Wednesday, June 4, 2014

God Will Or Won't

I love the Bible, I LOVE it. It is an encounter with the living God, a visitation to the time and place when God's presence was most clearly present in human history. It is the story of God becoming incarnate in human other words, the story of the infinite and eternal becoming particular and temporal. God's revelation took place, the Bible is the epic story of that amazing event. But the Bible cannot be approached as the above meme approaches it. The Revelation took place, the Bible records it. But it is a Revelation of a God that remains beyond, and it took a long time and many human beings to grapple with it all. The Bible is a conversation around the Truth, that indeed gets to that truth in various ways. Sometimes it creates enough dots that we can put the picture together ourselves. Sometimes the Truth breaks through in particular points. But it is in creative conversation with scripture, in immersion with the whole of scripture, that real encounter with God takes place. I write this list facetiously, I do not believe most of what I list below (except, perhaps, #'s 1 and 7). But I want to make a point, so bear with me:

Take the following:
1) God can get tired (Isaiah 1:13-14)
Interestingly, most Biblical scholars believe two or three writers are behind the complete book of Isaiah. Here 1st Isaiah (Isaiah 1-39) seems to contradict 2nd Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55). The types of Christian thinkers who make lists like the one on the meme would never be able to accept this (what is to me clearly true) prevailing Biblical scholarly view. But there you go.

2) God can take on a job he can't handle (Genesis 6:6)
A little background is in order here. Genesis has two strands intermixed. The first strand suggests God has absolute control of all that He made, and that all he made was perfect. In this strand mankind is the ultimate telos of all creative activity preceding his arrival, and is made in God's image. In the second strand God created mankind as a means to an end: care for His garden. Yet God did not completely understand what he had crated when he made mankind, and the end result is that God has to deal with the consequences of this creation. There are certainly parts of scripture that indicate this job was too big for God to deal with, at least at first.

3) God can't be unholy
This is one on the list that is absolute throughout scripture. Nowhere does anyone in scripture ever doubt God's HOLINESS, his being set apart from the rest of creation. His justice, his love (see below), these are all at one time or another doubted. But never his holiness.

4) God can be prejudiced (Matthew 15:26)
Isn't the most straightforward reading of this that Jesus, who is God, has the same prejudices as other Jews? 
For more on this passage see here:

5) God can break a promise (2 Samuel 7:16, 2 Kings 25:22)
It seems unambiguous: David's line did not rule over Judah or Israel forever. There was at the very least a break in the rule and at most an end to it, depending on your point of view.

6) God can't remember sins he's chosen to forget
This is one that doesn't have a clear counter-point in scripture, but that is probably because it is so specific.

7) God can make losers (Romans 9:16-18)
It is made clear over and over again in scripture that God makes beings bound for damnation, who are born to be rebellious. If that isn't being a loser, I don't know what is.

8) God can abandon you (Judges 6:13)
I mean, it literally says in the passage that God abandoned the Jews from time to time.

9) God can forget you (Psalm 44)
The entire Psalm is about God being asleep, and ignoring the plight of the innocent and the guilty. God's ignorance is a common theme in many scriptures.

10) God can stop loving you (Hosea 1:6)

Now, I want to say, and let me make this clear: I do not believe that God can take on a job beyond Him, or be prejudiced, or break a promise or abandon us, or forget us or stop loving us. But scriptures taken out of the context of the entire Bible can be used to make any point. People need to stop all this proof texting. That isn't what scripture is about. That isn't why God visited us, and it isn't why He inspired us to write about his visits.

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