The Wall Street Journal did a nice piece on Elizabeth Edwards this past Saturday. She has stage 4 cancer that has gone to her bones. The life expectancy is a few years and is almost always fatal for her condition. The Journal reflects upon her choice to carry on with her husband John’s campaign for President. I was floating along through the article when all of a sudden Elizabeth made this comment.
“I don’t pray for my cancer. I had to come to grips with a God who allows Wade (her young son who died in a car accident) to die, who doesn’t intervene…if I could have a prayer answered, it wouldn’t be for my cancer, it would be for Wade…but that wasn’t God’s will.”
My heart breaks for this family and for the parents in particular. What a tradgedy to lose a child at a young age. If I read the quote right (and it was written correctly), Elizabeth’s theology about God is that He does not intervene and therefore prayer is not effective.
Okay…the question I ask is this, “How much of our theology comes from our experience?” Do we extrapolate our circumstance into maxims or truths about who God is and how God operates? What about the hard truth in Matthew 6 about asking, knocking, and seeking that results in hearing, answering, and finding? Or what about the Scriptural truth about the widow who bugs the judge until he finally relents and answers her request?
I believe Scripture to be our “final answer” in view of theological truths. I also believe that our experience, church tradition, and reason can offer valuable insights from which to understand Scripture. But make no mistake. When our experience runs contrary to Scripture (or so it seems), it is our experience that needs to be questioned, examined, and left unexplained. It is at these times we are called on to live by faith and not by sight.
I know that I have overly simplified this most difficult issue. But it is something that all of us might take some time to ponder. What about our view of God’s character or M.O. comes from our experience and is not backed up by Scripture? Yes, Scripture is difficult in places and it would be easier for some things to just go away. But then, that wouldn’t require faith either would it?