Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Problems with The Ban

I got this quote from Christopher Wright's book The God I Don't Understand. (It actually came from the Koinonia blog of Zondervan authors). Wright was discussing the conquest of Canaan narratives and asking why did God ask the Israelites to institute the Ban (the utter destruction of all living creatures) against the peoples of Canaan.
"This is the way in which God in his sovereignty chose to work within human history to accomplish his saving purpose for humanity and for creation, including me…at some point I have to stand back from my questions, criticism, or complaint and receive the Bible’s own word on the matter. What the Bible unequivocally tells me is that this was an act of God that took place within an overarching narrative through which the only hope for the world’s salvation was constituted." (p.106-107)
It is hard to deal with, but I think we often fail to look at individual narratives as part of the overarching story of the redemption of humanity. Still not easy, but I can't see the whole picture and I have to trust that God does and he knows what he is doing.
Any reactions?

2 comments:

Jason said...

Well, I certainly agree with your final assessment. It's easy for us to try to sit back and put God on the witness stand for cross examination, but we are simply not qualified to do so.

I can think of at least two reasons why the ban makes sense to me. First off, it was God's judgment against these people. They were wicked and had many wicked practices involved in their worship of false gods.

Furthermore, it was to protect Israel who was to be a light showing the world who the true God was. Because they did not fully carry out the ban, they ended up embracing some of those same wicked practices and failed in their responsibility to show God to the rest of the world.

matthewgallion said...

I have to be honest. I struggle often with the idea of the "ban." I think it is wise to recognize our place in the universe in comparison to Deity, of course, but I also find it to be a grave error to pretend that my questions, concerns and even doubts don't exist with a locked-in sort of doctrinal determination that forces me to essentially lie to myself. So, I confess. I am often the one putting God on the witness stand. I don't understand why God would condone, nay command, such things. And the typical answer, that I wouldn't be able to be rescued from any plight by a God all-powerful enough to see all of history at once seems a little ridiculous. It seems to say to me that God is, in fact, not all-powerful because certain criteria had to be met for God's power to be exercised.

So for me, the typical Christian answer for this doesn't satisfy. And claims that God did things like this as acts of omnipotence and judgment that could not be avoided seems logically inconsistent. But in the end, I'm with you. I know that the God revealed in Jesus is the basis for my reality. I know that I have to follow that God. And if that God and the God of the ban are the same, I suppose I must plead ignorance and have faith.