Are we critiquing God?

I wanted to quit seminary today.


This came after a debate yesterday with a friend who left the church partly because of the violence in the Bible, and a comment another friend left on my blog saying he didn’t think Jesus would condone the violence in the Old Testament so basically we shouldn’t listen to it.

So I lay in my bed last night, just wanting the Bible to be true, because I don’t want to give up on it, but feeling so hopeless that it wasn’t true.

And then today in class.

We talked about the book of Revelation and how the violent wrath of Christ would really just be propagating the same systems of oppression that held the Jews down. And that really it would not be any better than the previous situation. (This is what I understood him to be saying at the time, at least. See below for my new understanding after I talked to him.)

But I just sat in silence.

Because I realized so often we (yes me too) critique God’s words according to our own standard of morality. I know violence is regrettable, and our modern culture practically deifies Peace, but I have this rising suspicion that there is something far, far worse lurking beneath Biblical violence and our praise of Peace. It is the idea that we know better than God.

“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?” -Job 40:2

Raw Spoon, 1-19-16


(Update: I talked to my teacher later about it and he clarified. He was asking if maybe the author, John, might have been interpreting his own vision as Jews usurping the power, (which would have flipped the tables but continued the oppression) when God was really meaning something more figurative. They say that part of the value of seminary is to help us think through tough questions, and I appreciate the process it is putting me through. Some days it’s just tough on the one going through it.)

4 Responses to Are we critiquing God?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ross, I don’t think it’s (always) about us knowing better than God. It’s about the internal tension we experience between scripture and itself. Walter Brueggemann writes about this, the tension between the testimony and counter-testimony of scripture. For my part, I find comfort in Barth’s understand of the Bible as bearing witness to God’s self-revelation. God has always revealed Godself to be willing to use frail and fallible human and non-human vessels to reveal Godself to us. The Bible is not the absolute medium for this, but is tempered by cultural biases and prejudices. Like us, the biblical writers were prone to render God in their own image. Seminary does not give us the answers; it teaches us to ask better questions. Phil. 3:14-16. Keep running, brother!

    • raw spoon says:

      Ooh, this is good stuff. Thank you! It does explain a lot of the tension when we see that much of the Bible is flavored with humans’ agendas and flaws. Pretty cool that God works that way. I need to find the balance of trusting what the Bible says and separating my own agenda in making it say what I want it to say. If I determine that bowls of wrath are a theme God is using to try to warn us, I think it’s okay to let that scare me a little bit.
      Thanks again!!!

  2. Shirley Willoughby says:

    I think studying the Bible has to be blind to much and be filled with a strong faith. If you wish to drag down or tear apart His word there are numerous scripture that you could tear apart, but I find that I want to believe in the words because of my faith. I have trouble understanding what the Word is saying to us, but I don’t question it. I’m so pleased that you are delving into His Word.