Critiquing God by the Standard of His Own Morality?

My daughter, nearing 3-years-old, has entered the stage where she’s beginning to take the moral instructions I’ve given her (e.g., rules about how we are to behave) and to apply them to me, in ways that seem to make sense to her… but don’t actually make sense.

I’ll make up an example. Say I tell her, “You need to eat all your vegetables.” Now whether or not she always follows it, she’s absorbed that “moral code.” So let’s say she sees me discarding a rotten carrot from my plate. She objects, “No, daddy! You have to eat all your vegetables!”

It’s cute. She’s not trying to be defiant. Her inherent sense of moral order is showing. In fact, she’s using my own moral code that I myself gave her to instruct me on moral order.

Now, in this case she’s wrong. And I can tell her, “No, we don’t eat rotten vegetables.” But she nonetheless insists in demanding of me adherence to this “moral order” that she’s been taught, forgetting all the while that I’m the one who taught it to her in the first place and so probably knows otherwise. She borrows from my own moral code in order to critique my moral code.

It got me thinking: Isn’t this so much like the objections we make to the supposed immorality of God? We critique God for (as far as we see it) acting unjustly or immorally. “That was wrong of God! I don’t want to worship a God who does that!” All the while, where did we even get this standard of morality to begin with? We have to first believe in a God of morality to even begin critiquing the morality of God. It’s self-defeating.

We can attempt to critique the morality of God. But from where do we get such morality? Who are we to say what is right and wrong? Where do we get the authority to say, “He is wrong”? By what standard? Our own? And from where have we learned such things except from him?


As I did for both Jubilee and Evangeline, I wanted to write a brief explanation of the meaning of Abel’s name.

As with both his older sisters, Abel’s name, as you probably know, comes from the Bible. His middle name (like Jubilee and Evangeline’s as well) is that of one his great-grandparents. William (more commonly known as “Bill”) is my maternal grandfather.

Abel William is due January, 2020.

Abstract: Abel is the first in the long history of examples of faithful worshipers of God who suffer and die on account of their righteousness. His account reveals to us a God who champions the victimized, avenges evil, and ensures that injustice will not go unanswered. According to the book of Hebrews, Abel is held up as the earliest example of those who put their faith in God and “preserve their souls,” despite all appearances to the contrary (e.g., suffering and death). Christ’s death, however, overshadows Abel’s, as Christ fills the role as the pinnacle righteous one who suffers death. In fact, Christ’s death “speaks a better word than Abel’s.” Whereas Abel’s blood cried out to God for vengeance, Christ’s blood speaks to the satisfaction of God’s just vengeance against unworthy sinners. Additionally, the name Abel matches the word “vanity” in Ecclesiastes. This word, which encapsulates the message of the entire book, describes the futility of looking to the things of this fallen world, and instead redirects our eyes to the fear of the Lord, wherein we can experience lives of true joy.

In scripture, Abel is the second son of Adam and Eve, and the first victim of murder—killed at the hands of his elder brother, Cain (Gen 4:1-16, 25). The name Abel (הֶבֶל, hevel) matches a word most notable for its prolific use as a repeated refrain in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity!”(הֶבֶל, hevel). In its literal sense, this word means breath or vapor. Additionally, at times it comes to describe that which is transitory, fleeting, transient, and ephemeral. In scripture, a character’s name often reflects or conveys something about that individual. This is especially the case in Genesis (e.g., Cain’s name sounds like the Hebrew word for “gotten,” as Eve proclaims, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord”; see also the names of Isaac [=“he laughs”], Jacob [=“he takes by the heel”], Israel [=“he strives with God”], etc.). Although Abel’s name is not explicitly explained in the Genesis narrative, given this phenomenon, many surmise that his name reflects the fleeting, transitory nature of his life. Just as his name indicates, his life would be cut short.

As noted above, the word הֶבֶל (hevel, often translated “Vanity”) plays a central role in the message of Ecclesiastes. It is the Preacher’s (Qohelet) refrain—“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!—and it both introduces (1:2) and closes out the book (12:8). All in all, it occurs a total of 38 times in Ecclesiastes. In short, one might say that the word הֶבֶל (hevel) summarizes the entire message of Ecclesiastes: vanity!

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