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

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is God a Moral Monster? -- Questions for you

You may recall a few years back when Oprah Winfrey admitted she was turned off to Christianity when she heard a preacher affirm that God was a jealous God.  I even recall seeing some YouTube clip with her statement that jealousy is wrong so how can God get away with this?

I'm reading Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God. In it Paul Copan replies to some of the criticism New Atheists have against the Tanakh's portrayal of God.

I wanted to ask you a few questions.

1.  What do you think of statements such as "I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God"?  Is there a good kind of jealousy and a bad kind?  Explain your answer.

2.  What do you think of the concept of divine vulnerability?  Do you believe God is vulnerable to what His creation does or does not do? Explain.

3.  Is anger always a bad thing? When is it appropriate?  When might it be virtuous?

On a lighter note, you may enjoy Michael's interview. Just where it says "mom," replace it with "aunt."  :)  


Amber said...

1. I'm okay with it. Is there good and bad jealousy? Sure. Depends on which 'jealous' we're talking about. In the general run of things when we use the word 'jealous' we mean something like this: we're resentful of another person's possessions or achievements, or we feel rage fueled by suspicions against loved ones. But there's another definition: 'solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something'. So how about that? "I, the Lord thy God, am a 'solicitous and vigilant' God. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." Doesn't sound bad now, does it?

2. You'd have to explain the concept more. I've never heard of it before so I don't really know what to think. Based on the second question, is God vulnerable to the actions of His creation, I'd have to say no. There is nothing that we can do to actually harm or change God.

3. Nope. Anger is natural. It's bad when it consumes you, when it drives you to violence or cruelty or to sin. But it's good to be angry about injustice. It's good and natural to feel angry when you see someone being harmed - it can fuel you to do something about it. To help that person. To correct the inequity. It's all a matter of proportion and response to the goad of the anger.

Psh. Michael is *so cute*! *pinches his cheeks*

captcha = spasms

Susanne said...

Divine vulnerability in the sense that God allows His creation to reject Him. Like how the OT often portrays God as a rejected husband when Israel goes whoring after other gods. And how He laments the fact that He is good to them, yet they are rebellious and turn away. Stuff like that. :)

Amber said...

Eh...I get what you're saying. What do I think of it? It's the way a relationship works. God has made Himself 'vulnerable' in a very limited sense because He gave us free will and the ability to accept or reject Him. Not a very deep thought I grant, but it's what I've got at the moment.

sanil said...

I think the way it's used is different than how people usually use it today. If a married person found out their spouse was cheating on them, they'd probably be jealous. But since they'd have every right to expect fidelity, most people probably wouldn't call it jealousy, they'd call it righteous anger or something. :D We tend to think of "jealousy" as being upset someone else has a shiny new toy. I think that the first is more the context of God being jealous.

Daniel said...

1. What do you think of statements such as "I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God"? Is there a good kind of jealousy and a bad kind? Explain your answer.

I think the word jealous is taken out of context by the atheists/God haters. They are not using it properly, IMO.

2. What do you think of the concept of divine vulnerability? Do you believe God is vulnerable to what His creation does or does not do? Explain.

Only in the sense it saddens Him.

3. Is anger always a bad thing? When is it appropriate? When might it be virtuous?

Anger and wrath are wrapped up in concepts such as “fear of the Lord”. We do not fear God because He will beat us up, but it is a respect for God being God. English has done a terrible justice to scripture. BTW - Christ was angry in the temple.

Bottom line is God makes the rules.

observant observer said...

We each have our own reflections or thoughts of how our God suppose to be. That way lady Winfrey was having her own thought of the kind of God she wanted to have. Anyway, to answer these questions, I can only answer also referring to my own thought (which had been enriched by many aspects of life, books, interactions, religion and so forth) that:
1. the term or word jealous God for me means that God was not pleased not because the Israelis were whoring with other gods, but as a nation they were loosing faith in themselves, trusting other kind of powerless gods that has different attributes of the "perfect" attributes of God, the gods that only reflected some aspects of human egos. Israel were whoring and perhaps we too are whoring if we think that other kinds of gods are the center of our "world", be it money, power, intellect, knowledge etc etc. There's no limit to human's ego, that it has to be curbed by the power of faith in God and God himself.
2. Well, I think God only concerns that in the end we're not able to create the "heaven on earth", the thing that we actually should build here on earth as God had commanded us, because we're too afraid in living the right thing, consumed by the fear that is created by the limitation of the body. God concerns because He loves us so. He wants us to take part in "eternity" but only if we're not afraid to die for creating "heaven on earth".
3. There's a phrase saying "righteous anger", the anger for "righteousness". If we don't have that anger, we could fall to the trap of being "nice and kind" to any kind of fault. In fact we should be angry with the "wrong kind of actions or motives" but the righteous anger cares for the person who commits the mistake in order that he realizes the mistakes.

Becky said...

Awww Michael is adorable!

1.) Like the others have touched upon as well, I believe there are different kinds of jealousy, and I do think some jealousy is healthy. If I am, say, in a relationship with a man it would be natural for me to be "jealous" and not want him to have intimate relations with other women and vice versa. This is natural, and only becomes a problem if either of the partners experience excessive jealousy (to the point of accusing their partner of cheating when having friends or colleagues of the opposite sex, when there's no reason to believe there's anything going on). So in that sense, I don't have a problem with seeing God as a jealous God, as he wants the worship that is supposed to be for Him, for Him only.

2.) I like that concept a lot. It's not that I think we can physically hurt God or take any of Her power away, but because She loves us so much, She wants to be in a personal relationship with us, and so, is vulnerable and can get upset/hurt/sad when we choose not to be in a relationship with Her.

3.) Actually I never think anger in and of itself is a bad thing, it has, undeservedly, gotten a bad rep however. Anger is not rage or violence. It is the signal that something is not right, something is wrong - aka righteous anger (as OO also points out). Anger can be used to fuel change, to fight against injustices and to fight for what is right, to stand up for yourself and for others.

Thank you for such thought-provoking questions - and thanks to everyone else, really enjoyed reading your answers!

Susanne said...

Thank you all for your replies! I hope to read and respond tomorrow. I enjoyed seeing them. Look for more in my post from earlier today if you aren't "questioned out" already. :) I enjoy reading your perspectives!

Suroor said...

Interesting discussion! Why would Oprah feel the need to dismiss Christianity because of what the OT says? It is written by humans and humans have their view of God. Why is that such a bad thing?

Becky said...

The OT is written by humans, but is understood to be divinely inspired (i.e., nothing would be in it that God didn't approve of). At least that's what I believed/was taught to believe as a Christian. So it's not a human view of God - that is how God is.

Amber said...

Because Oprah's a crackpot? She's very into some weird new agey 'Christian' thing last I heard, so maybe that's something to do with it.

Suroor said...

@Becky, "So it's not a human view of God - that is how God is."

Well, yes that's true. I guess that's what most Christians believe although I think more and more are now accepting the challenging evidence that the OT was not written by Moses but by several writers. But I doubt if Oprah follows that line of thought either.

@ Amber, Ooo, what this "new agey 'Christian' thing"? She is not only a yo-yo dieter, she takes her faith to a new yo-yo level too! LOL

I think I am being so mean. God forgive me!

Becky said...

Well I don't think anyone ever believed Moses wrote anything past the first 5 books (though not even that far considering when he passed away), it has always been known that the OT had several different writers - it has just been believed that each writer was divinely inspired by God and would only be able to write what God allowed him to write. If that makes sense, not sure I'm explaining it to well.

Amber said...

@Suroor - I'm not sure what it's called. She's been through a couple of them. The last one I remember was like...New Earth? Something like that. The guy who was leading it was named...Eckhart Tolle. I think. And I recall that she was involved in this thing with 'Father Abraham' which was a spirit who would possess people and give them instructions, supposedly being Abraham himself.

@Becky - I know people who insist that Moses wrote the first five books himself. In spite of the fact that he died before they were completed. I'm not kidding, though I wish I was. The whole inspired thing is kind of...it is inspired, but it still has to go through human writers and human minds and while God wouldn't let error be written down, the people still had free will as to the angle they used, I guess is the best way I can think to put it. It's not supposed to be the exact dictated Word of God, like the Qur'an is said to be.

Susanne said...

Amber, I love how you answered the jealousy question! Ha, ha! I felt like I needed to say some "mashallahs" during those wrong-kind-of-jealousy examples. ;) You explained it and the anger question very well! A+ work! :-D

I had "exporker" on a captcha the other day. On a Muslim convert's blog no less. :)

Sanil, agreed! :) Thank you!

Daniel, I appreciate your answers - thank you!!

Observant Observer, welcome! I missed you and was wondering where you were! You doing OK these days? I greatly enjoyed reading your views. Nicely stated!

Becky, the way you described jealousy even the excessive kind is pretty much how the author did! Did you read this book before? ;-P

I love that you brought personal relationship into the "vulnerability" question! Wonderful, thorough answers - thank you!

Amber, I've always thought Moses wrote the Torah, however, editors maybe put some stuff in there like the fact that he died and was the most humble guy. But I am open to being wrong. I often am. And I know I'm a throwback to the age of ignorance (what is it the Arabs call it?) :) Interesting about the Father Abraham spirit thing.

Suroor,I guess Becky and Amber answered your question.

Thank you all for your replies! Enjoyed 'em much!

Becky said...

Nope, this is the first I've even heard about this book, but it does seem like something I would pick up!

Susanne said...

Yes, I was joking since you answered the questions so much like the author did! :D It's actually a new book that I saw recommended on a blog late last year and decided to buy. :)

Wafa' said...

To answer all that in one sentence.
"Yes, it is all wrong. God can not be jealous or angry or vulnerable. To me, He is a powerful or else what makes Him better than me", OK that's more than one sentence :)

All of these emotions are completely OK when it's attached to humans, they are part of who we are and to struggle about the bad ones, cuz i do believe there is a good and bad one to all, is some of our triumph against our weak nature.So i guess to have a God who is as weak as me is very "not OK with me".

Susanne said...

Wafa', glad you shared your thoughts. That was highly interesting. You seem to think more like Oprah. Great to have your feedback!