When inerrancy is truly evil

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. The Lord called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his side; and said to him, “Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of those who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”

To the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and kill; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Cut down old men, young men and young women, little children and women, but touch no one who has the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were in front of the house. Then he said to them, “Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go!” So they went out and killed in the city. While they were killing, and I was left alone, I fell prostrate on my face and cried out, “Ah Lord God! will you destroy all who remain of Israel as you pour out your wrath upon Jerusalem?” He said to me, “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city full of perversity; for they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see.’ As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity, but I will bring down their deeds upon their heads.” Then the man clothed in linen, with the writing case at his side, brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded me.”

Ezekiel 9.3-11

That was the wise old prophet Ezekiel speaking to Judah. Here’s the most influential prophet speaking to this generation of Calvinists:

Please note that at the time I took this screenshot, fifteen other people had followed the Piped Piper of Bethlehem waaaay out of the bounds of the real world.

If you want to know why I think inerrancy and Piper’s Reformed theology, particularly in tandem, are not merely trifling misunderstandings, see Exhibit A.

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  • screenshot doesn’t show…

    • Hmm…I can’t reproduce a problem. Try again?

      • could only see it by right clicking on the empty space and pasting the image URL.. anyways, seen it now.

        I’m not sure what this dude is trying to say though… that divine slaughter is equally as abhorent as “assaulting Gods name”? or that divine slaughter was justified becasue the human assault on his name was a greater evil?

        How does one assault God’s name? Does he mean “tarnishing God’s reputation”? If anyone’s tarnishing God’s reputation surely it’s whoever wrote that Ezekiel book, blaming God for the actions of some dude who ran riot with his sword….

        • Yes, he’s saying that an affront to God’s glory rocks God’s world as much as
          His slaughtering innocent people rocks ours. There’s not exactly a moral
          equivalency because (says he) God is justified in that action, whereas we
          are not justified in affronting God’s glory, which in this case consists
          merely of not being as impressed by it as He thought they should be.

          John Piper is obsessed with some strange definition of God’s “glory”: he
          thinks that all divine action and behavior (love, election, divinely
          sanctioned catastrophes, etc.) are understandable as God’s attempt to
          expand/recover His glory. Essentially, at the center of the universe is
          God’s preoccupation with Himself. It leads very quickly into divine command
          theory and the like.
          On Jan 12, 2011 8:49 AM, “Disqus”

          • atimetorend

            And, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”. So does that include the genocides? If I am not satisfied in God’s genocide, then he is not glorified.

  • Well, I don’t see the screen shot either but if I hover just over the center of the “image” I get a URL that I can copy. Weird.

    Anyway, there is a lot of scripture that talks about the defiling of God’s name, or the “causing the name of God to be blasphemed among the nations” scattered throughout the OT.

    Taken in tandem with “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches” (Proverbs something or other) you start to get a picture of the importance of someone’s name. That is, it was critically important, important enough to defend with violence I think in the case it was besmirched.

    SO, assuming people had taken it upon themselves to defend God’s honor – the name above all other names – then you could see how this might happen.

    We actually see it today (and I did this as an older teenager once) when a man “protects” his wife/girl with his fists when he feels that she has been insulted.

    • You’re right that this is seen throughout the Old Testament. But saying that
      the divine slaughter of children is a just reaction to having the divine
      name blasphemed among the nations is completely wrong-headed. Rather, no
      deity that would do such as that to avenge the trampling of its glory would
      deserve the glory it so zealously defended.

      • Well, I think that might depend on the viewpoint.

        Let’s take for a moment the typical Christian beliefs about God’s attributes and ask the following question:

        Is it at least possible that God, within the Christian understanding of God’s attributes, would sacrifice some to save the many?

        Apply this to God’s honor in this way:
        That ultimately to save the many, his glory/reputation was required to have a certain “oomph” in our future, thus Him requiring Himself to follow a certain course of action in our history.

        Now, to ask another question, would that thought process be consistent with the testimony of God throughout scripture? Is the testimony of God in scripture consistent with Him pruning/cutting back the vine so that the vine remains healthy (so to speak)? Again, I’m asking if this is a consistent message throughout scripture.

        However, this of course, may lead us into other sticky areas of pondering other attributes of God

  • SH, I can see the need to preserve someone’s reputation – even say, God’s reputation.

    If we think someone is an awful, hideous monster (i.e. their reputation) then we’re going to have an adverse reaction to them. In the extreme case, we might (as humans often do) decide to make war with that person based on the fact that we consider them to be a moral monster, and should be rubbed out. The end result would be hostility and distance between people. So I can see someone wanting to justify/defend someone’s good reputation – it’s actually for the benefit of everyone so see the good in people.

    AND, what’s more, I can see the overall need/benefit for us to ensure that our own reputations are preserved, or at least, are truthful 😉 In this respect, I really don’t think that God would care about his reputation UNLESS it created some kind of barrier to hi relationship with humans. If God loves people, or humanity, or is social in any way then this God’s concern for their own reputation should not be thought of in the same way that an egotist thinks about their reputation (for the sake of reputation) but because God would know how difficult it would be for us to trust and love if we though God was a monster…
    I suppose that many ANE people though that no-one would respect God unless he could be reputed to be a dangerous and powerful force – although there are definite threads of describing God different ways in those old texts. The NT writers seem to me to (generally) think that the reason to love God is because God demonstrated love first. I think “loving” is a reputation worth preserving, probably at the expense of all other reputations!

    • Brilliant comment!

    • Paige

      “The NT writers seem to me to (generally) think that the reason to love God is because God demonstrated love first. I think “loving” is a reputation worth preserving, probably at the expense of all other reputations!”

      If we could keep that in mind with the truth that love had not been completely manifested until Jesus, we can see why the OT writers missed that revelation. In the NT we’re told it’s better to be wronged…In the OT, somehow it’s better to kill innocents (children) than have God wronged.

      Just my 2 cents.

  • Just in case I was misunderstood, I wasn’t defending the idea, or saying it was a “good” or “just” way to think about it.

    I’m just saying it’s fairly consistent with that particular theme of the OT in regard to name & honor [among many themes].

    • Oh, don’t worry — I assumed you weren’t speaking from personal conviction.
      🙂

  • atimetorend

    And I like Thom Stark’s perspective a lot better, that portions of scripture like that should be retained because they show us the evil in man’s heart, which we can also see reflections of or potential for in our own hearts and learn from that negative example.

  • Wow. Piper needs to take another year-long sabbatical and get his head screwed on straight. And that’s coming from a Reformed dude. Scaaaa-ry!