Texts of Terror: 2 Chron 15:13: “All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death…” February 13, 2010Posted by Phil Groom in Theological Reflection, Theology.
2 Chronicles 15:13: “All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.”
That’s the NIV translation, and it’s as good — or as bad — as any. You’ll find more translations than you’ll ever know what to do with at biblos.com but they all come down to the same thing: convert or die, no exceptions, no mercy. Eugene Peterson’s The Message hammers the horror home:
They all arrived in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign for a great assembly of worship. From their earlier plunder they offered sacrifices of seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep for the worship. Then they bound themselves in a covenant to seek God, the God of their fathers, wholeheartedly, holding nothing back. And they agreed that anyone who refused to seek God, the God of Israel, should be killed, no matter who it was, young or old, man or woman. They shouted out their promise to God, a joyful sound accompanied with blasts from trumpets and rams’ horns. The whole country felt good about the covenant promise—they had given their promise joyfully from the heart. Anticipating the best, they had sought God—and he showed up, ready to be found. God gave them peace within and without—a most peaceable kingdom!
Not satisfied with slaughtering hundreds of oxen and thousands of sheep, anyone who refused to join in would be slaughtered too; and God, bless him — and surely only a male deity could approve of this? — “gave them peace within and without—a most peaceable kingdom!”
Well bravo, God. Nice party, huh? A “peaceable kingdom” indeed: who dares to differ, to question or challenge when the price of standing out from the crowd is your life?
How do you deal with Bible verses like this? Skip over them as quickly as possible? Try to pretend they’re not there? I had the misfortune of having to read 2 Chronicles 15:1-15 at Evening Prayer tonight. When I reached this verse — verse 13: unlucky for some — I paused, looked the congregation in the eye, read it, then paused again before completing the reading.
There was no sermon slot. After the readings, we went into the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…
I stumbled through it. Bullshit. This is not the God I believe in.
And the good news? No one’s going to slaughter me for saying it. I hope…
I Believe December 28, 2009Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Theological Reflection, Theology.
Tags: Creed, God
I believe in God,
the mother, weeping,
wandering heaven and earth,
seeing but unseen.
I believe in all people,
begotten of her womb,
born of her blood,
one with her.
Through her our world is shaped,
our lives are made.
For our sake she wanders,
seeking the lost,
leading us home.
For our sake she suffers,
dies, and rises.
On the third day she stands,
still weeping for her children.
She ascends to heaven,
she returns to earth,
for she cannot abandon her own,
living or dead.
She breathes life:
her breath is life.
She seeks neither worship
only longing to be known
by her own.
She speaks through the trees,
through the birds and the sky.
She swims the ocean:
she is the ocean;
she is baptism;
She is life,
the life of the world,
and for ever.
God Does Not Exist: Get Over It April 6, 2009Posted by Phil Groom in Theology.
Tags: Atheism, Christianity, Existence of God, God, Religion
God does not exist. And it’s high time that we as Christians got down off our high horses and gave the atheists their due: as Dawkins puts it, the idea of God’s existence makes as much sense as a giant teapot orbiting the earth.
You see, things that exist can be measured and quantified: God can’t. Things that exist — well, they’re like you and me, objects in space and time that you can walk up to, spit on and, if you’re that way inclined, crucify. You can hit them, analyse them, dissect them, write papers about them and draw final conclusions about them. You can bury them and be done with them. You can put them in boxes and count them.
But God: you can’t box him in. God isn’t an object in the universe: rather the universe exists in God. Existence is a characteristic of contingent beings and things: things that depend upon something else in order to be. Talking about God’s existence simply locates God within the framework of the universe, makes God another contingent being — just another thing, another crazy flying teapot crackpot idea.
Saying God exists — it’s like saying a river swims. Swimming is something that things living in the river do; it’s the river that makes swimming possible. It’s like calling planet Earth an earthling, when earthlings are the beings that inhabit the earth: it’s the earth that makes earthlings what they are. It’s the same with God: it’s God who (and I dare to say ‘who’ rather than ‘that’) makes existence possible.
Those analogies fail, of course, because a river itself exists within a valley; the earth exists in space. But God: God defines existence, not the other way around. God defies existence: existence is irrelevant to the reality of God. Except once, when he walked about amongst us and gave himself away and let us have our way with him and accepted everything we wanted to throw at him. Loved us, wept with us and for us, and forgave us — even when we couldn’t forgive ourselves.
Why? I suspect it’s got something to do with completing our existence. If God had never existed, had for ever remained apart from the universe, it would be like that river drying up, like planet Earth disappearing off into empty space away from the sun. There’d be a few skeletal remains, dried up fossils, proof that fish once swam in the river, that humans once walked about and built their little empires… but nothing else, just a dream that vanishes into the night…
God is the dreamer who makes our dreams of existence come true. But instead of sleeping through them, he steps into them, finds a nightmare, and dies.
Whether he stays dead is really up to us. We can live in the nightmare or reach for the dream. I don’t know how we choose one over the other: some people don’t seem to have any choice. But what I do know is this:
God does not exist: we do — thank God for that!
And I want to make the most of it.
Hating the Monster God March 1, 2009Posted by Phil Groom in Theological Reflection, Theology.
Tags: Church, Noah, Theology that sucks
Church this morning – sermon about Noah and the flood but it’s OK because God put a rainbow in the sky afterwards and promised he won’t do it again.
“Trust me,” he said, “I’m a used planet salesman: this one only had a few million inhabitants, so I wiped the hard drive and rebooted.”
Apologies for the mixed metaphors. I mumbled my way through the creed and fumbled my way through the Eucharist but didn’t exactly feel thankful as I thought about my friends who’ve been to hell and back and where was God when they – when you – needed him?
Went out for a walk across a derelict airfield that’s become a half-playground, half-wasteland, found a tree decorated with wreathes and ribbons in memory of someone called Martin… wondered what happened to him and why this particular tree…
Wanted to somehow hit out at this monster god who screwed up so badly, but he’s not the God I know… the God I know is love and weeps with me and the only floods s/he’d ever bring to the world would be floods of tears and sorrow… and sometimes of laughter when the sun shines and flowers break through the concrete…
And I pity the human race with its screwed up notions of God and the churches that propagate them and wonder why I remain a part of it when I want to be apart from it…
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