As I approach the actual story of the flood in my series on Genesis 1-11 on the Participatory Bible Study blog, my attention is drawn to the problem of violence in the Bible generally, condoned by God, commanded by God, or even carried out by God.
Recently on the web I’ve seen quite a number of comments on this issue. On Adrian Warnock’s blog, Andree posts about God’s absolute hatred of sin. After reading a number of incidents from the Israelite wilderness wanderings, and adding in the death of Jesus on the cross, she concludes,
1. God hates sin more than anyone.
2. God is more merciful than anyone.
And certainly one cannot read those passages without hearing at least the message that God deplores sin. God is clearly portrayed here as acting violently against sinners, often in what we might call an arbitrary and capricious manner. The context of hatred for sin certainly intensifies the meaning of the atonement. But is it enough to state that God truly hates sin, and to point out that God provides atonement? Does this explain why God behaves as he does?
In Genesis 6, on which I will be blogging shortly, we are told that God planned to wipe out all livingthings on the earth, though he made an exception for those who are saved in the ark. But I’d like you to ask yourself this question: If this story were told about a god from any religion other than Chrsitianity or Judaism would you think of the deity as good or evil?
Lingamish discusses a similar problem. He’s wondering how one can read the book of Judges devotionally. He said:
I just finished this book and I was amazed at the violence, idolatry, and misogyny it documents. One way of trying to not reject Judges is to see it at as a depiction of negative heroes. That is, Judges is not showing behavior to emulate, but rather behavior to avoid. But what do we do then about Hebrews 11 where many of the judges are held up as heroes of the faith?