Understanding Biblical Context: The Wrath and Anger of God

rosecoloredglassesDefending the God of the Bible was once a passion of mine, I studied apologia in order to defend my “True Faith”. Talking with young Atheists and dissenters was something I spent a lot of time doing at one point, though I could understand their arguments and reasons for disliking YHWH, I always felt in my heart that the only reason they didn’t “get it” was because they didn’t have the Holy Spirit in them to show them this truth or to help them “understand it” the way that I did.

In retrospect I find that this “Holy Spirit” that was silently giving me “Knowledge of God” and “evidence” was merely my own understanding and desire for the Gospel to be the Truth. My need for God was providing me with all the evidence I required at the time…which for me then was nothing more than a “fuzzy feeling” and a burning in the bosom (As the LDS Church conveniently puts it). That small self contained and self created feeling allowed me to ignore a magnitude of flaws in the character of YHWH…because I had a Personal relationship with Christ I was able to look past the bad parts and only see the good parts, justifying the evils of YHWH as justice and fatherly love… something my Christian counterparts are able to do still.

The way I see it now, the Holy Spirit is like a pair of rose colored glasses… It blocks out anything that doesn’t adhere to the rosy-loving filter. It doesn’t outright ignore them but instead of the 2 Kings bear attack looking to them like some mad tyrant God, he instead looks like he is bringing a mauling upon those children out of love and a bringing of justice upon those that taunt God’s prophets. We lost folks just see the God of the Old Testament as a prick, tyrannical, egomaniac because we don’t have the Holy Ghost glasses. So…are we godless folk the deluded ones?

The view for the Christian is a convenient one in my opinion. As Rev. Russ and I are fond of debating over,  he believes that the Old Testament when read in the correct context will ALWAYS point to Christ…I digress, as I see that if you read any book in the context of Christ then it will inevitably lead you to Christ….because those are the Rose Colored glasses. Same thing could be applied to The Lord of the Rings , read it in the right context and it can say anything about anyone…variables change the way things appear and are understood…in my world we call that a Bias. Ask a Jew if the Old Testament has thing one to do with Jesus Christ and you might end up with a scar from a yamika!

Due to the fact that The Old Testament doesn’t point to the same thing for everyone you have to assume that God’s millions of victims may not have been given ample opportunity to understand the whole Christ plan…the 42 children mauled by bears at Elisha’s calling surely didn’t see Christ in this at all….how could they? But write up some new books, call them a testament, and base it on your understanding of the Old Testament Messiah…it’s mighty easy to make all those things add up… L. Ron Hubbard did it and turned his novels into a religion just like the Nicene Council may have done.

The context that I read the Old Testament is in that of a fantasy novel or a text written to gain control over a people…whats yours?

Is there any reason to appraoch it in any other way?

  • Hey my friend… it's been a long time!

    #1… God doesn't need nor want us to "defend" Him. We are more like representatives for Him, so I don't take it personally. Besides it just gives me more reason to pray.

    #2… It's more convenient to NOT believe, so it's not a matter of convenience… It's harder to hang on through all that this life dishes out… My decision is to walk with God, not without Him. I've seen what walking without Him can do… AND I've seen what walking WITH Him can do. And I know that as His word promises, I can do all things that gives me strength. I've seen grown men and woman with big issues about christianty change and that is a work of God my friend. For people to be so sure of themselves to only come to know and trust God! That is God's work… And it's amazing!

    #3… It's a matter of choice and I'm glad I have it to make…

    #4… That feeling you speak of, maybe it's hope or lack of for some… It's what gets me and many who trust in the Lord through each and every day. Just as you choose to NOT believe or should I say not believe ANYMORE, doesn't make you right and a believer wrong… you still never shared with me why the change of heart. It had to be more than realizing it was some warm fuzzy feeling?

    God doesn't want to control us. If he did, things would be very different. You know better than anyone he wants us to come to him willingly.

    Doesn't it take more faith to believe that we came into existence by chance or some explosion or whatever other reason that exists out there. As intricate as this world is, our bodies, how everything functions, breaks down and I can go on…. I would think it takes MORE faith to believe in nothing.

    • Matt

      Hi Kat—update your blog more often! c'mon!

      1: Apologia can be a part of evangelism…it was for me, which is why I did it

      2: Not really more convenient not to believe, it is a whole lot easier to think that the big sky monster causes everything to happen and live in ignorance than to look for real reasons and real solutions to real problems….it would be much easier for me if i could force myself to believe, especially living in the south, because as you may have read, people round these parts don't take kindly to us heathen atheists. I know as much about the same god and his word as you do if not more…I have seen miracles and performed many great works (Matt 7 Comes to mind)— all of which can be explained outside of religiosity.

      3. indeed

      4: That feeling is just what you are expected to feel…it is a self illusion and self deceit…

      no it doesn't take more faith to thing that the Big Bang is a good theory…it take faith to simply believe it is true without any evidence…I wouldn't expect you to believe that without evidence…why would you believe that God created all this without evidence?

  • Simon

    Let us speak hypothetically…

    If there is no God, then what do words like "evils of YHWH" really mean? There can't really be any true evil since there isn't any absolute justification or position of 'good' (unless you believe in Satan, but not God).

    If there is a God, do our assessments of his character mean much? It would seem to me that if the creator of the universe said something is good, then it is by definition good.

    • Matt

      @Simon

      you simon from BZ?

      Anyway, we have been over the morality thing already…Good and Evil can be defined by the status quo consensus–it is now, it always has been. the Code of Hammurabi greatly predates the Bible and the Ten Commandments were unknown to that culture, yet they have the same rules essentially….is this due to God's Divine intervention? of course not….I FEEL that killing is wrong and so do you, therefore it is…that is all we need to define good or evil.

      As far as Gods character goes, hell yes I have the authority and privilege to determine that his character is poor. God as the originator of both good and evil (biblically speaking) is just as subject to evil as anything…being that he created it , it must have had something to do with him–it must have been part of his character….just because he says mauling children is GOOD doesn't make it good…certainly not by my standards…maybe YHWH is god…perhaps I am just better than he?

  • Ask a Jew if the Old Testament has thing one to do with Jesus Christ and you might end up with a scar from a yamika!

    I think that's pretty obvious but I'm not sure what your point is. There are Jews that don't think Jesus is the messiah – I won't debate that. But what does that prove? There are plenty of Jews who, upon seeing everything Jesus did believed in him and realized he was the fulfillment of the OT prophecies – that he indeed was/is the promised messiah and then became Christians or Messianic Jews or Jewish believers in Christ – however you want to label them. There were plenty who didn't and are still waiting for that promised messiah. The Bible itself even recognizes all this. So again – and I'm not trying to be smug or difficult here – but I just honestly don't understand the point you're trying to make with this statement.

    • Matt

      @ RevRuss
      I am speaking to the context in which they view the Old Testament…I don't think you or anyone else has the authority to decide the context in which the works should be viewed because 1: The context is questionable 2: the NT was written AFTER the OT, you can't verify that the OT was written with the NT in mind and 3: Others view it in a different context that have just as valid reasons to do so as you do. Thats the whole point

  • You said:

    "The context that I read the Old Testament is in that of a fantasy novel or a text written to gain control over a people…whats yours?"

    The infallible an inerrant Word of God.

    If I were to look at it any other way, that would mean that I have not read, believed, and put my "Faith" in it.

    How silly a question for those to which the book actually bears enough weight with them as a reader to even answer.

    What about Dawkins "God Delusion"?

    Could you say the same about that? In that instance, it would be your answer that mattered more than mine.

    Just thought I would ask because I happened to notice the voluntary 125×125 placement for the "out campaign"… 🙂

    Let us take a look at the amended comment with the substitution… OT for Dawky:

    "The context that I read the 'God Delusion' is in that of a fantasy novel or a text written to gain control over a people…whats yours?"

    It looks right to me. And ironically, it looks right for both Atheistic and Scientific purposes.

    So whats yours?

    • Matt

      @Guy aka HeresyToday:

      infallible and inerrant we will deal with on this blog one day…it's a big undertaking, but it is neither.
      If it is proven that it is neither of those things then would you still put your faith in it? would evidence matter to you?

      for Dawkins: It is a book that doesn't claim infallibility nor divine inspiration…it will not be held to the same standard…one must expect more from a book that claims to be perfect.
      I am in line with the Out Campaign because I think it is important for people to get out about their faith or lack of faith…don't hide your candle under a bushel…let it shine-if you will. I may not be in love with dawkins or most of his methods…he is Ray Comfort's equal to me…just on another end of the spectrum…(maybe that is a bit harsh…he can't be that bad)

      as far as being read as a fantasy novel…TGD doesn't convey "stories" nor does it claim infallibility—so i view it as a work of opinion

  • @Matt

    I really still don't understand the point you're trying to make. I really didn't think I was this dense, but I'm still just not getting it. The whole "authority" question – well, you should know and understand as a former question that the reason I understand the OT the way I do is because I understand and believe that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, therefore I believe He is the ultimate in authority when it comes to interpreting Scripture.

    2) I think there is plenty in the OT that's written with the NT in mind. In fact, again, I'd argue the entire OT is written with the NT in mind. Some examples: Genesis 3:15 – the protoevangelium (the first Gospel) of a promised Savior. The flood, the Exodus, Jonah's Story, the whole story of Israel, King David, Isaiah – the concept of typology – proleptic eschatology – the now and not yet. There are prophecies that are fulfilled within the context of the OT but that also point forward to Christ in the NT and there are some prophecies that simply point to Christ.

    3) Of course there are those who look at Scripture in a different context and of course they feel they have just as valid reasons to say their context is correct. I happen to believe (as do Christians in general I assume) that those who believe are wrong as are their context. If I didn't and instead said "oh, your context is just as valid as mine" then I wouldn't be much of a Christian, would I? Just because I think someone is wrong doesn't mean I hate them but if I didn't actually believe what I believed, what's the point?

    My point, Matt, is that what you're saying is really the same thing as you saying "well, I don't believe in God and therefore it's not true" or like Muslims or Jews saying "well, I don't believe Jesus is truly God and He is not my savior so he really isn't." You know as well as I do, as we've discussed, that again this comes down to faith. So, again, maybe I'm just dense here but I don't think this is really something that is "debatable" per se. Of course Jews don't see Christ as the Messiah – if they did they'd be Christians (in terms of their faith, not nationality – or Messianic Jews – whatever). Just because someone doesn't believe it or questions it doesn't make it untrue. I guess it comes down to the fact that I think I understand what you're trying to say, but ultimately in this type of discussion I really don't think the argument you're making holds any water. If everyone acknowledged what the Bible says is true – we wouldn't even be having this discussion, now would we?

  • Hi Friend.. Interesting post.. Keep up the good work..Do find time to drop by my site and post your views… Take care.. Cheers mate!!!

  • TMinut

    God is real, "He" exists, but I don't think there's a giant spirit man in the sky reaching down stirring things up with a giant finger.

    Many of the stories in the Bible (and other holy books) are, I believe, peoples' way over the centuries to make sense of this Existence that is. We know there's something but what the exact nature of that something is, we don't know. A patriarchal society interprets I AM as a great father, others interpret "it" differently. I don't think God is an impersonal force exactly but closer to that than a superhuman version of a Father. Father is a good word because of it's relation to the word genesis, originator of life as we think of it. Though of course, that includes "female" aspects as well which freaks people out because it sounds like someone deformed, a hermaphrodite. That IS a deformation /mutation in the physical realm, but it's easy to see a combination of male and female in the spiritual realm as a more spiritually complete entity. And even at that, it only includes obvious male/female differences, there are likely many others.

    I don't have as much problem with a pack of young delinquents being killed as many others apparently; but neither do I believe the story is as simple or literal as the story suggests. To say YHWH mauled a bunch of little children for "just being kids" is a stretch, besides, 42 of them? That's a mob or worse, where were their parents? If they get together in groups like that and go after old men, I certainly hope we see it as more than "just being kids"! I don't believe this is a complete literal account of what happened there.

  • But of course God exists – in the imaginations of those who believe it. The best explanation I have come across for so many people's insistence upon God's reality comes from Sigmund Freud: "Owing to feelings of helplessness and guilt, the need for security and forgiveness arises, so people invent for themselves an entity that will provide precisely those things." a href=http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/arguments-fo… of Religion.info: Sigmund Freud – Religion As Wish Fulfillment In short, religion is seen as "childish delusion," and atheism as "grown-up realism."

    God is thus rightly seen as a construct of the imagination, the existence of which is 'necessitated' by psychological considerations.

    We are, of course, free to believe whatever it is our imaginations conceive of. There you have it: faith.

  • TMinut

    I can't agree with Freud's assessment for myself since feelings of helplessness and guilt didn't apply. His seeing religion as "childish delusion" and atheism as "grownup realism" is merely his interpretation of life. Perhaps he was too influenced by knowing too many stupid religious people.

    I've lived long enough and raised enough children to appreciate the power of imagination and differences in perception. Seeing "God" as an imaginary friend in understandable in my opinion. It's just that I've found out differently.

    Also my understanding of faith is apparently different than the usual, many people seem to say that faith is believing in something against all evidence, bizarre idea I'd say. From my studies, I think it's closer to trust – intangible but not against the evidence. Kind of like Amazon, I don't know anything but that it's a company, never saw "them", don't even know where they're based but enough people have told me they're reliable so I've tried doing business with them myself. I have "faith" that they will do what they've promised because they've proven themselves reliable. If something goes wrong, I'd figure it's a mistake or misunderstanding. If there were constant mistakes and misunderstandings from the beginning, I'd have no faith/trust in them. Same with YHWH for me.

  • Hmmm. I've been lurking around your blog for months now thinking of the right things to say. I usually don't debate religion and/or faith with people because it's futile. People believe what they believe. Religion and/or faith has to come from believing in something or someone you cannot see–and how do you really explain that? With the bible? No. Because people have to believe in the bible first. I will say this–I agree that these are complex questions and points and they are VALID. I do not blame you for questioning God, faith, religion, or proponents of any of these. Your questions, though, make me wonder whether you are completely sold that God does not exist or whether you are looking for someone (not me, unfortunately) to be able to answer these questions to your satisfaction. I'm afraid that probably will never happen, given that we (meaning, your readers) are fallible, not omniscient, just mere humans. BUT I have a glimmer of hope that somehow… some way… it can be revealed to you. Some of my questions were answered to my satisfaction by reading the book "Hell" by Bill Wiese. There are many other great books with philosophical answers that may help, if you're interested. I encourage you to seek them out if you are truly struggling with being at peace with what you already believe you understand. If not, I still wish the best for you… and for your sake, hope that you are right.

    Davida

    • Matt

      hi Davida,

      Thanks for lurking…I go to your blog every day and drop my EC…

      Thank you for acknowledging the validity of my doubt and the points i make against religious belief…for some reasons many religious folk will not do that…I generally feel that those people are just denying the obvious…even if you want to let your faith override your logic you should never blame me for being the opposite! So thank you for that

      One of the things that separates me from the rest of the current Atheist movement that is occurring is that I have experienced faith in a very real way, I have said it a hundred times on this blog that I have felt God in my past and describe my movement away from faith as the death of my god…however…this is just my way of describing it, i don't actually believe there ever was a god outside of what was in my head….I think I just don't properly convey it to Christians when i say stuff like that. To me there is not really any reason to think that there might be a god…i don't really "doubt my doubt". to me the chances seem to be like 99.9999999% that god does not exist, if he does then i have to worry about which god im pissing off through denial…salvation is therefore impossible.

      I will check out the book…but I am more at peace now than I have ever been in my life—I didn't realize the chaos that God caused in my life and things have improved for me in almost every way since i became able to live for myself and my family rather than god

  • Kat

    Hi Matt…

    If you searched out God in some point of your life and claim you found Him and experienced His presence, it doesn't make sense to me that you just out of the blue just decided He didn't exist and it was something that made me feel good at the time… God gave you what you were searching for. All you have to do is continue to have faith and trust in Him. There is a plan for you.

    You made a choice to stop believing and let satan win this battle, but he has not won the war and we all know how it ends for satan, don't we?

    God does accept our bad parts Matt. He knows we aren't perfect and that we will fall away. There is a satan out there building his own army.

    I don't believe we are God's victims. Just like those 42 people in 2 Kings weren't God's victims… They made their choice. Let's not even bring the bible into it. It's just a wrong choice to mock others. It's just common sense. We don't know what the outcome for Elisha would have been had he not called on God…

    I will try to blog more often. I have a teenager and a hubby and so many things going on. Trust me! I want to do more.

  • kittyKAY4

    For me, the best evidence against the blind readings is.. well.. history! Read Augustine, Aquinas. Even Matthew Henry's commentary on the Bible, or the Geneva commentaries.

    Don't believe these confounding lies of the modern, skewed, selective readers. Read the words of those who studied the Book and had little-to-nothing else. How dare an evangelical preacher claim knowledge denied to Augustine or Aquinas? How dare he claim that HE knows how to cut-and-trim the Book but the great theologians of the past were wrong, when we have the same Word of God before us as they. And, in all humble honesty, they were smarter than likely you or I or the apologist with whom you argue.

    Those historical theologians disagree, but they both see Christianity as it truly expresses itself. Sure Augustine claims death to heretics while Aquinas thinks that too Old Testament. It was only the God of Old that would simply murder people, no no, that won't do for Christianity. Aquinas explains: heretics shouldn't be just murdered, they should be tortured to death. Is that not Jesus' greatest innovation? Everlasting torture for those who disagreed?

    Don't listen to the fools who claim God only brings the good. Augustine developed the same theology you'll see in the Koran explicitly: God controls all. When people sin, it is only because God has blinded them into that sin. And God will punish them eternally for those sins.

    This isn't narrow minded literal reading or selective choosing. This is the honest theology of the greatest Christian theologians and apologists from days gone by. Don't let the idiotic evangelical apologist claim THEY know is right. Take a look at the ideas developed in the 1,300 years where Christianity defined Western thought.