Month: May 2011

God Behaving Badly 3: Irreverent?

“I do not like Lamb’s title.  It is irreverent.  It is disrespectful to God.  Please change the title.”

These words are from Joseph, who after reading an interview with me on Biblical’s website, felt like he needed to express his perspective on the seminary’s Facebook page.  When I read his post, I quickly replied, “Thanks Joseph for your honesty, but the reality is that even if you don’t think God behaves badly a lot of people do after they read sections of the Old Testament, and so we need to talk about God’s problematic behavior.”

His next response was more subdued, but he repeated the main points from his initial post (the title is irreverent, disrespectful).  I again thanked him for engaging with me, but then added, “You know Joseph, the full title is actually a question, ‘Is the God of the Old Testament angry, sexist and racist?’  And Scripture is full of people who ask questions about God’s behavior (e.g., Abraham: Gen. 18:23; Moses: Exo. 32:11; the psalmist: Psa. 13:1).”

I continued, “And even Jesus on the cross questioned God’s behavior, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:34; quoting from Psa. 22:1).”  (Our FB interaction was taking place on Good Friday eve, so I thought my comment was timely.)  I concluded, “If Jesus can question God’s behavior, shouldn’t it be OK for us to do so?”

The next day, I received a Facebook friend request from Joseph, which I quickly accepted.  He sent a message, “I still don’t like the title, but I’ll read the book.”  I was pleased.  While we may not totally agree, I gained a friend (and a book sale).

The most impressive thing about Joseph was his willingness to engage with me and be open to new ideas.

So, what do you think of the title (disrespectful, provocative, shocking)?

God Behaving Badly 2: Shameless Marketing

We were at a church picnic on Wednesday night.  People were asking me about my new book (God Behaving Badly, in case you haven’t heard), when I kicked into what my sons call “Shameless Marketing” mode.

“Did you see Scot McKnight’s blog (Jesus Creed) posts?”

“Did I already tell you that Christianity Today will print an excerpt in July?”

“Have you been checking out my Amazon rankings?”

Then my son Noah (13) chimes in, “Dad even tried to sell copies of his book during my birthday party.”  (I countered by noting that his friends seemed genuinely interested.)

Despite how it may appear, all of this shameless marketing does make me feel uncomfortable.  My mother consistently modeled asking questions of others instead of talking about yourself.  I fear that I’m losing a deeply held value of focusing on others.

But I rationalize that at least part of the reason that I’m shamelessly marketing is that I’m genuinely interested in the topic and I truly believe the book will help people.  Ultimately, my goal in writing the book is to help people love God and love God’s word.  And for that to happen I’ll need to sell a few books along the way.

What are your thoughts on “Shameless Marketing”?  (Now that I’m asking questions again, I feel more comfortable.)

God Behaving Badly 1

Recently, my wife Shannon and I were on a date and ended up chatting with our server.  (I wonder what it says about our marriage that my wife often engages other people in conversation on our dates?)  He finally asked me, “So, what do you do?”  I told him, “I teach the Bible, mainly the Old Testament.”  He responded, “In the Old Testament isn’t God always smiting people and destroying cities?”  I replied, “Not exactly, but I get that question a lot because the God of the Old Testament has a bad reputation.

One of the most famous The Far Side cartoons is God at his computer.  Once again, God is about to SMITE someone.  And you know it’s the God of the OT, because he has long wavy gray hair (Jesus has long wavy brown hair).  The God of the Old Testament has a bad reputation.

And as you read the OT, it just seems to get worse.  Why does God smite Uzzah for trying to stablize the ark in 2 Samuel 6?  Why does God command a woman to marry her rapist?  Why does God command the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites?

If these questions bother you, check out God Behaving Badly.  For my first series of blogs, I’m going to discuss the book, and display the images that I couldn’t afford to include in the book.