Answering Mutabaruka's God talk
MUTABARUKA, POET and talk-show host, speaking recently at the United Theological College, highlighted that the Bible was written by men and questioned why no woman has written a book (March 27). And the week before, Mutabaruka claimed that "Moses created the concept of God to reinforce the laws he culled from Egyptian society rules".
Mutabaruka is correct in his observation that there is a bias against women. There are two books of the Bible named after women, namely Ruth and Esther, and over 30 named after men. And there are no female disciples in Jesus inner circle of 12. Women are predominantly portrayed as having supportive, secondary and submissive roles. However, all these realities do not mean the Bible is not true. What it implies is the greatness and graciousness of God who acted through the inadequacies of a male-dominant society and culture. And the story of salvation history is God enabling persons who are wayward, rebellious and sinful to accomplish great things beyond our understanding. No culture is perfect but God speaks through imperfect culture so that God's will is known.
Furthermore, God speaks though Moses in the Ten Commandments even if Moses wrote them. The Bible states that new tablets are chiselled out by Moses (Exodus 34:1, 4) for God to write again on them but in Exodus 34.27-28 it states, "Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.' Moses was there with the LORD 40 days and 40 nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant - the Ten Commandments." This means that the Decalogue has divine sanction.
Therefore, Mutabaruka has a point when he states that Moses wrote the Ten Commandments. That position can also be deduced from Deuteronomy 5:12-15, "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you ... Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore, the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." The verse does not mention anything about creation but locates the observance of the Sabbath in the children of Israel's emancipation from Egyptian slavery. This reason for keeping the Sabbath is not found in Exodus 20. It cannot be that a perfect God could not recall or did not remember what he wrote on the original Decalogue in Exodus. It is more likely Moses who wrote the Ten Commandments and then rewrote them.
Furthermore, when Christ was asked what was the greatest commandment (Matt 20:36-40), he did not mention even one from the Decalogue. Jesus mentions two, namely, Love God with the entirety of your being, which comes from Deut 6:5, and love neighbour as the self, which comes from Lev 19:18. It would make no sense for Jesus to ignore the Ten that God wrote with his fingers and highlight two other commandments from the Law.
But all these concerns about the creation story and the role of Moses are minor because for a person to be a Christian, it is not essential to believe that snakes can talk.
Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.