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God Behaving Badly

by David T. Lamb, IVP Books, 2011, 205 pages, $15
(paperback), ISBN-13: 978-0-8308-3826-4

God Behaving BadlyThis book is subtitled “Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?” The book is an effective response to Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens’ materials accusing God of being “jealous, … a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak, a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, … bully,” etc. (Dawkins, River Out of Eden).

There are many challenges that atheists throw up against the nature of God. Why was Uzzah struck dead when he grabbed the ark to stop it from falling? Why did God send bears to attack children when Elisha was ridiculed for being bald? Why was Israel told to kill every man, woman, and child of the Amalekites? We have discussed stories like these in this journal, but this book goes into depth and builds a picture of a kind and loving God as opposed to the view that the God of the Old Testament is radically different from the loving God of the New Testament.

The book is divided into eight chapters titled by the contrasts between the views of God given by atheists and what the Bible actually projects. Some chapter titles are: “Angry or Loving?” “Sexist or Affirming?” “Violent or Peaceful?” “Legalistic or Gracious?” Lamb does a wonderful job of explaining difficult passages of the Old Testament. He is both scholarly and humorous. A Scripture index allows you to take a passage held up to be bad behavior on God’s part and see that there was a logical reason for what was done and how it was done. The book brings out God’s true nature and the relationship he wants with us as his children.

This is a useful study of the integrity of the Bible and the nature of God. We recommend it very highly.