The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Review: “Is God A Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God”

with 6 comments

Is God A Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God

Paul Copan

Baker, 2011, 256pp., paperback, $14.99

ISBN 978-0-8010-7275-8

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.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 21 March 2012 at 11:00

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Hmmm…same Copan who rejected Presuppositionalism recently on Gospel Coalition (rather poorly in my opinion)?

    If so then we see just how important methodology is in apologetics.

    JP Wallace

    Wednesday 21 March 2012 at 11:39

    • Same Copan, I believe.

      Jeremy Walker

      Wednesday 21 March 2012 at 16:32

      • Thank you for this review…I was planning to read this book next week and thank you for this review ahead of time!

        SLIMJIM

        Wednesday 21 March 2012 at 18:08

        • Glad to be of service. Let me know if your reading confirms or conflicts with my thoughts.

          Jeremy Walker

          Thursday 22 March 2012 at 07:45

  2. I enjoyed the book – although I was preaching through Exodus at the time and appreciated the background. Disappointed in a couple of places, but agree that it is helpful in many. I suppose i would have been more positive regarding the book’s usefulness – although I would agree that the incremental argument was irritating. It does need a scriptural index though

    Mark Loughridge

    Wednesday 21 March 2012 at 22:39

    • Thanks, Mark. Had I been searching for help rather than making a ‘cold’ assessment I might have found certain elements more stimulating. I agree about the need for a Scriptural index; many such books would profit from one, especially if you are using it – as this book almost demands – to consider specific passages.

      Jeremy Walker

      Thursday 22 March 2012 at 07:44


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