The Cancelling of the Creator
The headline from a national newspaper popped up on my phone: “Daniel Radcliffe is surely the world’s most ungrateful man”. It’s not a title many would be scrambling to win for themselves, but the opinion-piece made the case.
Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played Harry Potter in the eight-movie franchise, was facing criticism from the columnist for his treatment of JK Rowling, the author of the books which spawned the films: “The actor has once again sought to cancel his creator JK Rowling for believing that women are women and trans women are trans women.”
Cancel his creator – that phrase resonated powerfully. I cannot say if Mr Ratcliffe is the most ungrateful man in the world, but the attitude is common to the human race in our treatment of God. As an actor Daniel Radcliffe has benefitted handsomely from the work of his ‘creator’, playing Harry Potter and thereby inhabiting a world she created. He spoke the words she produced as an author, but now when her words seem distasteful, he no longer wants to know; he denounces her opinion. As the columnist stated, “How much more painful to be denigrated and dismissed by a nobody you made into a somebody? A nobody, in fact, whose life of wealth and fame was built upon your genius.”
This is not the story of one famous person, this is the story of every person, and it is a tragic story. As a race and as individuals, we have benefitted from the creation we inhabit, we are blessed by this gift of our Creator. We are made in God’s image and are to receive his word. But when that word is not to our liking or taste or inclination, we challenge it, we question it, we denounce it and we ignore it, in favour of our own ideas. It is a replay of that decision right at the start of the Bible to be like God, to be morally autonomous, to decide for ourselves what is good and right, and not have to defer to the Creator.
Paul describes this universal human instinct in terms of ‘suppression’ in Romans 1:18-19: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” God’s truth is apparent; the universe bears his imprint, but it is an inconvenient truth. We like to be God, ruling over our own little world, and so we must keep down the unwelcome reality of the true God and rightful Ruler of the universe.
This suppression of truth has been described by DA Carson as ‘The Gagging of God’, but here we have it helpfully described afresh in the terms of this generation: the Creator is cancelled.
We see in contemporary debates, in colleges and on social media, that expressing disagreement on a certain issue, or having once held an opinion now deemed unacceptable is being cast as ‘hate’. Such ‘hateful’ people must pay for the crime of not submitting to the current groupthink, and they are thereby deprived of a platform for their views or banned from airing their opinion online. Does that not convey what we do to God, unless and until the gospel of Jesus changes us?
We do not merely silence our Creator by not listening, we seek to cancel him by not giving him the opportunity to speak; we banish him from the personal Garden of Eden we have made for ourselves.
So who is the world’s most ungrateful man or woman? Have a look in the mirror. We all are. Left to our own devices we will happily live in God’s world without God, enjoying the good things he brings, but not acknowledging him or allowing him to intrude. We like to cancel our Creator.
But after we have looked in the mirror, let us look to Christ, and embrace Truth.
NORTHERN CHURCHMAN has served in parochial ministry for over twenty-five years.