Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
June 30th, 2014 by Joel Watts

Oh God, you devil – the overly simplistic god

I found this floating by on Facebook…

god is a not a liberal

Here was my answer in reply:

  • Vengeful – Deuteronomy 32.35, 1 Samuel 15.3.
  • Temperamental – Exodus 32.10
  • Blood thirsty – 1 Sam 15.3, the Book of Joshua and Judges
  • Bible thumping – Exodus 19.5, the Torah. All the times he says obey my book/commands/law
  • Male – Jeremiah where he laments the divorce from his wives, Israel and Judah
  • Barbaric – Um, Joshua, Judges.
  • Genie in the Sky – John 14.13-14

The problem with this view of God, or any view, really, is that it tends to overly simplify what is by far the most complex _____. There is simply no way to finish that sentence because God is not in our universe and not in our world. To simplify God, then, into human traits such as the ones listed in both lists, is to do a grave injustice not only to that which we seek to name but so too ourselves.

This simplicity is detrimental to our faith because when we realize we were wrong, or not all right, we are going to get rocked.

If you are basing your view of God on Jewish and Christian Scripture — you have to be honest with it and yourself. You have to acknowledge that the reason we have people like Marcion is because people saw a vast difference between the two testaments (unjustly). So why try to force our view, if it is really Scriptural, to into one pattern.

Wouldn’t it be better to say, “I don’t know?” sometimes.

Again, this is why apophatic theology draws me.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


9 Responses to “Oh God, you devil – the overly simplistic god”
  1. Scott Fritzsche says

    Imagine that, there is something to the probably more proper translation of God stating “I Will Be What I Will Be” (or, more commonly, “I Am that I AM”) The finite (having limits or bounds) by it’s very nature can not properly describe the infinite (subject to no limitation or external determination) and us Christians would probably do well to remember that. I, for one do not need a god that I can fully understand or describe. If I could, that god is subject to my limitations. I do need a God who is beyond my, or any one’s ability to dream, imagine or define so that the only limits that exist for me are the desires of a Creator that ultimately has only that which is true, just and good in store for me and the world I inhabit.

  2. “You have to acknowledge that the reason we have people like Marcion is because people saw a vast difference between the two testaments (unjustly).”

    Unjustly? This seems to imply there was no justification?

  3. “Male – Jeremiah where he laments the divorce…”

    I think I would have used Hosea. What a schmuck.
    Ok, for all the right wingers, I’m just kidding.

  4. Some would say that God is in our universe and in our world. So there’s another pattern to consider.

  5. I have a few scriptures in the O.T. that I wish to discuss… but, then again… why try to explain if most do not even believe the O.T. or the N.T. as what God says about Himself? – their idea of “god” comes from… from… where again do they get their idea of God? Anyone?

  6. By the way, I knew a pastor who summarized theology even a more simplistic way: The scene: At any given Sunday Morning Service: “Brethren, God is good the devil is bad. Let’s dismiss with the benediction”…

  7. Oh… and God also prompted prophets to lie, placed a whore in Jesus genealogy, relented when a King was cut to pieces in front of his people and enemies, and in Jeremiah He says that “…he was a husband to both Israel and Judah…” so, He may be also a bigamist; which may explain the “temperamental” thingy!!!! 😉

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