God is an Anarchist
Vengeance Is Mine
Written by Darrell Anderson.
Many people struggle with the difference between the God displayed in the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) and the Christian Bible (New Testament). The Jewish Bible seems to depict an intolerant, ornery, genocidal taskmaster and tyrant. Comparatively, the Christian Bible seems to teach about a gentler God of forgiveness and grace.
Some people have tried to show that the Jewish Bible also describes a God of grace. Of course, read the many bloody stories and not too many people buy that thesis. Is there an answer to this dilemma? I don’t know, but I’ll offer a simple hypothesis.
First, presume the Jewish Bible as a collection of oral traditions and stories. That means dismissing the doctrine of the Bible being the “inspired, infallible, and inerrant word of God.” That does not mean the various books are hoaxes or false. Archaeology has helped affirm some of the context of the books. Not necessarily the authenticity of the various books, but at least the contextual background. Thus, I see no reason to reject the stories as false history.
Second, presume that much of the Jewish Bible is more of an historical account rather than a religious handbook.
Third, presume that the Hebrews were exactly what they called themselves — “a stiff-necked people.”
Fourth, like all humans, presume that the Hebrews pretty much did whatever they wanted to, with or without God’s “blessings” or “instructions.”
Fifth, presume that all of the books were written long after any of the reported events transpired.
So how do these presumptions explain the bloody Hebrew stories? An observation that just about anybody can agree upon regarding human nature is that humans tend to point fingers in any direction possible to avoid taking the blame for their actions. This behavior is amplified in the first Hebrew story about human interaction. When confronted about eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve immediately began pointing fingers. Nothing much has changed.
Perhaps the Hebrews were doing the same thing in their historical accounts. In those stories, the Hebrews often said that God “told them to do” what they did. What if — just what if — the Hebrews actually made war all by themselves and later merely pinned the blame on God? Based upon human nature, such an idea is hardly a wild theory.
An anarchist God who promotes and honors free will is removed from the equation of evaluating the Hebrew stories. That is, God never told the Hebrews to wage war on anybody.
What becomes more interesting about this theory is — if accurate — the Hebrews would have directly violated the third law of Moses’ moral code: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord God in vain. If the chronology of the Hebrew stories is accurate, then they seemed to have wasted no time at all in violating this law.
That particular Mosaic Law often has been wrongly interpreted to mean that an individual should not swear (cuss); but think about what an anarchist God would want. What would swearing have to do with not committing trespass against other humans? Nothing. The third law meant to not use God’s name falsely or frivolously for falsehoods; that no individual could justify any cause under the false banner of trying to claim that God is “on our side.” In other words, performing acts “under God’s name” is a direct violation of the law of trespass because God is unknowable. The Mosaic Law is another way of declaring that if you are going to trespass then shoulder the blame all by yourself. Don’t bring God into the picture. God is an anarchist and likely never would promote bloody wars — he honors free will.
Yet, this is exactly what the Hebrews did in their stories. Instead of declaring the “devil made me do it,” they waged war and said, “God told us to. Thus, our actions are justified!”
This is just a theory — a different perspective, and I don’t pretend to know what actually happened several thousand years ago. Yet, this perspective seems to eliminate some contentious issues while reading the Jewish Bible. After reading that first Hebrew story about human interaction — Adam and Eve committing trespass against God’s property, there is no reason why the rest of the Hebrew stories should not be read in a similar context. Commit trespass, point fingers, and then blame the results on God. I hardly can think of a more consistent manner to express the continuing story of human interactions.
The Jewish Bible is filled with many stories about dead men, women, and children; filled with rape, incest, and sexual lust; and packed with slavery and death as punishment for obscure behaviors; and genocide. There can be only one reason for such writings: they are not inspired by a loving God, but were written by mere humans. Humans who wanted to justify their wicked and evil behavior — under the banner of God. Humans wrote those stories purely to cover their tracks and to justify their causes and hatreds.
With such a perspective the entire Jewish Bible makes sense. Complete sense. More astoundingly, with such a perspective, the entire Jewish Bible becomes believable.
If the God of the Bible exists and God is truth, then God cannot lie. If God cannot lie, then God could not have written those stories. More importantly, if God exists — a God that most people want to believe is good, long-suffering, and patient — then this simple change in perspective means that God is exonerated from all the accusations that have been made regarding the ugly character and nature that seems to be depicted of God through these stories. If God is indeed not responsible for the tragic and reprehensible acts of the Hebrews, then perhaps God is good, long-suffering, and patient after all.
The evil one reads in the Hebrew stories is explained by the Hebrews themselves — they were a “a stiff-necked people.”
Next: The Ten Commandments