Thursday, February 20, 2014

One More Comment From the Edge

OK. It's obvious that if I continue to stand up for what I consider to be a valid viewpoint, that is that God can and does experience what we perceive as anger or wrath, that I am in danger of imbalance. God is love. His anger is, or would be, a merely situational thing. It's not a default. It's not a part of his nature. Yes, I've been arguing that any righteous being with the capacity for emotion will also be angry when presented with evil or wrong. But I would be doing God a disservice if I left everyone with the impression that that is what God is all the time. His declaration of his name, given to Moses on the mountain (and I do take the whole passage to be his name) compares maintaining love and forgiveness to a thousand generations with pursuing the guilt to a mere third or fourth generation. It's a ratio I should be observing to stay balanced -- a thousand words (posts?) about love to 3 or 4 about wrath.

In fact I was going to do just that. A comment on my last post, I thought very good (do go back and read it) was about the needlessness of God's wrath based on the order of magnitude difference between what he is and what we are. I'm not even going to disagree with it. I was going to repost it here and then the same commenter elsewhere posted this. It's a litany of what the article calls 'Dick Moves' committed by God in the Old Testament. I assume that the aforementioned phrase implies senseless arrogance and stupid maliciousness. So I've just got to put up my hand and say hang on a minute, before I leave behind the whole subject of 'wrath.' I have two things to say about this.

1) The people who wrote those things were proud of God for doing them. It meant a great deal to them that God would, unlike any god around them, step in and punish and stop evil.
2) Unlike today the world used to intuit that there were things that were worse than death. In fact many, many things topped the list before it. Things like (dare I say it?) blasphemy. Our 'death is the worst thing' ideal informs so much of this offence we have when we read the Old Testament. Do I agree with the past on this? I don't know. But I'm very shy about calling the O.T. stories (blech!) 'Dick Moves.'

Someone commented on my post about the continuing war between adult and child in me and said that even my intellectual pursuits had a childlike element to them. So here's my childlike response. I don't have the same view of inspiration in the Bible as many evangelicals do. That's obvious from my previous posts. But I do feel a kinship with the writers of the Bible. David, Moses, Paul, etc. are my family members. If I disagree with them, I disagree with what they say. But I'm not going to let them be called dupes. At the very least not without a rebuttal. And I've realized that's what I see in whole-hog attempts to reclassify the 'wrath' events in the Old Testament as either not actually God or mis-perceptions of God and my response to those attempts. It's all about family. These are my people and they're not stupid.

Addendum: After some processing of that comment about God never actually needing to be angry because of the difference between us, I realized that if he is angry with us, he is marking us out as peers, that is, his expectations of us are actually akin to the expectations he has of himself. It could be an evidence for "you have made him a little lower than God" as found somewhere in the Psalms.

But so much of my writing is in reaction to something else. And that fact has taken me to the edge on this one. Admitting that, hopefully I can inch my way away from it.

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