Saturday, 28 June 2014

Yahweh of Armies? No, he's just misunderstood!

Not Marcion
The nice people who publish Discern magazine have tackled the thorny issue of the alleged nastiness of God in the Old Testament. You know, those gut-churning passages where the divine command goes forth in the cause of bloody ethnic cleansing. Erik Jones rides in to the rescue, and lo, it's all a big misunderstanding.

The entire article is a whole three pages long, and two of them are focused on the New Testament. Surprisingly, given the publisher's predilection for cuddling up to obscure Old Testament laws, there's a certain Marcionite flavour to the discussion (not that Erik could probably tell Marcion from Marmite). The title says it all: "Jesus Christ Taught Peace and Nonviolence."

Well, okay, I'll sign up to that. But wait, what about those sticky stories in the Hebrew Bible? Not a problem! Erik lays out the solution in just four easy, pre-masticated steps.

1. God's Law is consistent. Bumping people off has never been acceptable.
2. Lack of faith. Those ancient Israelites were a feckless bunch and refused to simply trust in God.
3. Hardness of Heart. This sounds a lot like no.2 to me. Those dimwitted Israelites were allowed to kill and maim only because God took into allowance that they were spiritually unfit. Not like Erik and his mates in the One True Church of course.
4. Consequences. God took a dim view of people who followed his own policy compromises. Just look how he took away planning permission for a Davidic Temple because Dave, a man after his own heart, had carried out his orders.

So there you have it. Hangs together nicely doesn't it. And just think, all those needless books full of big words written by lesser mortals who tried to make sense of this before Erik and Discern came along.
"... there is no contradiction between the Old and New Testaments! God's consistent will was for his people to be peaceful and nonviolent."
Well, bless your heart Erik, and thank you for clearing that up. Any questions? Oops, sorry, gotta go...

5 comments:

  1. Did Erik mention that as God, anybody He killed off, He could just resurrect them (and kill them again)? That's a real game changer. Mere humans can't do that.

    "no contradiction"?!?!! "no contradiction"??!!!??!! What about the statement in Isaiah saying there is no God besides Me!!!! I mean it's kind of embarrassing in the New Testament to come up with a Second Divinity (lesser, albeit) who was commissioned to create ALL things (including angels, you Aussie cult twit) when You claim You are alone in the universe with no other of the Elohim to assist you in any way!

    But then a bipolar God would make a sort of perverse sense given that the Old Testament was written by the Jews and the New Testament was written by the Catholics and the whole thing was translated into English by Protestants. There are no original sources, only copies of copies of copies... maybe -- some of it seems to be verbal traditions passed down by superstitious illiterates with a seemingly amazing memory (if you don't read and write, maybe it leaves a lot of really good memory for stuff most literate people couldn't remember).

    The Israelites of old were something of a failed experiment, it seems, doomed to failure from the beginning because they weren't given the tools to accomplish that which they were commissioned to do -- set a stellar example to the other nations: Who else has a God this wise? They just couldn't pull it off because God didn't give them faith (a gift of God, if you believe the New Testament) and they didn't have the Holy Spirit, making them unfit and incompetent to do the job they were given to do.

    So God likes drama. He wants to see what happens when people are faced with impossible choices. This free will business is REALLY entertaining! The biggest organic soap opera ever! How will it ever turn out?

    Supposedly, it has a great ending! God wins! Everybody else loses (and if you think "we" -- humanity -- wins, think again: There won't be any humans left, only "spirit beings" after earth is burned to a crisp with no more oceans, green trees and most annoying for us cat lovers, no felines as domestic companions any more). Only God wins. The rest of us lose. (For those who think they will become God as God is God -- you're in for quite the disappointment, you narcissistic rubbish!) Maybe Jesus too. Will Mary be a winner? (Only if Catholics got it right.)

    At least some will inherit eternal life, unless there's a burning hell where hapless people will burn forever -- then EVERYBODY gets eternal life, but that won't seem like such a gift to some (eternal life is supposed to be gift, right? And the sinner shall die? Right? How does that work out in the Catholic and most Protestant viewpoints?).

    You may protest that this is irrelevant but Erik opened the door to this line of questioning, so it's all his fault.

    Let him clean up the mess and answer for himself.

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  2. "But do the high percentages of professing Christians in these nations make them safe and peaceful refuges from crime and violence? Unfortunately, the answer is no."

    Let's address this.

    Three of the countries he mentions are Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines. These can be dangerous countries, seemingly devoid of the "gentle Jesus" of the New Testament (you know the one -- the one who overthrew the changer tables in the Temple and used whips to drive out... well, I think it was the changers and not just the animals -- what do you think? Does someone use a whip to drive doves from the Temple? How would that work, anyway?)

    This brings up the question then, are Catholics really Christians? I mean, the Pope did declare that the Mafia leaders were automatically excommunicated. What about the Drug Lords? I know, I know, if the Pope had his way, he'd excommunicate all the murderers, thieves and other low lifes that take communion weekly in the Catholic Church, but then who would he have left in these countries? So the question remains as one of practical practice. And then there all those priests who... well, you know, some of the ACoG ministers are worse, so maybe we could give some of the priests a free pass (which is worse, to be a pedophile or false prophet? OK, not much of choice, but some are both).

    The good news is that if you actually practice what one called Jesus supposedly taught in the New Testament, you will be a "good" person that everybody can live with. You also will be a sheep among Corporate wolves, many of whom run the Church Corporate. One would suppose that if one is to be a good Christian, it might be well to avoid organized Christian religion and be spiritual instead of religious.

    Well cheese, even atheists could be nice "good" people who don't commit adultery, don't cheat on their income tax like Ronald Weinland, don't murder, don't lie (millions don't do bad stuff every single day!), so what's the big fuss about trying to justify what the God of the Old Testament did as a fussy harsh retentive?

    The bad thing here that Erik doesn't mention is just what country should we move to if we don't want all that violence? How do we escape it?

    Right.

    God's protection.

    Which will work out in the Final Judgment.

    We just have a while to wait.

    Erik has left us with more questions than answers, darn it all!

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  3. Erik has it all wrong...the "God" of the OT was the devil that Jesus was talking about in John 8:44 - Yahweh, the creator of the Jews. The "God" of the OT was the devil that tempted "Christ" in the wilderness with ownership of the earth because, according to the OT, that's who owns the earth. Or, as Marcion called him, the "demiurge", to whom the actual "God" of Genesis 1 left in charge of the world. This "demiurge", not being satisfied with the real God's original creation, planted a garden in Mesopotamia and created the Semite race to take care it.

    So, just blame it all on the demiurge (the father of the Jews) instead of the real God (the father of Jesus) and there you are - the gentiles were innocent victims and the Jews will suffer for their being deceived by the demiurge into committing genocide and murdering the son of God.

    That's my story and I'm...uh...sticking to it...

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    Replies
    1. Beware Corky, these days most of those on the Internet have little use for brilliant satire. On Yahoo, you'd get 2 thumbs up and 359 thumbs down. Well, I say two thumbs up, but there's no guarantee that anyone besides me would give you the thumbs up. Irony is so underrated and the sense of humor is gone too. I would suppose that it's a result of people being lied to so much... especially by religion (but there's government and corporations too and don't forget the scientific community [funded by the corporations] and academia). The other problem is all those people with factless opinions who think just because they believe something is true, it IS true.

      The Internet continues to lower the I.Q.

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  4. Dear Gavin,
    I guess I'm technically challenged - thought I'd posted my comments a couple of days ago. Anyway, I wanted to say thank you for making me aware of the Jacob Wright class at Emory University. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and have gained new insights and perspectives on the Bible and the people who wrote it. Too bad that most Fundamentalists have cut themselves off from such knowledge and information!
    With regard to your comments about the Erik Jones article, I feel that he deserves more credit for pointing out the inconsistency between Christian behavior and Christ's teaching on this subject. Nevertheless, I have to agree with you that the YHWH of the Old Testament is often described in very martial terms. There is clearly a contradiction between Christ's teachings and the often homicidal and genocidal Divinity depicted in those writings. (The blinders are definitely on in the "Why violence in the OT?" insert).
    I think that this is to be expected, however, from anyone who continues to hold to the old Armstrong axiom about Scripture: "If you can't believe all of it, you can't believe any of it." I think it is very unfortunate that Fundamentalists and Atheists take this view of the Bible. As someone who believes in God and professes to be a Christian, it is counterintuitive for me to believe that the Bible is entirely Divine or human in origin. Why can't it be both? (I think that there is a lot of good evidence to suppose it is some of both) Humans have always tried to remake God in their own image. As a consequence, a great many things have been attributed to God that don't belong to God (like murder, war and genocide). And, as I've pointed out before, Jesus Christ was apparently not afraid to contradict the old stuff (i.e. Moses' teaching on divorce).
    Even so, I think that Mr. Jones deserves some praise for pointing out the discrepancies in "Christian" behavior and for attempting to say (albeit imperfectly) that God is not a homicidal maniac.

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