Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did God get a makeover after Malachi?

Wayne and Brad over at The God Journey discuss the challenge of reconciling God's actions in the Old Testament, where God appears to be harsh and vengeful, with his actions in the New Testament, specifically with the gentleness of Jesus. Some people wonder what happened. Is this 2 different Gods? Or is Jesus the nice guy, and God the father is the mean guy (with a personality more in line with the godfather). Or is there something else going on that we need to consider. It is a very interesting discussion and can be heard here.

In the podcast Brad spends quite a bit of time on the unorthodox view that Nephilim were the reason for the flood, and the mass genocide that God commanded when Israel entered the promised land. I enjoy listening to Brad, and I certainly don't think that this unorthodox view is Heretical in any way, but I wish they would have spent more time on other possible explanations. I don't think it really is necessary to dig that deep to find an adequate explanation. I do think that you do really need to look at each of these events in the context of the larger story of the Bible. The overarching story of the Bible is one of God pursuing and rescuing humanity and if you keep that in mind, you can concluded that there were good reasons for these actions, even if we don't fully understand them. There are two things that I notice in particular. First the most extreme actions appear very early on in human history -- perhaps during critical junctures in history, where the plan to rescue humanity could have been derailed if such extreme measures were not taken. And the second observation is these actions in reality were rare, and not as common place as one might think. Sometimes we miss that point because there are no dates affixed to each of these events in the Bible.

So is Brad right? I don't know, but I do not think that God is up in heaven playing 'whack a sinner', constantly whacking those who step out of line. I think that he is reluctant to take such actions, and only does so when there is no other way.


jennypo said...

Hi Rick,

I wouldn't argue with anybody over this, but I'll share what I've appreciated: Charles Ryrie (& Co.) has some very interesting things to say about the different presentations of God in scripture. His outline of the Bible has given me a lot to think about in this regard.

It clearly and concisely outlines the idea behind dispensationalism, which is really just a way of looking at the history of God's dealings with humankind as a series of themes - an object lesson, if you will, for heavenly beings.

Dispensationalism is not a new idea, but an old one, and one that is supported both by the text and the context of the Bible, but the view that it gives of God has generally been lost in the shuffle betwixt and between doctrinal arguments for pre-millenial and post-millenial raptures. I believe, in looking at it, that we have thoroughly missed the point.

Dispensational Timetable (a quick run-down):

From the restored earth (Genesis 1:28)...
To the fall of Adam (Genesis 3:6).
Goal of humans as stewards of the earth:
-to glorify God by governing the earth in worshipful submission to and fellowship with God

From the fall (Genesis 3:7)...
To the flood (Genesis 8:14).
Goal of humans as stewards of the earth:
-to glorify God by walking before God with a clear conscience

Human Government
From the Flood (Genesis 8:15)...
To the call of Abraham (Genesis 11:32).
Goal of humans as stewards of the earth:
-to glorify God by governing one another with a view to promoting God's righteousness

From the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1)...
To the giving of the Law (Exodus 18:27).
Goal of humans as stewards of the earth:
-to glorify God by living by faith in God's promises to the Patriarchs

The Law
From the giving of the Law (Exodus 19:4-24)...
To the Cross (John 19:30).
Goal of humans as stewards of the earth:
-to glorify God by living in conformity to the Law

Grace or Church
From the Cross (Acts 2:1; Ephesians 3:2-7)...
To the return of Christ for His Church (1 Thess. 4:17)
Goal of humans as stewards of the earth:
-to glorify God by walking under the control of the Holy Spirit

The Kingdom
From the return of Christ for His Church (Rev. 19:11-20:4)...
To the new heaven and earth (Rev. 21 & 22)
Goal of humans as stewards of the earth:
-to glorify God by living in New Testament harmony with the risen, glorified King

Dispensationalism answers this question: Righteousness was good enough for Abraham - why not for us?

Abraham had no Christ. He had no in-dwelling Holy Spirit. Far, far more is required from us, because we have been given so much more. God doesn't ask us to be righteous only. He asks us to be led daily by his Spirit. This requires thought as well as obedience. We are not asked to live by the law - but by love. We are not asked merely to abstain from satisfying the flesh - rather, we are to fill ourselves with Christ, to drink from him deeply and be filled, so that the cries of the flesh do not move us. The will-power given by their faith was enough for the patriarchs - it will never be enough for us. We must be daily led and fed by the indwelling Spirit of God, or we fail in our particular mission on this earth.

You may be familiar with this already, but here's a link for a chart describing the history of God's dealing with humans from this standpoint:

Don't know if this is anything new to you or not, but it's something I've found useful.

Rick Gibson said...

Hi Jenny,
Thanks for taking the time to write that, whew! That was longer than my original post. I am familiar with dispensationalism.

There are actually many facets to this that I have thought about for a couple of days, like the interplay between God's Transcendence and Immanence, or his Immutability, and a host of other characteristics he has revealed about himself....but I never seem to get the time to sit down and organize my thoughts the way I would really like to. Often I don't even bother to blog about something I'm thinking about, because I'm afraid I can't do justice to it. Oh, well maybe someday.

Joy said...

Hey Rick...

I listened to this podcast a few days ago. There was a time when I was so INTO all that stuff. I was a huge follower of Chuck Missler. I don't discount any of that stuff... well maybe the whole end-times scenario stuff... but I am still, for lack of another word, deconstructing. The Nephilim have been off my radar for a long time. I had to chuckle when Brad brought them up... I wonder if Wayne got squeemish... Anyway...

Not sure how I feel about the whole thing, just found it humorous.

Did they every really answer the question... about God getting a makeover?

I jumped over here from Tina's Blog... Below the Surface. I've been listening over at the God Journey for about a year now.

Kirk said...


I laughed out loud over the Nephilim stuff. I did some searching on that awhile back and seemed to me the whole idea of fallen angels procreating with humans as something that I couldn't line up with the whole story of Scripture. If angels were created by God, and I think we would all agree that they were, and we have no detailed account of the angels creation (except that Scripture says God made everything and since an angel would be a part of everything) or any other reference to them being able to procreate with themselves or us or anything else and Scripture does say about everything created in the Genesis account that each one reproduces after their own kind, then I would says they probably don't reproduce and if they do it would be with angels. As for the reference to "sons of God" meaning angels; everywhere else in the Bible that I could find, that title is applied to angels that are definitely not fallen. I think the Cain's lineage as sons of men and Abel's lineage as sons of God argument seems much more plausible to me. And lastly, if these mighty men/nephilim were still running around after the flood making mayhem then God really didn't wipe out every living thing on the earth and then we have the whole lot bigger problem of God being a liar.

Interesting conversation though, just like the Nephilim as UFO drivers....oh never mind.


Fat Radical said...

Could it simply just be that Jesus was the real deal & everything that went before was God speaking through imperfect human filters. Isn't that why he said "you have heard it said but I say unto you..."? Heretical, liberal or what? You decide.