Monday, January 05, 2009

What Is the Measure of a God?

(First published on on 11/28/08)

I came across an interesting quote the other day which has some relevance to the current theological debate in the US. It comes from the "The Fourth Horseman" episode of the Stargate SG-1 TV show.

In season 9 a religion appeared, spread throughout our Milky Way galaxy by missionaries called priors who were possessed of miraculous powers intended to drive home the importance of their message. Their religion was called Origin and the gods of this religion were called the Ori. Origin claimed to show the path to enlightenment and ascension (i.e. eternal life on a higher plane of existence), but there was a dark side - those who refused to accept the message died, either wiped out by mysterious pandemic diseases created by the priors, or killed by their own people who had accepted Origin and were ordered to kill by the priors.

The quote comes from Teal'c, trying to convince his fellow Jaffa, Gerak, not to start a battle that would have Jaffa killing Jaffa in the name of the Ori. The most powerful part of the argument was this by Teal'c, calling into question the godly nature of the Ori:

"Then what is the measure of a god? Is it the scope of their power, or how they choose to wield that power? Would a god who is prepared to lead us on the path of enlightenment so contradict this divine benevolence by destroying all those who refuse to believe in him?"

It makes me wonder if we can't pose the same questions to those of the Religious Right here in the US. After all, they claim to follow a God whose words as written in their scriptures preaches tolerance, love, acceptance, and forgiveness, yet they themselves teach hate and intolerance. They incite violence against those who are different from themselves or who believe differently than they. And they constantly hammer against the rule of law to have it changed so that their own intolerance can be written into law and used to persecute those who don't believe as they do.

Something doesn't match up here. The only conclusion I can come to is that the God of James Dobson, Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, all their organizations (Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Joel's Army, and many more) and all their followers (including the recently defeated vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a strong supporter of Joel's Army), is as false as the Ori. By the evidence He's certainly not the God of the Gospels, nor of the letters of Paul and the other apostles. The only verdict anyone could possibly come to is that these people are guilty of following a false god, and by their preachments defame and sully the reputation of the God preached by Jesus.

I think the rest of the Christian community has strong grounds to bring a suit for defamation of character to the courts.

© 2008 by A. Roy Hilbinger

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