I'm thrilled: God read my piece last week and sent me a personal reply. I'm copying-and-pasting his email below:
It was wonderful to hear from you. As you can guess, I wish I heard from you more often. I'd like that. I daresay you'd come to like that, too. After all, the more you reach out to me, the more you'll learn to recognize my voice when I speak to you. I do have good advice for you. In any case, I'm taking the liberty of sending this to you by email to make sure you receive it.
With respect to your essay:
I admit, I chuckled a few times. It's the one thing people don't know about me—I do have a sense of humor. Like when I told Abraham and Sarah they were going to have a baby. That was a funny moment. You should have seen the look on their ninety year old faces. Priceless.
But ultimately, you've written a serious message, so let me give you a serious answer.
Yes, I killed everyone on earth except for Noah and his family. And yes, you're correct that everyone I killed was evil. But I want you to know I didn't do that with any glee. Remember the scripture in Genesis you quoted? It said I felt 'grieved'. I did. In fact, that was a grave understatement. The whole thing was horrible. I'm not saying it wasn't necessary. It was. But it was still horrible—a heartbreaker for me. That's why I promised afterward to never kill everyone on earth again.
I'm mentioning that because in your recent communication (by the way, say hi to Mark for me, and tell him I'm glad he's feeling better), you implied I might have drawn some satisfaction from these events. But in this, you projected. It wasn't like that for me. Nothing like that ever is.
That even includes the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. You described that event as me 'frying the sickos'. I know where you're coming from, but I would never put it that cavalierly. You have to remember, Talmage—I knew every single one of those people. I knew them before they were even born. Spiritually, I was their father.
You might begin to sense what I'm trying to communicate if you calm yourself down for a moment. As you calm down, try to think about the world from a broader perspective. As you do, you'll start to sense there's more to all this—to presiding over the world, that is—than me just 'frying the sickos' every time they step out of line. You and I will grow closer if you can start to feel and understand that. That would mean a lot to me. I hope it would to you, too.
So now that you've calmed yourself down, imagine you have a child—say, a little boy. Imagine looking at him, and feeling the innocence radiating from him. Imagine yourself teaching him, watching over him, as he moves through childhood. As the weeks, months, years roll by, imagine yourself hearing about his hopes and dreams. Seeing his good intentions and good behavior. Thrilling at his blossoming talents. Knowing all he could become in the future.
And now imagine that innocent child passing through adolescence into young manhood. Now imagine that as a young man, he starts to make poor decisions. You try your best to inspire him to make better choices. You remind him of all the things you taught him. You arrange for wonderful new friends to come into his life. But he won't change his path. He rejects you, and the deep connection you've always had. He distances himself from you, much to your sorrow. The blessings and opportunities you give him, he no longer values. And as a result, his decisions grow worse and worse.
Imagine that eventually, you see your son transform into someone he never should have become. He defies not just you, but all decency. In a word, he has become—he has chosen to become—something he was never supposed to be. He is certainly not what you wanted him to be. He uses his talents for selfish, harmful purposes. He rejects everything you taught him. And he finally turns so bad, that when you're honest with yourself, you recognize he has become the kind of person you don't even want in your community anymore. No one does.
And yet, despite all that, you still love him. To you, he is not, and cannot be, only the hardened malefactor he is now, and who everyone else only sees. To you, he is also who he used to be, and in some way, who he could still become. Yet, at the same time, you know the past is the past, and he's not going to choose a different future. And as you imagine all that, you have to know, right now, that to watch this, to feel this, as a parent, would be indescribably difficult and sad.
And now imagine that your son degenerates so much, that the harm he inflicts on others becomes intolerable. He is preying on your other children. They are his victims.
You love him, but you love your other children, too. And you must protect them. So now imagine that the only thing that can stop his behavior is some terrible external force...and you, and only you, are that terrible external force.
And so, you act. You must act. It is the only just thing to do. You stop him. By force. For good. You remove him from earth.
Now if you were me, Talmage, would you celebrate that? No, you wouldn't.
I can tell you from personal experience: your heart throbs with anguish. Your stomach churns. Unspeakable grief consumes you. One of your precious children chose darkness over light, death over life, evil over good, wrong over right. He chose to prey, not to protect. He chose to harm, not to heal. He chose his enemy over you, the father who created and loved him. The whole situation is the most tragic of tragedies—and in that, there is nothing to celebrate at all.
So yes, I killed everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah. I killed Pharaoh's army. I killed everyone on earth except Noah and his family. But I wish now, as I wished then, there'd have been some other way. It stings all over again just thinking about it.
This is what I think about when you ask me to intervene again 'like the old days', on a 2023 'comeback tour'. I'm not saying no. I'm just saying, I take all that far more seriously than you.
Please know I concede the validity of your pleas. What these people have done, what they're still doing, is diabolical in its scale and awfulness. Putting millions under house arrest; destroying businesses and careers and even lives; forcing injections of powerful, untested material; it's appalling. And we haven't even gotten to the recent rash of new forms of child abuse yet.
So yes, your would-be global overlords are a vicious plague. The question is to what extent I can, in justice, intervene in the course of human affairs to, shall we say, 'neutralize' these people.
This is always the big question for me. The reason is that my intervention is necessarily a zero-sum affair: to the extent I intervene, I remove freedom from the world. There's no way around that.
If I were, for example, to intervene or control every single thing that ever happened, I would be stripping everyone of the ability to make meaningful choices about their lives. In doing that, I would be dehumanizing everyone. I would be turning human beings into the volitionless machines that atheist materialists and hardcore Calvinists believe them to be, but which they most decidedly are not. I would effectively be destroying them. Yes, I am sovereign, but that doesn't mean human beings cannot make meaningful choices about their lives. Of course they can. I am the very being who gave them that ability to choose. This is precisely why I inspired Moses to say this to the Israelites:
'I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live'.
It's why I inspired his successor, Joshua, to invite the same people to 'choose you this day whom ye will serve'. It's why I inspired Elijah to say, 'How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him'.
It's why Adam and Eve were able to choose to disobey me in the first place: I gave them the ability to make meaningful choices about their lives. Of course I did. That's at the heart of the entire story.
In other words, mankind's ability to choose is absolutely crucial to my whole purpose in being God. Without it, everything would be pointless. The world would have no meaning. I would have no meaning. So while I am sympathetic to where you're coming from, I must also be careful about the extent to which I intervene, especially in what we might call more macro-level ways. My healing of an elderly widow's sick cat is one thing; my annihilation of thousands of people in positions of power is quite another. There would be a huge ripple effect there, which I need to consider. Ridding the world of a particular evil—even a great evil—can sometimes inadvertently cause yet greater evils. I'm just saying, often these things are nowhere near as simple as you think.
So what I would say to you right now is this: again, it was wonderful to hear from you, I do understand where you're coming from, and I will consider your proposal. Note I am not promising anything. You might be disappointed in the end. But I'll consider it carefully and get back to you.