The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Wrathful God Of Nature

Many people have wondered why God has created things like the shark or the lion. Indeed, why all those millions of years of death decay and suffering as animals devour each other? No one can fathom all of God’s justifiable reasons for doing what He does. Many things remain a mystery and we must trust Him. On another level though we learn something of the Creator through what He has created as the above Romans passage tells us. It may not make us feel good but nature tells us that God can be wrathful. This is what His power includes. People say they don’t believe God is like that. But on what basis? Is it because nature is always so gentle and kind that the God who created nature couldn’t have said and done all those wrathful things in the Bible? One thing is certain. Both nature and the Bible agree. If you are to believe what is true and not just what you wish to be true, then you must swallow the hard pill that the True God revealed in nature is just not who you want Him to be. People may hate the wrath of God but you cannot say it is illogical believe in it after the testimony through nature. What is illogical is to believe that God would never harm a flea when fleas are being harmed all around us. Even the terrors of nature testify that God exists. We must marvel at the lion even while fearing it. The above passage tells us that the God who created nature reveals His own Divine nature through what He has created. And nature or creation tells us that God is capable of severe wrath and pain. The Bible tells us that God is glorified through His wrath. Not just His mercy. The millions of years of wrath glorify God and were therefore good. Psalms 104 tells us that God feeds the lion it’s prey and calls it good. To be sure, the animals, sun, moon and stars, tornadoes, hurricanes don’t sin. They just do what they were designed to do. They’ve been glorifying God since the beginning. Man was in the Land of Eden in the beginning protected from God’s judgments. Outside the land of Eden were the judgments of God. We see this in Revelation in the Context of the new Eden. Outside the gates are God’s judgments and wrath. This went on for millions of years before man sinned and was cast OUTSIDE into God’s judgments. They’ve been glorifying God for millions of years and even in eternity past. God is the beginning and the end. He is therefore not bound by cosmic time. He experiences all past, present, and future, at once. He’s always been all glorious an will always be all glorious. He manifests the glory of His wrath eternally in the lake of fire. We know that Satan and His angels are tormented forever. But the text says that humans have a portion or share in the lake of fire. It very well could be that all humanity will enter into the gates. They are open for a reason. And Rev. tells us that the kings of the earth bring the glory of the nations into the city upon entering the gates,

There is no doubt that God becomes angry when He sees the wicked things that human beings do to one another— even torturing and/or killing one another. But God is not a man that He does the same hurtful things to sinners. God, whose very essence of love, is not a wishy-washy God who is “nice” to everyone.
He uses whatever methods are necessary to correct wrongdoers, but His anger never leads Him to torture them or kill them, but to correct them.

I would whole heartedly love to be able to except this understanding, I just find it impossible to reason with when one reads from Genesis to Revelations. How do you reason with all those events through out the entire bible that would heavily suggest otherwise ? I understand the bible is not without error, but I am genuinely interested how you view such events, without undermining the validity of large parts of the bible ?

Greg Boyd’s two volume work, “The Crucifixion of the Warrior God,” is his evangelical effort to justify God as non-violent, in the face of central challenges like the genocide campaigns, the flood, Revelations, etc. I agree with his theology and his view that the combination of divine-human in the Bible allows faulty human viewpoints to be reflected in its accounts.

My difference with him is that I would see that this requires your own admission that the Bible has error as pivotal to explaining these tensions, and indeed agree that such conclusions challenge the literalist truth of the claims of central parts of the Biblical narrative. As Boyd agrees, such a view of God requires a Christo-centric and cruciform hermeneutic.

I find it hard to believe that one can explain away the bibles atrocities without admitting
the bible is errant. I haven’t read any of Greg Boyd’s work, so I would be forced to with hold to much judgment on someone’s ability to do so. I think it would be almost impossible to defend the bible as inerrant, having said that I can’t agree at this time that it’s flawed to such levels, that one feels the need to explain away huge parts that don’t fit with their understanding of Gods ways. It seems pretty bias to except many bad parts are errant whilst excepting the better parts as God approved.

We agree! As I said, his reading requires his radically Christ centered/cruciform hermeneutic,
and you & I agree its inconsistent with accepting a conservative or inerrant view of the canon.

Here’s Boyd’s view of the cross:

Along the same line, in the Christus Victor view, Jesus was afflicted by the Father not in the sense that the Father’s rage burned directly towards His Son, but in the sense that God allowed evil agents to have their way with Him for a greater good. This is how God’s wrath was usually expressed towards Israel In the Old Testament (Judges 2:11-19; Isaiah 10:5-6) It’s just that with Jesus, the greater good was not to teach Jesus obedience, as it usually was with Israel in the Old Testament. Instead, God the Son, bore the Father’s wrath, expressed through the powers, for the greater good of demonstrating God’s righteousness against the powers and sin (Romans 3:25) while defeating the powers and setting humans free from their oppression.

This fits with Job when God allows Satan to destroy Jobs family yet Job says the Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. God’s wrath in the Bible and nature is when He allows evil to destroy. He doesn’t directly cause it. He’s non-violent. Yet the Bible says it’s His wrath only in the sense that He permits it. The way He hardens a heart is by permitting it. Not directly causing it. The violence of nature is caused by the demonic forces. Satan came to kill steal kill and destroy. Yet the Bible will speak of this as God’s wrath at times.

We know that the words of Jesus, the Son of God were inerrant. His words were recorded by Luke in his gospel, where he wrote that the Most High God is kind to both ungrateful people and to evil people.
As Christians, can we not accept the words of the One in whom we profess to trust and obey?
(Luke 6:35)

So why not choose to believe the words of our Saviour rather than the words of Moses or the words of Revelation of which we do not know the author, and are all about a vision that somebody whose name was “John”?. Tradition says the author was the apostle John. But have you noticed that the author refers to himself as “John” four times, whereas the apostle John did not identify himself as “John” even once in his gospel or in 1 John. Not does John the elder (who may not have been the apostle) call himself “John” in 2 and 3 John.

Whether Revelation was to be included in the “canon” of Scripture, was under much dispute in the early years of Christianity.

As for the Old Testament, can you believe that God killed a man for steadying the ark of the Covenant, when the oxen that were pulling the cart on which it sat, stumbled?

So again, concerning the character of God, I believe the words of Jesus rather than the writings of Moses, or the words of some guy who had a vision and whose name was “John”, and who recorded what he saw in that vision in the book we now know as “Revelation”.

hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh ~~ 1 Cor. 5:5

Christ publicly endorsed the things Moses wrote about him. So why don’t you believe what Christ says about Moses ? if you deem his words as inerrant.

Jesus’ statements that Moses’ writings point to him is not the same as saying that he endorsed everything in the OT. Indeed, in my papers on this site about the changes Jesus brought, I seek to show that Jesus directly called into question a great deal of what is in the Torah, and leaned more toward the prophets than the literal meaning of what is in the Law.

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Where did I say it was the same as
endorsing everything in the o/t ?

I assumed Paidion believes the things Christ endorsed about what Moses wrote about him. What do you see him disbelieving concerning Moses and this?

I don’t know what paidion actually believes
or disbelieves about Moses writings. The statement that he made, was concerning the character of God, and that Jesus [inerrant] words were to be believed rather than the writings of Moses, concerning Gods character. I was merely Pointing towards the fact that Christ upheld the integrity of Moses writings, buy saying “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” Therefore I find it strange that Moses writings are viewed as errant about the character of God but at the same time the inerrant words spoken by Christ, trusted Moses writings to uphold the truth about who he really was. Now seeing Christ represented Gods very character here on earth, would this round about thinking not have an impact upon the trustworthiness of Christ’s character ? Rightly or wrongly I see a can of worms.

I think what Jesus said, is more like, " If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me." It is possible to interpret that as Jesus asserting that Moses’ writings all had inerrant authority.

But as I argued above (and in the papers cited), Jesus’ view of the OT writings is actually that they point to him, and thus we can see and acknowledge that he directly challenged the literal validity of a great many of Moses’ words. Thus I do not conclude that Jesus justifies our modern concept of inerrancy.

Bob, I am not suggesting Moses writings were inerrant. The very fact Christ rectified Moses permitting of Divorce clearly shows he was in error. You seem to be broadening my point to that of including the whole of the o/t writings, when the issue in question is paidions understanding, that Christ’s words are inerrant about Gods character, therefore implying Moses understanding of Gods character must be errant, because they conflict… Christ’s wording “ if you believed Moses then you would believe me” to my understanding are simply bringing to light their lack of knowledge in understanding what Moses wrote concerning him/Jesus as their messiah. Therefore if Christ trusted the things Moses correctly wrote about him, why would someone who believes Christ’s words are inerrant, not also trust and believe Moses writings about Gods character? Christ came in his fathers character, and repeatedly upheld his Fathers coming judgment and destruction upon rebellious Israel, which would culminate in mass pain,torture and death. Did Christ really differ that greatly with Moses in the understanding of his father and Gods ways, enough to say his/ Moses writings were in error ? I’m not so sure about that.

I implied, yes, in arguing Jesus challenged many things Moses wrote about God’s ways. But you seem to have it both ways. Your first sentence affirms that of course Moses could be in error about the ways of God he recorded. Then you conclude by implying that you doubt we could “say Moses’ writings were in error” in regard to God and his ways? (Though I’m not seeing why Jesus’ radical claim that Moses’ words actually point toward him support that Moses’ understanding can’t be wrong about God’s ways.)

My impression is that the N.T. claim that all of God is most clearly revealed in the man Jesus and his ways, presents a quite different picture of God than Moses did. You seem not to dispute my contentions that Jesus could greatly dispute Moses’ writings and treat them as errant, but then conclude that these two could not significantly differ. It sounds like you agree Jesus and Moses could disagree on some things, but you feel there are other things where they could not differ. How do you tell which is which?

You say that you imply/argue that Jesus challenges many things Moses wrote about Gods ways. Your use of challenging many and not all his ways leaves you in the position you accuse me off [ie] wanting it both ways, unless of course I have mistaken your overall view of Moses, and you do believe him to be a complete fraud. My pointing to Christ’s highlighting of Mosses error, was simply to show their is no choice but to except Moses was in error on that given subject and yes maybe others. Would I conclude from that - all Moses spoke or taught was error ? My answer to that would be no, therefore leaving me and possibly you, without choice to have it both ways. Within this understanding, my concluding in my previous post to Moses writings not
being in error were related to the specifics
of paidions claim, that Moses writings on
Gods character concerning his allowance
of killings and o/t atrocities has to be
wrong, in the light of Christ’s words that paidion [chooses himself ] to prove otherwise, whilst disregarding all other evidence and context that suggests to the contrary. Yes, I disagree with that bias
outlook being a justifiable reason to condemn Moses writings as errant, on these specifics of Gods character, when Christ himself endorsed his fathers judgments and coming atrocities.

My only point here was - Why would Christ endorse the writings of Moses concerning
him, When that same person/Moses discredits his own father and Gods character with in those writings. It just seems completely nonsensical to me.

I think your forgetting that I am disputing paidions specific claims, and not your broadening claims that you seem to want to drag me into.

Correct, I have no choice but to except Christ disagreed with Moses. Unless I throw Moses entire works out, I also have no choice but to say there are many things they wouldn’t have disagreed on. You ask me how do I know what is right and what is wrong ? I d k, You tell me Bob, it’s pretty obvious you know more about Moses errant writings than I do. Apart from the obvious statements which Christ made [ie] about divorce, I don’t suppose their is a hard and fast way of being totally sure of what’s right and wrong. One can only build their bias on trying to understand the surrounding factors and evidence on the given subject in hand.

On (1). What is the “both ways” you perceive that I want? My view is that Jesus does not “recommend” or endorse everything Moses writes as authoritative, and thus that any of Moses’ views of God’s ways could be wrong and corrected by Jesus. So unlike you, I am not “unsure” that Moses’ writings contain error in regard to God and his ways. I’m convinced that they do!

On (2), the basic answer in a Christo-centric hermeneutic is that I affirm Moses is “right” whenever he agrees with Jesus, and “wrong” wherever they conflict. For only Jesus is the Word of God incarnate.

The same way you perceive that I have
it both ways [ie] Moses being both errant and inerrant.

Again Bob, that’s your overall view of Moses writings, but I was discussing the specifics of paidions view not your overall view.

How does agreeing, Moses was in error on unlawful divorce, fit your understanding of me being unsure ?

Bob we seem to be going around in circles. I think the best thing to do, is let me at some point read your papers, and then I can comment on your over all view of where you deem Moses to be in error. My point on this post since responding to paidion is, I see no justification, to deem Moses as being errant on the grounds he endorsed Gods o/t atrocities.