The Myth of an Angry God: Answering the Grace Reformation

I recently read  this post from Grace Reformation (GR) “The Myth of an Angry God” and believe there needs to be some balance in what this man is writing.

This young man is very passionate and I think that is wonderful but he spends a lot of time on his posts defending a position that is clearly not scriptural. Or at least it is but blatantly overlooks scriptures that don’t agree with his theology.

He recently tried to drive a wedge between the old Testament and the New by using John 1:18 that, “No one has ever seen God, but the only begotten Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” Then stating No one really means no one.
That includes: Moses, Elijah, David, Solomon, Samuel, Adam, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and all of the rest of the Old Testament writers and figures. They didn’t know who God was or what He was like.

God Spoke to Moses Ex 3 ad infinitum. And of David he said

22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’  Acts 13:22 (NIV)

[I don’t think I need to go on here. You get my drift. These guys knew God better than bloggers right?]

GR is trying to draw his readers to a conclusion that the OT is a perceived “Angry God” and we find the answer in the NT. There is truth in that because we see the person of Jesus in the pages of the NT.  I would like to side-track briefly to draw your attention to a couple of scriptures that mark the extreme importance of the Old Testament when reading the New testament.

Jesus said of himself…

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Of course all has been accomplished in the Cross (John 19:30) “It is finished”. The gifts that come out of that for those who believe begin with salvation. But of course we are still waiting for the completion of that in Christ’s return…

“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Rom 8:23

The other key scripture that springs to mind is Luke 24:25–27

25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

The whole Old Testament, the Law, the writings and the prophets, the whole thing is about him. It points us towards the pinnacle of history which is Christ, his ministry his betrayal, death and resurrection. When you start calling that scripture inaccurate you may as well slap Jesus square in the face.

What GR is suggesting is that the Jewish writers did not know Satan and therefore attributed his work to God.

He surely can’t be reading the same bible as the rest of us. “The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” Isaiah 45:7 That isn’t Satan speaking it is the Lord Yahweh himself.

Besides, in the scriptures I read Satan made some poignant appearances beginning with Genesis 3; His star appearance and the background to the plot of Job not to mention Isaiah 14:12-22 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 among others.

I would direct you here to Romans 9 which gives a very tidy overview of God’s sovereignty.

Romans 9:6–8 (ESV)

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring….

…13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’

and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”

26  “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’

there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,

RF then proceeds to say to one of his bloggers that the bible is in fact in error and takes such examples as:  “(such as in Ecclesiastes…” (Ecclesiastes 10:19 ) “… where it says “money solves and answers everything” and in Psalms 137 where it says “blessed is the man who smashes babies against rocks”).”

The whole point of Ecclesiastes is that the writer speaks about life without God,  taking him out of the picture for the time being to make the point “everything under the sun” …”is meaningless.” Psalm 137 is speaking about Babylonian babies because the Israelites are still in exile and bondage to them. It is a word spoken out of utter anguish. These quotes like many others I have heard from this source are taken so very far out of context as to be highly disturbing.

GR then states “Something that we must realize is that the Bible is not the Word of God.” Now I do agree with him that Jesus is the Word become flesh. John 1. But does that mean the written word is not God’s living breathing word?

The scripture actually says

(2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV)
“16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (Note that says ALL SCRIPTURE, God’s Word) That means OT & NT.

GR tries to wash this in a cloud of translation error. How often do budding theologians with a barrow to push, bring out the translation card? Many blame the early church claiming they have twisted the text to their own theological perspective. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The transmission of  manuscripts has been meticulous. In fact, notable errors in the Greek manuscripts is  less than 0.1% of . Amazing hey? But scribes had a great incentive to see the truth imparted. When you compare these stats to any other ancient documentation, nothing even comes close to stacking up against scripture. Considering that much of the text that is in question in the NT is the last part of  Mark 16. We know the existing variations because textual criticism has painstakingly traced the groups (families) of documents back to their earliest sources. Some dating to within a lifetime span of Christ’s own life. And there has been so much textual criticism that hardly a stone is left unturned. Mind you the next stone may compare to the Dead Sea Scrolls so we await that with eager expectation.

The bible IS God’s word. God did use imperfect men to write His word and all the foibles of man are exposed and God’s character stands unchanged throughout. (God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, Heb 6:17)

CS Lewis would likely gag at the way GR has quoted him. (Of course he is not inerrant and would say so) but he did say…

” Unless the religious claims of the bible are again acknowledged, its literary claims will, I think, be only given “mouth honour’ and that decreasingly. For it is through and through a most sacred book. Most of its component parts were were written and all of them were brought together, for a purely religious purpose…..

“It is, if you like to put it that way, not merely a sacred book but a book so remorselessly and continuously sacred that it does not invite, it excludes or repels, the merely aesthetic approach…. It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms.” From CS Lewis Selected literary essays, “The Literary Impact of the Authorised Version.” (1950) para 42, p144.

Painting pictures of God and His Character and his Word without presenting all of the facts is in fact reading the parts of scripture that you like but tearing out the ones that you don’t. It’s like gagging God when you don’t want him to speak. (to borrow from Prof. Carson)

Sadly, throughout the centuries there have been many of this ilk who want God to be as they want him to be. That is making your own God or to put it bluntly another way: Idolatry.  This is how we ended up with Arianism and modalism and universalism and Watch-Towerism and Mormonism and all the other isms that water down the truth of God’s word and His glorious gospel.

The bible is written for His good purposes and you can’t edit it to suit your own. Instead we must strive to dig at the truth of that word, not taking portions of scripture out of context but delving to take in all of its truths the easy and the hard. It has to be the most worthwhile thing we can do.


~ by timmywarner on November 15, 2011.

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