Defending God’s PR image

One pastor says God has a PR problem, but it’s mankind’s fault, not His.

Lucas Miles is pastor of Oasis Church in Granger, Indiana, and author of the new Worthy Publishing book “Good God: The One We Want to Believe In But Are Afraid to Embrace.”

lucas miles 2“For a long time, religion has painted a picture of God that holds Him responsible for everything that happens, including the good and the bad,” he said in an interview. “It’s probably a picture that’s closer to Greek mythology than a biblical understanding of who God is. I’ve put together what I hope is really a practical and user-friendly devotional walk looking at scripture, looking at the nature of God, taking some of the more challenging passages of scripture like James 1.”

God is love, and Jesus said the thief will destroy. “Anything that doesn’t point to God as the source of life, I think, gets off into some ditches.” The church needs to come back to understanding who God is, he said. “He is not ultimately responsible for the pain in our lives.”

In our culture, a man is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, Miles said. But after something bad happens, we often make our first question, “‘God, why did you do this?’ We’re already assuming and asking God why He did it instead of looking at all the other circumstances that lead to it.”

One of the most dangerous doctrines in the modern church, Miles argues, is the extreme sovereignty of God. “It’s very prevalent and it’s dangerous. It judges God’s heart.”

This doctrine, he said, leaves two options to choose from: God caused the bad situation or God allowed it. “But in reality things happened around us for a variety of reasons and are not God’s responsibility. I might have caused it. The enemy might have caused it. The fallen world might have caused it. Other people may have caused it. We’re judging God, and oftentimes He is the one that can help us walk through it. It pushes people away from God.”

Miles said his book provides hope for people who have been beaten up by religion. The book reintroduces people to the heart of God, he said, and that God wants good things for people.

“He is a God of love and He wants to reveal Himself and He wants to invite us into a love relationship wlucas miles 1ith Him,” Miles said.

Miles said he is receiving much feedback from people who read the book and said it gave them something new to think about. “I deal with ‘Hallmark theology.’ Trite statements that people make about God … that really don’t have a biblical basis. I talk about a miscarriage we had. She would have been 5 yesterday,” he said of his and his wife’s late daughter. Many people showed them love at the time. Some people, though, in trying to be helpful, said things like “God needed another angel in Heaven.” That is telling a grieving parent, he said, “God wanted your baby more than you did.” Miles said he was already “established” in his faith, but some people who are not are thrown off by statements like that.

Miles also takes aim at statements that boil down to God opening a window if He closes a door. “The Bible never says God closes a door.” He then moved on to a pet peeve that “gets me in trouble”: bumper stickers that say God is in control. In 1 John 5:19, John says the world lies under the devil’s control. God is the supreme being, but He has given the enemy dominion in this world, Miles said. “Just to sit back and say God is in control and He will take care of it, we miss out on personal responsibility. Instead, the enemy, through twisted doctrines, has made the church impotent. When bad things happen, we don’t know whether we should accept them” since they may be from God, or to fight them since they may be from the enemy. “We freeze.”

There are things God cannot do, Miles said. That shocks a lot of people. While God can do whatever he wants, since He is God He will never violate His word. The book of Hebrews says God’s word holds the world together. Miles said he believes if God ever broke a promise, the “whole fabric of existence would stop. He is holding the whole world together by His integrity, by His divine nature. He will never take back His word.”

If you’re looking to dig your teeth into a book that is easy to read but will provoke some serious thinking about who God is, I highly recommend Miles’ book.

In addition to working as a pastor, Miles has helped plant approximately 50 churches across the world. He has been married for 15 years to Krissy. Miles operates a film company, Miles Media, that released its first movie, “Rodeo Girl,” in January. The movie is available at Walmart and Redbox.

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