Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Morality of God in the Old Testament by GK Beale

The Morality of God in the Old TestamentThe Morality of God in the Old Testament by Gregory K Beale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another great book in a series that P&R and Westminster Press have teamed up to publish.  If this is not the best one, it is definitely right up there and a genuine 5 star book (especially when looking at it for what it is).

The question of God’s morality in light of certain events recorded throughout Scripture is one argument that will be cited over and over again by skeptics and unbelievers.  Beale looks at this topic, narrowing his focus on how to specifically defend the morality of God against accusations made based on this particular event.

“The purpose of this booklet is to discuss the problem of how God can be considered to be morally good, while at the same time he does things and commands people in the Old Testament to do things that do not appear to be good. One famous example is God’s command to israel to exterminate every man, woman, and child of the Canaanites (e.g., cf. Deut. 20:12–15 with 20:16–18).”

Beale presents the problem and takes the reader through a few possible defenses including : “The Divine Command to Kill All Women and Children Is Not Meant to Be Taken Literally” and  “Wartime Ethic Legitimately Different from Peacetime Ethic”, where it is argued that what is considered good moral behavior in war is sometimes different from that in peacetime.  Neither of these are convincing to Beale and he settles on a 5 fold approach to defend the morality of God as presented in Old Testament Scripture.

Beale makes a great case and explains it clearly and forcefully.  While he does not hold to the “not literal” argument, he gives plenty of space in the book to explain its merits and leaves the reader with a rather forceful argument for it as well.  Will this book settle in everyone’s hearts and minds the issue of certain Old Testament wrath passages or imprecatory Psalms coupled with God is love and a “love your neighbor” ethos that pervades the New Testament? Probably not.  But it is a great primer and a great place to go when faced with these passages and these concerns.  Beale gives the willing reader the ammunition to go and face Scripture on this issue rather than avoid it, which is a mighty task in its own right.  This book is well worth the money and the time.  Pick up and read!!

I received a review copy of this to provide an honest review.

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