You may not remember the name but, if you are over 40, you know Anthony Fremont. He was played by a young Billy Mummy in an episode of the Twilight Zone entitled "It's a Good Life". The story focuses on an omnipotent 6 year old. The whole town lives in abject fear of Anthony, yet they are powerless to do anything about him. Though the townspeople find most of his actions abhorrent, they are forced to call his actions good... lest they earn his displeasure. Conversations went like this:
Mr. Fremont: It's snowing outside! Anthony, are you making it snow?
Anthony Fremont: Yes, I'm making it snow.
Mr. Fremont: Why, that'll ruin half the crops! You know that, don't you, half the crops! That's what that... But it's good you're making it snow. It's real good. And tomorrow's going to be a good day too.
Somewhere along my Christian walk I started to notice that many of my fellow Christians sounded like the townspeople who surrounded Anthony. They would call some of the most abhorrent behaviors and events good, because they felt these things were authored by God. This became particularly obvious when discussing Hell. I could not believe how inverted right and wrong began to sound. It was like a Twilight Zone episode with God as Anthony Fremont.
Townspeople: Where are those screams coming from?
god: Those are people, they are in Hell, they had bad thoughts about me.
Townspeople: (horror stricken) What is happening to them?
god: They are being burned alive. Tortured. Flayed. They are bad people, they are very bad people, and they keep thinking bad thoughts about me.
Townspeople: (pale and shaken) When does it stop?
god: Never. You don't think it should stop do you? I wouldn't like it if you thought that...
Townspeople: Oh no... it's real good that you're torturing them... it's.... real good...
Since the episode was less than 30 minutes, it never addressed the next logical step. Eventually, the sycophants would have begun to surround Anthony. A step beyond fear, these folks would have tried to use their relationship with Anthony to make others fear them. As Tacitus said, "They terrify lest they should fear".
I have met these folks too. They use God as a hammer on others; almost hopeful of the doom they believe awaits those who reject their message.
If you have been on my blog at all, you know that I have renounced this view entirely. After many years of playing theological twister trying to call evil good for the sake of orthodoxy, I let it go and began to see God with new eyes. I no longer walk on eggshells, wondering if God is going to wish me or a loved one "into the cornfield". Perfect love has cast out fear.
And that is good... really good.