God is not a Jerk

That’s the conclusion Fred Clark draws in a recent post. Here’s the conclusion:

God is not a jerk. God does not want you to be a jerk. So if you ever feel like God’s will, or God’s commands, or God’s rules are compelling you to act like a jerk — to betray your conscience, to be unloving, unjust, unkind, unfair — then that’s not God.

Click through to read the whole thing.

  • Jack Collins

    The rest, as Hillel put it, is just commentary.

  • T. Webb

    Dr. McGrath, I’m confused. You’ve been clear in the past that we can’t say anything about the god; because of the equivocal nature of human language, anything that we say about the god is idolatry. Thus I think you’d disagree with the statement you posted. Or do I misunderstand you? Or do you post it more as sarcasm or making fun of jerks? Please clarify. Thanks!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I actually was tempted to add my own comment beneath the quote, asking whether what Fred Clark wrote is true, and if so, is that because God is a kindly domesticated personal being, or because God is “beyond jerkdom.” Well done noticing this, as I hoped it was something that might come up in the comments!

  • Herro

    Like Webb, I think it’s hard to understand how these people think they can claim to know that this spirit being they believe isn’t “a jerk”.

    If they’re some kind of theists, it seems more rational to believe that he’s a “jerk”. Didn’t god create earthquakes and pathogens? Sounds like a “jerk” to me.

    And even if you look at the meek and mild Jesus, he seems to have preached about god burning cities and throwing them into hell. Sounds like a “jerk” to me. Didn’t Jesus make the Christian god sound like a jerk?

    It sounds to me like liberal/progressive Christians are just creating a god in their own image.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      That may be what is going on in some instances. But many liberals and progressives are either thinking of God in mystical and/or panentheistic terms, and so any such language is metaphorical; or they are using “God” as a symbol for that which is transcendent, including our most transcendent ideals. In the latter case, having God be depicted as one who calls upon others to transcend their narrowness and embrace a wider vision of reality and those whom they are inclined to hate is precisely what one would expect.

      • Herro

        Even if they are thinking of “god” in some “mystical” or “panentheistic” way, it’s still not clear how the heck he knows that this “god” wants people not to be jerks.

        And if he’s just talking about his “most transcendental ideals”, what the heck is he saying? “According to my ideals, you shouldn’t be a jerk!”?

        I bet he’s just thinking of this “God” as a person that has preferences. If not, he’s at least being very obscure, since the overwhelming majority of Christians (or baptist, which he calls himself) consider “God” to be a person.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          “God” has meant and continues to mean a lot of different things to different people, but there is a long heritage of using the term to denote the ultimate, and some of us are not willing to simply allow others to have uncontested possession of the term as though it can only refer to their anthropomorphic conception.

  • gamgokt

    the term ‘jerk’ is too subjective to be of any real value here and of course, it is used as a thinly disguised attack upon those who believe the Bible and reject false teaching and teachers.

    those who support same-sex marriage do so in disobedience as God said not to call evil good or good evil. it is not about equality at all but about legitimizing sin. people who oppose those issues that false teachers and false christians like to support are not being jerks but telling the rest of the world what is the right way to go.

    just because it goes against what you want doesn’t make them the jerks, the jerks are those who thumb their nose up at the truth and mock those who follow it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      It is not a thinly disguised attack on “those who believe the Bible and reject false teaching.” It is a blatant attack on those who have never grasped the teaching of Jesus and thus think that their believing in the Bible is what he taught, while they ignore the approach to Scripture that Jesus himself taught.

      • gamgokt

        The problem for you is that no ancient ms. exists that attests to your point of view unless it is from an ancient cultic group. You remind me of Marcion who also loved to change the Bible to fit his beliefs.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          You think that because you have not understood the Bible, and/or my point of view.

          • gamgokt

            Pulling out the old ‘you do not understand…’ argument, typical. Actually I do understand and yo still haven’t produced any ancient documents to support your point of view.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Why would I be looking for ancient documents to support a view that takes into account things we’ve learned since any ancient document was written?

              • gamgokt

                Because you need a historical foundation for your ideas. You do not have one but creationists and Bible believers do have it. We have the rock and all you have is sand.

                You have nothing to turn to to show that you are correct, Secular science can’t do it, nor can your theories because we can all see what the Bible says and compare notes. we can also turn to the historical record to see that you have nothing to build upon while bible believers do. We have the church fathers, the disciples, the Bible, Jesus but you have secular science–you lose.

                You turn to secular people for your ideas and that is against God’s word which puts you in a bad position.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  You once again illustrate that, although you praise the Bible, you do not understand it. Building on rock rather than sand is an image used at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel to highlight the need to put Jesus’ teaching into practice. By turning the message into an argument for Enlightenment-style foundationalism as your approach to knowledge, with the Bible as the foundation, you are using Biblical-sounding language to make a different point than the Bible makes. And then you have the audacity to accuse others of undermining God’s Word!

                  • gamgokt

                    I am not going to be distracted by your false arguments because it isn’t worth it. What you have shown is that you have no foundation for your beliefs. It allows you to make anything up as you go and use anything you want to bolster your ideas.

                    You destroy the Bible in order to pursue what you desire and that makes you a jerk not God.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Anyone can leave a discussion because they say “it isn’t worth it” and call the person they are talking to a jerk. It does not typically coincide with that person having a persuasive position for which they are capable of providing a cogent argument.

                    • gamgokt

                      I think you need to reread what I wrote. You accused me of doing things I did not and do not do you have no moral right to be indignant.

                      God stated simply what he did at creation, if you do not accept or believe that then that is up to you but don’t go around telling others who do that they do not understand the Bible. it is you with the problem not them.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      You seem to be either confusing the Bible with God, or deifying the Bible’s authors. Or were you referring not to what one finds Biblical authors to have written about creation, but about something you think God told you personally?

                    • gamgokt

                      That is where you are mistaken, believing God’s word is not deifying its human authors nor confusing the Bible with God. It is believing God’s word. You do not believe God’s word, I do. It is that simple.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      No, you are making the words of human beings into the Word of God, and in the process showing that you do not even accept them, whether they be human or divine, since they do not identify the Word of God as a compilation that they would one day be part of, but they do identify the Word of God as responsible for the creation of the cosmos, the evidence from which you deny.

                      How long will you persist in this charade of pretending that you are a Christian, rather than an idolatrous worshipper of your own authority, for which you cherry-pick verses from ancient authors in order to make your own views appear to the gullible to be God’s views?


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