The Invention of God

9780674504974-lg

“Who invented God? When, why, and where? Thomas Römer seeks to answer these questions about the deity of the great monotheisms—Yhwh, God, or Allah—by tracing Israelite beliefs and their context from the Bronze Age to the end of the Old Testament period in the third century BCE.

“That we can address such enigmatic questions at all may come as a surprise. But as Römer makes clear, a wealth of evidence allows us to piece together a reliable account of the origins and evolution of the god of Israel. Römer draws on a long tradition of historical, philological, and exegetical work and on recent discoveries in archaeology and epigraphy to locate the origins of Yhwh in the early Iron Age, when he emerged somewhere in Edom or in the northwest of the Arabian peninsula as a god of the wilderness and of storms and war. He became the sole god of Israel and Jerusalem in fits and starts as other gods, including the mother goddess Asherah, were gradually sidelined. But it was not until a major catastrophe—the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah—that Israelites came to worship Yhwh as the one god of all, creator of heaven and earth, who nevertheless proclaimed a special relationship with Judaism.

A masterpiece of detective work and exposition by one of the world’s leading experts on the Hebrew Bible, The Invention of God casts a clear light on profoundly important questions that are too rarely asked, let alone answered.”

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674504974


 

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures – Volume 17 (2017) – Review
“The Invention of God is an English translation (beautifully rendered by Raymond Geuss) of Thomas Römer’s L’invention de Dieu, published in French in 2014. The rather provocative title is not intended to reflect the antagonistic and somewhat widespread notion of Iron Age goat herders or corrupt priests fabricating the God of Israel out of whole cloth, but the longue durée development of the conceptualization of Israel’s patron deity. At the outset Römer outlines an important point of departure: a close reading of the Hebrew Bible demonstrates that God was not always the sole and only God over the entire universe. This raises a host of questions regarding the development of YHWH’s conceptualization and worship. The goal of the book is to provisionally trace the trajectory of that development from its earliest possible reconstruction to its final canonical form in the Hellenistic period.”

God’s salesman

Digging deeper: exposing a fool-baiting philosophy of refrigerator magnets and page-a-day calendars.

Norman Vincent Peale

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/10/donald-trump-2016-norman-vincent-peale-213220

How Norman Vincent Peale taught Donald Trump to worship himself: the magnate’s biographer explains the spiritual guide behind his relentless self-confidence. | By WENDA BLAIR

 

…………………………

Criticism and controversy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Vincent_Peale


 

Review:

Mitch Horowitz, an award winning journalist, has traced the unseen and largely unknown origins and roots of both Positive thinking and Word/Faith theology in his book One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life,Crown Publishing, (New York, 2014, 338 pages).

 

41NNi4RAZgL._AC_SL1500_

 

The two movements of Positive Thinking and Word Faith in fact are very close relatives; one is ancestor to the other. This invaluable book is a history of all the key players and their roots in nineteenth century New Thought Movement. Horowitz sees the linkage and connects the dots between New Thought, Christian Science, Norman Vincent Peale, New Age thinking, the Law of Attraction and a number of Word Faith teachers. The book’s 14 page index helps enhance the retrieving of names and topics.

Men like Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) believed and taught that conjuring up mental ideas of a more positive life could fast track us to making it so. Horowitz explains

Positive Thinking:

“The principle of positive thinking is simplicity itself. Picture an outcome, dwell on it in your thoughts and feelings, and unseen agencies – whether metaphysical or psychological – will supposedly come to your aid. Seen in this way, the mind is a causative force….the content of our thoughts influences the nature of our experience, in concrete terms”, (page 4 – 5).

Is there then a mind power that can be controlled and manipulated to create better outcomes? Can our minds alone abolish disease, create wealth and refashion our reality? The author points out that positive affirmations heaped on suffering terminally ill patients can be cruel and thoughtless. It amounts to blaming sufferers for their suffering. Physical pain and the decline of aging cannot be wished away.

Positive Thinking concepts seem to be omnipresent and could be our national anthem. Like a virus it has infected large portions of the church. There is no doubt that many could be happier generally speaking if they had a better frame of mind but there is a limit to what our thoughts and minds can do. Horowitz seems to be for a balanced approach as he takes on the inconsistencies of the New Age and Positive Thinking movements. Howowitz states his approach:

“The outlook of this book is that positive thinking is less than it’s most enthusiastic exponents believe – it is not a psycho-spiritual magic wand or an all encompassing result-making law of life. But it is also a great deal more than what its critic see it as, namely a fool-baiting philosophy of refrigerator magnets and page-a-day calendars”, (pages 10 – 11).

Agree or disagree with the authors overall approach and perspective the value of this book is its detailed history of key figures in the positive thinking orbit as well as their modern day descendants.

In early America people focused on salvation in Christ, the church, godly living, hard work, loving others and service to one’s neighbor. The focus was first vertical and then horizontal. Horowitz traces how that all changed and the focus on the mind and the horizontal was seen as the primary focus. My take is that this leads its adherents and proponents to become totally man centered and not God centered.

As Horowitz traces the history of New Thought he concludes that the modern message of the Prosperity Gospel is simply New Thought repackaged with new technology and new venues. He lists Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and many more. Horowitz traces current Word of Faith teaching back to E. W. Kenyon and details Kenyon’s attendance at a New Thought school. That school was the metaphysical Emerson School, (page 217). The book spends a number of pages on the career of Oral Roberts.

The book delves into the fascinating topic of Neuroplasticity (pages 259, 273-275, 276). Brain studies in this area have shown that ideas and strong thoughts can actually change brain structure and re-route the brain’s “wiring”. In other words from a Christian and biblical perspective positive thinking (unrealistic thinking) could change the brain in such a way as to create strong delusion. Certainly that is frightening food for thought.

,……………………….

“Psychologist Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational emotive behavior therapy and influential psychologist of the 20th century,[19]compared the Peale techniques with those of French psychologist, hypnotherapist and pharmacist Émile Coué, and Ellis says that the repeated use of these hypnotic techniques could lead to significant mental health problems. Ellis has documented in several books the many individuals he has treated who suffered mental breakdowns from following Peale’s teachings. Ellis’ writings repeatedly warn the public not to follow the Peale message. Ellis contends the Peale approach is dangerous, distorted, unrealistic. He compares the black or white view of life that Peale teaches to a psychological disorder (borderline personality disorder), perhaps implying that dangerous mental habits which he sees in the disorder may be brought on by following the teaching. “In the long run [Peale’s teachings] lead to failure and disillusionment, and not only boomerang back against people, but often prejudice them against effective therapy.” – Wikipedia

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wakeupcall/2016/05/norman-vincent-peales-7-life-changing-words/

 

The New Age Peale Factor: (Part 1) Norman Vincent Peale and the Occult

By Warren B. Smith

The Failure of Christian Love in the Holocaust.

What were the psychological factors that went into Christian violence, absence, silence and overall abject failure of love during the Holocaust?

By Andrew Tix

‘”What must I do to inherit eternal life?,” Jesus once was asked. A discussion followed, in which the two “great commandments” were affirmed: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“Put simply, the history of Holocaust testifies to a glaring failure of Christian love.”

“And who is my neighbor?,” asked the questioner. Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, Jesus demonstrates that being well-educated in religion or having a reputation for being religious do not necessarily translate into love of neighbor. Rather, love is expressed when we have mercy on someone in need, even if that person differs in belief, race, or social class (Luke 10:25-37).

The Christian Response to the Holocaust

Reflecting on the behavior of Christians during the Holocaust, Stephen Smith, co-founder and Director of the Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial Centre in the United Kingdom, offered an alternative parable.

“There was once a man going about his business, trying to live out his life peacefully and without offence to those around him. One day as he went about his life, a group of men set upon him. They robbed him and they stripped him and they left him on the side of the road for dead. Presently, along came an educated, God-fearing and good man; a man known for his generosity and charity. He saw the man who had been beaten and robbed, but he crossed over the road and carried on his way. Shortly, along came a priest, a well-respected man of wisdom and of learning. Seeing his neighbor in distress, he too crossed over to the other side; after all, he would not be seen helping a Jew. And so the Jew lay in the gutter waiting for the Good Samaritan.

But there was no Good Samaritan.

Not this time.”

Read the complete essay at

https://cct.biola.edu/failure-christian-love-holocaust/


 

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AFTER
THE HOLOCAUST By KENNETH CRACKNELL

“Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the little faces of children whose bodies I saw
turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith for
ever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence which deprived me, for
all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those mountains
which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams into
dust.”

‘These words from Elie Wiesel will, I hope, be instantly recognized. They capture the experience of the victims of the most appalling
ideology in a century of godless ideologies. The Jewish writer Arthur Cohen calls the Holocaust a Tremendum, an ultimate experience. 3 For Christian
theology the Shoah 4 represents the most serious challenge to its fundamental doctrine of a loving and caring God. But other serious questionings of Christianity arise from the Shoah. There is the obscene fact that the ideology of the ‘Final Solution’ was produced within a culture that had been Christian for fifteen centuries. Because of this the whole Western Church is under judgement. Two elements of this condemnation come to mind at once. There is the churches’ share in creating and
sustaining anti-Semitic feelings throughout Europe. We shall say more about this. But the Shoah also revealed the acquiescence of western Christianity in a culture of death and destruction. Not enough attention has been given to the
ease with which Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike, assented to the ideology of Nazism. Many of them apparently believed its teaching and practices were merely extensions of Christian civilization. The massive
support of both Protestant and Catholic Churches for Hitler puts into question the theory that most ordinary Germans were compelled by the brutality of Nazism to do things repellent to their Christian sensibilities. The Tremendum
demands of Christians that they reflect on their relationship to western culture.’

37cracknell