God Behaving Badly

Der missverstandene Gott? (A Review)

Der missverstandene GottSprechen Sie Deutsch?

If you do, check out Julia Weisenberger’s review of Der missverstandene Gott? (more familiar to English speakers as God Behaving Badly) which just appeared on her website.

The subtitle in case you can’t read it from the image is:

Ist der Gott des Alten Testaments zornig, sexistisch und rassistisch? Kritisiert man ihm zu Recht?

I couldn’t appreciate much of what she said in the review, but I did appreciate the 5 stars.

On March 6, you can check out her interview with me.

I have a free copy of Der missverstandene Gott to give (mailed within the US only) to the person who provides me with the best reason why they should own a German translation of God Behaving Badly (deadline Feb. 17).

David Lamb: Is God really’Angry, Sexist and Racist’? – The Washington Post

Another version of the interview, this time from The Washington Post (I’ve heard of them):

David Lamb: Is God really’Angry, Sexist and Racist’? – The Washington Post.

The big news yesterday was John Kerry and Dave Lamb.  It must have been a slow news day.

You don’t need to read the same interview over and over again, but you should at least check out the Post’s website.

Washington Post GBB



Mo. Pastor Takes on ‘God Behaving Badly’ in 9-Part Sermon Series

Christian Post

After preaching at Memorial Baptist Church (Columbia, MO), The Christian Post interviewed both myself and Kevin Glenn, the pastor of the church.

Here’s the link to the article: Mo. Pastor Takes on ‘God Behaving Badly’ in 9-Part Sermon Series.

CP is the top-ranked website for Religion and Spirituality.  (Yes, this is more Shameless Marketing that readers of my blog have become accustomed to.)

Kudos to Kevin Glenn for being willing to “take on” this topic at his church.  Most churches, pastors, Sunday school teachers, even seminary professors are afraid of the problematic texts of the Old Testament (the Canaanite slaughter, the smiting of Uzzah, Elisha calling down bears on the boys).  We don’t really believe what Paul says that “all Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching” (2 Tim. 3:16).

But by ignoring these texts we aren’t helping Christians get to know God and his word better.  These problematic texts don’t just go away.

We’ve got to stop ignoring the difficult parts of the Bible.  Otherwise Christians will only encounter them when they are:
1) Reading through their Bibles on their own and have no one to talk to.  Confusion.
2) Talking to atheist, agnostic or seeker friends who bring them up in a debate.  Embarrassment.
3) Sitting in a religion class taught by a follower of the New Atheists.  Frustration. 

To be prepared for these situations, we need to study and discuss these texts, to preach and teach them.  If we believe that God inspired these texts, then he must want us to learn from them.

Kevin’s church will be prepared to deal with these difficult situations.  Are you? 

Who killed more people, God or Satan? Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we referred to an article that mentioned that God “kiled” (see comments) a lot more people than Satan in the Bible.  Thanks for sharing your wisdom in the comments to Part 1: Ben, Noah, Jeremiah, Danny, David and Fr. Gregory.

If someone asked me about God’s killing in the Bible, my answer would depend upon who is asking me.  A theist, or an atheist?  A child or an adult?  Someone who’s been a victim of violent crime or someone who hasn’t?  Context is everything.

If someone doesn’t believe the Bible is true asks about God killing in the Bible, they are being silly.  It’s like arguing who’s prettier Snow White or Cinderella.  (Spoiler…neither are real.)  The topic of God killing people is only a real problem for people who believe the Bible really records what happened.  Atheists may want to point out the ridiculousness of believing a story where God acts violently, but a better starting point for that interaction would be the reliability of God’s word.

I’ll assume I’m interacting with someone who believes God is real and the Bible records what happened.

The biggest problem with the article (even bigger than the misspelling of “kiled”) is that the author is not interested in why people are killed.  In order to tabulate divine death statistics for the Bible, the author of the article has little interest in examining the context.  There’s no time for that.  It’s a bit like a preacher who jumps around the Bible to proof-text their point.  But context is everything.

Let’s look at two examples the author of the article uses  First, the flood (Gen. 6-9).  Why does God wipe out humanity?  As punishment for their excessive violence.  The Noah narrative does not go into detail, but it gives enough: “every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:6).  A skeptic might say, the text is exaggerating the evilness of the humans.  I’ll grant that’s a possibility, but would the same skeptic say the text is exaggerating the destruction of the flood?  I doubt it.  I’m troubled by the severity of the story of the flood, but it’s clear that people are being punished for a reason.  Context is everything. 

Second, the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35).  I discuss this incident in God Behaving Badly (p. 102-104), so I’ll be brief here.  The Assyrians were bad neighbors.  You think your neighbors are bad?  If your neighbors don’t pilage, exile and decapitate like the Assyrians did consider yourself lucky.  Most recently the Assyrian army had been destroying Judah and starving its citizens–men, women and children.  God miraculously delivered Judah by wiping out Sennacherib’s army.  I’m a pacifist, but I still think that it was good that God protected his people.  Context is everything. 

It’s fun to make a point with statistics, but as anyone who works with statistics knows, they can also deceive.

How is ignoring the context of a Bible passage deceptive? 

Image (Memberger) from http://www.wga.hu/html/m/memberge/noahark3.html