The first cynical maxim of deconversion: God may be good, but He’s not *that* good.
Whatever the smart men say about the theology of “good”, at the end of the day, we dream bigger than God. He usually intends for us to wallow in poverty and shame; those He capriciously blesses (there’s no rhyme or reason to it other than He seems to favor those who publicly detest Him) are unaware of their unmerited gifts. They choose instead to lecture the rest of us on how life works. They obviously have it figured out. So be grateful for whatever little scraps you get because there’s no use in dreaming. He’ll never allow it. This leads to the second maxim:
If you have a dream or a vision for how your life could be, God will take it from you.
As Lewis notes in his “Problem of Pain”, we’re scroungy dogs God is trying to domesticate, and what matters the dreams of a scroungy dog? God wants us to thrive in the living room as a clean, beloved, house pet, while we want to eat the furniture and roll in filth. Lewis wonders, then, how we can expect God to indulge our dreams when they’re so lowly. He follows George MacDonald in believing that God is the all consuming fire who slowly burns away the fallible, finite parts of us, leaving purified remains. Whatever those remains will be, they wont be human…so, does God really love humanity after all? Is He really the greatest “humanist?” Even the house dog enjoys a bone from time to time, but not us. Having food, hope for the future, and an honorable livelihood are beneath the ultra-man-type-things we’re being turned into; we’re not to have them. And on that, maxim the third:
When the Bible teaches that God will provide our basic needs, it’s either outright false, or it’s so ambiguous as to be, otherwise, worthless.
Whatever it means, it doesn’t mean God will provide for *our* basic needs. Maybe He’ll provide for the needs of the Psalm writer (who doesn’t fear arrows or disease), but not us. Maybe He’ll answer the prayers of His hand-picked apostles – for them, He’ll move mountains and heal the sick. Not for us. Not for the average Joe. Us? We’re stuck in a world where, if we want to see miracles, we have to do them ourselves. God is m.i.a. Out to the races. Gone. And did He leave us the Holy Spirit as a guide, or was that only meant for His hand-picked apostles as well? I hope it was only meant for the apostles because if not, the Holy Spirit has made a terrible mess of things down here. No one can prove me wrong on that because none of you can say what the Bible really means (one way or the other). If you think you can, maxim the fourth is for you:
The only people who can be Christians are those who refuse to take Christ seriously.
Do you want a God who is active in the world? A God who, like a King, directs His people? Gives them tasks? Holds court? Christianity is not for you, then; while the Bible claims God is like a King, whatever that means, it doesn’t mean He’s like any sort of king we would recognize. If you take it seriously when it says Christ is a king, you’ll be very disappointed. How about a father? Would you like a God who is a loving father? Again we’re in the same spot: whatever it means to say God is like a father, it doesn’t mean he’s like what we mean when we use the word “father.” How could it? Don’t take the Bible seriously when it says God is like a father, or, again, you’ll get very angry. How about a shepherd? Unlike the other two, here we have a God so good at shepherding, He’s shepherded me right out of the damned covenant. “Out of my pasture, you sheep! Go belong to someone else!” (Lewis says God has shown a lot of emotion towards humanity, but never contempt. He should have rethought that; God shows acute contempt for those outside of His covenant).
The only way these analogies can be accepted is if they’re not accepted seriously. “Oh yes, God is our Father and our King!”…but such can’t be said without a wink or a form of emotional double-think. The moment you really need a Father or a King and He’s not there, you can’t (if you want to take Him seriously), simply shrug it off as inconsequential. Either He’s a king or He’s not. Either He’s going to be our father or He’s not. Additionally, praying without expecting answers is another way to avoid taking God seriously. Praying in such a way that you don’t end up praying for anything at all may appease a false sense of religious piety, but it doesn’t take God seriously. Oh no. Taking God seriously means you’ll experience all manner of disappointment and anger when He doesn’t do as He promised, and answer our prayers.
Avoid taking Him seriously.