Month: July 2013

CT Discusses a Genocidal God

How do we reconcile the loving God of the Old Testament with the harsh God of the New Testament?

28356That’s how I begin God Behaving Badly but the most recent edition of Christianity Today (July/August 2013) flipped the question around, asking how to reconcile the wrathful, legalistic God of the OT with the loving, gracious God of the NT.  I think that’s the way people are used to hearing it asked.

I love the fact that CT is addressing this subject.  We don’t talk about the problematic texts in the Bible enough, but atheists like Richard Dawkins are bringing them up in public forums.  Christians unfortunately don’t have good answers, probably because these subjects never get discussed in church.  I hope CT gets something started here.

CT addresses the topic with four articles:

1) A short intro by editor Mark Galli, “A Paradox Old and New.”  He mentions God Behaving Badly (thanks for that), as well as books by Paul Copan and Eric Seibert.  In the online version this article appears at the end of the Buchanan article (see next).

2) “Can We Trust the God of Genocide” a pastor’s (Mark Buchanan) response.

3) “Gentiles in the Hand of a Genocidal God” (titled “We are all Rahab Now” in the print version) by a philosophy professor at Eastern University.

4) “Learning to Love Leviticus” by Christopher Wright, one of my favorite OT scholars.

While we’re on the subject, here’s my take on the Canaanite Genocide, from Relevant Magazine (Sept-Oct 2011), “Reconciling the God of Love with the God of Genocide.”  To get the whole article, you’ll need to register with Relevant (or email me).

Here’s the CT excerpt of God Behaving Badly, the dreaded wedgie for a wedgie story:

When do you discuss the problematic God of the OT?  At church, Sunday school, dinner with your family, or never?  

The Korean Translation of God Behaving Badly

Korean God Behaving Badly coverKorean InterVarsity Press has just published a Korean translation of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?

Click here to get the Korean version.

Now I need my Korean friends to answer this question: How would the Korean title literally translate back into English?  

They asked me for a photo.  I was hoping they were going to put a big picture of me on the cover, but they must have realized that would have killed sales.

This is now the third language for the book.  For the German, click here.  If you know people who want the book in their language have them contact a Christian publisher who prints in that language.

This is Zot (Psalm 119:50)

This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life (Psalm 119:50).

ZOTZOT.  That’s the Hebrew word for “this” (the feminine form actually, ze is the masculine), which is how Psalm 119:50 begins, which makes sense since it is the second verse in the Zayin section of Psalm 119 (verses 49-56) where all 8 verses begin with the Hebrew letter Zayin.   (Apparently ZOT is also a noise emitted by aardvarks while capturing their prey.)

What do you do when your discouraged?  Sleep?  Eat?  Shop?  Run?  Read blogs?  Write blogs?  All of the above?  I don’t shop, although I do like to buy books.

When the psalmist is discouraged, he turns to God’s promise.  Which one?  Any of them. All of them.  I turn to Psalm 119, but the psalmist couldn’t do that yet, because it was still being written.

Psalm 119:50 promises that God’s promise gives life.  How does that happen?

1) God’s promise gives us hope, something we all need, particularly when life is rough.  Hope sustains, and focuses us on the future when things will be better because God will have worked to keep his promise.

2) God’s promise gives us comfort.  We realize that God’s word is full of people who, just like the psalmist here, were in affliction.  We aren’t alone as others were depending upon God and his promises alongside us in our affliction.  Affliction themes appear repeated throughout this psalm (119:50, 67, 71, 75, 93, 107, 153).

3) God’s promise gives us God.  It is his promise (“your” is the most common word in Psalm 119, always attached to a Torah synonym).  God is the one who makes the promise and he’s the one who will keep the promise.  Focusing on his promise deepens our relationship with God, because it keeps us looking to him.

When I was struggling in the fall of 2012 with stomach reflux, sleeplessness and voice problems, God’s promise gave me hope and comfort.  God didn’t promise that he would heal me instantly.  It took 6 months, but he comforted me in the midst of my pain.  God was present.

What gives you life in the midst of affliction?  

Zayin