Posts tagged ‘Evil’
I bought Bart Ehrman’s God’s Problem on the strength of reading his Misquoting Jesus, and I wasn’t disappointed.
There are three things about Ehrman’s writing that help me sit up and listen to what he is saying.
First, he is world renowned scholar in his field. He has been teaching the bible at university level for years and knows the book and its documents and the scholarship associated with it inside out.
Secondly, he is a very able communicator. The substance of the Misquoting Jesus is the scholarship surrounding the New Testament documents – a very technical subject. Despite this, he wrote a very readable book for the non-expert. In God’s Problem he looks at the subject of suffering and examines how, for him, the answers as to why we suffer provided in the bible seriously fail to convince him that an omnipotent and loving god exists.He moves with ease and grace through the theology and philosophy of the Old and New Testaments, all the time reminding us that despite the words, suffering is a very human problem. The modern day examples of suffering he discusses are personal and real, and cry out for answers. We may be able to detach ourselves from the suffering of Old Testament nations, but, as Ehrman reminds us, the obscenity of the Holocaust is closer to home, as is the suffering of our family members and neighbours…
When I was a fundie Christian the hardest thing that was required of me was to forgive people for being perverts and assholes. A Christian is told repeatedly that if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. We are also taught that we had to forgive people EVEN when these people were not repentant or did not ask for your forgiveness. If we didn’t, we could not expect forgiveness form the Almighty. In other words, if my step-father beat, tortured, and raped me repeatedly from the ages of 9 through 14, I had the duty to forgive him even though he was an unrepentant asshole even on his deathbed.
For some reason, that never sat well with me. I was furious, but taught myself to ignore the fury to be a good Christian. Nowadays there are numerous stories of child abusers, killers, rapists, and evil Christians of the Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist variety and evil Muslims such as the 9/11 hijackers and those who kill their wives, daughters, and sisters for their own “honor.” We are told again and again that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We are supposed to realize that these people are also God’s creatures and to think evilly of them and wish them harm is not a good thing to do. Yet, when the likes of Fred Phelps and his band of psychotic cult followers picketed a fallen soldier’s funeral in my small Midwestern town, I was furious. Forgive them? Are you crazy? I couldn’t do it. I cheered when the Iron Sleds, a Harley-riding motorcycle group who supports military veterans, decided to step in and guard the family from whackos like Phelps at the funeral. I secretly hoped there would be an “incident” and that Phelps would get his face smashed in, that violence would ensue…