Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Honour of God

Earlier on this blog, I wondered out loud at the seemingly "cruel" and "capricious" image of God which the Old Testament can be said to convey. I've given the matter some further thought, and now present myself a little humbler and hopefully a little wiser.

Though it's not something I've studied deeply, I get the impression that most of the "cruel Hebrew God" talk is relatively modern, and reflects the humanistic values of our post-Christian western civilization. The exception to this modernity though, is to be found in the source of this modern humanism - pagan Hellas, aka. Greek civilization and it's philosophy.

Evolution, the cult of sensuality, and humanism are nothing new - you'll find all of these ideas and much else in the thought of the ancient Greeks. While there is certainly much of value there, there is also a lot of bunk; sugar coated nihilism, and this only makes sense since in lieu of grace, human intellectual creativity had to suffice. Another conspicuous point in common, is that it was this same Hellenic civilization (which by the first century A.D. had been swallowed up and assimilated into the Roman Empire) which also found Christianity to be a scandal, in particular it's "Old Testament" Scriptures.

It could only be arrogance, or unworthy of God to hold His own honour above all else, to value it a higher good than anything applicable to creatures, if we were indeed the "centre of the universe" so to speak. Of course, we are not. You'd think that a Christian (even a crappy one like me) would "get" that...

The truth is, God really is "all that." While it's hard for one who has his eyes constantly upon human nature and himself, living in a "man centered universe" to truly fathom such (since if he is even remotely sober he knows he himself is hardly worth worship - and there is nothing higher than he!), the fact is God is worthy of adoration. He is worthy of people falling all over themselves, grovelling for the forgiveness of even the least of their short comings, etc. Anywhere else, anybody else, it would be foolish, ridiculous even. But not in regard to God.

How curious, that we are enraged when the innocence of a child is violated, or a woman is brutally raped, or a poor person is robbed of the few goods they own. We intuitively want retribution, we want to see some justice, to see some equity put into place. No one see's anything wrong with this.

Yet as "good" or "innocent" as these examples of victimhood are, by contrast they are filthy compared to God; their worth is not even a penny in comparison to endless wealth. Not even a drop compared to an endless ocean...I think you get the picture.

My point isn't that there is no such thing as "injustice" toward other men. Quite the contary - my point is to maintain this, but posit that when justice is not done toward God, there literally is "hell to pay." If dishonouring God is not worth getting mad over, than absolutely nothing is, is my point.

Well, God Who see's things as they are, also values things with perfect insight and fairness. With that said, His honour is going to hold pride of place.

Hence, if you have a people privileged with some very conspicuous wonders and acts of providence on their behalf (like the Israelites were in practically every circumstance where they "got it the worst" in Old Testament re-tellings), then being "smote" is hardly surprising. If anything, there's a remarkable "restraint" when you consider things in perspective...what they "got" was really only "educational", compared to what was probably owed in all of those circumstances.


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