Saturday, September 20, 2014
The Monster God
If there is one subject at the forefront of the news today it is violence. NFL spouse abuse, childhood spanking. ISIS beheadings. Ever since Cain killed Abel and went out and began to civilize the world violence has been the way to get what you want.
I just read Farewell to Mars by Brian Zhand last week which is about the tension between Jesus call for us to build a peaceable kingdom and the worlds tendency to conquer and kill. He argues from one who has changed his position that we should of all people be the ones advocating non violent answers to our pressing problems.
Then in the hospital someone on facebook suggested I listen to a long debate between he and another charismatic scholar on what he calls our theological defense of a "monster god" who is Himself the epitome of revenge and eternal torture of wrongdoers.
The debate was brilliant as each built his case for the character of God in the scripture. It was humbling to me for I do not have the debate skills or memory skills or verbal skills to do such a thing. Both men presented their case well, and I had to sleep on it before I began to see that it is indeed possible to use the Bible to create an image of God that is polar opposite, depending on the scriptures and ideas you link together.
At the heart of the debate is the issue of violent atonement. Did the cross represent a blood payment to an angry diety, or signify the end of sacrifice and purchased reconciliation. If Jesus paid for my sin, then forgiveness is not really the issue, for the offended God, the monster God has been paid off with the violent death of his own Son. Penal substitutionary Atonement.
In this age of protestant reformation II this is an issue that is not going away, and I am very interested in the conversation, ie. debate.