Christian Theological/Philosophical Book Club discussion

The Table - Group Book Reads > Is God A Moral Monster? Chapters 6-8

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message 1: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Thompson (sevasusej) | 8 comments I found Copans ideas of the Israelite philosophy of cleanliness and uncleanliness to be quite helpful, particularly when it comes to animals. In Hebrew culture some animals were clean and some animals were not, but what principle decided which were and which weren't? Copan proposes that it is the animals coherence to one of three areas of the environment; land, sea, and air. When one animal crosses the boundary of air and lives in the sea such as a duck, that animal becomes unclean. The point of separating animals in this way was to constantly remind people that they had a specific purpose and place in relation to God and foreign nations. This makes sense because God has given us similar reminders in the New Covenant. Specifically Baptism and communion. Both remind us of What God has done for us and how we should live for Him.

message 2: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Yes, that was interesting, Benjamin. Though "kosher foods and kooky laws" hardly makes God a moral monster. Chapters 7 and 8 were an interesting tangent.

I found chapter six among my favorites, particularly the section titled Incremental Steps toward the Ideal. I have lots of yellow highlighting here. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted [blah blah], but from the beginning it has not been this way."

"Previously, God overlooked the times of ignorance"

"God has now demonstrated His righteousness in Christ, though in forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed."

"God didn't impose legislation that Israel wasn't ready for. He moved incrementally."

"As we move through the Scriptures, we witness a moral advance--or, in many ways, a movement toward restoring the Genesis ideals."

So, here's the study question I would find interesting to discuss:

Is it useful to think of Israel's laws as realistic, "incremental" steps toward the ideal? Is this a serious problem? Why or why not?

message 3: by Justin (new)

Justin | 37 comments Its been a few months since I read this book, so maybe someone else will know the answer to this. In what sense is he using the word "useful"?

"Is it useful to think of Israel's laws as realistic, "incremental" steps toward the ideal? Is this a serious problem? Why or why not?"

Does he mean apologetically useful? Or useful for understanding the moral code of Israel perhaps?

message 4: by David (new)

David I don't think seeing the laws as incremental steps is a serious problem. It seems that this is how Jesus and most Christians have seen it throughout history; the idea of "progressive revelation" is nothing new.

As a sidenote, I'd be curious to learn more about how Jewish people see this. I mean, Jews don't perform sacrifices today. In some way, the Torah is their own advance on the more ancient OT laws. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

It seems like Copan is making the same claim that William Webb makes in Slaves, Women and Homosexuals, taking about "redemptive curve" and such. I think the serious problem arises when you jump from the NT times to today.

For example, the way Jesus and the early Christians talked about women is a great advance over the OT. Yet the crux of Christian debate on women in ministry centers on NT passages. Sure, we can agree the horrific laws on women in the OT are not valid, but we replace it with a new law from a few verses in the NT. Or we can say that in the NT we see seeds of women reaching an equality with men that took another few thousand years.

My question is where do we find the ideal? Did the incremental steps end with Jesus/Paul/NT OR did they just give us the clearest markers to an ideal even further down the road?

message 5: by David (new)

David I do 100% agree that Jesus was the "ultimate fulfillment of the law". My question is, what does that mean for ethics? Even after Jesus we see Paul commanding slaves to obey their masters which all Christians, hopefully, have moved past today - now we affirm slavery as a bad institution. Jesus may have fulfilled the law, but he did not provide answers to every single question we have on every last topic. Such answers might make life easier, haha.

message 6: by Alford (new)

Alford Wayman (wayman29) | 20 comments I found a website that was most helpful in dietary laws and how Judaism might view it. Judaisms retaliation to Christian ideas about the law stem from the fear of assimilation that I mentioned. I find it interesting that it is mostly Christians who see the "New Covenant" as a progression. Reading on Greek cults, temples, dietary, habits and sacrificial rituals was most helpful.

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