Guest / Limited Access /
A Beautiful Anger
Jeff Smith

My thoughtful collegiate daughter recently asked me a good question that threw me into a quandary. She pointed to several passages in the Pentateuch and asked, "Should a God who commands his people to wage war be worshiped?" I dared not treat the subject lightly. ("You mean the God who empowers a bunch of cruelly oppressed bricklayers being led by a stuttering geezer to fulfill their destiny against all odds? It could be a movie!") I realized she was sincerely troubled by the violence.

The truth is, so am I. Until she asked her question, I had successfully avoided it. But it is one thing to stuff your own nagging doubts in a dark corner. It is quite another to tell the searching heart of your child to be quiet and go away. Instead, I told her I would pray, study, and write to her with my thoughts.

Thus, for several months I have been seriously grappling with the terrifying aspects of God's nature. For many, the inscrutable temperament of God is a stumbling block to belief. They choose the "safer" scenario of a universe without God over one in which our lives hang on the mercy of an infinitely powerful force we can't fully understand, much less control. But I would rather be boldly inquisitive than safe. Better to probe threatening territory than to draw back in apprehension, hoping someone else will find a solution for my dilemma.

Consider the difference between the swineherds of Gerasa (Luke 8:26-39) and the storm-beaten disciples on the sea (Mark 4:35-41). Both groups witnessed compelling demonstrations that Jesus could kill or save by his word alone. Yet only the disciples had the courage to ask, hearts pounding, armpits sweaty, "What manner of man is this?" (Mark ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueEvangelism as Sacrament
Subscriber Access Only Evangelism as Sacrament
Velcroed to a high-felt need: Jerry Root says evangelism is seeing how God is already working in someone's life.
Recommended
Subscriber Access Only
Yes to Yoga
Can a Christian breathe air that has been offered to idols?
TrendingMy Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
My Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
A four-hour visit to the massive replica of Noah's boat left me with a flood of questions.
Editor's PickWhy Christians Should End Their Search for 'Relevance'
Why Christians Should End Their Search for 'Relevance'
In a culture hell-bent on undermining traditional institutions, including the church, Christian witness will look neither conservative nor liberal but resilient.
Christianity Today
A Beautiful Anger
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.