“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)?