Jessa Duggar Seewald, reality TV ‘star’ and fundamentalist evangelical Christian, recently posted a screed on Facebook explaining why she was ‘saved’ from Hell but liberal (i.e. tolerant) Christians like me were headed straight into perditions flames. According to her, that fact that not-real-Christians like me “believe in a loving God, not one who would send people to hell” is stupid and wrong “because he doesn’t exist. They are not talking about the God of the Bible. They have created a god in their own mind to suit themselves. They have removed any notion of the Justice of God, and have created a god of their imagination that they can be comfortable with.”
First, if you read the parable Jesus told his disciples about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18: 9-14 you’ll find some slight problems with Jessa’s own smug certainty her beliefs and actions are the ones that are pleasing to the very harsh God she worships. “ 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Secondly, people who are absolutely convinced that they and they alone can decide what God really wants scare the crap out of me. It isn’t that far to leap from being certain God is damning everyone else to hell to the ideology that you are justified in sending them there too – as ISIS and the Spanish Inquisition both attest. I also find it awfully coincidental that God always wants exactly what fundamentalists believe he wants.
In my newest book, The Jezebel Effect, I explain WHY the Jewish fundamentalists in ancient Israel had such hatred toward Ahab and Jezebel:
“All the fears of the purists appeared to be coming true when Ahab began enacting policies that they considered to be flouting the will of Yahweh. It was expected that during war a conqueror would sacrifice captured enemy combatants in order to thank the deity who had provided his victory (Moore, 2003:106). Ahab, in conservative opinion, lacked the bloodlust of the truly devout and was appalling reluctant to slaughter thousands in Yahweh’s name. 1 Kings Chapter 20 documents the king’s sin against Yahweh:
1“Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it … 13 Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the Lord.’ … 21 The king of Israel advanced and overpowered the horses and chariots and inflicted heavy losses on the Arameans. 22 Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.” … 26 The next spring Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel … 28 The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.’ 29 For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them. And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an inner room. 31 His officials said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says: ‘Please let me live.’ The king answered, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” … 42 [an unknown prophet] said to the king, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die.[c] Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’” 43 Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.
Fundamentalists were incensed at Ahab’s “betrayal” of Yahweh. In their eyes Ahab had sinned when he forgave Ben-Hadad, because the king was denying Yahweh what conservatives insisted their deity wanted – heaps of slain humans. While Ahab’s generosity appears, to the modern reader, to be an act of decency or even a foretaste of the loving God that Jesus would one day preach about, for conservatives the king’s decision to spare his captives was nothing less than vile blasphemy against the Lord.
The fundamentalist faction was sent into a tizzy by Ahab’s diplomacy. What did this act of mercy on Ahab’s part portend? Was this the first step in the rejection of Yahweh in favor of another deity? Their worries soon centered on Jezebel. The queen was decidedly “zealous for her religion. It is understandable, then, why the more conservative Yahwists feared that this king (Ahab) who had so successfully disregarded the charismatic ideal also intended to replace Yahwism with Baalism as the official religion. Thus Jezebel, his Baalistic queen, became the symbol of their grievances” (Miller, 1967:323-324). “
Now, call me silly but I don’t see much difference between ancient and modern fundamentalists thinking that they alone know the will of God – who is quite bloodthirsty, vengeful, and angry for a deity described by Jesus as merciful and loving. Then again, the Bible verses of Exodus 18:11 assures the reader that “the Lord is greater than all other gods” and Exodus 34: 13-15 makes it clear that God of Abraham is a jealous god who will be angry if these other gods are worshiped, both state outright or at least strongly imply that gods other than Yahweh exist. That means if Jessa Duggar Seewald and other fundamentalists are correct about the unerring and literal interpretation of scripture, there are other deities. If, upon my death, I discover that Yahweh is as anti-loving as the purists insist, then I am going to convert to a follower of the Goddess Quan Lin and head on over to Her afterlife. If there is no life after death, I won’t know it so that doesn’t concern me.
Any way you slice it, I am coming out ahead.