Two excerpts from a post that really stood out to me this week by Rachel Held Evans.
Recently I spoke to a group of youth about doubt. In the presentation, I mentioned that upon reading the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho for myself, I realized it was a story about genocide, with God commanding Joshua to kill every man, woman, and child in the city for the sole purpose of acquiring land. I explained that this seemed contrary to what Jesus taught about loving our enemies.
Afterwards, a youth leader informed me that when it came to Joshua and Jericho, I had nothing to worry about…and had no business getting his students worried either.
“I don’t know why you had to bring up the Jericho thing,” he said.
“Doesn’t that story bother you?” I asked. “Don’t you find the slaughter of men, women, and children horrific?”
“Not if it’s in the Bible.”
“Genocide doesn’t bother you if it’s in the Bible?”
He crossed his arms and a self-satisfied smile spread across his face. He was proud of his detachment, I realized. He seemed to think it represented some kind of spiritual strength.
“But genocide always bothers me,” I finally said, “especially when it’s in the Bible. And I get the idea that maybe it’s supposed to. I get the idea that maybe God created me to be bothered by evil like that, even when it’s said to have been orchestrated by God.”
What makes the Church any different from a cult if it demands we sacrifice our conscience in exchange for unquestioned allegiance to authority? What sort of God would call himself love and then ask that I betray everything I know in my bones to be love in order to worship him? Did following Jesus mean becoming some shadow of myself, drained of empathy and compassion and revulsion to injustice?
Perhaps in reaction to the “scandal of the evangelical mind,” evangelicalism of late has developed a general distrust of emotion when it comes to theology. So long as an idea seems logical, so long as it fits consistently with the favored theological paradigm, it seems to matter not whether it is morally reprehensible at an intuitive level. I suspect this is why this new breed of rigid Calvinism that follows the “five points” to their most logical conclusion, without regard to the moral implications of them, has flourished in the past twenty years. (I heard a theology professor explain the other day that he had no problem whatsoever with God orchestrating evil acts to accomplish God’s will, for that is what is required for God to be fully sovereign! When asked if this does not make God something of a monster, he responded that it didn’t matter; God is God—end of story.) And I suspect this explains why, in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, so many evangelical leaders responded like Job’s friends, eager to offer theological explanations for what happened instead of simply sitting down in the ashes and weeping with their brothers and sisters.
You may not agree with everything Rachel has to say in this post, but there are some powerful things being said here. Definitely worth a read and worth carefully considering.