Tuesday, May 13, 2008

God and the Weird Old Testament

Joshua 10: 28 - That day Joshua took Mekkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors.

Joshua 10: 40 - So Joshua subdued the whole region... He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel had commanded.

Joshua 11: 20 - So it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Joshua 23: 12 - But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you.

(from the TNIV)

I heard Paul Copan, who is a really good philosophy professor at Palm Beach Atlantic, give a lecture-response to the New Atheist Club on God commanding acts in the Old Testament that seem unethical. The most popular example of this is when God tells Joshua to completely wipe out all the Canaanites in the book of Joshua.

First, Copan suggested that the O.T. texts be handled with more care than the New Atheists (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, etc) have done in their recent books. Then he gave several suggestions on how to better read and understand the texts, some of which I thought were really helpful. Here are his suggestions:

-Israel would not have been justified to attack the Canaanites without YHWH's command
-Wiping out the Canaanite's religion was the goal
-The language of Joshua was hyperbolic (compare Joshua 23 with 9-12, where 9-12 utilize Ancient Near Eastern terms of warfare)
-The crux of the issue is that if God exists, he has prerogative over human life, whereas the New Atheists seem to think he should have no special place)

I really liked his third point the most, where when the two texts mentioned are compared, you can come away with a sense of hyperbole within the text. He spoke more on other issues involving the O.T. (law of Moses, slavery, sex, etc.), that I might put up later because I really learned from all of the lecture.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

All the Earth is the Lord's

I think one of the drawbacks of the reformers (among the many excellent things they did) was their negative attitude toward natural theology. But I am excited now because I think that nature is beginning to make a comeback in theology. Hopefully a correct view of nature in Christian doctrine can help us better refute statements like this:

“Evolution is part of a much broader and older inquiry and a deeper contest for our intellectual commitment, a contest between a world system that expects every part of the cosmos ultimately to be explainable in terms of natural properties and processes and one that maintains the existence of a fundamental core of unknowability, of supernatural mystery and controlling hand of an eternal non-worldly Being. This may be humankind’s oldest intellectual puzzle.” (from the preface to Keith Thomson's Before Darwin)

Now, my main disagreement with this sentiment is that modern science was founded upon the Christian belief that if God made nature then it would have order and be worth studying. But now certain individuals within the scientific community want to assign a God-of-the-gaps to Christianity, and then dismantle that God by showing how orderly and knowable the world is (Not that we really know that much about the world now).

I just got Allister McGrath's The Open Secret: A New Vision For Natural Theology and am really excited about it, not only as a means of the defense of nature as God's creation but as an eye opening account of nature that leads me to worship God more when I look out at the night sky.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Possible Textual Worlds

The original text from Mark 1: 1-12 has really moved me in a new way lately as I've thought about it. But what if the ending was slightly changed?


from Mark 1:

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Then, turning from the paralytic on the mat, Jesus continued teaching all those in the house. And when Jesus was done teaching, the man's friends carried him away.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

M83 Appreciation Post

i love M83 because they make me feel like John Hughes is filming my life. They also make me do John Bender fist pumps into the air.

i can't stop listening to this song.

kim and jessie.