| Blue Ridge Journal
|BRJ Front Page||See all Essays||Send a Comment|
Yahweh? – the Jews may have it right.
February 2005Many of us Christians or one-time Christians have heard – or made – this argument against the existence of God: How could a loving God, concerned for the well-being of those he created "in his image", have allowed the evil, the misery, the terror that millions of his children have been subjected to throughout history, and which continues to this day? The question, and the implied argument, seemed valid and conclusive. The God of Love was a hoax, a concoction. Ergo, God did not exist!Abstract:
A stern and cruel – not a loving – God has ruled the world for the past millennia. The likely suspect is the Jewish Yahweh. He never became what St.Paul promised.
I admit to having been seduced by this line of thought myself, in my formative years. But the flaw in the argument is there for all to see, so obvious, so transparent that one wonders how anyone could be deceived, much less oneself!
Oh sure, the syllogism is correct enough: If (a) God is a loving God who would show his flock love, not evil; and (b) the world is in fact being showered with evil and misery, not with love; then it follows that (c) this God of love is not in charge, i.e., God is not around.
Seems quite logical, God is clearly not around... But wait; isn't there a problem in the first postulate? "God is a loving God...", ... who ascertained that? What if he's there, but isn't a "loving God" at all? Then the argument is simply faulty, and God may well be in his heaven after all.
And now the solution springs forth, clear as day: God is there, but he cannot be the now-popular "God of love". Then who is he, and who launched this concept of a loving God which now seems unsupportable? The answer to the latter is that it was the first-century sect of Judaism that eventually became known as Christians. It was Paul the apostle and the other writers of the New Testament, writing a hundred or more years after the death of Jesus, who rewrote the character of "Jehovah" – the Yahweh of the Old Testament – into a loving, caring, personal God. This total personality change of the biblical God may have been necessary to appeal to the gentile world; rather than marketing the wrathful God of Israel, this more popularly appealing personality was an easier sell.
As our syllogism with the faulty postulate shows, two thousand years of recent history – an unbroken chain of wars, disease, and other human miseries – make it clear that the transformation of Yahweh by the New Testament writers has been a bust. The evidence of our history shows, if we believe there's a God at all, that this God is a God of anger, of revenge, of jealousy, in short a God with a serious mean streak. And this description fits no-one as perfectly as the Yahweh of old. Yahweh's commandment to the Israelites was first of all to fear him (Deut.10:12). And with good reason. The wrath of Yahweh was felt first-hand by hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings who happened to be in the way of his plans for his chosen people. They were eradicated in a continuous blood-bath that marks Yahweh's modus operandi throughout the Old Testament.
Nothing could be more consistent with our human history since the age of Jesus of Nazareth than the observation that not much has changed in the prevalence of evil on the Earth. Whether this misery comes directly from the hand of God, as in Old Testament times, or is now simply permitted by God, the steady and bloody hand of the angry Yahweh is evident. Two thousand years of history that seem unexplainable in terms of a loving Christian God are seen as beautifully consistent with the character of Yahweh. The wars, the pogroms, the suffering, the ethnic eradications are copied right out of his record in the Old Testament. It's apparent that the game is up for the fictional new god of St. Paul. He just doesn't jell with the facts. Instead it seems that the Jews have been right all along. The wrathful God who warned them to fear him is still in charge. Yahweh is a no-nonsense God. A big-picture God. He may still speak with great prophets, but hasn't much time for personal conversation with commoners (perhaps too busy "godding".) So be warned: There has been no changing of the guard, and a feeling of fear is not out of place.
© 2005 H. Paul Lillebo
BRJ Front Page See all Essays Send a Comment