©2023 by Vernon Miles Kerr and VernonMilesKerr.com
Well, if you are “God-fearing,” then you, like multiple millions before you, have simply accepted a false vision of God, concocted by people four or five millennia ago in order to control a very large — and growing-larger, agricultural, war-making, nation of stubborn, rebelious people. This may seem like an unkind characterization of the “People of Israel” from Exodus, but it is taken directly from its pages, and supported by other frank characterizations in various other Bible chapters.
This morning, I got the subject for this essay, like so many of my other ones, from my morning prayers. Then, when I went to the Internet looking for a picture of an “Angry God,” I came across this old painting used in an article in the New Zealand Herald, entitled “Fear of God: It’s what makes us nicer.” by Jamie Morton. Not only was the picture a perfect image to head this piece, the point of the article winds up being that studies have actually shown the article’s title to be true. (Insert emoji with rolling eyes)
Rule by fear is a temporary patch. It works only while the policeman (teacher, parent, sergeant, pastor, etc.) is looking. In dictatorships and abusive monarchies, it only works until assassination or regicide takes care of the problem. I guess the only thing that makes the Biblical “fear of God” work better is that the God described therein is omniscieint — and always, “looking.”
Be that as it may, the fact that the “fear of God” still works, after all these thousands of years is an attestation, not to the “divine origin” of scripture, but more like, the cleverness of its human authors. If you peruse my other essays here, under the category of “Theology” you’ll find that I often say, “Man wasn’t created in God’s image, the Hebrews created God in Man’s image.” This “God,” has all the emotions that evolutions’s lizard-brain gave us, in order to ensure our survival on a physical plane. With all His omniscience, omipotence, and omnipresence, why would God need anger? Why would an emotionally stable, eternally old and wise being need anger? The omni-prefixed descriptions belie the assumption that He does need anger.
How many times I’ve heard: (usually in a rural Oklahoma accent) “He’s a Gawd-fearin’ mayen.” As if that’s a sterling quality and constitutes some kind of three-word résumé that assures the listener of safe-dealing with the subject-person. Maybe that negative example of a righteous, but angry God is what justifies the petty, red-faced, nostrils-flairing, “righteous indignation,” I’ve experienced in my own extended family, who are of that same “demographic” (insert another emoji with rolling eyes.)
So, what’s the problem with this, if it works, if it gets people to behave themselves? The problem is how can you have a freindship, and a daily prayer-relationship with an all powerful being who has anger-management problems Himself? Yes, I know, the appending of Jesus onto the Biblical narrative was supposed to create a kinder and gentler relationship with God, but then, there’s that incident where even Jesus blew his top when he drove the money changers out of a public area, “the outermost court, the Court of the Gentiles, which was where the buying and selling of animals took place. “ [Wikipedia] The virtual image depicted is of an angry Jesus with a flail, going at it, “flailing away,” when he got upset with an ages-long cultural practice, outside (not inside) the Temple.
If you, the reader, want to accept the idea of an often angry God, who lurks behind your every move and moral decision, ready to spank you with some financial or health catastrophe — or worse: punishment in an altenate-afterlife, go ahead. But you don’t need to accept it. When you come to the realization that the Bible, while containing much human-wisdom, and practical advice, is at best, an old mythology, created by ancients as a method of controlling unruly humans, you’ll be able to develop a closer relationship with the real God. That God is mtivated by one emotion only: Love. Access is open to all who call out sincerely. Millions of people, outside our Western European /Middle Eastern religious-tradition already know this. The indigenous of the New World knew it, before Europeans invaded. Some indigenous still know it.
The real God has always been available without the need for intercessors, just for the asking.