A while back I did a post on Putin as something the New World Order did not expect to happen, effectively thwarting their plans of making Russia simply another cash-cow for the globalists. I’ve always wondered if I can apply that to religion, particularly Christian theology. I’m responding to the paradigm shift of the author of Giza Death Star. It’s not too hard to figure out of whom I speak, but I don’t feel right “calling him out” online for a number of reasons: it just ain’t friendly, for one; he is a noted scholar–if you have a D.Phil from Oxford you deserve respect; and, I still stand in awe of his ability to synthesize numerous strands of very difficult information.
He is the author of God, History, and Dialectic, arguably the most influential book and project I have ever experienced. His recent project, beginning with Giza Death Star and continuing through Grid of the Gods attempts to trace the aftermath of a great cosmic war. In short, he compares different origin accounts from different cultures and religions across the world, noting a number of “early apocalyptic” scenarios, which all sound the same.
As it stands that is fine and good. While I don’t accept Jim Marrs’ argument that we are the engineering by-product of ancient aliens as documented in Sumerian epics (although I do accept many of his conclusions), I must confess that the similarities across a wide geography and time-frame make a very strong case. I don’t know what to make of this case. I see no reason to suddenly think “The Genesis account,” and by extension Christian theology, is somehow false. Is the Genesis account dependent on earlier creation narratives? Probably, but does dependency = falsification? Hardly. But more on that later. At the same time, I don’t necessarily feel compelled to accept the Sumerian reading on face value. That will illustrate another problem.
Let’s see what we can make of his argument against Christian (textual) morality:
- Yahweh told Abraham to sacrifice his son (cf. the arguments originally brought forth by Friedrich Delitzsch). I’ll admit. Most of the justifications of this are weak, but I think there are responses. Ultimately, my response to this will be tied up with my response to the reading of texts.
- The Caananite Genocide; how does one justify the fact that Yahweh told the Israelites to kill everyone in Caanan? This leads to the conclusion that Yahweh is a bad guy.
- There are stupid Christians today. I agree with him on this. Not sure what it proves.
~1. I am tempted to let him have this point for several reasons. I’m not entirely sure of what I think on this passage. I know that theologians and philosophers have wrestled with it for centuries long before Delitzsch. Maybe they’ve given poor responses; many have (I think Kierkegaard is overrated as a philosopher). With regard to my own spirituality, I don’t feel threatened about one passage that I cannot understand. Imploding worldviews is a lot like destroying spiderwebs. You have to take out the heart of the web, which I don’t see this text as representative of.
~2. One has to ask several questions here: Were the Caananites nice people? What did Molech worship entail? Does that justify armed invasion? Maybe, maybe not. Another line of thought–and while this is speculation, I would hasten to add that much of his project, by his own admission, is speculation–is tracing the origin of the Anakim. If the Anakim, and Caananites in general, were descendants of fallen angels, that would make them a form of demonic offspring.
I have some more to add, but it also involves the reading of texts. One other thing to add: C. S. Lewis had a fairly liberal German view of the Old Testament, even noting how mean God sounded at times, yet Lewis didn’t seem bothered by the overall affect to his own Christian worldview.
~3. In listening to these radio interviews I get the impression he is lumping all Christians into the mold and representation of backwoods fundamentalists. or baptists. He would deny that, and charity demands I interpret him accordingly. Still, he is not making those distinctions when he criticizes “the religious people.” This, too, involves the reading of texts. Further, he notes that his reading poses challenges to the traditional three monotheistic religions, but he spends all of his time focusing these challenges to Christians.
I sometimes wonder how hard-core ancient faith radio really is (yes, the programs are awesome), but surely these people aren’t mindlessly reading only their bibles.
As it stands, he originally said he wants Christians to think good and hard about these issues. Great. I am actually excited about it. I agree with hip readings about ancient wars and space programs, but when I hear him call my Father a “murderer,” it’s hard for me to continue charitably (cf., the latest episode on Social Engineering).
Is one warranted in reading ALL texts in a strict, literal fashion? For whatever their (often violent) disagreements, few major adherents of the three monotheisms read the texts in a 1:1 correspondence. Now, if he wants his reading to function simply as a reductio against the wackiness of Fundamentalist hermeneutics, while still exploring the possibilities of a cosmic war hypothesis, then I think that is worthwhile.
Another thought: is this the way the Christian church has historically read the Bible? He might object that is special pleading and not taking the text at its face-value. (But he’s also noted that it is difficult to explain the difference between allegory and typology; cf “Introduction,” Disputation with Pyrrhus). Maybe. While there is probably more to be said on hermeneutics, traditioned communities have the right to read their texts–which they formed and passed down–the way they want to read them.
Let’s Pretend We are Liberal
Here is where it gets interesting. In GHD the author gives probably the most incredible refutation of liberal higher criticism ever accomplished. He exposes the gnostic presuppositions of the Documentary Hypothesis. But even if one wanted to go the liberal route, one could say, “Yeah, it seems from that account Yahweh did some unsavory things, but one has to consider the contrasting Priestly, Jahwist, Deuteronomist, and Elohist strands throughout the Old Testament.”
Granted, that is a high price to pay, and one will lose inerrancy in the process, but if he thinks he has offered a painful moral dilemma to traditional readings, then these JEDP readings blunt that charge (although at a high price).
What if we cannot accept the German liberals’ reading of the Old Testament? Is there still a truth behind their claim, and if so, can that truth respond to the above criticisms? I think—maybe. Walter Brueggemann has done a fantastic job in showing that the Old Testament is full of hard edges. He has suggested ways to read the Old Testament and take its claims seriously, while at the same time . While avoiding many of Lindbeck’s conclusions, Brueggemann notes that the Old Testament is a communal book, shaped within–and sometimes a response to–the community’s life and practice.
One word about the sacrifices: he makes an interesting argument, beginning in Babylon’s Banksters, that this view of “god” which demands sacrifices presupposes a system where the worshipper is already “in debt.” (This scores huge points against many models of Western theology). Therefore, sacrifical religions are debt-based religions. Therefore, big problems for Judaism and Christianity. Okay:
- One can see in the Old Testament that the Temple is not the ideal for worshipping God. God didn’t seem too thrilled about the idea before Solomon, and afterwards the Temple came for condemnation and not praise in the Prophets. Christ’s own words foretelling his identification with, and subsequent marginalization of the Temple add to this counter-reading.
- Is he making a distinction between Wesern-based soteriology and an Eastern-based soteriology. I know he is cognizant of such a distinction, yet he does not mention it.
- “For you do not desire sacrifice, else I would give it. You are not pleased with burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite spirit. These, O God, you will not despise.” To which he might reply, “The Old Testament is changing the rules as it is going along.” But I point above to the hard edges of the Old Testament.
My goal here was not to powerfully refute his arguments, but actually to take him/them seriously: while the alternative research community will never amount to much–and he is the most sane and serious scholar, with a few exceptions like Hoagland–he has raised some questions. Fun questions.