Review: “Is God A Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God”
Baker, 2011, 256pp., paperback, $14.99
Responding to the charges of New Atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens and Dennett, our author sets out to demonstrate that the God of the Scriptures – particularly the Old Testament – is not the ranting bully and cruel tyrant he is often misrepresented to be. Trawling through the issues and the Bible, Copan tries to establish some foundational principles before assessing some of the particular charges levelled (concerning weirdness, barbarity, misogyny, polygamy, slavery, and genocide), concluding with some thoughts about the basis of morality. While there are some deft philosophical flourishes and some helpful exegetical insights and suggestions, I think that Copan gives too much to his opponents. We are never robustly confronted with a God who is altogether holy and above reproach, and the argument too often seems to sink to a relativistic level: “Things were pretty bad, the Lord had to improve it incrementally, and – besides – you should have seen the Hittites and the Amorites!” The book might have been better served with a more vigorous demonstration and assertion of the divine character and its consequent morality as the backdrop both to the principles and the arguments. Helpful at many points, I was nevertheless disappointed overall.