Thursday, May 7, 2015

Is God Violent? (1)

Soon people will gather from our congregation and the community to hold a healthy conversation
a REAL Conversation
about the question, "Is God Violent?"

It is an extremely relevant question today. Given the number of violent acts committed in the name of God, committed with God's sanction and blessing, committed as a response to someone's sense of divine call, this question needs to be asked by the Church. And let me be clear - I'm not thinking of acts created by "the other person", but acts justified and committed by "us", those who have committed in baptism to follow Jesus.

In addition to the things that happen today in the world around us, what also confronts us is what we read in the Bible itself.

Just take a minute to consider this narrative from the Flood story, where God uses water to kill: "I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created - people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry I have made them." (Genesis 6:5-7). Or there is this one from 1 Samuel 15 involving King Saul and the prophet Samuel. Samuel passes along to Saul a command from the Lord. God wanted to punish a people called the Amalekites who had opposed the Israelites. The punishment was to "attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" (15:3). Ingterestingly enough, when Saul did not kill everyone, he lost favor with God, who said, "I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned his back from following me, and has not carried out my commands" (15:10-11).

For others read (Joshua 6-8; Judges 4; Isaiah 10:5-18; Nahum 1:2 - to just name a few).

How do faithful followers of Jesus, people who desire to take the Bible seriously as a guide for their lives, deal with such violent images of God in our sacred story?

Is God violent?

On May 13, we will open up a conversation to take on this question. The conversation is meant to help us understand more about God, Jesus, the Bible, our "neighbor", and our own journey of faith, and open us to a vital faith and relationship with Jesus.

You can find our more about this REAL Conversation by clicking HERE. All are welcome!