A couple of posts below I posted an excerpt from a stringent critique of Jewish and Christian biblical theology: the God of the Bible is difficult if not impossible to believe in because charity and capricious cruelty contradictorily constitute his characteristic behaviour. I also said I thought this charge (which is, of course, old and not new) could be defended. Here are a few thoughts, but not a comprehensive essay.
One comes from J.I. Packer's Knowing God (which a commenter on an earlier post pointed me to, re atonement and predestination). A recurring reminder in Packer's unpacking of the God of the Bible is that anthropomorphisms both help human understanding of God and lead us to false understanding if we forget that God is God and not some accumulated creation of the sum of all anthropomorphisms. In part, at least, Plotz in my post below savages belief in God because the anthropomorpic "God" is savage; but does not account for the true God, the God beyond the limits of human language.
Another, the source of which I have forgotten, is that I (and you) are not entitled to a god who fits our expectations of reasonable behaviour, desirable though such a god would be, our expectations as nurtured by modernity and post-modernity being crucial to our view of what is right and true. That is, we may be making the God of eternity subject to judgement from a thin perspective of temporal experience. (This response, however, could itself be undermined from within the Bible since even there various Jobs and Jeremiahs wonder at what God is up to when disaster strikes.)
Thirdly, finally for today, I suggest when we allow for limitations in human language used in the Bible, and have acute awareness of the danger of judging God from the narrow base of our own experience and expectations, we need to acknowledge the progression of theology through the Bible. In Jesus Christ, the full revelation of God is the revelation of a consistent charity in God's character which has not been revealed prior to Christ. This a relatively straightforward claim to make (an old claim of theology, not a new 21st century revelation, by the way) but it raises significant questions for how we understand the Bible, the relationship of 'theology' to 'Scripture', and the continuing role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.
"In Jesus Christ, the full revelation of God is the revelation of a consistent charity in God's character which has not been revealed prior to Christ."
And not just a 'consistent charity' but a caritas and intimate fellowship of love (in adoption) that far exceeds anything we can currently imagine or hope for (Romans 8.31-39; Ephesians 3.14-21).
Exactly, and wonderfully!
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