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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Piper: Why was it right for God to slaughter women and children in the Old Testament?

In John Piper's recent article, he gives us his take on one of the more popular objections raised by skeptics concerning the claimed holiness of God...

"Was it right for God to slaughter women and children in the Old Testament? How can that ever be right?

It's right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.

God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God's hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs.

So God is God! He rules and governs everything. And everything he does is just and right and good. God owes us nothing.

If I were to drop dead right now, or a suicide bomber downstairs were to blow this building up and I were blown into smithereens, God would have done me no wrong. He does no wrong to anybody when he takes their life, whether at 2 weeks or at age 92."

The response by Piper reminded me of something Brother Gregg once stated during our respective criticisms of the intellectual embarrassment cowardice of Dr. Richard Dawkins refusing to debate Dr William Lane Craig...

"In attempting to comment or characterize actions of God we must start with the character of God. The first question that we must ask ourselves, does God have right to make such a command? The answer is yes. Why? God is absolutely sovereign. God, as both revealed in the Scripture and defined by His character or nature has the right to exercise His absolute supremacy in accordance with His divine perfections. God is infinitely elevated above the highest creature. He is the most high and is subject to no one. God is independent and does as He pleases, only as He pleases, and always as He pleases."

While I agree with the idea that God is above reproach here, I would like to contrast Piper's view that God is intimately involved in the finer details of such affairs by actually "taking life" with a theory advanced by author Vox Day in which he mentions his view on the matter. The belief that Piper appears to hold to is referred to as "omniderigence" by Day...

"I certainly did not invent the concept(omniderigence), I merely constructed the word to describe it. It is a word I considered to be required for describing the logical and theological fallacy of those who interpret omniscience + omnipotence to equal X, X being the singular source of will and action in the universe.

It summarizes the popular idea of God as a detail-oriented puppet master and Man being without free will, merely playing out his assigned role in God's grand master Plan. This notion of an encyclopedic Plan reduces every being, great and small, to insignificant sock puppets in God's grand self-amusement, a concept which strikes me as not only psychologically nonsensical but bordering on the unbearably silly.

Despite its popularity, omniderigence is, in my opinion, a demonstrably anti-Biblical concept. The fact that God knows the number of hairs on a head or when a sparrow dies does not necessarily require Him to personally pluck them out one-by-one, or strike down the sparrow on the oak tree instead of the one on the birch."

I would only add one final thought. A certain apologist (I don't recall right now exactly which one) once stated that God, assuming He exists, is a very different creature than us human beings. And since He is quite different, and eternal, then it follows that maybe He has a much different view of death than we fallible humans do in this plane of existance. We seem to be caught up in the here and now and often view events from the standpoint of this temporary existance. What if God is going to make everything allright for a particular person and 'dry every tear' 500 years from now? Or a thousand? Just thought I'd throw that out there for discussion. Feel free to leave your thoughts below.

1 comment:

Gregg said...

The danger that we always face when we attempt to define God by "ethics" is the same danger that the Old Testament Israelites fell into: "...you thought that I was one like yourself."

God is not like us. Although our ethics are to be based upon His revealed character and written word, He is the ethics we strive for, not the one who must fit our ethics.