Thursday, February 10, 2011

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Does God endorse violence in the OT?

18 comments:

Joshua said...

Yes.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Joshua, I like your comment! ;)

What is the exact meaning of "endorse" for those who are not native speakers? Are there any connotations?

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

 

Greg said...

Joshua,
Thanks.

Greg said...

Joshua,
Would you be open to explaining why your response is yes?

Greg said...

Lukas,
Thanks. Endorse means to support or sanction - to approve.

Sisyphos said...

May I explecify violence in the OT and show its implications for those who had to act it out ( based on Joshua 6)

I am running upward with the sword in my hand. For most of the others it is just another battle in the name of Jahwe but for me it is my first battle. I am keeping my self behind with the last warriors because I am afraid to death. We reach the gateway and storm into the city. I see the first corpses shattered to death - a little girl weeping over the corpse of her father. Her hands are full of blood and she is desperately looking at us not grasping what is going on. Her whole body is shaking and the teardrops are falling down into the puddle of blood.
A young mother is sitting in a corner her little baby held close to her. Saucer-eyed she looks at me. I know what she is saying without using words: Please, please not. Please. It is a please beyond description, a please that is not a question; it is a please that commands. Run, run, I say to myself. I almost stop because my stomach is rebelling against all the smell of blood. To avoid killing someone I enter a small side-street. “Hopefully there is no one - Hopefully.” The cries of despair, of broken existences in vain, of blind aggression are filling the air - roaring emotions everywhere - Angry shouting in pain. The dying and misery is whipping me and I am run as fast as possible. “Away from here, just away.”
I run until I reach a dead end street. I take a deep breath and sob: “Maybe I can stay here for a while and return later after the others have won the battle.” Suddenly I see something moving and turn towards it. Behind a big tun I see a young woman - maybe fourteen years old. Her hands are covering a small boy – either her son or her brother. She looks at me her eyes full of fear and tears. Her lips are trembling waiting for the fulfillment of her most dreadful nightmares. “No, no, no,” I mumble falling down on my knees. I cannot turn my eyes away from them knowing that I hold their fate in my hands.
I don’t know how long we are looking at each other. We feel the struggles and the anxiety of each other. “Return, return” a voice inside me is telling me. I swallow and nod. Slowly I get up and advance backward without losing their eyes out of sight. She draws the little boy closer to her whispering something in his ears. She seems to sing him a children’s song. A little smile of gratitude hushes over her face. Suddenly she shudders torn apart by fear. I turn around and see a big group of Israelites standing close to us. Their swords are bloody and their faces have lost every sign of compassion. One of them steps forward: “Now kill them. Jahwe had commanded it.” he utters.

Sisyphos said...

Slowly I turn around and go towards them. She falls to my knees grabbing them to reach for the impossible. She is weeping tremendously and is crying out in her language. Trying to overcome my feelings I shout at her violently: “I have to kill you. My God had commanded it. Jahwe, the everlasting God wants me to do it.”
Suddenly she stops crying. She knows that they will be dead. She grabs the little sobbing boy and turns his back towards me her eyes directly focused on me. Then she tenders the little boy and tries to smile at him while teardrops are running down her cheek. She talks to him in a soft voice and he calms down a little bit. One last time she kisses him on his wet face. Holding him close to her chest she looks directly into my eyes. She is not crying any more. She accepts the unavoidable.
I step forward almost not capable of holding my sword. “Her eyes, her eyes, Jahwe has commanded it, but her eyes, her eyes: full of life, full of hopes, full of endurance.” I stand there for a long time not being able to wipe out this existence so firmly looking at me. For a moment she looks at the little boy giving him a kiss. “Now is the time – her eyes, her eyes.”. I raise my sword. She looks up, our eyes meet: for a second horror, then peace in her eyes waiting for death. Everything is silent around me now. Slow-motion. I feel as if I had been standing there for ever with the sword held over their heads. My sword rushes down. It devours fast but I didn’t strike them well. The boy is torn his body split in two pieces. She leans forward, squirming with pain, moaning horribly.
She screams out, violently, wild, full of pain and despair. Her last cry devours us, the street, the air, everything. Now she is dead, dead, dead.

Greg said...

Sisyphos,
Thanks. You present a gruesome rendition from a victim's eyes. Can there be any feasible explanation?

Greg said...

All,
Yes, this is a tough subject. I hope to put a few thoughts up on it tomorrow.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Please let me have a take on Joshua 6.

I see half a day that was terrible. But I see six and a half (I assume walking around seven times takes half a day) days at the very beginning and months earlier, where everybody knew (knew not could have known, cf. Joshua 2,9-13) that Gods holy judgement was about to come. And yet only one woman(!) acted upon this threat. She and her family (as God acts upon men in a covenantal context, which may be seen as inapropriate or unjust by some, but this is another issue) are saved. Everybody else had at least the first six and a half days time to come out of the city and repent. Yet nobody did.

Anyone who is against God, anyone who sins, will have to vindicate himself and his deeds before God. I guess he will have a not too good stand.

I am sure, that God does not like to act violently. 1.Tim 2:4 / Hes 18:23


Psalms 68:20 Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.

Joshua said...

I merely mean that from the perspective of the OT writers and the character's being God's authority, God obligate violent responses from His followers. Moreover, God Himself can be seen responding in violent fashions, and moreover His servants include not only believers by violent rulers such as Nebuchadnezzar who carry out His will via violence.

Joshua said...

* bearing not being.

Sisyphos said...

The basic argument against distrust in God is focusing on his superiority: either on his superior goodness or his superior power.
Submitting to God because he is more powerful is a tough task and a path just a few are taking (is it just another power struggle?)
Regarding his superior goodness: well, it seems to be blind faith.
He establishes the standard (sin, judgement) and we have to hope (desperately) that it is just but since we are sinners we can never know (because it will always go against our sinful nature).
A vicious circle, an eternal leap into a vicious circle which will never come to conclusion : whether God is a demonic Spirit who conceals his power behind metaphors of goodness or not.

I know that this view is fuzzy and naive but it somehow describes a basic dilemma I have: if God and man is that much seperated as presented in Scripture how can we ever be able to know that he is good if our sense of goodness is flawed?

There are three options: either trusting (eternal leap of faith) or distrusting or somehow trying to overcome the alleged or presented seperation between the nature of man (not after sanctification but in general - including his epistemology and his sense of rigth and wrong) and God.

My view might be modernist (never knowing, demonic Spirit etc, blind faith) but this self-classification doesn't help me solving this dilemma, does it?
Back to epistemology, Greg?

Chuck said...

This is a test comment.

Greg said...

Lukas,
Good points. You put some thought into this and it's helpful.

Greg said...

Joshua,
Appreciate you clarifying. Valuable perspective.

Greg said...

Sisyphos,
Good questions and thoughts.

I would say the circle is not vicious because God has come into it. The hermeneutical circle, therefore, can be transformed into a spiral, and yes it's true, we are not at the top, but neither are we on the bottom.

Our sense of goodness is flawed and therefore the ultimate verification of God's goodness is the testimony to Jesus - his life, mission, and teaching.

Yes, I believe you make a good observation about you being modernist in orientation - previously it was probably naively optimistic, but now is naively pessimistic. There's naivety all over the place. Once the optimism is shattered, as it rightly should be, then we're left with pessimism. Bad exchange! As Ricoeur liked to say, "beyond the desert of criticism we wish to be called again."