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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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Book Review: I Once was Lost

18 Feb

I’m a big reader, but rarely do I find any books about sharing the faith that are particularly meaningful or helpful. (Apologetics books don’t fall under this category, they get at the ‘what’ much less than the ‘how’) Bucking this trend is I Once was Lost by Everts and Schaupp. It’s been on my bookshelf for years and I don’t know why it took my so long to give it a try, but I’m glad I did. I’ll use the next two posts to expound on two concepts which I think are immensely helpful – without giving away all of the books content (you should after all, go read it yourself!)
After interviewing hundreds of postmodern skeptics who had decided to follow Jesus they identified five thresholds that emerged again and again. These thresholds aren’t the gospel and this is only one interpretive grid for understanding how people come to faith, but I can’t stop thinking about it and wishing I’d read the book 10 years ago.
The idea is simply that coming to faith is a process. Sometimes this is rapidly accelerated by circumstance, the Holy Spirit or both; but people are at different points in their spiritual journeys and therefore require different treatment. Everts and Schaupp see the thresholds as a sort of logical progression from far away to close.
1)      From distrust to trust
2)      From indifference to curiosity
3)      From being closed to change to being open to it
4)      From not seeking (or seeking other answers) to seeking God for truth
5)      From outside of the Kingdom to inside it (by committing to trust Jesus)

The authors weave personal stories throughout the book as a major component, highlighting the concepts they’re teaching – not as mere bullet points. I appreciate this, and I also love that some of the stories are of failure. I can begin to get discouraged when I’m reading about triumph after triumph and realizing I’ve seen and experienced so few.
Consider this post a micro review and a resounding positive recommendation – I’ll explore the first two concepts in my next post.

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