May 04, 2012

Is Dawkins Right About the "God of the Old Testament"? (Pt. 4 of 5) [EDITOR'S NOTE: The following six-part series of blogs are adapted from a paper I wrote this year in my Pentateuch class with Dr. John Goldingay at Fuller Theological Seminary. These thoughts are not meant to be the final word on the matter, nor to form a sort of apologetic against atheists. This is not material for an argument. It is simply a response based on a closer reading of the Torah-- the first five books of the Bible. My hope is that it will help Christians avoid simplistic views about the "God of the Old Testament. Read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE.] Claim # 4: "The God of the Old Testament is...a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."-- Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. Is God a Malevolent Bully? The fourth and final claim is that the God of the Old Testament is a “misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Here Dawkins gives up totally on a reasoned critique and starts shooting out phrases that form poetic cadences on paper. He is saying—with one enormously large sweep—that YHWH hates gays and Gentiles, and kills babies, whole people groups, someone else’s sons and daughters, and crops and livestock for the sake of his love of self, love of suffering, and just for the fun of it, simply because He can. There are several assumptions built into this last tirade. They must be taken one by one to see what the Torah has to say about them. The first assumption is that just because God prohibits something He hates it. “Hate” is an interesting word in the Torah. In the ESV, hate is never used to describe how God feels about anyone. It frequently describes how...
Why We Must Get Disillusioned With "Community" Our text this past Sunday was Acts 2:42-47, a text which represents, in many ways, the DNA of the Church. The followers of Jesus devoted themselves to the Apostles' doctrine, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. When we talked about how they devoted themselves their fellowship-- koinonia-- we explored how easy it is for us to imagine Church to be an ideal community. Worse yet, we tend to bring our own ideals into whatever church we join, setting ourselves up for disappointment and disillusionment... ...which is why, yesterday, in my sermon I read portions of this excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together about the necessity of becoming disillusioned with our ideal of community: “Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves." Bonhoeffer calls us out. We do come into a church with a set of ideals and expectations. But Bonhoeffer does the unexpected by saying that it is God's grace that shatters those dreams. Most of us are familiar with disillusionment, particularly with Christians. But how is this a "grace"? "By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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