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God of Love, God of War, locating the meme - Input Junkie
March 12th, 2014
12:08 pm


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God of Love, God of War, locating the meme
When I started getting reactions to the effect that people had never heard Christians claim that they have a God of Love who's an improvement on the earlier version, I wondered if I'd been hallucinating-- quite an unnerving thought, since I know I forget a fair amount, but I don't think of myself as especially much making things up.

However, I mentioned this discussion to another friend, who came close to wondering what was wrong with you guys that you hadn't noticed something so obvious. Some questioning established that he's heard it a lot from bible belt Protestants, and he thinks it's been fading in the past decade.

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[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2014 04:52 am (UTC)
I've been trying to recall because I know I ran across this idea (God of Love vs God of War) at some point. It would have to be 1976-1980 when I attended a Christian high school. The only flaw is that I remember it as "God of Love" vs "God of Law". Many of the people at this school were what would now be identified as fundamentalist Protestants (except that they were generally not politically active because they felt politics was an arena they should stay out of to maintain their religious "purity").

The idea wasn't, IIRC, promulgated by teachers in class. It was more that Christians were blessed that God no longer regarded eating cheeseburgers or pepperoni pizza as a sin. How a Christian related to God, other people and oneself were where sin could occur. Sin didn't occur because you accidentally ate meat & dairy at the same meal. I'm harping on dietary law because that's what I remember as being the example. The conversations typically compared "serious" wrong doing (rape, murder) which both religiously observant Christians & Jews agree are sinful with not mixing wool & linen in a garment or dairy & meat in a meal and concluded being free of the "less important" rules was a good thing.</p>

Please understand I'm not actually endorsing the idea that the "God of Love" is better than the "God of Law" or that those descriptors are good ones. Also I'm trying to remember stuff from around 1978, so it's a little hazy. I vaguely remember that the idea that Law existed in the first place to hammer home that people have a sinful nature and need to be saved through Jesus, that no one can be saved through their own efforts to obey & love God.

[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2014 05:41 am (UTC)
Thanks for helping me locate the meme. If you don't mind, where was your high school?

I think you're right about the "God of Law" phrasing-- I've run into a consensus that it wasn't "God of War".

I understand that you're not endorsing the idea. As for the idea that complex laws were needed to convince people of original sin and prepare them for Jesus, all I can say is "Wow! That certainly isn't how Jews see Judaism!"
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2014 07:39 pm (UTC)
A concept that I ran into many years ago in an annotated King James Bible is related, and more consistent with Evangelical Christianity than the two-God concept. I don't know if there's a similar idea in Judaism.

The idea is that humanity has had a series of covenants with God. The first was Adam's; after the Flood there was Noah's covenant, later on Abraham's, and finally Jesus's. I think some others were listed, though I can't remember them. Adam may have had one covenant for Eden and another afterwards. The idea wasn't that God had changed, but that the terms on which he dealt with mankind sometimes did. This idea has some support in the epistles of Paul, who contrasted living under the Law and living under Grace, and went through some interesting verbal gymnastics to convince his readers that Grace didn't mean they could just do anything they wanted. I don't recall whether he actually put it in terms of a covenant.
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2014 11:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah I remember the series of covenants too. This one seemed a little more sensible.
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2014 11:17 pm (UTC)
I went to high school in Washington (the state). As for the Law serving to convince people of original sin, it wasn't so much that as to convince people of the impossibility of living a sinless life. It can't be done. Salvation comes from Grace not Works.
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC)
My parents were Lutherans who grew up in a tiny Nebraska town; I went to church and Sunday school every week until my teens, sang in the choir, took Confirmation: I never heard even a suggestion of such a thing.

The viewpoint was that the laws of Judaism were made for a specific time and place, viz. ancient Judaea, and as such, were not necessarily appropriate for others. Jesus said it was the spirit of the Law that counted, not the letter of it: if your ox falls down a pit on the Sabbath, you pull him out. A person is defiled by what comes out of his mouth, not by what goes into it; the foreigner is your neighbor, the fallen woman is your sister, and those who strut their righteousness "have their reward" already.

It was not that God's plan or nature had changed, but that mankind's understanding of it had changed over the centuries between Abraham and Jesus, and that during the Roman occupation the legalistic Philistine establishment was using 'the letter of the Law' as a tool of oppression and self-aggrandizement, which Jesus denounced. (This is me not getting off on a rant about Saul of Tarsus: grrr.)

Not everything in the Bible was considered to be The Word of God. The Prophets only reported what God said to them. The Apostles only reported what Jesus said. Most of the Bible is historical, instructional, administrative and/or archival (such as the poetry of kings) and has little or nothing to do with God per se.

There is a great deal of 'class distinction' in the different branches of American Protestantism, from the Unitarians and Episcopalians at the top to the snake-handlers at the bottom. The views of the less-educated classes are often presented as if they were characteristic of Christianity in general, but they're really not. Hopefuly 20th-century Bible Belt fundamentalism is beginning to fade away, but those who cling to it aren't going out without a fuss, so they make a lot more noise than the more sophisticated mainstream.
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