Thursday, March 08, 2007

God Is The Same Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

I will admit to having desired a better explanation for God's actions in the OT. Well, while wandering around the internet, I found this outstanding analysis. Anyone who intends to be serious about debating the question of evil should read the entire article.

Here is an exerpt which provides the basic outline.

The Israelites had been promised a specific area of land, since the time of Abraham. Most of the local indigenous peoples were either descendants of Abe or very familiar with the traditions of those people. When the "time had come," God judged the Canaanites and decreed for them to be expelled from the Land. Their tenure was up--they were evicted. New tenants were moving in. The Canaanites were given decades and decades of notice--in many ways and at different times. And they understood clearly--all the records we have of their understanding of their plight is TOTALLY in line with the Land-Grant of YHWH.

With the 'eviction notice' published, the Canaanites could decide to either vacate the premises peacefully or deal with military force. If they vacated peacefully, they could choose their locations, mode of travel, and not have to deal with unpleasant military overseers. If they choose to challenge Israel's God and His expressed intentions, then they did so with complete knowledge of His power--as displayed in Egypt.

Even though they were the 'scourge' of the earth at that time--by international consensus--God did not desire to annihilate the people. His expressed intentions were to move them away from His people. He gave them ample opportunity to leave peacefully before Israel arrived, and even allowed the bulk of the 'less institutionalized' to have a little longer. His people were not instructed to hunt them down in neighboring nations at all.

Israel was severely restricted in the Conquest. They were not allowed to be simple 'land grabbers' or 'wealth seekers' or 'self-righteous' or 'land scorchers' or 'international empire builders' or 'captive-abusive'. At the same time, they were to eliminate the threat of Canaanite destructive influence (both spiritual and physical) if called upon.

And God allowed no double standards. When Israel began to look like 'Canaanites', God judged them IN THE SAME WAY...and 'vomited' them from the Land as well. This expulsion was also accompanied by the harsh measures of warfare faced by the Canaanites.

The punishment of the Amorites/Canaanites was thus one of 'deportation'--NOT one of genocide.
The interesting additional thing about this description of God is how consistant it is with the Christian view of the coming "end times." Promises, plenty of time to repent, clear description of God's intention and how to avoid destruction.

11 comments:

Tom Foss said...

So, God is always the same, yet he changes his mind?

Randy Kirk said...

At first blush I see a contradiction, but ultmately, no. I think it is noble.

Anonymous said...

I think that perhaps rather than saying God changes his mind, maybe we could say that when God says "I will do 'x'" the implication is that he will do 'x' given that the circumstances particular to the choice/action do not change. In that sense, it could be seen as more like a warning: "Given that these circumstances persist, 'x' will happen". This probably wouldn't apply to all situations, but could in many of them.

Other times, we could see God not changing his mind per se, but instead doing what he said he will do in a different way than we would naturally expect, ie different timeframe, different manner, etc.

Anyways, those are just some things that came to mind. Epistemology is a confusing topic; how much more so is trying to understand what/how *God* knows when it's rather difficult to come to any sort of agreement about human epistemology! The basic answer is, I think, that God knows much more than I know, much more than you know, and much more than all of us put together.

bernardo said...

Something I wrote as a comment to another post applies here too:

I don't plan on following the link, because I have better things to do than to see how someone patches up the apparent inconsistencies in their overly-complicated and speculative theology. By now, I just trust that Christians can rationalize their way out of any tricky "contradiction" and no longer bother to learn how - I'm just glad I can be an atheist since I don't have to go through all those theological/apologetic hoops.

Randy Kirk said...

Bernardo,

I think the only folks who should read the whole thing are those who find the issue of evil to be a big stumbling block in their ability to consider the God of the Bible to be God. For those who are hung up at other places, this would not be as useful.

On the other hand, please know that I wouldn't put up anything that I didn't find extremely insightful for both sides of the debate.

Anonymous said...

Randy, doesn't that article sound *exactly* like spin-control to you?

Because that's absolutely how it reads to me.

To a non-believer, the question becomes, "well, for an all-powerful god, **this** was His solution? He couldn't figure out any more humane way to move a group of people? The whole killing-of-women-and-children is rewritten as 'deportation'?"

If "it's not genoicide, it's just deportation" isn't spin, I don't know what is.

But you're correct, to someone who isn't tied up with the issue of evil, this isn't such a big deal. I just find it strange that you wouldn't see a problem with that article; that's the part that kinda scares me.

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

Kit,

I would ask you to do a mind experiment. Reread it, and try to look for ways to defend it. Pretend you are a debate participant who must take the God side. Or a lawyer who must defend God. The beauty of this article, and the reason I brought it up rather than dozens of others, is that it was very well reasoned and scrupulously footnoted.

Anonymous said...

That is a good mind experiment, and I'll certainly do it when I get the time.

Kit

Anonymous said...

This is a good debate,maybe the best

Anonymous said...

Let me just start out by saying that I do not believe in a magical guy somewhere above earth in outerspace. I grew up believing what most believe because that is what I was told and I didn't know any different. Same case with santa claus. You probaly even believed that deer could actually fly across the sky only to LEARN when you got older that in fact they couldn't.I Believe that believing in gods originated from the one question that evrybody that has ever walked this earth asks themself.....WHERE DO WE COME FROM? To an uneducated person living thousands of years ago that must have been a tough question to answer. Those people couldn't even explain thunder and lightning, no wonder they thought spirits of some kind were above them somewhere.well these days we've pretty much got an explaination for most things in nature, physics has been established, we are educated! I think religion is a scam, churches are buisnesses just like any other, praying on weak minded people who can't think for themselves or are just too afraid to think outside the box. Think about All the different religions, all the different gods that people throughout history have believed in or worshiped,when most people think about other culture's gods and religions they think well that's silly,and I agree that is very silly. Its just as silly as believing in any other god or spirit. But what makes yours right and the rest wrong,becouse you're an american?.......its all very silly, and a waste of time. I hear people say all the time that "god is good",so god chooses to be good to you and your family all the time but is not good to the third world countries with starving children. But I guess there is some copout for that too.and what about "its a miracle"! No, god did not reach down and touch your life . Amazing things happen everyday, they just happen to you every now and then making them seem extraordinary. But what makes me angry is that I basicly have to keep my mouth shut about my beliefs for several reasons while all these bible pushers are always putting it in my face. But I live in the bible belt aka the south. Its more socially acceptable to believe in god than to not believe. And if you are not a christian in the south, the first people to jugde you and to cast you as a devil worshiper are the christians. And I don't hate christian, I just think they should keep their beleifs to themselves as I do for them. Christians are always trying to save someone, or convert them, or try to spread the good word when I don't wanna be saved, converted, or spitualy changed in any way. I actually feel sorry for folks who dedicate their whole life to something that just isn't there, they give up everything that is on this earth for us to enjoy, certain types of foods, sex, etc. Poor chaps. Folks we are here because a million and one things lined up just right for the recipe for life. EVELUTION BABY! The world was not created in six days. The earth is 1.5 billion years old, that's a lot of time for creation and destruction. Wake up people! Once you tell yourself that there is no god its really a great feeling, you realize that there is obviously not a devil or hell,and its nice to know that someone (god) is not watching you all the time, and jugding you all the time. You don't have to be afraid of someone who suposedly loves you unconditionally sending you to burn eternally. What a bunch of crap. Listen folks, enjoy life, there is no otherside, there is no heaven.and if there were a god who created all of this, I am not impressed, with all the hunger, poverty, crime, murder, rape, child neglect, etc. We are just here from natural causes and random events of nature. Hope this helps someone see a new side of life....

HAPPY CAMPER said...

GOD is soooo alive. If you wonder if this is true, do what I did, ask God to show you. God is our Greator: yours and mine. And God loves you. God gives us directions to follow that we may have blessed lives. They work!!!