May 24, 2011

The Bible story you never heard in Sunday School

Natalie points us to the story of Phineas as one of those Bible stories that are just incompatible with other singular narratives of the Bible. And she is right, I never heard this story in Sunday School.

16 comments:

Jesse said...

How is the story of Phinehas incompatible with the rest of the Bible?

Streak said...

Well sure. God smiting a town for allowing an inter-ethnic marriage. As Nat points out, the God of white supremacy.

Jesse said...

The story isn't about white supremacy. It's about Jews marrying idolaters. Trying to make it into a white supremacy thing is deliberate distortion.

Streak said...

Ok. Fair enough on the racism part. That is how this story has been used. But to say that this is simply a justified approach to "idolators" is also simplistic. According to the story, God orders them killed in public--more like a God as Mob Boss--than God as Savior. Translate that story to today, and it is something we prosecute. Reminds me of the Amelekite story where God orders ethnic cleansing or genocide, and then punishes the Israelites for not killing everyone. To say that is compatible with the God who sent his Son--is problematic.

Smitty said...

Jesse is on to something; that collection of books is chock-full of stuff just like the Phineas story. Are maybe we, mortals, the ones who insist on it being about love? It is really maybe a book about "otherness among us?" I mean, the tribes that wrote it certainly tried their hardest, historically, to dominate the area with just their tribe. Sorta hard to do that when you love and accept everyone.

Heck, the bible's last book doesn't end on a great note for creation. It gets blown to bits. IF you're good enough to make it to heaven, the story ends well.

IF.

Jesse said...

No, it isn't problematic at all, if you understand who God is, and what sin and idolatry are. But most people don't.

The same God who sent the Flood to destroy, and who ordered the Jews to kill all of a certain group is the very same God who came to earth to give his life a ransom for those who would believe on him.

Streak said...

Ok. I disagree. I don't think genocide is compatible with God. Sin or no sin.

But these stories come from a tribal and brutal people. No wonder their God was also tribal and brutal. Reminds me of the Anne Lamott quote about you know your God because he hates the same people you do.

I can accept those stories as something relevant to those tribal and brutal desert peoples. But not as creator and savior.

I always appreciate people telling me that they understand who God is. Don't think you do. Maybe more than me, I don't know. But you don't know how God thinks, and to suggest that is rather blasphemous. Which makes me chuckle.

Jesse said...

Streak,

You refuse to accept the God found in the Bible. That God is incompatible with your beliefs. You want a god who will behave and think they way you want it to. Rather than being an aid for your religion, the Bible is instead a contradiction.

Streak said...

Jesse, I just spent the last 3 hours dodging tornadoes. So you will pardon me if I don't give a flying fuck what you think about my view of God. He and I are ok. And I think you are an asshole. What he thinks of you is up to him.

Smitty said...

The same God who sent the Flood to destroy, and who ordered the Jews to kill all of a certain group is the very same God who came to earth to give his life a ransom for those who would believe on him.

Believe in me...or DIE.

Wow...how profoundly beautiful. What an amazing religion of peace and total acceptance!

Except for the "out" groups, of course, but fuck those guys.

Jesse said...

Smitty,

I see you don't like the God of the Bible anymore than Streak does. Not a surprise.

Streak said...

Sigh.

Smitty said...

I see you don't like the God of the Bible anymore than Streak does.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...snrk...huh? Oh, nothing. Zzzzzzzzzz.....

Eric S said...

Guys,

Context is everything. The integrity of God’s plan of redemption was dependent on the integrity of all of that which predicted it, and provided context for it. There are several places where God tossed out the whole bag of apples so to speak; Noah, then Lot and Sodom, then Rahab and Jericho and the rest of the land of Canaan. The theory in context is that you can have a rotten apple in a good bag of apples. On the other hand, eventually even the best apple in the bag will be spoiled beyond recovery.

Intermarrying deliberately with the “spoiled apples,” so to speak, threatened the redemption of even those who would be temporally condemned to an early death. In this case killing Zimri and Kozbi ended the idolatry and allegiance to the god, Baal of Peor. Obama was not going to win an argument with bin Laden and Phinehas was not going to win an argument with Zimri. In both cases nothing less than National security was at stake.

The bible is a book of hidden truths called mysteries, and revealed truths called revelations. Everything hidden is intended to be revealed. To write as Timothy Beal does, presupposes that the distinction I have just made is wrong. He doesn’t seek to prove it, and in fact makes no attempt to do so.

I understand his argument. I don’t find it plausible. It asserts that a God, who is so powerful as to create the universe, is at the same time too weak to make his message known to man. The position of man before God is clear. You will never find a dog environmentalist. Why? Because dogs do not run things for him as custodians of God’s earth. It is precisely because we are created in God’s image, that we expect to find a message from God, and in fact we do. It would be unexpected in the extreme, if we found that that message is as confused and incomprehensible as Timothy Beal suggests.

--Eric

Streak said...

Again, Eric, you assume that your view of God is THE view of God, and that those of use who view him and his supposed actions differently are just wrong. That is your choice. But it is not without arrogance.

Eric S said...

Streak,

I hear that view with some regularity and you are surely not alone in holding it, but I would say in my defense, there should be room for a man to be unambiguously convinced of a proposition. Scientist, movement leaders, and revolutionaries are convinced. Like them I’m convinced too. I’m convinced about inspiration, and to my mind the idea holds up.

If inspiration is from God, then the message is a higher authority than I am. If I am yielding my view to its proclamations, then that activity is not a good fit with the notion of arrogance. I’m just saying what you call arrogance could be called humility just as easily.

Timothy Beal suggests that God must provide his birth certificate before we can take his message for what it purports to be. I didn’t call him arrogant and he is challenging the veracity of the bible.

Being a man who is capable of being convinced myself, I realize that a man like Dr. Beal can be mistaken. I extend to him the benefit of the doubt, and I believe that is the broadminded, non-arrogant approach.

But I think I’m on pretty solid ground when I say that being convinced, able to present and defend my views and being arrogant are not the same thing.

--Eric