“The idealized God is maintained at the expense of his freedom. The idealized God lacks flexibility; initiative, the capacity to surprise. The resulting picture of God is a sophisticated idol, but still an idol.” (Judson Mather, “The Comic Art of the Book of Jonah.” Soundings 65, no. 3 [September 1, 1982], 286).
I read this in my research on Jonah and Satire. The author is essentially arguing that the Author of Jonah is satirizing the idealized God of ancient Israel. The same God that uses Jonah as a kind of comic foil throughout the text. But this passage got me thinking about Uber Calvinism.
As I understand it the challenge with theological systems that lean so heavily on pre-destination and the foreknowledge of God is that God can’t really change his mind. And what Mather is saying is that God changed his mind regarding Nineveh because they repented. This made Jonah angry, because God didn’t do what Jonah understood God was planning on doing. (I understand that’s a really bad sentence. Sorry). Jonah is frustrated because he knew that God was a God of compassion and that he would relent of destroying Nineveh. Jonah wanted to follow the formula, and he wanted the result that God had promised, That the city would be overturned.
Now, in the book of Jonah, the City did repent. Nineveh was not destroyed but could it be argued that their hearts were overturned? Which is more important, the destruction of a city or the destruction of wickedness and idolatry.
If we try to make God follow our formulas, then we are treating him like an idol. Idols don’t work and they always disappoint.
I would rather serve a sovereign God who desires repentance rather than destruction, and would much rather dispense Grace than wrath.
It’s not my job to tell God that he has destroy cities or people. It’s not my job to be angry when what I think is justice on the wicked is not delivered. My job is to tell the truth about God that he has revealed through the Bible and through the leading of the Holy Spirit, and then let God do the rest.
I want God to be free to forgive, to love, to show mercy and grace. I know how much grace and mercy I have received from God so for me to not be willing to let God give that to others is selfishness and worse it’s idolatry.