasn’t okay to ask hard questions. The idea that God can’t, completes what I have not yet been able to articulate. Another little letter from a guy he says, my three year old son died from a particularly difficult form of childhood cancer, I can no longer hold to the notion that God is in control. What loving parent would choose to stand by while their child walked out into traffic? If that parent could stop them? I know of none. When it comes to God, there has to be more to it than him simply choosing to allow these things to happen. saying God can’t single handedly stop cancer is a better way to think. And the last one, I got tons more, but I’ll stop with this one. This was written by a woman who says, I will tell you a bit about my story. I’m a survivor of sex, sexual abuse a lot. And for a long time by my brother. In the midst of the worst years of my life, I had a very vivid dream of God walking over to my bed. As I was being raped. He simply reached out and held my hand and cried. For a few short days, I was elated. God hadn’t left me after all. Then came the anger, anger that God was there. And instead of stopping it, he simply held my hand and watched. For a long time years, I was angry about that. I prayed for a breakthrough, but I never got it. So now paging through your book, praying and contemplating, I can see more clearly what may have been happening. God could not stop my brother because God gives free will. How would he have stopped him? The reality is that God couldn’t. Not that he didn’t. And for me, this is a complete game changer.

So like I said, I could keep reading story after story. What these most of them, at least what most of them show is this idea that God allows evil just doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re the victim. Because it sounds if you say God allows it, it sounds like God has the kind of power to prevent it from happening, but chooses not to use that power. And so that’s why I make even stronger claim that God simply can’t single handedly stop evil.

Unknown Speaker 32:01

Thomas jay Oord 32:17
I think that is super important. And yet, if you look at the most important Christian theologians in the last 2000 years, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, john Calvin, many others, most of them said God is not affected by what happens to us and has no emotions whatsoever. This despite what I think is very clear evidence from the Bible that God does have emotions. God gets really pissed when we sin, for instance. I mean, we’re always trying to figure out how to handle the God’s wrath stuff. That’s obviously examples of emotions, it seems. But God’s also pleased and happy when good occurs. So I’m a part of, actually a large number of contemporary theologians who say God is relational. God is really in relationship with us sets that what we do has a real effect on God. And God has emotions. Now, unlike us, God’s emotions never get the best of him, and he ends up sinning or doing something evil. But God because God has a nature of love. But God has genuine emotions and hurts when we hurt mourns when we mourn cries when we cry.

Elaine Johnston 33:35
Yeah, and I think that’s going to speak life into a lot of people. Because I’ve talked with numerous people who have said that pastors have told them all It doesn’t matter how you feel, or your emotions don’t matter, you just need to please God and, and follow what he has for you. And I just think that’s utter bullcrap, honestly, because, God, God created us with emotion, like emotion, like you were saying, God has emotion. And I don’t think you it’s physically possible to suppress that emotion and, and I think it’s, quote, sinful, if you’re not processing what’s happening to you.

Thomas jay Oord 34:12
I’m totally with you. I think emotions are part of the human experience. Now, some people are more emotional, and others are have different kinds of emotions, we, you know, we need to take into account the variation. But emotions are just part of what it means for us to live in this life. I understand the argument that we shouldn’t let our emotions compel us to do something evil or sinful, I’m on board with that. But I don’t think we should try to dismiss emotions altogether, or tell people there’s something wrong with them, if they have these negative emotions. That’s just the way our lives are. What we need to do is figure out how to deal with them. Well,

Cody Johnston 34:52
well, and I think that’s even societal, not even just like, Christian or religion, but society, like, Guys growing up, like it said, whenever I guess like, what is it like the millennial generation, people who were in like their mid 20s, or like the first quote, unquote, using air quotes here, the first generation to openly talk about therapy and mental health, like it’s become mainstream now, which us growing up, like, I can see that because I look at like, my family, you know, my older family and stuff like that. And the idea of therapy is terrifying to their, it’s just like, Oh, I don’t want that on my record is kind of the way it looks like to them. And we’ve been taught to suppress our emotions, it’s kind of like the American dream, almost, to suppress your emotions. And I almost want to say a lot of the negative emotions we have that cause harm, whether it be like, I mean, this is getting into suicide, self harm, even what would lead someone to, to hurt another human or to, you know, to take advantage of someone else stems from not having the freedom to process through their emotions to have that that freedom, and that, that justification in allowing themselves to feel.

Thomas jay Oord 35:57
I totally agree. And I also think that because we haven’t allowed or thought acceptable, people feeling these emotions, we also haven’t been very good at finding ways to express the emotions that are that are not, you know, sinful, evil, negative, harmful. So we don’t even have a kind of system of habits to exert these emotions or express these emotions in a way that’s positive rather than negative.

Cody Johnston 36:30
That’s good. That’s good. And so I think that kind of plays a little bit into this next, this idea. And I say that because a big part of getting through trauma in some church circles, especially is faith. It is what is your faith? Like? Oh, well, if you would have had more faith, if you would, you know, that was a part. Was it Peter that walked on water? You have to have the right, yeah. So when Peter walked on water, like, Oh, well, he lost his faith. That’s why he’s St. Like you’re sinking because of your lack of faith. And I say it kind of parallels because there is power to positive mindset. Like that’s, that’s scientific, we can see that on a on a CAT scan, you know, so, like, there’s truth to faith. But there’s also this weird line we’ve crossed where we make it all our fault. And so how does faith tie into all this? Is their power in faith? What level of healing? Does that play?

Thomas jay Oord 37:23
Yeah, this is another one of those things where the answer is complex. And because it’s complex, that people like simple answers, they’ve ended up really screwing with us in terms of how we think about God. So first of all, let me say, it’s not just Peter who said, your faith helps you to walk on water, time. And again, when Jesus heals, he turns to the people who have been healed and says, Your faith has made you whole, sometimes even talks about the faith of other people. And their faith was somehow effective in the healing of others. So this idea that faith plays a role seems to have lots of biblical support. The problem, of course, is that we can easily turn into the blame the victim thing, that is, you’ve got cancer, you’re not getting better. Well, you’ve guessed you don’t have enough faith, you got to pray harder, you got to really trust God, it’s your fault. And that makes no sense to me. Especially if we think and this is what most people think, not me. But if you think that God can single handedly heal anyone God wants to heal, and yet God sitting back, arms folded, saying, you know, you gotta try harder, you gotta trust me more, you’ve put you’ve prayed 38 times, and I’m waiting for 67. I mean, it’s just makes no sense to me. So what I try to do in this particular chapter of the book, when I talk about healing, is to say these, these claims about your faith has made you well, is a way to talk about how cooperation amongst creatures is for required for God to heal. I don’t think God can single handedly heal anyone, I think there has to be some kind of cooperation, or the conditions of creation have to be aligned in a particular way for the miraculous healing to occur. That means that people can consciously be fully trusting and have full faith in God, and yet their bodies not cooperate with the healing God wants at the cellular level, organs, etc. We don’t control our bodies. I think everybody knows this intuitively. But sometimes we act as if you know, we have total control over our bodies. And I can give lots of examples, including some that might not be appropriate on the show like this, in which we don’t have control over our bodies, anyhow. So we can then say to those people who are not healed, yes, you had plenty of faith. God wants to heal you. But your bodies are not cooperating at the cellular level, or the conditions are not aligned in your bodies for the kind of healing God wants to do. And that then can get God off the hook for just you know, arbitrarily healing a few people and not everybody, but also say that God is in the business of trying to heal to the greatest extent possible.

Cody Johnston 40:27
Yeah, that’s good. I love that viewpoint, because it takes away this weird chain of events where it’s like, oh, so grandma is dying of Alzheimer’s? Well, okay, well, it’s your lack of faith, you need to pray harder in her brain will be he’ll need to pray harder, that show Maria pray harder. And then she dies. Oh, well, it was just in God’s timing, God made good out of the bad situation. It’s like really, that’s that’s the way we’re going with this. Like, you’re not really setting yourself up for success here. So I love that philosophy of realizing that, that we are a fleshy being and if I can give like another weird example here, so there’s like an apocryphal texts called the book of Adam. And it’s it was written in like, the 1400s, like, takes influence from some old Syrian scrolls and stuff. So it’s not canon by any means. But it’s poetic. And it was talking about how Adam and Eve can’t lay out once they’re cast out of the garden. They kept fasting and praying over and over rejecting food when God would give them food, rejecting water, when God would give them water saying, God, please just restore us. And God told him time and time again, I will. But right now you are in a fleshy state. And it literally goes into talk about you’re in a flesh, Lee state, like the animals, and I will bring you back. But it has to run its course, there is a you know, there’s a period of time that has to take place. And I’m going to come and I’m going to take away the the wrongdoing that has that has happened. But it has to run its course. And in the meantime, just take care of this body that you have created for yourself now. And I just saw the parallel though it’s like it’s very interesting idea of like, God was with him. He was morning with him. He didn’t want that sin, at least in this, this early rendition, you know, of the story. And but yet he was saying, but what’s happened, and now time just has to take its course.

Thomas jay Oord 42:21
Yeah, I like that. I’ve not heard that. Thanks for sharing it. I think it’s, it ties back to that provocative claim in the book title that God simply can’t single handedly heal. In the first chapters, God can’t single handedly stop he evil in this, it’s God can’t single handedly heal. And this is important, because you know, I know at least one of you has a background and charismatic tradition I do as well, in the traditions I’ve been a part of the majority of people don’t get healed when we pray for them. Or if they do, it’s a moment to kind of thing. And that brings up all kinds of questions like, you know, doesn’t God loved me as God abandoned us? Is God punishing us, you know what’s going on here. But if you have a view, like I have, that God simply can’t heal single handedly, then we don’t have to blame God, for the lack of healing. When we pray, we can say you know what, there are conditions in creation that aren’t aligned, or there’s not the kind of cooperation necessary at some level of your body or reality. And I think then that helps us to continue to trust in a God of love, who’s trying to heal to the greatest extent possible.

Cody Johnston 43:42
That’s good. And, and so with that, I I want to ask you this, because I know you’ve mentioned this in your book, and I you clear it up very well. I think when people first hear the idea of Well, yeah, there’s things that happen. So God willing, they’ll get their healing. What is your What is your thoughts on the phrase? We’ll go willing?

Thomas jay Oord 44:00
Yeah, yeah, the phrase that I would hear is, someone would pray for, let’s say, I don’t know someone to overcome leukemia. And then at the end of the prayer, they would tack on, if it’s your will, in prayer to God. And, yeah, and I understand why they did that, because they many times had pray for people and things had not gotten better. And you know, who wants to claim that they’ve got the whole world figured out and got God figured out, there’s always going to be a room for mystery, and in all of this stuff. And so to add on that little, if it’s your will, after you pray for God to heal someone is kind of a way to cover your ass, basically, you know, kind of, we’re praying because you told us to pray for healing. And we’ve seen it maybe a few times. But we also know that oftentimes people aren’t healing. So we’ll just add in that extra phrase. And I think it’s always God’s will to heal, so we don’t have to ever ask, or tag that thing on. It’s just that I don’t think God has the kind of power to single handedly heal, you know, whenever God wants to do. So. There are other forces, factors, agents and actors in reality, that also have some amount of influence.

Elaine Johnston 45:25
And I think the reason why not everybody, but I think the reason why a lot of people tie that on is because they feel guilty for asking for a, quote, selfish prayer. I know that whenever I’ve asked prayer for healing, in certain circumstances, I felt guilty from other people of not adding that on as well. If it’s in your world, God, then heal them, whatever that looks like, whether it’s in the natural sense, or the spiritual sense, and they go to heaven or whatever. But a lot of times that I’ve done that just out of prayer, not necessarily because I was praying for God’s will to be done. Because ultimately, I already know His will is going to be done. But just because I felt guilty and heard other people say that and, and maybe thought my prayer life was more significant, because I added that

Cody Johnston 46:08
it almost ties into like the submission. Yeah, if I need to submit to God, so I always have to tack on the second thing to make sure he knows I’m still submitted to His will.

Thomas jay Oord 46:16
Yeah. Yeah, that’s interesting. It’s kind of like you don’t want to you don’t you don’t want God to think you’re asking for too much. Or, you know, have thinking too highly of yourself or wanting something good for yourself that you don’t want for others. You know, I think God wants the best for all of us. And that includes being healthy and healthy people. It’s just that I think that God can’t single handedly bring that about.

Cody Johnston 46:44
So can God operate outside of the natural in someone else? Like, can he operate outside of those genetic codes? Can he operate outside of that and still bring about healing?

Thomas jay Oord 46:56
I think God always operates in tandem creation. But sometimes the cooperation or the factors that are necessary to bring about some good thing can override the other factors involved. Just like in our own world, you know, sometimes someone doesn’t want to do something, but someone else does, and the job gets done. So there are always more than one set of factors involved in any scenario.

Cody Johnston 47:24
So to kind of wrap this all together, we like to end with giving you an opportunity to ask the audience that question. So what question would you ask to someone who has, you know, recently went through tragedy to help them better understand who God is to them? In that situation?

Thomas jay Oord 47:41
I would ask this question. Do you think a loving parent allows their children to suffer and die when stopping? It is possible?

Elaine Johnston 47:55
That’s a good question. That’s good.

Thomas jay Oord 47:56
I think a lot of people are they settled for the God allows evil answer. They they’re not comfortable saying God did it. But God allows it there that go that far. And I’m trying to say in this book, that’s not far enough. And there’s lots of hurting people in the world who realized that the God permits evil answer makes no sense.

Cody Johnston 48:21
Tom, thank you so much for sharing about your book. Thank you so much for talking about a topic that most people skim the edges of, because they’re scared to death to say the wrong thing. And where can people find you, we’re going to link up to where they can get your book in whatever format they want. But where can we link up? Which all these links you’re about to say, I’ll be here too. But where can people find you if they want to hear what you have to say?

Thomas jay Oord 48:44
Well, I have a website, my full name, Thomas J, Ord, and you spell my last name with two O’s ORD. So that’s a good place to find me. If you just Google my name, you can find a variety of different links and things. I would I want to say, just, I, we were talking about this before the show started. This particular book is written so that my grandmother could understand it. And it has questions at the end of each chapter. It’s meant to be discussed in groups. So if listeners are a part of some, I don’t know, small group setting or Sunday school class, or, you know, they like to get together with friends and drink beer and talk about God, this, this book is designed to be the centerpiece of a discussion.

Cody Johnston 49:35
Yeah, that was actually our favorite part of the book was at the end all the rundown. Because if people don’t get it right now, we like asking questions. So that was literally our favorite part. We’re like, Oh, look at this. It already has all these questions,

Elaine Johnston 49:48
more discussion to and not just having all the answers for everything. So

Cody Johnston 49:54
I absolutely love it. Thank you again, Tom, for just your your willingness. And, guys, if you’re listening, make sure to head over and grab that email list. Because Tom’s gonna hop back on another call. And it goes exclusively out to those guys. So you want to get this it’s going to be good. Thank you, Tom. I appreciate it. Yeah.

Thomas jay Oord 50:13
Thanks for the opportunity to chat with you.

Elaine Johnston 50:15
Once again, huge shout out to Thomas J. Word author of God can’t for being on the show this week. And just continuing the conversation and and helping us explore the question why do bad things happen to good people?

Cody Johnston 50:29
Yeah, and if you are wanting to hear more from Tom, don’t forget to go down there and click that link and subscribe to our email list to get his final five this week in your inbox. Go down there, support him, find him on his website, grab a copy of his book, whether digital or hardback or soft back, whatever your preference is. And I truly believe that it’s going to breathe life week, elated. I have read through it. And it is truly a life giving book, especially if you have a group of people who are talking about this. It’s great for that. I love that he asked questions in the end of every single chapter. So it’s great for that. Once again, nomads, you know where to find it. We’ve talked about it, we would love to have you as a part. And as always, please share this on with a friend if you know anyone that would benefit from hearing it. We love it whenever we have people share this on with others to grow the conversation and to have as many voices participate in the conversation as possible. We love you guys and as always be brave, be bold and be reckless. We’ll talk soon

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Thomas Jay Oord

Thomas Jay Oord

Author of God Can’t
Thomas Jay Oord is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multidisciplinary studies. Oord is a best-selling and award-winning author, having written or edited more than twenty-five books. A twelve-time Faculty Award-winning professor, Oord teaches at institutions around the globe. A gifted speaker, Oord is known for his contributions to research on love, open and relational theology, science and religion, and the implications of freedom and relationships for transformation.Visit Thomas’ Website:

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God has genuine emotions and hurts when we hurt. - Thomas Jay Oord Share on X 

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