Corpet family - Denis - Cancer Research - Teatching - Machines (LdV) - Mountains

French version

“God has a Good Back” by Marcel Domergue

A smart and consistent article I would have entitled: But What's God Doing? (read it, it's worth it!)
Caution: this article has been automatically translated from the French version. It thus contains many mistakes, and may contain some sentences that are in contrast with M. Domergue's thought. Denis Corpet would be very thankful to anyone wanting to help to translate this text in good English. See E-mail at home-page bottom

"Cahiers de l'Actualité Religieuse et Sociale", 1995? (2006: "Croire Aujourd'hui", Bayard, Paris, France)

God acts only by the human beings He created. Providence is a reality of alliance between God and human freedom.
I1 is necessary to end with the mythical idea of a divine intervention directing the course of the history and of the individual destinies. This antiquated belief still inspires some liturgy speeches; one also finds it in several ecclesiastical speeches, official or not. For example the conviction that God sent a Slavic pope to the Church to cause - or contribute to cause - the collapse of Soviet Communism. Let us reflect: why didn't God send an ad hoc pope in 1917, whereas this Communism settled? Why didn't he “recall to him” Karl Marx before he wrote the "Capital" and "Proclamation of the Communist Party"? One does not see well why God would be responsible for the election for such or such pope and would not be responsible for the success of Lenine. And if God operates by remote control the events of this world, we have to admit that its management is at the very least surprising and even, dare the statement, revolting. Useless to enumerate the catastrophes, the massacres, the injustices, etc

Of course, the “providentialists*” have response to eveything. They will say to you, for example: “Misfortunes come from men's sin. It is not God who made the death camps, it is Hitler”. This assertion is not fully false. But the question rebounds: if God controls the world, why didn't it prevent it? Rabbi Richard Rubenstein, in the introduction of its book "After Auschwitz", wrote: “It is not without sadness and bitterness that I saw myself constrained to reject the belief in God master of the history”. Some did not go up to that point. To entreat the anguish to have to live events from where God would miss, about the Jews spoke about divine punishment inflicted to the people for his inaccuracies. It is against prospects for this kind that already the book of Job* rose, which besides leaves the open question: better is worth to remain without answer than to speculate in the divine intentions, such is roughly speaking the conclusion of the book.

It is advisable initially to get rid of the illusion that God is the author of all that occurs in our world. But then why God, whom one says the Almighty, leaves it the free field to “malicious”? Doesn't it go guilty of non-assistance to people in danger?

The Absence of God

Theologists showed “the absence from God”. This ambiguous expression, one will see it, takes a perfectly acceptable direction if it means that God is not held behind the events of this world, that he does not cause them, does not produce them. Jesus himself often speaks about the Master who goes away, leaving the management of the businesses to his servants, even when those benefit from it “to eat, drink with the drunkards and to beat their colleagues” (Matthieu 24,49). Upstream, the Bible shows us trustful God with the men the task to control the ground, to subject their animality, whereas itself enters the rest (Genesis 1,28 and 2,2). The “rest” of God can seem indifference, it is the condition even of freedom, therefore of dignity, the man. Jesus, it also, will go away, leaving with his disciples the free field, all the field of the world, to announce his Gospel.

This God who does not control can surprise. But it is less surprising that this capricious God, intervening here and not elsewhere, provident with eclipse, causes intermittent and, finally, that it or not is wanted, person in charge for our evil. One spoke much about the powerlessness of God in front of the freedom of the man. Doesn't one see it granting the royalty to Israel whereas he does not want it, and that it is a manner of doing without him (1 Samuel 8)? In its language anthropomorphique*, the Writing introduces God who subjects himself constantly to the will of the man. Let us translate: it does not intervene, it does not exert power of coercion on freedoms and the events. When Karl Barth speaks about God like “Very Other”, it means that it cannot be counted among the forces which are exerted in our world. One cannot say “It is here” or “It is there”, and one should not count on him to regulate our divisions (Luc 12,13-14).

It is understood that “the absence of God”, going against our usual images, can cause at much some distress: if God does not act directly in our world, why occupy us of him? It is as if there did not exist. One passes from the divine non-intervention to “died of God” in the spirit of the men. We must thus ask us: if God is not present in this manner, how is it present? The answer depends on another question: who is God? Or, what God? Or, how is God?

God and His Action

“God” is a traditional and convenient word to indicate a reality which escapes to us completely. “No one forever considering God”. All that we can say is insufficient, reducing: we cannot encircle God, nor to lock up it in definitions. It is much easier to say than it is not, but “what he is not” includes/understands all our images then, all of which we have experience. All our images except one, as it will be said. And yet all these images and these experiments, if they cannot express God, can be used for indicating it, like the arrows of a beaconing. But the arrows are useful only if they are exceeded. An arrow indicates a possible passage, it is not the way itself. It does not fix, it is opening. Here one of these arrows, among much of others.

God is life, i.e. the dynamism which lives all that is, all that is life and goes towards the life. Reducing, this manner of speaking: God is different compared to the “dynamisms” which we experienced. But that which will find an expression nonreducing was not born yet. The prologue of the 4th Gospel starts by proclaiming that all that exists is life in the Verb of God. But this text establishes an equivalence between Verbe, life, light. Three realities which we meet in our experiment but of which no, taken separately, can say the divine one, or even what the divine one is for the man. Even taken together, they do not exhaust the mystery. It remains that if Jesus is well the nonreducing expression of God, it is not a formula, a definition, mental contents, but a person. When we want to pass to the language, saying “Christ is this, or that… ”, our expressions, even ratified by Councils, are always reducing. Thus let us agree to say, by knowing the limits of this approach: God is life, dynamism vital which makes be all that is.

From there, we can admit that all that goes in the direction of the life, more-to be, of a more human humanity, takes its origin… in the absolute origin, which we call God. But the origin of the river, the source, is not the river. The source gives birth; during water to make its way. It is at the same time present, because the river is there, and goes away, because it leaves the river to its destiny. This image can help us to understand that the action of God is mediate. As the source acts on the landscape by the river (irrigation, erosion…), God acts by the beings which it started. And, when they are the men, by their liberté*. Therefore, indirect action. When the men go in the direction of creation - and that depends on them - they make create God. When they go to misinterpretation, they neutralize God: the creative love does not pass any more.

Providence and Mediation

What we call Providence indicates well something of reality, but something which passes by creation and, in last spring, by the man. As Luc 10, Providence acts by the way of the freedom of the Samaritan who assists from the casualty. The priest and the Levite who dodge themselves block Providence. By the Samaritan, there is more humanity at the men, by the priest and the Levite, less. In other words, Providence is not one deus ex machina, it is a reality of alliance. All, in the human universe, occurs under the sign from this alliance which is already with the source of our creation, because it is the only possible expression of the agreement of the freedom of God and the freedom of the man. Apart from that, there would be place only for reciprocal violence. The naive design of Providence is well violence made with the history and the man.

We are thus agents and persons in charge for Providence. If one wants, God is between our hands. Its action too. The action of God is indeed always creative. But God does not create in “manufacturing”, like a craftsman. He creates, if these images are accepted, by giving a dash and by sending a call, call without words, dash not seen. And the dash comes from the call: God is attraction, attraction. Paul, as Romans 4,17, speaks about the action of God like one call to the existence. The call of the life. Each time we leave ourselves, in our freedom, to attract by this call, we create, in alliance with God, our being even. This creative call does not come us, him either, directly: it is call of different, call to the love. At this point in time we can have Providence. And creators of humanity. We can be the ones for the other beneficial intervention of God. It is not even necessary for that to be believing in God of our catechisms: whoever puts a little more humanity among the men makes act the divine one than it carries in him like its origin and its ultimate destination.

Where is He, your God?

In a death camp, prisoners looked at the guards beating a Jew to death. Among these “spectators”, a Jew intended one of his companions to ask him: “Where is He, your God? ” I do not know what the challenged Jew answered, but the answer which comes immediately to mind from one believing, is something like: “You do not see Him? He is there, in the Jew which one beats”. “It is with me that you did it”, said Jesus in Matthieu 25,40. The activ presence of God is made passivity. Passion. Saint Ignace de Loyola says that with the Passion of Christ “the divinity hides”. Further let us go, it hides all the time, and the Passion of Christ is like the paradigm, the exemplary model, of the direct non-intervention of God. It is in truth that Jesus can say: “My God, my God, why did you give up me? ” (Matthieu 27,46). Universal cry of the man in prey to the loneliness of died and especially of died of rejected, of scorned. He is invaluable - Paul Beauchamp notes it - that this cry, Jesus does not invent it: he speaks with borrowed words, the words of another, of all these others, with the wire of times, which the author of the Psalm 22 recapitulates. Words many and many times repetitions, in a form or another, in all Sarajevo of the world.

Thus, Jesus assumes all our misfortunes: “It is there, your God”. Its providential intervention, it is that. Not the sword that Pierre declads, not legions of angels which will not be mobilized. God is entire past on the side of the victim, and it is there that he is “God with us”; with the two directions of the word “with”: as that which accompanies us and as that which is not allied adversary but. The active presence of God, it is Christ accepting death that we give him and, by there, occupying the place of our clean dead. The direction of all that? The worst is integrated in the action of God. One could say, if the word did not have bad press at present: recovered. We imagine a Providence which would avoid us misfortune or some happiness would get to us. However we discover a Providence which lets the things follow their course, for better and for worse, but which uses all, the bad one like the good. Because Jesus assumes the “bad one” with the Cross, the evil and the sin are constrained to cooperate with the work of hello.

Providence and Resurrection

The integration of the evil and misfortune in the work of hello is called resurrection. Resurrection is well with the source of all them “are not afraid” which we read in the Gospels, for example in chapter 6 of Matthieu (verses 25 to 34). Providence consists of this that all, in our existence, contributes to resurrection, there short. Resurrection functions at the same time like promise of life, and call to the life, call to join it launched by the life itself. We find here the words employed higher in connection with creation. It is that creation and resurrection indicate same reality: creation is made resurrection when it meets the evil and death and must surmount them. In the route of Jesus, it appears passage. Passage to the life of the centre even of death. The Writing known as “It was necessary that it ressuscite deaths”: not that it enters straight, quite simply, in the life which is God, but while coming from death, of our death. Entreated death, such are, in the final analysis, “divine Providence”. We did not ask him less.

However, speech here of resurrection can seem escape in an imperceptible universe. As we do not note, in our life, that the absence of God, isn't this to reassure itself cheaply only to project its intervention in one beyond death? To tell the truth, resurrection acts dice now. It operates by the faith which we put in it, faith, known as Paul, who acts by the love. The faith in the love which promises the life to us makes effective by works of love in favour of the life. These acts of love, which come from us by our faith, are, for the others, Providence. For us, they are already sudden appearance of the new man: they ressuscitent us with the image of God.

Some, returning to the image of God interventionist, will say that our life is full with “miracles”, that God makes some unceasingly, but that we do not know to see them. A little easy: a miracle is a sign. What a sign which one does not manage to identify? But, will one say, and the “signs of times”? Aren't they signals which Providence addresses to us? Let us be serious: “times” are what they are, the cultural currents depend on the advances in knowledge, of the changes of manners that they cause, etc, all very human things. At the time of these transformations of our companies, with the favour of the appearance of “new”, we obviously have to locate us, give an opinion, to make choices according to the faith, the hope and love. The things are not by themselves of the signs: it is us who, by interpreting their significance for humanity and the faith, make signs of them. Like one says, the total evolutions of our world “challenge us”. God, God who is life, invites us to assume them, exceed our passivity to give an opinion, about them. The interpreters of the “providential signs” are not ready to arrange in this category, for example, the current evolution of the couples, the access of the women to the total equality with the men, etc Pourtant, even the rise of violence can be seen like a sign to interpret, even if this violence is not because of God.

And the Prayer of Request?

Having devoted a whole article to this question ("Cahiers" n° 39, June 1, 1991, I will be satisfied with some words. The conclusion was that God answers any prayer by giving itself or, another manner of saying, by giving the Spirit. Our prayer of request presents at God a difficult situation for us or the world (universal prayer). In fact, we do not even need to ask: “The Father himself knows that which you need. ” However, by the request, we mean that the events of our life interest our relation in God. When we say to God: “Remember”, actually it is we who need to remember us.

Will God answer by modifying the course of the things? Not, it will give us the Spirit, which is Esprit of love, so that we are able to assume and manage in the love this “course of the things”; so that we have, in connection with them, image and resemblance of God, who is love.

I said by beginning that Jesus went away from the world to leave the free field to his disciples, from now on agents of his Word. It is what the finales of the Gospels say to us: “Go, teach all the nations”. “The words that you gave me, I gave them to them” (Jean 17,8/. And it from goes away. The here carrying ones “Providence”. Jesus from goes away, but in their giving his Spirit, and it is by this Spirit that it will be “with them for always until the end of the world” (Matthieu 28,20). The marriage of the Spirit, freedom of God, with the freedom of the man, such is New alliance.

Passover of the Christ, who carries in her term all the biblical account, tells us the last word on Providence. There all the spontaneous and primitive sights of the man as regards divine intervention are exceeded, these sights that the Writing spread out, treated, traversed to forward us to the ultimate truth: God does not cause our misfortune but comes with us, in our misfortune, to make some re-appear the life.

We can thus, finally, make a total confidence with “Providence”. Always all will be given to us that it is necessary for us so that we can, in the faith, to build us with the image of God who is love. Let us contemplate this sentence of Paul as Romans 8,28: “God makes contribute all things to the good of those which like it”. “All things”, even the worst than it did not want.

Marcel Domergue

Corpet family - Denis - Cancer Research - Teatching - Machines (LdV) - Mountains