Saturday, January 2, 2010

119: God is Immature & 2 Kings: In Review

2 Kings 23-25
Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger. - 2 Kings 23:26

Josiah decides, after hearing the book of law, to clean up Judah. He tears down all the Asherah poles, all of the altars to Baal, and all of the alters to a few other gods that aren't the "real God". Josiah even celebrates passover for the first time since judges. This is exactly what God wants right? The people are following all of his laws and celebrating as he wants them to.

This is not enough for God to forgive them. What the other kings did is too much for his anger to be abated. Why didn't he punish them then? Why is he punishing the people that are following all of his decrees for what people did in the past? Oh, that's right, because these people attribute being taken over by an enemy nation as an act of God when it is really chance. If you disagree then you have to reconcile yourself with an immature God that unfairly punishes the wrong people.

Josiah dies in a fight with the Pharaoh of Egypt. Some time later Judah is invaded and taken over by the Babylonians. The king of Judah is now a servant to the king of Babylon. God has succeeded in making sure that no one worships him.

That's the end of the rule of Israel, for now.

2 Kings: In Review
We've gone from bad to worse on the whole God existing front. These people attribute being taken over and bad things happening as God's wrath. The prophets that tell of God's word in the bible remind me of the psychics on TV these days. They can be convincing but eventually they are revealed to be frauds.

There are "horrible" kings that don't do what God wants them to do. Why doesn't God do anything? What happened to fire and brimstone? These people seem just as "bad" as the people from Sodom and Gomorrah, but they get no punishment.

You may argue that the nation does eventually get punishment. But that's like punishing a murderer with killing his great grandchildren. That's by no means justice.

If anything, the bible is building a case for Deism. God used to be here doing things. Now he's not.

*News*
How does your state rank in religion? Indiana is 16, which seems pretty bad (or good depending on who you ask) to me.

Number one in religiosity is Mississippi. And number 46 (yes, there are 46 states now) is a tie between New Hampshire and Vermont.

I really don't have anything to say I just thought it was interesting.

(via The Pew Forum)

9 comments:

  1. Bryan,

    "Agreeing with chance" OR "God is immature" Really? Now, for the life of me, I can’t see why I am limited to only those two options. Is that precise logic and critical thinking? ; )

    Your comparison to Sodom and Gomorrah is prophetic! : ) God actually compares the rulers of Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah in Isaiah 1:10 which you will read later. Did you peak or were you divinely inspired to make this comparison?

    God’s justice with His people was on par with the justice he dealt to Sodom and Gomorrah except that God himself made promises to his people that he did not make with Sodom and Gomorrah. But realize Sodom and Gomorrah’s “sins” were not committed in a day nor dealt with only in a day. There was a history and progressive development of a culture of corruption that was unsustainable and God acted. So also there was with Israel and Judah.

    Here are a few questions:

    1) Could you also not be gleaning that there was an element of grace in His delay of the sentence of punishment? Could you not be seeing a pendulum swinging between the poles of justice and grace which you attribute to a capricious, immature god?

    2) You seem to be assuming that there were “righteous” individuals who did not deserve judgment. Is this really true in the Biblical storyline after Genesis 3?

    3) From where does the concept of justice come? Dawkins readily admits that there really is no metaphysical concept called “justice.” So, why would your perception of God’s injustice be so disturbing?

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  2. @Brent
    You could also put your fingers in your ears and say "LALALALA". So yes, you are correct in saying that there are other options.

    I am not assuming there are righteous individuals (by God's definition). But that doesn't change the fact that people are being treated unfairly. The people that attempt to worship God in the way he asks are punished for the sins of their fathers. How does this fit into anyone's definition of fairness/justice?

    If the American justice system worked like this I'm sure 99.9% of everyone would be in jail right now. I'm sure if you go back far enough someone in your family tree has broken the law. Do you think that you should be punished for the things they did? I see no grace in this form of justice.

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  3. Brent,

    I'm also confused. The only way of exposing a false dichotomy is to give a third option. I personally see no third option, so I can't decry the dichotomy as false.

    Of course, by the same token you can't ever be sure that a dichotomy is true; you might just be unimaginitive. This is a state I'd like to be cured of, if it's the state I'm in.

    My view on this particular dichotomy: we have a series kings who have gone against the word of God, for generations at a time and been fine. Then we get a king that attempts to follow the word of God, and gets punished for the actions of kings who are long dead. Not only that, but no amount of atonement is enough. God's actions here are kind of behaviour that you'd expect out of a toddler, if you're willing to take the Israelite account at face value. If not, it looks like chance.

    However, I'm fully prepared to be wrong here. Please share with the rest of us the alternative scenarios you have in mind.

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  4. Ah but you see it has to make sense. Much of Christian theology is based on the idea that the children share the blame of the sins of their parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents, etc. You can't explain the "Fall" or Original Sin without the idea that we all deserve to be punished for what Adam and Eve did in their original act defiance of God. The sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is an atonement for the sin of being born human. Which, of course, God caused to happen in the first place. (one way or the other - either through his initial act of creation or by putting the Tree of Knowledge there knowing what they would do).

    Well, you CAN explain it if you want to delve into heresy - the Gnostics had a ton of mutually exclusive explanations for it after all. But since they all basically boiled down to "God" being an ass who didn't deserve the power that he had, I doubt many Christians would want to subscribe to them. The easiest explanation is the one that occurs in the Book of Job - God is an ass, he's the all-powerful ruler of the universe and he really doesn't give a damn about you or what happens to you except that your worship of him is pleasing to his ear and the smell of roasting meat makes him happy. You can't placate him, you can only anger him. So stop questioning him you worm, prostrate yourself, sing some hosannahs, and get that meat roasting - or else! Oh and even if you do everything he demands he still may make your life miserable. Why? That sounded like a question, worm - why aren't you prostrating more?

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  5. Bryan, Jimbo, Jer

    Bryan, I would disagree with your percentage. I would estimate 100%. Part of what the OT is demonstrating is that none have kept God’s standards anywhere near perfectly. All have fallen short of the standard of God’s law. The corpus of Samuel – Kings is clear on that matter. Thus, all deserve what God promised in Genesis 3 – death.

    Bryan and Jimbo, the text simply does not support the notion that none of the “bad” kings got off scot-free or were “fine.” Here are a few isolated examples: 1) Ahab experienced years of famine and the obliteration of his Baal prophets, 2) Each northern kings’ dynasty (power base) got cut off, 3) Jehu witnessed the progressive cutting off of the land of Israel (Hazael defeated them), etc. Obviously, only one generation experienced the totality of destruction of the nation. However, all of this was exactly as God prescribed in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. God determined that He would progressively bring “calamities” against the nation of Israel as they continued to walk away from Him—read Lev 26. Even the most liberal Biblical scholars see Joshua-Kings as an outworking of Deuteronomy covenant (This is called the Deuteronomic History). Theologically, however, the increasing intensity of these calamities along with the ministry of the prophets were signs for the people (God’s gracious warnings) to turn from their ways so that the next wave of “calamities” would not ensue. Israel did not listen.

    In the midst of the progressive deterioration of the nation there were two high spots—Hezekiah and Josiah. These men returned to the Lord and in each of these cases God promised that their own generation would not see the kind of ultimate calamity that He would bringing upon the nation. After each of the “reforms” of these two kings, the nation returned to their previous ways with a vengeance and the downward spiral continued. Thus, it simply is not the case that the generation that experienced the destruction was “innocent.” God did precisely what He said He would do. However, the people did not do what they said they would do. The whole history screams out the questions: “Where is the individual that would be faithful to God?” “Where is the perfectly faithful king?”

    Continued in next post…

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  6. …continued from previous post
    Bryan, Jimbo, and Jer, in regard to God “visiting the sins of the father upon the children” to the nth generation … Let’s bring this down from the theoretical to the practical for a moment. How much counseling have you done to observe the effects of “generational sin?” Have you observed how the choices of parents have consequences on subsequent generations (in your own families)? Children, despite your view of “fairness,” do pay for the bad choices of their parents. Broken homes many times perpetuate broken children and so on and so forth. The alcoholism of parents often results in the anguish of the children and often in the alcoholism of the grown children. The children who are abused often times grow in to parents who abuse. This cycle is neither insurmountable nor deterministic, but it tends to be an observable phenomena. We do not live in an individualistic vacuum. The choices of others do affect us politically, socially, and in the family. Is it possible that “visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children” means “bringing consequences?” Are we as a society reaping the consequences of President Bush’s “sins”? And, furthermore, will the subsequent generation reap the benefits of Obama’s “righteousness.” In my 1500+ hours of counseling broken families and individuals, I have seen this dynamic play out. It is either the way God designed the world OR a result of the way evolution has selected the world to be (is this a false dichotomy?). It is not logical to simply lambast the Bible and its proclaimed dynamic of generational sin and ignore the same practical dynamic existing in the evolutionary model.

    Bryan, Jimbo, and Jer…you decry the “injustice” of God. But I am still perplexed though at your understanding of “fair.” If any of you accuse somebody of being an “ass” or “unfair” or “immature,” I assume you have a standard by which you make this determination. I would be delighted to know by what standard are you making these determinations. What is “fair?” Is the standard the US constitution? What about European jurisprudence? Islamic law? Should each individual have his own standard of “fairness?” If you think that there is a universal sense of “fairness” among humans, where did that come from when biological evolution is not tendentious? Why don’t animals have jurisprudence and a sense of “fairness”? What makes your sense of “fairness” better/worse than another’s (or God’s)?

    Thanks for the dialogue.

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  7. Comparing God to alcoholism. You're right - it is starting to make more sense...

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  8. @Brent
    Yes, parents do effect the decisions of their children. But children aren't punished for what their parents do. They may be punished eventually for a crime that they commit (as a result of being raised by bad parents), but that is based on their own decision/crime. Do you advocate preemptive jailing for sons/daughters of criminals?

    My understanding of fair, in the English lexicon, is equality. If two people commit the exact same crime they receive the exact same (appropriate) punishment. The definition of an appropriate punishment is up for debate so I will focus on equal punishment. Does God give equal punishment? Clearly not. He used to kill people for offering him bad incense, now he does little or nothing to people who openly blaspheme. That's just one of many examples of God's unfairness.

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  9. Bryan
    I think a precise word that would help us here is “culpable.” Does the Bible teach that children are culpable for their parents’ actions? I would say “no.” If there is a specific text in question, then I would be glad to dig into the original language to investigate this further. But the nuance of a particular Hebrew word/phrase would need to have the same semantic force as our English word “culpable.” And the textual meaning of “generational consequences” of any word/phrase would have to be rule out. This would form appropriate hermeneutical rigor in interpreting the text.

    Your ideal of “equality” from an English lexicon is a fantastic notion but in application isn’t it somewhat simplistic and naïve? When you say “equal” then shouldn’t there must be exact equality? (i.e. identical motivation, circumstances, actions, level of knowledge, consequences, punishment.) For example, is a child held equally culpable for the same committed crime as an adult? No. Why? Because they are not of equal maturity and understanding. Is it possible that you are missing something about the flow and development of God’s plan through the Scriptures and that certain generations had more “light” given to them? And, thus, they were more culpable than others? For example, when Nadab and Abihu were slain on the spot in the presence of God in Leviticus were you carful enough to note the context? They were priests of God and had just observed the exodus and were standing in the direct presence of God in the tabernacle. They were more culpable.

    There are a myriad of factors that determine culpability in human court systems and in divine justice. But in the end with divine justice, Hebrews 9:27 states “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” Everybody is “killed” in the end. Death is the great equalizer and nobody escapes it (Gen 3). Biological aging/death is a fascinating and perplexing concept to explore in evolutionary theory as to why natural selection introduced it. I have yet to see a compelling explanation of death/aging from an evolutionary worldview.

    But more broadly, beyond an English lexicon definition is there a philosophical warrant for saying why there “ought” to be equality from an evolutionary perspective? Don’t you passionately operate as if “oughts” and “justice” exist? Yet, natural selection/evolution cannot be tendentious in heading towards equality/justice for there is no warrant or mechanism for these metaphysical concepts. Even Dawkins acknowledges there is no ultimate justice.

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