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Is God violent? Because that's what I've been told.
It's been couched under phrases like... God is holy and just. God cannot be in the presence of sin. God's ways are higher than our ways. And it's also been framed like this... We are desperately wicked. It's for the greater good. We are deserving of wrath. I can't stand all the violence in the Old Testament. Done in the name of God. Outright genocide of entire ethnic groups. Plagues that snuff out the lives of animals, children and the innocent. Earthquakes and floods and whales that swallow people whole. Done in the name of God. In the Old Testament alone... God killed (or sanctioned the killing of) nearly 2.5 million people (the population of Puerto Rico). What would happen if I said things like, "The Holocaust is justified because the Jews did not believe the right things." "Covid (and all its destruction) is an act of God." "The devastation in Syria and Turkey is God's judgment on evil." I hope I would be corrected, silenced, or thought crazy. Because down deep in our hearts, we know that violence is antithetical to love. A man who abuses his wife does NOT love her. Those who wage war do NOT love those who they are trying to conquer. When vitriolic and violent words spew from our mouths toward others, we are NOT loving. Yet somehow when it comes to ancient stories and their tie to a holy God, we throw out our inner knowing of what's right and wrong and how a God who IS LOVE does and should act. I can't defend violence in the name of God, no matter what phraseology it's expressed in, where it's written down or who wrote it. It's why I believe Jesus came. To liberate us from our false ideas about God. What God is like, a flipper of the tables of oppression and a healer of the broken-hearted. How God loves, as a tender and compassionate shepherd, a co-suffering Savior who cares for us all. What God does not do. Jesus never lays a hand on anyone. Is God violent? NO. Violence is selfish. Love is self-giving.
Violence dominates. Love serves. Violence takes what it wants by force. Love is gentle. And God's unchanging nature is LOVE. P.S. I'm a little worked up.
--Esther Joy Goetz (AKA @estherthedollymama)
This Week on the Podcast:
Dr. Eric Seibert, Old Testament scholar and professor, dad of tweens and teens, prolific author and Minecraft guru, (yes, you read that right) is our guest this week. Eric is passionate against churchce sanctioned violenebecause he is troubled by how much violence Christians condone and sometimes participate in. I do NOT believe this is what God intended," he says (with a little bit of umph in his voice). On this episode, we unpack why it's incredibly harmful to believe that God is a violent, but also supposedly loving God. Where does the notion come from? And why? Eric unpacks why violence is completely antithetical to love and has no part in the Christian faith. We also dive deep into the subject of Hell as eternal conscious torment and if and how Scripture approaches this subject and why the notion of hell contributes to a more controlling, violent parenting model vs. an un-controlling, self-giving model, perhaps even informing how we might discipline our children. We actually tackle the subject of spanking.
When we spoke with Eric, it felt warm and inviting, yet somehow, provocative and motivational. Eric embodies non-violence in his being, yet makes room for a gentle strength that calls us to think in a way perhaps unknown to us before. You can find Eric's books at his author page on Amazon here: Dr. Eric Seibert
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If Christians follow the Prince of Peace, why do they often behave so violently? What can be done to transform the church so that it looks more like Jesus?
Dr. Eric Seibert explores these questions in this important and timely study, Disarming the Church. He builds a biblical and practical case for living nonviolently in all areas of life and urges Christians to reexamine their most fundamental attitudes toward violence, warfare, and killing.
Through true stories and careful analysis, Seibert demonstrates that it is possible to resolve conflict, correct injustice, and stop oppression without resorting to violence. Many nonviolent alternatives are discussed throughout the book, alternatives that can be used in a wide range of situations, from dealing with an unwanted intruder at home to removing a dictator from power.
In a world filled with so much violence, hate, and fear, alternatives like these are desperately needed. This book offers hope that a better way is possible, one that has the potential to transform the church and change the world. So read on and join in!
As the sun sets, Little Hedgehog feels nervous. But Big Hedgehog reminds her baby of all the lovey, cozy experiences the dark brings—warm snuggles, nightlights, cuddles and kisses, and sweet memories of a happy day. As they settle into their den, Big Hedgehog soothes Little Hedgehog, reframing the dark and reminding her that “the dark is your friend!”
Written by the brilliant Brittany A. Meng, one of our former podcast guests, The Dark is your Friend is for little ones who love bedtime stories but who struggle when the lights go out.
This book is a perfect addition to your kid's bookshelf and one that you can trust will gently remind them that they don't have to be afraid of the dark. It's their friend after all.
Can't wait until Tuesday and need just a little snippet from our podcast episode. Here's something to whet your appetite and hold you over until then!!
One last thing. We want to remind you that we are so glad you are here. We wouldn't be the same without you. You will always find GRACE for where you've been and who you are now, and SPACE for who you are becoming and will be.
Carry on, our new-found friends. Welcome to the twisty-windy, full -of-adventure faith path that's laid out before us all. Love,
Lizz & Esther P.S. SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER HERE!