Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the incompetent god

I couldn't help but think that is how Chalke and Mann view God, especially in the Old Testament, when I read this.

Hence, Yahweh's association with vengeance and violence wasn't so much an expression of who he was but the result of his determination to be involved with his world. His unwillingness to distance himself from the people of Israel and their actions meant that at times he was implicated in the excessive acts of war that we see in some of the books of the Old Testament. From the very beginning, Yahweh's dealing with Israel were motivated by his desire to demonstrate his love. But to a people saturated in a worldview that saw him as power, this was always going to be a slow uphill struggle

God's relationship with Israel took place in the messy and often brutal reality of their day-to-day lives, longings and ambitions. And in the ancient Near East, where war and unrestrained violence were commonplace, having a god of power on your side helped justify cruel acts of revenge towards those who wronged you. That is why, if we focus in on individual Old Testament verses and stories, it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing God as a vengeful despot...

Chalk and Mann, the lost message of jesus, p. 49

Because, really, what else are we to make of these statements? That God, who wanted His people to be nice little pacifists, had to continually come to their aid when they went a-warring? The God really didn't want them to conquer there enemies and defend there lands? And He really didn't want to have Joshua go on some kind of genocidal conquest, and had little if anything to do really with the whole Jericho incident? That He was really hoping David and Goliath could sit down for a latte and talk about...whatever preppies talked about way back when?

Poor God, He just never could get those darned people to get the idea. When He told them to go off to war, He was really telling them to stay home and write poetry?

And I'm pretty sure Chalke is calling into question the divine inspiration of parts of the Old Testament (mostly those that he disapproves of, one may conclude). He seems to be saying that the OT writers are putting words in God's mouth (and in His book) concerning those times when they went to war against people who had done them wrong.

Yeah, poor god indeed. Too weak to protect them so they could become the non-violent pacifists he wanted them to be. Too clumsy with words to make them understand that when they thought he was telling them to go to war, he was telling to not do so. So pathetic that he couldn't even keep their propoganda from getting into his word.

Such a god ain't hardly fit to trust, or worship, or even respect.


Tones said...

I honestly don't know how you made it through the book. Threw it out - the wife pulled it out of the trash and was going to give it to Half-Priced-Books. She read a few excerpts and faithfully chucked it in the can...

jazzact13 said...

Actually, haven't made it through the whole thing yet. I've read a chapter or a bit of one at a time. Working my way through it, though yeah the question of "Why am I doing this to myself" does come up sometimes :-)

But there are people out there who are reading it, and are thinking he knows what he's writing about. Which means some of us have to show that, no, he really doesn't.