What Is the Old Testament's Theme?


Do you remember Plato's dialogue Euthyphro? In this short story Socrates asks Euthyphro this innocent question: Is something good bec...

Do you remember Plato's dialogue Euthyphro? In this short story Socrates asks Euthyphro this innocent question: Is something good because God says it is good? Or do good things have "goodness" independent of God? Is killing wrong independently of God, or is killing wrong only if God says it is wrong? Alternatively, if God tells you to kill everyone in a town, would killing the men, women and children in that town be good?

A few more questions just to drive home the point. Is lying wrong because lying hurts people, or is lying wrong only because God said not to do it? For that matter, is hurting people wrong because hurting other people is wrong independently of God, or is it wrong only because God says not to? If God said to go hurt people, would that be okay? Would it then be moral and ethical? If God told you that it was okay to rape and kill anyone you wanted to, would rape and murder be a moral thing for you to do? Or perhaps, those things would be wrong even if God told you to do them. Would rape and murder be wrong even if God did not exist? Or is it God that makes rape and murder wrong?

I think the Old Testament is clear on these matters, although you might have to stand back to see that clarity. According to the Old Testament, something is wrong not because of any wrongness it might have independent of God, but because God says it is wrong. Another way to say this is that something is good if God says it is, no matter what it is, even rape, even murder. God can do whatever he wants and it becomes moral because God does it or commands it.

In the very first story of Bible, God sets Adam and Eve up for failure. Is this good? It is, according to the Bible, because God is the one who does it. A good contrast is that between Saul and David. Saul is not that bad a guy. He is certainly no worse than David; he might actually be a better person. Yet, God loves David, not Saul. Another example is the contrast between the people of Israel and the peoples who surround them. When Israel goes around killing everyone in a village that is okay, but when other peoples do the same thing it is wrong. Israel can kill because God told them to, but God did not tell the other peoples they could kill, so for them to do that is wrong.

The big theme of the Bible's Old Testament is this: God can do whatever he wants, and because he wants something, it is okay; and it does not matter if we approve or not.

So, if you thought God was telling you to go rape and murder your neighbor, would you do it? Or like Mark Twains's Huckleberry Finn, would you choose to go to hell?

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Consider This:
All sects are different, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God.

Voltaire (1694 - 1778)



The Evolving Monkey : What Is the Old Testament's Theme?
What Is the Old Testament's Theme?
The Evolving Monkey
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