God at war
* In their attempt to rehabilitate Israel's warrior-God ["When God Declares War," Oct. 28], Daniel Reid and Tremper Longman offer a curious apology: "the destruction of one's enemies for the sake of a deity was not an exclusively Israelite notion." In other words, Yahweh demanded human sacrifice, but so did the other deities.
This is theodicy—all the gods are doing it? This aspect of Israel's God: the rage, the caprice, the violence—in earlier years I defended it; in recent years I dismissed it. I now appropriate it in an ironic temper: as a rebuke to myself or to any person or cause that first deifies itself and then destroys its enemies in God's name. The authors' attempt to link Jesus' messianic mission, especially his crucifixion, to Israel's holy wars is preposterous. His death in fact repudiated that program, a program, which, we may recall, belonged not to Jesus but to Judas.
-Rev. Michael E. Anderson
Holy Nativity Episcopal Church
Clarendon Hills, Ill.
Provocative, profitable Bible study * I was delighted to read David Neff's account of the Genesis discussion project ["Bill Moyers's National Bible Study," Oct. 28]. This fall I am coteaching a course, "Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue," with a theology professor at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, a seminary decidedly more liberal than Bethel, an evangelical institution. Each week, 28 of us—half from each school—meet to discuss the nature of biblical authority, God, sin, salvation, and other themes (including ethical topics) central to Christian faith. As students and professors, we strive to understand and learn from one another, but we also freely disagree with and challenge one another. Both "sides" are finding the course ...1