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)?

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8 comments

  1. joseph needs to read Job. remember when Job says to God ‘why don’t you leave me along long enough for me to swallow my spit!’ or joseph should read Jeremiah. you know, when he says to God ‘YOU have DECEIVED ME!’ (though the Hebrew verb can also be translated ‘raped’ or ‘violated’.

    Your title is tame. ‘Why did God rape me?’ That would be a provocative title.

  2. I appreciate your ability to respond to such a potentially hostile situation with such grace.

    (And I think the title is fine. It does what it’s supposed to do, which is to get people who wish to take God seriously to be honest about what the Bible actually says–specifically in matters that we sometimes would prefer to ignore.)

  3. As I’ve said to you, David, it seems any book on this topic recently needs to have some sort of alliteration in the title. Disturbing Divine Behavior by Seibert, God Behaving Badly by you, Is God a Moral Monster by Copan. And soon, my book with Eisenbrauns about “divine deception.” Yes, alliteration must be key.

    You have chosen wisely!

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