Sunday, July 22, 2012

Peter Enns, "John Piper & Canaanite Genocide"

Pro and con, to my post on John Piper and his view on Canaanite genocide and his view that, “It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases.” 

I will say, however, that, although some pushback comments were very insightful and brought to the table issues of importance, a number of them were implicitly working from a false, though common, dichotomy: pitting against each other (1) engagement of Scripture informed by what we know of ancient context, and (2) any notion of biblical authority, inspiration, etc.

Such a posture is a lamentable innovation of recent generations of Fundamentalist influence on how Christians think about the Bible, prompted by some uncomfortable developments in biblical studies over the last two centuries. But in truth, the church has a long track record, going back to the 2nd century, of grappling with, let’s call it, the problem of history in the Bible, i.e., what it means for a transcendent God to speak within the humble and limiting circumstances of the human drama.
Of particular interest at the outset was how God’s actions in the Old Testament, especially his violence, can be squared with the not only the ethics of the gospel but common reason and decency. One early solution that stuck was to read these passages of violence allegorically. At the end of the day, I don’t think that solution works, but let’s not lose sight of the motivating factor:

God does things in the Old Testament that cause theological problems for Christians, and so we have to think about what to do about them.

We today are latecomers to this conversation, although some, apparently, do not seem to be aware that it is even an issue.
For the rest, click HERE.


1 comment:

  1. Great article (and blog), thanks!

    It's called paradox. God is certainly sovereign (it is the notion of the sovereignty of God that keeps me Christian), and therefore God wills the death of whom he will. God is certainly also Love, and the creator of us all (if each and every individual whoever lived, lives, and will live, is created personally by God Almighty, there has to be a reason, and a purpose, for each of us, as might be determined by a loving parent). Therefore God's will and parenthood is unlikely to be cruel or arbitrary or capricious.

    Anyone who (tries or pretends to) read the whole Bible, and who believes that the Bible is (in some sense) the Word of God, has to accept both of these notions of God, because both are clearly inherent in the Scriptures.