American Theodicy

Theodicy is the theological practice of trying to make sense of why bad things happen to good people. It was coined by the famous German polymath Leibniz, but was a common practice throughout the history of medieval thought as well in various ways. I am working on an essay on the topic of American theodicy. Here are some examples I’m currently considering. There are countless more.

1. Michelle Bachmann:

It’s no secret that our nation may very well be experiencing the hand of
judgment. It’s no secret that we all are concerned that our nation may
be in a time of decline. If that is in fact so, what is the answer? The
answer is what we are doing here today: humbling ourselves before an
almighty God, crying out to an almighty God, saying not of ourselves but
you, would you save us oh God? We repent of our sins, we turn away from
them, we seek you, we seek your ways. That’s something that we’re doing
today, that we did on the National Day of Prayer, it’s something that
we have chosen to do as well on another landmark day later this year on
September 11. Our nation has seen judgment not once but twice on
September 11. That’s why we’re going to have ‘9/11 Pray’ on that day. Is
there anything better that we can do on that day rather than to humble
ourselves and to pray to an almighty God?

2. Michelle Bachmann

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the
politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said,
‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American
people because the American people are roaring right now. They know
government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the
spending,” Bachmann said in Sarasota on Sunday

Bachmann’s campaign said she was just joking.

3. Family Research Council

The scourge presently upon our nation – wars, devastating weather,
acts of terrorism, confusion and failure among our government leaders,
spiritual confusion in many of our churches, decimation of the family,
economic decline, government oppression, advancing socialism, government
promoted and protected abortion, homosexualized politics, etc., are all
the fruits and consequences of individual and collective sin and a
departure from the God of the Bible.

The Apostle Paul warned us plainly that God’s righteous wrath is the
result of willful disobedience: “all unrighteousness, fornication,
wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness… envy, murder, debate, deceit,
malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud,
boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without
understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable,
unmerciful, who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit
such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure
in them that do them” (Romans 1:14-32). Unfortunately, all these evils
are now woven into our popular culture. The church has not been as
bright and salty as we’ve needed to be. But a tremendous opportunity
lies ahead of us, if we will but humble ourselves and pray!

 4. Pat Robertson

I was reading, yesterday, a book that was very interesting about what
God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood.
And he used the term that those who do this, “the land will vomit you
out.” That — you look at your — you look at the book of Leviticus and
see what it says there. And this author of this said, “well ‘vomit out’
means you are not able to defend yourself.” But have we found we
are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that
are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster?
Could they be connected in some way?
And he goes down the list of the things that God says will cause a nation to lose its possession, and to be vomited out.

The link goes to other examples of this kind of rhetoric in the context of Katrina.

5. (updated) James Dobson

I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or
he’s irrelevant to me and we have killed fifty-four million babies and
the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete
redefinition.  Believe me, that is going to have consequences too.
And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is
going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I
am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back
on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed
judgment to fall upon us.  I think that’s what’s going on.

Updates – Fall, 2013:

“Ex-transgender” speaker Grace Harley:

Moments later, Harvey said that Obama has “homosexual orientation tendencies,” proving that we are in the Last Days: “The spirit will not dwell with us too much longer because we truly are in the End Times. Any time you have the head of a country with homosexual orientation tendencies, and I say that because Jesus said, ‘if you look at a woman with lust you have committed adultery,’ if you have the heart of the homosexual in your heart and your mind then you are without even committing the act, you are there. We have countries, or America—it’s devastating what’s going on.”

And Michele Bachmann again:

“the U.S.’s funding of al Qaeda in Syria] happened and as of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists, now what this says to me, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s end times history. Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha Come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand. When we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this; these days would be as the days of Noah.”