Greg Peterson of the Peterson Farm Brothers did a video about suffering and God as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting in the United States. While he means well, this blog would like to point out some problems with evangelicalism and the issue of pain and suffering. This post is another perspective to Greg.
“Suffering by nature or chance never seems so painful as suffering inflicted on us by the arbitrary will of another.”
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:3 NIV
Taken near Salina, Kansas
This post is a response to Greg Peterson in Lindsborg, Kansas. Greg is a part of a farm act called The Peterson Farm Brothers which consists of Greg, Nathan and Kendal. I actually have been out to Kansas and was planning to visit again before the pandemic hit. That canceled my trip to Salina and Wichita as well as Kansas City. To Greg Peterson I know your cousin well in Salina. I have blogged about him and under the pseudonym name of James Crestwood which you can find in the blog archives. This post is meant to be a response to your video up above. It is also coming from someone who is burned out and who has pushed back from evangelicalism. For reasons why please read, “Reflecting on My Decision to Reject Evangelical Christianity. Its Too Corrupt, Political and Intellectually Shallow.”
You’re Still Young, Age Will Give You More Perspective
The video that Greg Peterson has, which is inserted in the beginning of this post comes from the perspective of someone who still has a lot more coming down the pike. Life is hard, and while you have experienced a number of things from your family’s miscarriage to your diabetes 1 diagnoses, there are other things that are coming. Sometimes when one speaks its from a limited perspective. My idea of pain and suffering at 25 was shallow. At 45 its much more intense. Greg has not gotten to this part of life yet. I would be interested to know if he will still share the same perspective about pain and suffering when Greg is 45 or 55? The reality is probably not. In regards to evangelicalism I find it interesting that you have a lot of younger people talking about some of these issues and then life happens and you watch them wash out over time. Pain and suffering can influence your perspective about faith. The deaths and burial of my parents, and a false accusation which threaten my career shaped mine. And often the church will then will have the audacity to tell those people who wash out, “well you were never a Christian to begin with….” How healthy is that?
Why Would God Allow a Church That is Deeply Corrupt to Convey His Message to the World?
Here is a question for Greg to think about that I think needs to be taken seriously. If the Gospel message is so serious – especially with people’s soul being on the line with hell – then why would God entrust such a sacred message to such a church bogged down in scandal and corruption? If Greg took the time to scan some of the stories this blog has written about hopefully he would react with caution. Because some of the scandals that have taken place are deeply dark. Sex abuse, an EFCA church that practices church discipline on a domestic abuse victim who is almost killed, a pastor who covers up a child pornography scandal, authoritarianism scandals and so much more. After writing such a challenging blog for over five years I have moved past the point of saying these are a couple of bad apples. Instead I would say that this is the fruit of a church that has systemic issues that is choking on them. Again it goes back to my original question…if you have an organization struggling and being overwhelmed with abuse and corruption why would God entrust such an organization with the life saving Gospel message? Maybe the question that needs to be asked is does God care? Do Christians care?
Abuse Can Be Far More Painful When You Experience It
Greg mentions abuse as being a part of humanity’s failure. My question to Greg is why do people like yourself always let God off the hook? Why don’t you ever ask the question why? Why do you always pass the buck and never hold God responsible for any of this? Abuse is far more painful if you have experienced it. It was an abuse situation that triggered this blog years ago. You can read more about that in, “Unless You Experience Spiritual Abuse Then You Won’t Understand How Painful it is.” But to mention abuse in passing so casually I wonder if you would do that if you were the subject of something dark. I went through an abuse situation by a leader in a former Sovereign Grace Ministry and now Acts 29 church which taught me why rape and sexual assault is an issue in the military. I have interacted with a number of abuse victims in different forms. But the casual way that some talk about abuse is troubling. The sad reality is that abuse is one of those topics you will never understand until it happens to you. And the reality is that I don’t want it to happen to Greg or anyone else. One person dealing with abuse is always one too many.
The Evangelical Christian Church Can’t Deal With the Issue of Pain and Suffering. Its Incapable of Doing So
When Greg talks about pain and suffering there is another issue as well. Evangelicalism can’t talk about the issue of pain and suffering. Evangelicalism is a movement that is emotional and plays to one’s emotions. Its subject to fads and trends and can bounce all over the place. Many evangelicals go to church for the some reasons that some use drugs – they want to get high. It can be an addiction and they need their fix. As a movement evangelicalism is a mile wide and an inch thick. Its not really possible to go deep or to have intellectual discussions on these kind of problems. Evangelicalism is hostile to intellectualism. That hostility takes place in many forms. It can be a hostility to science, academia, or history. Years ago in the Washington, D.C. ares I tried to have intellectual discussions on the problem of evil with a number of different churches. What I learned is that many places can’t have those discussions. This is the reason why some people are leaving evangelicalism and joining Catholicism or mainline Protestantism.
Regarding Your Comments on COVID-19
You mention in your video that God is going to use the coronavirus. Is that why God allows a disease that he can stop to take the life of the elderly in nursing homes and those that have weakened immune systems because of chemotherapy for leukemia and other diseases? Pandemics bring out the worst aspects of societies and cultures. When Europe had their pandemics the the Middle Ages Christians responded by serving the broken and burying the dead. They earned a beautiful reputation in the process. You can read more about the history Christians in those pandemics in, “How Mike Kelsey of McLean Bible Montgomery County Reacted to Maryland Declaring a State of Emergency Over COVID-19. Plus How Will Evangelicals React to the Coronavirus? Did Members From McLean Lead the Way in Rioting Over Toilet Paper?” But COVID-19 is going to bring out the worse of evangelicalism, actually it already has done that. Recently the American Enterprise Institute here in Washington, D.C. released another study showing the white evangelicals are largely indifferent to the COVID-19 pandemic.They are indifferent and among the only religious groups to act this way. So much for loving your neighbor. The COVID-19 pandemic is going to affect many parts of evangelicalism. From revealing that much of it is a business to showing the scourge of narcissistic pastors to the problem of domestic and sex abuse inside evangelicalism. You can read about that in, “How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Going to Reveal the Dark Flaws and Systemic Issues of Evangelical Christianity.”
This Post is Meant In All Sincerity
This is going to be a different post for you Greg. You probably will not be used to this kind of pushback. But as I listened to what you said I felt the it deserved a response. People will find this post when they Google Peterson Farm Brothers and my hope is that this helps people to realize that life is not as simple or black and white as some claim or pretend it to be. This post wishes you well and looks forward to your next video which I have been watching from Washington, D.C.