Copan takes as his starting point the new atheists with their trumped up charges against the morality of the Judeo-Christian God. These vocal atheists (Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris), both in writing and public debate, interpret the biblical God as a promotor of immoral acts, such as genocide, slavery, murder, rape, and … The monster is Victor Frankenstein’s creation, assembled from old body parts and strange chemicals, animated by a mysterious spark. Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster? Then in part 2 I’ll outline some examples of this syndrome and close with some final conclusions. Copan argues that God is not arrogant for demanding worship (chapter 3), and that jealousy is appropriate for a divine being (chapter 4). From there Copan turns to address a number of topics including the treatment of slaves and women. He is also a professor in Palm Beach Atlantic University. For those who are willing to approach the text sympathetically, Copan’s treatment of these thorny issues is richly rewarding. Wright of Paul Copan's Is God a Moral Monster? In this book Copan squarely faces the most difficult challenges of Old Testament ethics and demonstrates that God is not a moral monster. is an immensely valuable resource for anyone interested in Old Testament ethics or for those who seek informed responses to the new atheists’ objections concerning the topic. Part 3 is by far the largest section in the book as it spans chapters 6-18. Perhaps most significantly this section takes on God’s demand to sacrifice Isaac (chapter 5). Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Baker, 2011). (For a brilliant and inspiring exposition of this point, see Jonathan Edwards’ essay “The End for Which God Created the World.”). Copan, Paul Is God a Moral Monster? In Is God a Moral Monster?, Paul Copan describes how wonderful and loving God is while fighting off the accusations of God being a monster by the New Atheists using the Old Testament. Copan begins by attempting to make sense of the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. He describes his flight from Victor’s apartment into the wilderness and his gradual acclimation to the world through his discovery of … He does make this general point at times, as when he says, “For anyone who takes the Bible seriously, [the] Yahweh-war texts will certainly prove troubling” (188). I was thrilled, therefore, to hear of Paul Copan’s latest offering, Is God a Moral Monster? My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. Richard Dawkins infamously sums up these complaints and more in The God Delusion when he calls God “a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”. In this book, Copan interacts with the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris in a gracious but firm way, seeking to put the record straight about the God of the Old Testament. When the Israelites disobeyed God and sacrificed their sons and daughters, the Bible says they sacrificed them to demons (Psalm 106:37). He enters life eight feet tall and enormously strong but with the mind of a … The book is good enough that I am leaning toward including it in the future as one of the four textbooks in the seminary apologetics course I teach (and that, dear reader, is high praise indeed). Copan is a distinguished evangelical apologist who received his PhD from Marquette University. 55:8). We live in a time that sees death as the ultimate evil. is a great example of one stop shopping: get all your major OT apologetic problems addressed in one place. Paul Copan’s book, Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God, is the best apologia I have read for the disturbing actions and characteristics of the God of the Bible.I had read a lot on this subject and did not expect to find anything new, but I was surprised to find exactly that. Finally in Part 4 Copan goes on the offensive, arguing for the necessity of God for objective morality (chapter 19) and defending the centrality of Jesus as God’s final word in Christian revelation (chapter 20). A disgusting display of special pleading whose horrible moral impact the author can't possibly have thought through to its logical conclusion. Moral monster. Making Sense of the Old Testament God. The division of parts is somewhat arbitrary but is borne out of necessity to spare the unsuspecting reader from an unduly long and ponderous blog post. God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. How are This review should be read as a supplement to Copan’s book. In most cases that works fine. And if you’re not willing to go that far then, to switch back to the earlier analogy, at least say what the press secretary cannot: “I think the standard evangelical take is weak on this point. "Paul Copan has written a most powerful and cogent defense of the character of God in the Old Testament in the face of vicious attacks by the New Atheists claiming that the Old Testament God is nothing less than a 'moral monster.' One major point made by Copan is the question of how truly loving or terrible God is. In particular, as Copan wisely notes, “We live in a time when we’re very alert to racial discrimination and intolerance, but we aren’t as sensitized to sexual sin as past generations were. Summary Apologist Paul Copan takes on some of the most vexing accusations of our time, including that God is arrogant and jealous, punishes people too harshly, is guilty of ethnic cleansing, oppresses women, and endorses slavery. Here is a brief summary of some issues Copan addresses and how he responds to each: Copan offers a variety of observations intended to either diminish or eliminate our moral qualms with God’s commands and moral regulations in the Old Testament. Depending on the reader, these will be more or less convincing. Search Search in two parts. My central problem with Is God a Moral Monster? passages. Is God a Moral Monster? In the second part of the review I’ll provide some concrete examples of the press secretary syndrome. Both claims are contrary to reason and evidence, as well as the biblical understanding of God’s nature. The primary mode of attack is to use the Old Testament (“OT”) stories to accuse God of being irrational and immoral. Filed Under: The Tentative Apologist Tagged With: Is God a Moral Monster?, new atheism, Old Testament ethics, Paul Copan, Copyright © 2021 • Randal Rauser • A Steady Site. Of course one could still object that it is wrong for God to ask such an extraordinary thing of Abraham, even if it is just a test. Okay, enough syncophantic, blurbable adulation. Home of progressively evangelical, generously orthodox, rigorously analytic, revolutionary Christian thinking (that's what I'm aiming for anyway). It is the exact opposite of morality; it's arguing why you don't need to use your own moral compass if God tells you not to, even to the point of murder. Is God a Moral Monster? Scripture’s moral “ideal” when it comes to all human relations, as Copan notes, is found in Genesis 1:26-27, which affirms humans as divine image-bearers who should work together in harmony. My criticisms of the book are minor. The same may apply to our thoughts about what God should or shouldn’t have done in Canaan” (192). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011. Moreover, it remains within the divine prerogative to take an innocent life, or demand the taking of one, test or not. He not only presents helpful rejoinders to the new atheists’ objections but also provides an astute analysis of Old Testament ethics that demonstrates a proper sensitivity to (1) the historical-geographical context of the ancient Near East, (2) numerous complex and perplexing hermeneutical issues that arise in Old Testament studies, and (3) the moral, social, and cultural presuppositions that contemporary readers invariably bring to their reading of the Old Testament. Christian members please remember to read the Statement of Purpose threads for each forum within Christian Congregations before posting in the forum. Reading Copan’s summary of new atheist objections to Christianity is a little like reading Cicero summarizing Goth objections to Roman civilization: Copan does his best to be fair (just like Cicero surely would), but there is no getting around the fact that the new atheist objections are, for the most part, rooted in a positively barbaric ignorance of the subject matter in question. In this first part I’ll briefly survey the text and then summarize my main objection which I call the “press secretary syndrome”. Apologist Paul Copan takes up his pen to this challenge in his book Is God a Moral Monster? As such, it is the job of the press secretary to present the government’s policies and actions in a winsome manner. Episode 277/278 – Is God a Moral Monster? Again, these are really minor complaints, especially when you consider the breadth and depth of the discussion in Is God a Moral Monster? Human sacrifice is detestable to God because it falls into the category of murd… There were a few places in the book where I thought Copan would have done well to concede the difficulty of some of the problematic O.T. In the simplest terms, … Copan systematically addresses each of the above objections and more. Page 3 that we acknowledge God to be God because anything else would be flying in the face of reality. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. it is eminently clear that Paul Copan is an evangelical apologist and a stalwart defender of standard evangelical commitments to the authority and interpretation of scripture. Reading through Is God a Moral Monster? This is my review of Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster?Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011). That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. Making Sense of the Old Testament God. But however helpful or persuasive his points are, we need to keep in mind the biblical observation that God’s ways are not our ways (Isa. Their opinion carries weight, as does the exuberance of a galaxy of other excellent scholars found at the end of this blog post. But whether or not readers agree with Copan’s approach to each particular problem passage, his book is sure to educate and edify. Indeed, I am not aware of a better book from an evangelical perspective on apologetics and Old Testament ethics. Please review our current Faith Groups list for information on which faith groups are considered to be Christian faiths. is an immensely valuable resource for anyone interested in Old Testament ethics or for those who seek informed responses to the new atheists’ objections concerning the topic. Part 2 mounts a defense of the depiction of God’s character in the Old Testament. But it is disappointing when you sense spin on a topic like ethics and the Old Testament. Then in chapter 5 he turns to the binding of Isaac. This also means that in acknowledging who God is and being rightfully related to Him, we [re actually functioning as we were designed to function. I’m not asking him to give up the jeans: just sew on a patch or two. There is no passage where God condones actual human sacrifice. In chapters 3 and 4 Copan addresses the charge that God in the Old-Testament is both jealous and egocentrically demands worship. Much has been written in recent years on the moral problems with the depiction of God in the Old Testament. One of Copan’s emphases in the book is that we should not resist the new atheists’ accusation that the Old Testament ethical standards were imperfect:  “Instead of glossing over some of the inferior moral attitudes and practices we encounter in the Old Testament, we should freely acknowledge them. This viewpoint is even making inroads into the church. can be summarized as what I call the “Press Secretary Syndrome.” The press secretary, as you no doubt are aware, is the person who serves as the face of government to the press. is a welcome entry to the literature with twenty short, engaging and informative chapters that provide a first-rate apologetic treatment of a broad range of issues from curious biblical dietary laws to the Israelite relationship to slavery and genocide. An Antidote for Election Anxiety: Lessons from Proverbs 11. Of course, as Copan rightly notes, the new atheists are not interested in nuance, so his responses to their objections are unlikely to change their minds or, for that matter, soften their inflammatory rhetoric. Indeed, at key points the weakness of those ideological commitments shows through like the thinned knees on a worn pair of jeans. But the real heart of this section comes in the treatment of holy war and genocidal massacre in chapters 15-17. Paul Copan. Summary: Chapter 11. Richard Dawkins thinks that Yahweh is a moral monster: “What makes my jaw drop is that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model as Yahweh — and even worse, that they should bossily try to force the same evil monster (whether fact or fiction) on the rest of us.” No government is perfect.”, That’s fine for the press secretary, I suppose. This would be inappropriate, since God deserves everyone’s primary respect and concern, including his own. So where and how to begin responding to these raving claims? : Making Sense of the Old Testament God. But Copan counters that that it is not always wrong to take innocent human life. To represent the Old Testament moral code in isolation of this is a gross distortion of Scripture and a complete Christian ethic. Clearly the opposition seems to be stronger on this issue. In part one of the book, Paul Copan spends two chapters summarizing the angry but flimsy arguments of the New Atheists, and lists their typical complaints against the Old Testament God. I think that for much of the territory covered the standard evangelical views of the meaning and authority of the texts in question is  eminently defensible. A prefatory string of adulatory blurbable praises. So says Gordon Wenham and Christopher J.H. 1141 Words 5 Pages. No approach to the text is perfect.”. ISBN 978-0-8010-7275-8. Scribd is the world's largest social reading and publishing site. He can be a caring God, or He can be a scary God. Making Sense of The Old Testament God. Copan points out that a number of textual hints help the reader to see that this is a test, it is only a test. But there you have it. Is God a Moral Monster - P. Copan - Free ebook download as PDF File (.pdf) or read book online for free. Since I’m going to spend the bulk of time focusing on points of disagreement I’ll begin by placing those criticisms within context. Let’s turn now to the interesting part: the disagreements. The recent book published by Mary Trump, the president’s niece, identified one thing – that his own sister, a retired federal judge, believed the president was “cruel”. … According to this accusation, God is a “moral monster” since He “created” evil—or because He neglects to do anything about evil. Show More. At those moments Copan seems intent on denying the denim is substantially worn through. Sitting by the fire in his hut, the monster tells Victor of the confusion that he experienced upon being created. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2011 Introduction Paul Copan is a Christian theologian, apologist, and an author. Paul Copan responds to the New Atheist stance that the God of the Old Testament is a “moral monster.” I agreed with only about half of Copan’s conclusions, but his book was well-written, informative, and fun to read. Creation out of Nothing, How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong, Is God a Moral Monster?, That’s Just Your Interpretation, “True for You, But Not for Me”, When God Goes … You may purchase Copan’s book here.This review may be freely distributed, reposted on your personal blogs and websites, printed off, emailed to friends and enemies, or completely ignored. Copan is to be commended for this superb work. Paul Copan's Is God a Moral Monster? This is an excellent book that should be in the personal library of everyone who has more than a passing interest in the topic. Perhaps we need to be more open to the fact that some of our moral intuitions aren’t as finely tuned as they ought to be. The new atheists consistently ignore or refuse to adequately appreciate this context of God’s response to human fallenness. Paul Copan wrote Is God a Moral Monster?to address many of the New Atheists’ charges regarding God as He is presented the OT. Copan is to be commended for this superb work. We can point out that they fall short of the ideals of Genesis 1-2 and affirm with our critics that we don’t have to advocate such practices for all societies” (62). My second quibble is less significant and essentially a matter of emphasis. Even many Christians struggle to understand some of the Old Testament laws, as well as God’s commands to destroy the Canaanites. attempts a bold apologetic of the Judeo-Christian God's moral status in light of the recent attack on the biblical Old Testament by the so-called new atheists. (I was surprised that I agreed with nearly all of them.) is the degree to which we as Christians need to rethink in radical ways our reading and understanding of the sacred text if we are to have any persuasive reasoning in this ongoing exchange. Paul Is God A Moral Monster Analysis. But I was disappointed that Copan did not concede his (or anyone’s) inability to completely resolve the moral problems presented by a few other passages. But at key points the standard evangelical views are not the most plausible readings. opens with a discussion on the new atheism in general. A recent string of popular-level books written by the New Atheists have leveled the accusation that the God of the Old Testament is nothing but a bully, a murderer, and a cosmic child abuser. In chapter 6, he argues that the Old Testament law doesn’t represent God’s ‘ideal’ but is rather a step in the ‘redemptive movement’ of Scripture. That is the perspective of the governing party that he represents. What we find in many of the Old Testament laws and regulations are either temporary concessions to human sin (e.g., regulations regarding divorce, slavery, and polygamy) or God’s punitive response to human sin (i.e., God’s commands to destroy certain Canaanite people groups). This section deals with a broad range of topics beginning with the appeal to incremental revelation in history as a means to explain the Bible’s “ubiquitous weirdness” (chapters 7-8). 27 and 201), presumably to combat some new atheists’ claims that God is ego-centric or, in Dawkins’ terms, “megalomaniacal.”  While God is surely extremely other-concerned, even self-sacrificially, he is not other-centered. 252 pp. Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster? First, Copan occasionally refers to God as “other-centered” (e.g., pp. I have decided to review Is God a Moral Monster? In sum, what Copan offers is an informed, patient, and crucially nuanced treatment of the Old Testament moral code. Is God a Moral Monster? The press secretary’s mandate does not extend to admissions like the following: “I think my government’s policy is weak on this point. But there you have it. is a question that many people from various walks of life have asked over the centuries and continues to be front and center in contemporary debates. What struck me in reading Is God a Moral Monster? Throughout the Old Testament God shows many different sides. It is also evident later in the New Testament, such as in some of the teachings of Jesus. Is God a Moral Monster? He sets the stage in part 1 (chapters 1, 2) by introducing the new atheists and their dizzying range of strident complaints against Christianity. Their moral objections target such things as:  (1) God’s desire to be worshipped, (2) God’s preferential treatment of the Israelites, (3) the Old Testament’s apparently low view of women, (4) the Old Testament’s approval of slavery, (5) the divinely ordered massacre of Canaanite people groups, and (6) the Old Testament’s peculiar laws related to food, hygiene, and other matters. “Is God a moral monster?” This is the question apologist Paul Copan seeks to answer in response to the harsh criticism from New Atheists about the monstrous God found in the Old Testament. This cannot be stressed enough. A Monster Calls draws on several literary traditions: first and most notably, contemporary children’s fantasy literature. Is God a Moral Monster? The forums in the Christian Congregations category are now open only to Christian members. Is God a Moral Monster? Because the book deals with so many controversial and sensitive subjects, I suppose that readers should expect to take issue with some of Copan’s analyses. The question is one that cannot be avoided and must be confronted honestly and thoughtfully. Wenham and Wright are Old Testament scholars of the first rank. Anyone familiar with the writings of the new atheists is aware of their penchant for taking potshots at Old Testament ethics. One good place to begin is Paul Copan’s new book, Is God a Moral Monster? He also challenges the accusation that Christianity causes violence. Clearly alternative readings seem to be stronger on this issue. is a welcome entry to the literature with twenty short, engaging and informative chapters that provide a first-rate apologetic treatment of a broad range of issues from curious biblical dietary laws to the Israelite relationship to slavery and genocide. A little bit of spin is par for the course in politics. 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