God Behaving Badly

Peter Gowesky Interview about God Behaving Badly

Peter Gowesky Interview

I was interviewed recently by friend and Biblical Seminary alum Peter Gowesky for his blog (Exploring how faith affects life).

Peter is a campus pastor at Liquid Church in Nutley, NJ.

Check out the link to the 14 minute video here:

An Interview with Dave Lamb – PeterGowesky.com.

Pete asks a bunch of questions about God and his problematic behavior in the pages of the Old Testament, most of which I discuss in my book God Behaving Badly.

In the interview, I also give my take on God’s first two commands in Scripture (slightly paraphrased from Gen. 1:28; 2:16):

1) “Have a lot of sex.”

2) “Eat a lot of food.”

(You’ll appreciate the fact that I raised the computer onto a stack of books so we didn’t have the “up the nostril” affect.)

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Wrath Satisfied or Love Magnified?

Recently the Presbyterian Church (USA) decided to drop the song “In Christ Alone” (written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty) from their hymnbook.

They had requested to make a change in the following line

on that cross,
as Jesus died,
the wrath of God was satisfied
replace the 3rd line withthe love of God was magnified

So, instead of wrath satisfied, there’s love magnified.  The authors refused to grant permission for the change, so the PCUSA dropped the hymn.  (I learned the song in the UK, so I have to sing “Wrath” with a British accent, long “a”.)

I’m interested, but torn.  I’ve attended PCUSA churches in N. CA (Menlo Park), W. Philly (Woodland) and S. CA (Glendale) for a combined 14 years (all of these churches are Evangelical).  I feel committed to the denomination (although I don’t currently a PCUSA church).

But I’ve invested heavily in the stock of divine wrath.  After writing God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the OT Angry, Sexist and Racist? I became the got to guy on the topic of divine wrath.  I wrote on “Wrath” for the IV Dictionary of the OT Prophets.

I gave several sermons on the topic of divine anger (based on ch. 2 of God Behaving Badly).

In a collection of essays entitled Holy War in the Bible I wrote the article “Wrath and Compassion as Motivations for Divine Warfare.”

Even my golf clubs say “WRATH” on them (see “The Wrath of Dave” on this topic).

To the attacks from some that this was a “liberal” attempt to remove the concept of wrath from their hymnal, the PCUSA responded that there’s still plenty of Divine Wrath in the 800 or so remaining hymns.  Here’s the PCUSA side of the story.

Wrath or love?  Both.  I believe that on the cross the love of God was magnified, and the wrath of God was satisfied.  But I wouldn’t change the song.  I like it as is.  Jesus prayed that the cup of wrath would be removed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36).  It was eventually removed, after satisfaction had taken place.

What do you think? Wrath or Love?  Would you change the song?  Leave the church?  


Frank Viola Interview: God Behaving Badly – Is the God of the Old Testament an Angry, Racist, Sexist Masochist?

FrankViola FaceLast year Frank Viola (author of God’s Favorite Place on Earth, Jesus: A Theography, etc.) interviewed me about God Behaving Badly.

Not the major league pitcher of the same name, but this Frank did pitch in high school.  Now, he blogs, writes and preaches about God, Jesus and his faith.

He has edited and re-posted the interview this morning.  Click here:
God Behaving Badly – Is the God of the Old Testament an Angry, Racist, Sexist Masochist?.

(Frank added Masochist to the three other terms I used.  It’s a nice touch, don’t you think?  I usually use the adjective, not the noun form.)

Here is one of Frank’s questions:

If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity (Deuteronomy 25:11-12) 

Doesn’t this make clear that the Old Testament was written by a man? Come on now. How is this consistent with a good, loving, reasonable God? If God wrote this, I wouldn’t want anything to do with a God like that. What say you? 

Other questions focus on circumcision, crushed testicles and genocide.  You’ll have to go to the interview to read my answers.

When it was posted Rachel Held Evans called it the best interview of the week.

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?