The snarky God of the Old Testament [book review]

2 Apr

In his book God Behaving Badly David Lamb delivers a succinct yet fairly thorough presentation of the most common charges against God stemming from the Old Testament and debunks them convincingly. He orders the books as a series of questions, the chapters include:

  • Angry or Loving
  • Sexist or Affirming
  • Racist or Hospitable
  • Violent or Peaceful
  • Legalistic or Gracious
  • Rigid or Flexible
  • Distant or Near

Each chapter contains a general appraisal of the topic with some voices from both sides of the debate, followed by a few specific examples of the charge. Lamb then goes into depth over the course of a few pages giving background information and explaining why the particular charge is in some way misconstrued or misunderstood.God-behaving-badly

One such example is Uzzah whom Yahweh struck down for putting his hand on the Ark of the Covenant to steady it (2 Sam 6:1-8). Lamb goes into detail about why the laws about transporting the ark were in place and how they conveyed respect and holiness. Lamb explains all the rules and regulations for Ark-carrying by comparing it to transporting nuclear waste: not that it is garbage but that it’s extremely dangerous. By transporting the ark their way as opposed to the way God had outlines the Israelites were not only dishonoring but blatantly disobeying God. All of Israel was present at this procession and their lack of concern for the Ark symbolized their apathy towards God. God had a right to strike Uzzah because he had outlined the penalty for disobedience – in doing so he sent a message to all of Israel (and all future recorded transportations of the Ark mention that proper protocol was followed).

I really enjoyed Lamb’s easygoing style, use of current cultural phenomenon to explain antiquated ideas and practices, and his overall commitment to using the scriptures rather than running from them. I recommend this book for anyone who has asked these questions or been asked them by a friend.

If you are interested, you can find the book at Amazon or if you are an alumnus of InterVarsity, simply register and get 30%-50% off from IVP


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