Daily Archives: February 10, 2008
VJack Continues Reading the Bible… And Gets It Wrong
I missed Atheist Revolution proprietor VJack’s last two posts on his reading of the Bible. So I’m going to have to make up for lost time and quickly answer him.
Starting with the post dated December 14, I can see that my refutation of VJack’s assertion that the Bible commands Christians to kill unbelievers has made no impact whatsoever, as he is still printing this nonsense. In the verse that VJack cites, Deuteronomy 13:6-11, God is specifically talking Jewish people–descendants of Jacob. It is abundantly clear to anyone who reads it that this is not general permission for believers to simply kill unbelievers.
Deuteronomy is a suzerainty treaty between God and the ancient nation of Israel. This means that it terms are no longer binding because the nation they were binding on no longer exists. The Bible is our written source book for morality, but we are not under the law it contains (Rom 6:14-15; cf. 2 Cor 3:6).
With that in mind, none of VJack’s meanderings hold much water. However, I should take the time to address one concern:
A particularly fascinating insight had been brewing in previous books but finally solidified in Deuteronomy: this god can be argued with, bargained with, and even persuaded by humans. Moses repeatedly talks god out of inflicting certain types of punishment, utilizing all sorts of tactics. As one prominent example, it is Moses who talks this god out of slaughtering everyone over a golden calf. What are we to conclude about this supposedly divine being whose will is so frequently swayed by human persuasion? If we were given freewill as some sort of test, how does it make since that we are influencing this god’s behavior through our actions? Who really has the power here?
All this means is the same thing that James asserts in his letter: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (Jms 5:16). These verses set the precedent that prayer produces a dynamic relationship with God. However, it should be noted that only a few people in history have had this sort of relationship with God–this does not mean that all of our prayers are going to be answered the same way that Moses’ were answered. God promises only to hear our prayers (Prov 15:29; cf. 1 Pet 3:2).
An atheist, intending to be sarcastic, has prayer figured out with the following rhetorical question, appearing as #50 on the “100 Impossible Questions for Believers” over at Richard Dawkins’s website: “Why pray asking God to do something for you; shouldn’t prayer be a way of offering yourself to God in order for her to make use of you?” The apostle Paul said, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1). That is the essence of prayer: to accept God’s will and to request He make use of you as He sees fit. It is not to ask for cool stuff and great blessings.
Finally, VJack starts to realize what I have been saying all along:
And yet, the god of Deuteronomy does show some understanding of humanity. When instructing the people how to explain their religion to future generations, this god refers to the miracles and signs provided (Deuteronomy 6:20-25). Nobody is expected to believe on the basis of faith but because of what they have witnessed through their senses. I wonder what happened?
It falls apart at the end. Nothing happened differently now versus then: we still have Christ’s Resurrection as the ultimate victory over death. That sign is the ultimate proof that God is who He says He is. VJack, like most atheists, probably doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ existed, let alone Resurrected. Atheists, agnostics, and skeptics believe that God should still be doing large and visible miracles every day so that we can see and believe that He exists. Most deny any miracles occurred in the past. So I’m left to wonder if it would make any difference if God were to perform a miracle before their eyes. I don’t think that it would; they’d probably run to the comforts of science to try to explain the miracle rather than believing in God.
VJack offers this as an evaluation of Joshua:
I found Joshua far less remarkable than Deuteronomy, but I do have a comment regarding this part of the story which begins right after the death of Moses. Together with Deuteronomy, Joshua provides a justification for ideas such as manifest destiny, scorched earth, shock and awe, and the like. A nation with this god on its side can conquer all before them, especially when those before them worship other gods. In fact, it almost reads as if there would be an obligation to do so. Indeed, Joshua tells the story of the Israelite army moving through the land and slaughtering all in the way. Few are spared, and virtually none receive mercy. There seems to be no motive for this aggression other than the desire to expand their territory. It is no wonder that the Pat Robertsons of America read their bibles as justifying war!
So, is God a god of war or of peace according to the Old Testament? It appears that VJack would argue that God is a tribal war deity. God is definitely wrathful, there is no doubt of that. One can conclude that from reading any of numerous passages throughout the Old and New Testaments. But God’s love is only properly understood side-by-side with His wrath, not in opposition to it. Otherwise, the Atonement of Christ would never have been necessary.
As usual, VJack reads the Bible and comes to the wrong conclusions.