We have previously reviewed the first four volumes of IVP’s Ancient Christian Doctrine series (see the reviews here). This series is a commentary on the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed drawn from the writings of the patristic period of church history (AD 95-750).
“you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.” (Deut. 1:31)
Richard Dawkins, the most prominent apologist of atheism in the world today has said,
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
Dawkins isn’t the first to say such things about God, just the most adamant. He is above all a propagandist, with a deep-seated antipathy to the Christian faith. For a Christian—even the most brilliant one—to reason with Dawkins on these points would be like two generals trying to parley before a battle, when one of them has dedicated his life to destroying the other.
As a former atheist recently said to me, “I read Dawkins’s God Delusion, and concluded that if arguments so weak, so circular, given by a man who obviously has a serious problem with God—if this is the best atheism has to offer, then God must really exist.” She later became a Christian. She admits though, that she still has her problems with the Old Testament. So do many Christians. At times they can be nearly as critical of God as Dawkins is.
After all, isn’t the God of the Old Testament the same one Who:
Casting Crowns popularized a song titled, “In Me.” Some of the lyrics follow:
How refreshing to know You don’t need me.
How amazing to find that You want me.
So I’ll stand on Your truth, and I’ll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory, by the power of Christ in me.
I was impressed at the depth of these lyrics. They serve as a jumping board for my topic: He is God and we are not. Hopefully, these thoughts will serve as a tonic to remedy a popular—but weakened—view of God.
The first principle suggested by the song is that God does not need us, but we need Him. The Scriptures are clear on this:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (ESV, Acts 17:24-25)
The last question I’d have to ask is if worship music criticism does not point to a deeper issue and that of being critical in general. While I can’t speak for individual motives behind each rendering of criticism, I have found with my own self it stems from a prideful arrogance that somehow my standard should set the precedent for how we worship God.