"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The "Darker Side" of this Tradition of God

Unfortunately for Amber and Achelois' furniture, I have one more post from The Woman Who Named God. I only said yesterday that I'd finally finished the book, not that I'd posted everything from it that I wanted. Sorry, Ladies. Just this one and we can say "goodbye" to Charlotte Gordon. (For those wondering what I'm talking about see the comments from yesterday's post.)

The good news is that I believe today's post won't cause any more damage to either teeth or furniture because these things are perhaps a bit more agreeable or, at least, not blasphemous like yesterday's post came across. We shall see.

Concerning the event of Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his son -- "God had bugled a chilling note, a warning call to Abraham. It was an illusion for parents to believe they owned their children, God declared. All human life came from Him and was ultimately His to reclaim. He was in charge of who lived or died, and nothing could stand in His way." (pg. 243)

Speaking of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) which (speaking of gnawing on furniture) I wrote about back in October -- "To these ten thousand or so believers, Sarah's offer of Hagar to her husband is evidence of her heroic devotion to God. Every first wife should be a Sarah, willing to share her husband with many partners. Every man should be an Abraham, willing to shoulder the responsibility of many wives." (pg. 107)

About the ram God provided as a substitute for Isaac -- "There is a tradition that this creature was not an ordinary ram but was one that God had created during the first week of the world and had saved for exactly this purpose, the rescue of Isaac. Certainly, it was miraculous that it appeared when it did. This is why Jews blow the shofar, or ram's horn, in celebration of the New Year. The sound is meant to remind Jewish congregations that even when things appear at their bleakest, God will provide. Furthermore, the blowing of the horn is meant to provoke compassion in God for human suffering, suggesting that there is a darker side to this tradition as well. God's empathy for human beings must be summoned. It is not intrinsically there for us to depend on." (pg. 260)

About this ram analogy, now I know most Jews rejected Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah), but contrast this "darker side" of tradition to Jesus' willingness to heal the sick and meet needs and even wash feet to demonstrate serving others and his saying "if you have seen me, you have seen the Father." (See John 14).

John 12:

"He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me."

John 1:

14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 1:

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Hebrews 1:

3And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Even among the Jewish Scripture, you have this passage from Ezekiel 34 which I read this spring and found touching. God compares Himself to the good shepherd. Take a peek:

15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

And how can anyone forget one of the most famous Bible passages of all? Psalm 23 from King David where, again, God is known as the tender Shepherd.

Lest we forget, in the Bible God is good and God is love. And we all know the wonderful characteristics of true, God-like love. (If you need a refresher course, check out Paul's wonderful summary of love in I Corinthians 13.)

From this post, did anything trouble you that she said? From what I wrote? Do you tend to have a view of God more in line with the "darker side" of the tradition (in the author's interpretation) or do you believe God to be more compassionate or loving and without the need of our having to somehow summon those traits from Him? What are your favorite Scriptures about God's characteristics and why? How do you generally describe God to others? Do you tend to describe Him as the Scriptures declare Him to be, by what He has done for you and/or by how He has manifested Himself to you personally?

So finally we conclude the posts from this book! Hear that? Now, Ladies, you may polish that furniture and take care of those teeth. If for no other reason, I'm glad I read this book because her topics generated these great discussions the last several days. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Enjoyed it!


Amber said...

*pauses cleaning splinters out of her teeth* Really?! *sigh*

I'll give the author point one, in re: all life belonging to God. I don't think that was the idea behind Abraham being commanded to sacrifice Isaac, but I'll give her the point, since it's true.

Ah, the second point pisses me off, but unless the author is FLDS, that's not a problem with her, but with them.

"God's empathy for human beings must be summoned. It is not intrinsically there for us to depend on." Author fail, again. If God did not love us without us having to remind Him to do it, we'd all have been wiped out a long time ago.

Achelois said...

Hmm. God loves. Oh yes.

Re. Abraham, I always believed that Abraham believed he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac but that was just his impression.

Wrestling With Religion said...

As Achelois says, it is possible that Abraham was mistaken about being commanded to sacrifice Isaac. This is an idea I have come across in Islam. The Quran tells stories about Abraham gradually coming to his monotheistic beliefs, realising that the sun is not a deity but is also created, and so on. Maybe this episode can be seen as part of his awakening from his pagan origins, which is where sacrificing your child probably comes from. (I know all this isn't in the Bible but if what's in the Quran is based on pre-existing traditions, there could be some truth in it.)

In terms of my view of God, I think there can only be one universal God, and so there cannot be any favouritism. There is love and mercy for all. And I can't buy the idea of people being able to manipulate God's emotions (if God even has emotions).

Sanil Atarah Rivka said...

Timely! In Sunday school this week, they were talking about Abraham sacrificing Isaac...I was very horrified by the discussion and plan to post on it soon, so I won't go into too much depth here. But I agree w/the commenters above me, I am not sure Abraham was actually commanded to sacrifice Isaac. So I disagree with her understanding of God's reason for demanding it. Interesting comments on the ram, though.

The FDS comment just makes me laugh. Yep, every wife should be like Sarah and go around God to do things her own way. I see why it would be interpreted that way in FDS tradition, though.

Susanne said...

Amber, you wrote:

"If God did not love us without us having to remind Him to do it, we'd all have been wiped out a long time ago."

So true! Loved that.

Yeah, the FLDS really anger me. You probably know that from when I wrote about them back in October.

Hope you got those splinters out of your teeth.

Achelois, so you think the "commandment" wasn't really a command, but a dream or vision or feeling/impression? That possibility was mentioned in the book from maybe a Jewish (or was it Islamic?) source.

Sarah, OK, you saw this impression idea in Islam. I am trying to remember if the author said it was also the thinking of some Jewish scholars as well. *thinking* I already took the book back to the library so I cannot check. But thanks for adding what you did.

I definitely think God has emotions. I reread the Bible not long ago and was amazed at MY emotions when I read, I think, Jeremiah because I could tell how much God loved Israel and HURT because they rejected Him for idols that they made and couldn't walk by themselves because they were powerless. At first I laughed when I read it, but then it struck me how sad it was that the Israelites could serve wood instead of the
All Mighty God!

Please take a moment and read this post --


I think it shows in just one small part about God's emotions. The Bible teaches in Genesis that God made man in His image so maybe our having emotions is reflecting something in Him.

Do the rest of you have thoughts about God having emotions? You got me wondering now. :)

Sanil, yes, I saw on your blog (or was it Twitter?) where you mentioned that they talked of this sacrifice recently. I'm interested in reading the post you write about it. Was this in the UMC or Baptist church?

I liked this:

"Yep, every wife should be like Sarah and go around God to do things her own way."


Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Wrestling With Religion said...

That was really interesting. I guess I'm not used to the idea of God having feelings because that doesn't come across in the Quran. I never read the whole Bible but I think I will try to.

Susanne said...

Sarah, yes, give it a try and see if your thoughts about God and emotions changes. Now I'm curious. :)

Take care!

Art Finkle said...

For more information on the shofar and other Holy Temple instruments, go to http://shofar221/com/ and http://shofar-sounding.com/

Susanne said...

Thank you, Mr. Finkle. :)

Sanil Atarah Rivka said...

It was Twitter. :) And it happened at the Baptist church. Also, yesterday I read the chapter of the book they were getting this discussion from so it makes more sense and is less horrifying, but I'll still write about it.