Tag Archives: God

An indecisive, emotionally unstable, good God.

We just went over Hosea in my prophets class, and I asked my professor a question I’d had for a while: in ancient mythology there’s lots of stories about dramatic relationships between the gods, but I don’t remember hearing much about such emotionally intense ambivalence between gods and humans.

Her reply: It’s true.  Generally, ancient gods were busy with their own affairs.  If they looked down at humans they were either pleased or displeased, in which case they simply wiped them out.  Problem solved.  On the other hand, the prophets–especially Hosea–portray YHWH as quite human-like in his jealousy.  For the surrounding people, this would have made YHWH seem like sort of a wuss.  Gods aren’t supposed to be jealous.  They’re supposed to be self-sufficient.  They do what they want.  What’s up with YHWH?  Why does he care so much about this people of his anyway?  Don’t like what they’re doing?  Kill them off.

As you read Hosea you can feel this incredible tension.  YHWH’s fighting with himself.  The comparisons Hosea makes with lover and parent are right-on.  But who would have thought God could feel so confused, pulled in so many directions?  I think Hosea shows that ultimately YHWH leans toward the side of forgiveness, of letting himself get screwed for the sake of his relational commitments.  But there’s this very real agony there.  YHWH is portrayed as nostalgic, unable to break things off with Israel due to his memories of the “good days.”  Sure he’ll probably be left again.  Gosh, we know he will.  But can he end it?  No. He just… can’t.

This fascinates me.  I think part of it is it’s within tensions that I often seem to find truth.  Here’s a tension.  So something about that rings very true.  This doesn’t seem like the “right” way for an all-powerful god to act.  But it’s the God we’d like to worship if we dare believe in news this good.

And it’s just plain intriguing.  Fascinating.  It’s stuff like this in the Bible that leave me with this, “Wait, who the hell are you??” awe towards God.

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Why Politics Aren’t Evil

Recently I’ve come across two interesting statements on friends’ blogs:

(1) “humans were created to rule the world on God’s behalf” (Daniel Kirk, in summarizing an article by Richard Middleton)

(2) “Cultural/creative power is the ability to successfully propose a new cultural good. But privilege is the accumulated benefits of past successful exercises of power… Jesus retains power but does not exploit privilege.” (Al Hsu, summarizing a talk by Andy Crouch, author of the fabulous 2008 book, Culture Making)

When I read Kirk’s blog today and saw that statement (which is nothing new/revolutionary to me), I was hit by the way it connected to what Hsu had posted, and the way both were connected with one of the big questions we debated in my Mission in American Culture class last quarter, which focused on politics in America.

Many students were afraid of politics, eager to separate themselves from the corruption, the bad decisions, even the power itself.  (See some of our blog entries on evangelicalism and politics.)  However, as a political science major in college, I didn’t feel able to turn by back on the political process.  I’m not saying it’s all good.  But I also don’t think the concepts of parties, PACs, organized interests, grassroots protests, executives, judiciaries, and legislatures are inherently bad.  I think they’re cool cultural innovations we’ve created to try to manage our societies.  And that can’t be completely awful, right?  Government is just sort of… necessary.

What these statements do, though, I think, is make an even more positive case for politics.  Politics is about the distribution of power.  We were created for power, for rulership.  And as such, we can’t ever get away from politics.  If these two statements are true, politics is woven into our very beings.  The question is not should we participate in politics but how can politics serve to rule the world for God–and by that I’m not meaning how can politics legislate morality or force devotion but rather how politics (and every other human endeavor) can be used to honor the human potential in all of us (including the ability to make our own decisions about things like religion).

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