Wow, this topic is difficult, the old adage, Interpretation, Interpretation, Interpretation rings in my ears! I have no wonderful conclusion, for we humans often hide behind God to validate our actions, so if we lived in that age we very well might have engaged in the common warfare of slaughter used by all the ANE peoples, which raises the question, do we have the right to condemn those of that age and their interpretation of what God was directing them to do? In the recording of the Conquest we do see that the people of Israel seemed to tire of slaughtering and often just demanded subjugation of the conquered people, but then that seemed to be interpreted as disobedience. I think God could have used any of the above methods mentioned to have brought about the elimination of a people, which it appears he has done time and time again, if we attribute the weather, earth quakes, Tsunami’s, blight, drought, famine, etc. to the Sovereignty of God. Historically mankind was pretty vicious toward one another but if these ancients were correct in their interpretation of God’s will that Israel do this act of genocide, which we find reprehensible, we must also remember it’s the same God who loved this world so much as to send his only begotten son into this world to redeem it, reconcile us to him so that we can today, here and now, walk in his love one toward another, perhaps that should be our focus, we can’t justify the history, but it’s now up to us to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ, and how are we doing with that? Carol (ReviC)
I give us a C+ currently. Jesus competed His mission, and left us with the New Covenant and a perfect example of how to live our lives, regardless of what nature and humanity throws at us. Humanity has not let go of the Old Covenant and still uses it to justify attitudes like xenophobia and homophobia instead of the Love Jesus taught. We are a long way from loving our enemies (Matt 5:44) and from stop finding ways to create new ones.
@Daniel_Fisher, thanks for your patience. Like you, I have been too busy to give your message the time it deserves. We also lost our water from a well problem this week, which alters time constraints a bit! I plan on a response. Thank you for the discussion.
Thank you for your note. I have been thinking about this. I certainly agree that I do do bad things. My children do, too. However, that does not, to my mind, justify such terrible things as occur in the OT.
It’s frequently (in Christian fundamentalist circles) asserted that God says there is none righteous, no, not one; and that we (like David) sin from conception. But from my understanding, there are 3 points against this understanding:
The Jews frequently talked of the righteous. God often promises good to the righteous in Psalms and Proverbs, for example.
The reference for “none righteous” leads in from a discussion of looking for those who follow righteousness among the foolish ones–thus, I think (I may be wrong here) God is looking for the righteous among the group of the foolish–frequently a tribal delineation.
“In sin my mother conceived me” is again a specific hyperbole, when David weeps over his sin with Bathsheba–when he committed sin in conceiving someone in adultery and had her husband killed.
To move on–Paul’s intent was somewhat hyperbole in Romans as well. He knew that the Jews did not rely on works to get God’s salvation; it was their seal of the covenant, but they, since the beginning (before Moses), relied, as Gentiles do, on mercy. Thus, he was arguing against circumcision or the forcing of Judaizing laws on the Gentiles that joined the Roman church.
Thus, today’s preachers say, almost with a gnostic flourish, that we are all evil from conception. Either we bear the imprint of Adam (a genetic or genealogic fallacy) and possess an evil nature that would take us to Hell; or even the smallest sin would put us in Hell for eternity, because God can’t stand any evil at all.
This is what Rachel Held Evans in “Faith Unraveled” called “pondscum theology.” In order to make a given theme all-important, we have to theorize that we all are evil beyond belief.
But that’s not the case. Either we are, and it’s God’s fault (we didn’t ask for that to come from Adam; He made it that way); or we are simply finite, have adaptive tools to learn to live with our surroundings, and God is more like a parent who teaches us how to live with His righteous law. Either way, it makes no sense to condemn anyone to Hell for eternity for the least imperfection.
There is much more to discuss, but I’ll try to keep this short. It’ late, and we have lots of work in the morning!
Thank you. God bless!
PS I think you, enjoying Lewis as you do, would really get much from George Macdonald. I am currently listening to his anthology “George Macdonald,” (it’s $10 on Kindle and a bit more on Audible), and the foreword is quite revealing about what he thought of his sermon, “Justice,” and his theology. I’m listening to his favorite “Unspoken Sermon” quotes in that book now; it’s dense going as it’s in the older style, but delightful.
Although Tim Keller doesn’t, apparently, agree with Macdonald, he admits that Macdonald’s works are “full of a common grace.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqiZJaDeM6Y
In reading “The Princess and Curdie” with my children over the last few days, and his laser sharp vision for the godly life is clear throughout the book. As Lewis said, he wasn’t a great novelist; he was an inspired preacher.
There is a response to Keller and Piper here:
The other book which clearly seemed to give voice to such concerns was Rachel Held Evans" “Faith Unraveled.” A major question that led to her wondering about justice was that of what happened to Zarmina, a woman in Afghanistan near 9/11, who was executed unjustly with no knowledge of the Gospel. I believe that with your level of compassion, you would resonate with it, whether you agreed with it fully or not.
Is the anthology you speak of this one from Harper Collins?
I continue to have a lot of respect for Pastor Tim Keller, but I must admit that respect took something of a hit when I heard him speak as he did of Macdonald. Not such a hit that I would question Keller’s status as a believer, though, as he did Macdonald’s! It is revealing to me as such, whose conception of God, then, is the larger and more generous one!
[One might fairly respond by asking: “yes - but is it the truer conception of God?” That may be an open theological conception to continue pursuing, but any conception that makes of God somebody less just, less generous, and less loving is going the wrong direction with regard to Truth.]
[though I guess I don’t know why I should be surprised. Since Keller is in the reformed tradition after all, to turn one’s back on Calvin would be beyond the pale, and how else should a reformed pastor react? It would be sort of like somebody utterly repudiating Menno Simons to me. Except in my case, I would just laugh and welcome them into the rather large club! (and then be secretly flattered that they had ever even heard of Simons!)]
I will be looking into F.D. Maurice now because of his influence on Macdonald’s legacy. Thanks for this.
Yes, that’s the one. I am using the Audible version at present.
I agree that Keller, in his speeches and interaction on line, is a very compassionate man. His allusions to Lewis indicate how much he appreciates him, too.
I read a bit about Maurice, as well, after watching that portion by Ron Dart, and found it interesting!
The Mennonites are pretty well known! Our mission liked the Mennonites–there was quite a group from Western Canada (one who was a Russian refugee from the Stalin era as a child–I knew him in the '80s, and he taught me chess when I was a child). We also grew up with the “More With Less” cookbook (which my wife and I still use)!