Love’s Vulnerable Way

20 Sep
Vulnerable Love

from Google Images

Paul tells us in his Philippian letter that we need to imitate Jesus’ attitude toward life (Philippians 2:5). We might ask what attitude Paul was speaking of, and fortunately Paul answers that question in the next few verses. The One who became Jesus had been in the form of God, i.e. he was equal with the Father. He was like him in every way—Light dwelling in the Light, which no man can see or approach (1Timothy 6:16; cf. John 8:12). Yet, he made himself vulnerable for our sake (2Corinthians 8:9) by forsaking the form of God and taking upon himself flesh like a man (John 1:1, 14; cf. Philippians 2:7).

Nevertheless, by becoming man Jesus fleshed out God’s image in a manner never before seen by men—in a way that exposed God’s true character (Hebrews 1:3). In other words the New Testament God revealed what the Old Testament God was like! Really, they are the same God, but Jesus clearly shows what God is like. Therefore, there can be no excuse for ignorance, even though men continue in their ignorance by seeking to differentiate between the ‘moral monster’ of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New.[1] Notice:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”[2]

It is not difficult to see that there is a lot of emotion wrapped up in the above excerpt from Dr. Dawkins’ book. One wonders how he has come to hate so much what he believes to be a fantasy. Certainly, he wouldn’t judge all of Christianity for the deeds of the few (Crusades, Inquisition, etc.), anymore than all scientists should be judged on the merits of those who embraced and supported Nazism, or the medical profession for their mistakes surrounding the thalidomide scandal, for which no one wished to take responsibility. Only recently, in 2012, a statement of regret was released by the drug’s inventor.[3] Therefore, since we wouldn’t want to label Dawkins’ book biased, we should take his criticism on face value. Is the above really the kind of God the Scriptures reveal?

Through the Psalmist God portrays himself as a loving parent or king (Psalm 81). There, he is willing to provide for Israel’s needs, but they wouldn’t listen to him (Psalm 81:10-11). How did he react? Did he respond to such behavior like “a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak…”? No, the Scriptures tell us that God gave them up to do as they wished (Psalm 81:12)! Of course, without God, calamity followed. Nevertheless, God was ready to supply all their needs and protect them, if only they would receive him (Psalm 81:13-16).

Through the prophets (e.g. Isaiah 5) God shows himself as one who cared for his people, patiently nurturing and protecting them, but when he looked for the fruit of his labor, instead of justice he found oppression and bloodshed. Instead of righteousness he found cries of distress and pleas for help from the oppressed (Isaiah 5:1-7). What did God do? Did he expose himself as a “bloodthirsty… malevolent bully?” No! Rather, he simply withdrew the blessing of good weather (Isaiah 5:6, 10) and his protection of the oppressors by permitting their enemies to punish them (Isaiah 5:5, 9, 13). Even though they rebelled against God, he kept calling, but no one answered, and they continued in their evil ways, to which God could not in good conscience be a party and support (Isaiah 66:4). The God of the Old Testament continually shows himself as a reluctant judge, ready to forgive, if his people would only repent and receive him as their God

Instead of an “unforgiving, malevolent bully”, we find a God who suffered with his people (Isaiah 63:9). He was vulnerable to pain and emotional distress, because he loved mankind, but we rebelled. Even the single nation that he nurtured from the days it was a single man (Isaac), when it later multiplied, and though they agreed to receive him as their God, they betrayed him and went their own way, as the Scriptures abundantly show.


[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about “making sense of the Old Testament God” is based upon the book: Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan. These are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Paul wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read concerning defending our faith.

[2] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Ealing, Bantam Press, 2006), page 31

[3] See Thalidomide Timeline.

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Posted by on September 20, 2015 in apologetics


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