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 Issue
Subscriber Access Only Multi-Faith Matters
Interfaith meetings remind us of the Good News.
RecommendedThe Seven Levels of Lying
Subscriber Access Only The Seven Levels of Lying
We lie more than we think. And that's part of the problem.
TrendingBen-Hur
Ben-Hur
A new twist on the tale of the Christ.
Editor's PickBefore Flooding Louisiana With 'Help,' Read This
Before Flooding Louisiana With 'Help,' Read This
Suggestions that will help you help without causing unintentional harm.
Christianity Today
A Beautiful Anger
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2011

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