God on Trial: The Verdict

Recently, I mentioned that I am preparing some lectures on Theodicy, Suffering and Faith. I then posted a bibliography, one reference in which was to Frank Cottrell Boyce’s and Andy DeEmmony’s film God on Trial. I watched this film for the first time a few weeks back. Here’s the most memorable part:


  1. That’s very powerful. I’ll have to watch that, thanks for sharing.

    It should make us all very uncomfortable. There are many things in the OT which make me question deeply, especially the killing and suffering of children. Have you any answers? Are there any?



  2. I reckon the first step (of many!) is to say “Jesus thought He perfectly revealed the God of Israel (that He *was* the God of Israel even). If He’s wrong about that then we can dismiss both Jesus and God. If He’s not wrong, we need to look again at both.” Something like those would be the first words out of my mouth. Not sure what would come next though…


  3. I would say: “this is hard teaching, who can hear it?”

    I would also tell David Hume to leave the room.

    And I would say that in this instance Euphyro won.


  4. ichthus,

    Doesn’t it say in I Sam 2:6 that God “gives life and He can take it away?” Where in the Bible is God said to be the source of any kind of evil or injustice? The source I know of is introduced in Gen. 3 (both satan and then man). Aren’t there worse things than physical death? And don’t children go to heaven when they die? Maybe the LORD, in killing them, was sparing them from seeing anymore terrible evil (see Is. 57:1-2).

    Suffering and evil are the condition of this world; not brought on by God, all the blame lies at our feet. There is a certain abyss, I would say, that lies way beyond our abilities to cope; that is in regards to understanding the “why” and the “how” of evil (all we can say is privatio or privation or abscence of God’s goodness; which then, like a cancer, grows upon itself [concupiscence]). I think the question could be extended out beyond children; and ask why anyone suffers (we know the historical answer to that — but not the ontological one [apparently we don’t need to know this Deut 29:29]).

    Anyway there’s my shot, ichthus; not really an answer, just some more questions, really :-).


  5. So, Bobby, the taking of another’s life is an evil if a human does it (thou shalt not kill), but it becomes good if God commands that human to do it (to an amalekite for instance). There are undoubtedly worse things than physical death and murder, but does that make killing any the less an evil. Also the killing of children is described not merely as an evil per se, but as an injustice since those children are killed as a punishment for the sins of others (eg Pharaoh). How great an injustice can we imagine?


  6. Bruce,

    How do you deal with this then?

    We actually don’t hear the commentary of what God thought of Samuel and the Amalekite. Of course this was a “theocratic” situation, right? Are you saying that God is not just? Or do you have another answer to this issue?

    The killing of the children in Egypt, for example (or Bethlehem) was indeed evil; but to attribute this to God, as the guy does in the film, is more evil (and of the evil one).

    That’s my point, I’m not saying I have a nice and neat answer; but to make God the devil is of an evil that is even greater than the evil attributed to Him (if evil can be graded).

    What’s your response?


  7. The only good response I think is to point to the cross of Christ; and allow the cruciform categories of His life reframe the questions and answers provided by the diatribe in the movie clip. This was, of course, absent from the thought processes in the “Verdict.” The cross was evil too . . .


  8. It’s the only good response I can think of too Bobby. The only God we have is a crucified and cruciform one. However I fear that most do not apply this insight to their hermeneutic when it comes to reading the aforementioned stories of divine horror. To my mind the God-crucified is not and cannot be the God of the ban. We need to be prepared to define the God of Israel from a centre in the cross. I believe that this also reveals that the Torah and its attendant texts are revealed also to be texts in travail. In a different sense, as witness to the resurrection, the NT also bears the marks of God’s struggle to create a new community of humanity – the hermeneutic of the cross does not imply a simple distinction between OT and NT. My problem lies with those who feel that loyalty to scripture means they need to be uncritical about the image of Yahweh as a God of war – here I am thinking of the stance Robert Jenson took in his recent lectures in NZ.


  9. Thank you, Bruce. You stimulated me to think deeper on this; you pushed me to the cross of Christ, and that is always good! The image of God giving birth reminds me of how he found Israel as a “babe” in her blood (Ez. 16) and nourished and cherished her until He brought life through her womb in Christ. Thank you, brother! I’ll have to check out the Jenson lectures when I quit recovering from my surgery tomorrow :-) .


    Thank you, I’ll have to look at the Blocher post; thanks bro, and thanks for the prayer you shared at my sight, that meant alot. We received great news today from the doc (I have that update Here).


  10. Thanks for pointing out this movie, Jason, and putting the clip on your site. I’ve never come across the movie (so many good movies escape our attention, of course), so it has to be one to chase down if possible.


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