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Blaming God

The long line of ants parading across the kitchen counter leads to a jar of sticky strawberry jelly left open last night by someone who raided the fridge for a midnight snack. A perturbed voice echoes through the house: “Who forgot to put the jelly away? Daa-ad?” Blame. We point a finger at another person and say, “It’s your fault.” When we blame, we assign responsibility usually in an attempt to hold someone accountable (for not putting away the jelly) or to explain an event (a thousand ants doing the conga in the kitchen). Blame is almost always an indictment. The prophet Nathan stood before King David to confront him about his adultery and the murder of Uriah. Perhaps you’ve imagined the scene as he solemnly utters the words, “Thou art the man.” Blame. Responsibility has been placed at the feet of David.Or, as the sign on President Harry Truman’s White House desk announced, “The Buck Stops Here”. In a folksy way, Truman invited citizens to blame him if things in the country weren’t going the way they should. At the same time, he wanted to take the credit if things were going well.

Now, I know I’m being a bit cheeky in using the word “blame” since both credit and blame are the similar action of assigning responsibility. But the issue on my mind is how we assign responsibility to God for what goes on in the world and in our lives. My hunch is that when we “blame” God, the doctrine of God takes a beating, our relationship with God suffers, and we open ourselves to doubt and fear.

As I reflect on my own behavior, particularly the opinions I blurt out without thinking, I have to admit that I frequently, and sometimes carelessly, assign responsibility to God for what