Folk Theology: “God will never give me more than I can handle.”
Original Verse: “12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
There is an ongoing problem in both American and Western societies (This problem is one I will be addressing in an upcoming post after this series). It is this idea and thought that “Anything goes” and “there is no wrong.” What do I mean? The thought of sin scares us. I don’t want to steal my thunder for my upcoming post, but sin scares us because it means that we have done something wrong on both a moral and spiritual level. I suppose hearing “God will never give me more than I can handle” sounds nicer than “tempted.” This is particularly since our Western culture wants to avoid the topic and issue of sin at every turn. I theorize that this phrase is the manifestation of that very notion. This phrase has grown into a national truth to the point where people have tattoos and firmly believe Yahweh said this; but that simply isn’t true.
Let’s think about this logically. What is “more than you can handle?” Is it death? Is it being in prison for the wrong reasons? Is it people saying nasty things about you? Is being beaten or even crucified? If any of those resonate with you then all of the apostles, including the writer of this verse, would be far beyond their point. If you want to believe that your own make-believe-god has said this, that’s fine. But don’t bring in Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who sent Jesus to die for our sins, the Creator of the Heavens and Earth into this American phrase. As a side note, this is one of the reasons I will use names like Yahweh, HaShem (The Name), etc. to describe the aforementioned God. The reason is because there are so many gods out there. Most of the gods the American and Western “Christians” believe in are their own make-believe-gods because, you guessed it, poor theology.
Warning: This Paragraph Is Graphic (For Some)
Let’s get deeper here for a second. During our Father’s Day lunch on Sunday, I told my dad about this blog series I was doing. I went through and explained this particular post. He told me, “I’ve been hearing that since I was a kid.” Okay. So let’s say we tell our kids poor theology, such as “God will never give you more than you can handle.” This kid goes through life having been sexually abused, parents divorce, bullied in school, and someone he loves dies…all before the age of 16. No kid should have to experience that, and would indeed be considered “more than you can handle.” You might say, “Justin, come on. That’s getting ridiculous.” Well, the reality is that this story is actually true and it has happened. So what happens to this kid who has been told this false phrase about God? He or she grows up bitter and angry against God because he or she believes God is against them specifically. This person ends up hating Yahweh because he or she was told a lie about Him. Still think it’s okay to teach kids false theology?
How Do We Change This?
I have both my Master’s and Bachelor’s in Practical Theology. Why? Because I recognize the importance of having a theology that isn’t only understood, but also actively practiced. So how do we change this? It’s simple, you correct it when you hear it. Unlike the next post (God Gained Another Angel Today), this can be corrected at any time. When you hear this said, don’t agree, just correct it (It’s okay to disagree with someone). Remind others that this is not in the Bible, Yahweh didn’t say this and that it stems from 1 Corinthians 10:13. Let them know that this verse is actually dealing with sin and how God will give you a way out when you are tempted.
Folk Theology is dangerous, deadly, and can cause terrible lifelong impacts. Don’t teach your kids false theology. Don’t let your friends believe false theology. And don’t believe false theology yourself. Study and know for yourself. You have the world’s knowledge at your fingertips via your smart phone or computer. Use it to benefit others, not lead others down a stray path.
***For my bible scholar friends.
(By now you’ve noticed this was not an exegesis on 1 Cor. 10:13. I wanted to keep this post very real and very honest. If you want an exegesis on it, I will be more than happy to oblige. I will be doing more exegesis work on Jeremiah 29:11 because of it’s nature. But my goal is not exegesis here. My goal is helping others understand the fault and problem with believing such a poor theology of Yahweh)
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