Full disclaimer: I received this book free from Kregel Academic in exchange for writing this review.
I’ve read several other books by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., over the years. He is a go-to scholar for evangelical America on Old Testament issues. So, I was interested in his latest from Kregel Academic/Ministry, Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament. I was hopeful that this book would become a great resource in pastoral ministry.
The questions are certainly present-day questions, such as “The God of Mercy or of Ethnic Cleansing?” or “The God who Elevates Women or who Devalues Women?” These questions form the chapters, providing the framework for the book. One question/chapter was unnecessary, and that was the last on dietary laws. This question fits into the wider framework of the chapter on Grace/Law, and the space could have been used for another question or issue. One that I would have liked relates to truth, accuracy, and historical records for the Old Testament.
Overall, though, while I find no major errors or issues with this work,. (As if I should sit in judgment on the Old Testament work of someone whose books were used to teach me the Old Testament,) I don’t find anything to commend as a necessary book. Some of the questions are framed as “either/or” and then answered with “both.” Others are answered with a fairly standard concept: whatever God does is right, but what God did then is not something we should assume He is going to command now.
While these answers are essentially accurate, they are not much help in the apologetic or teaching domain. That God ordering judgment on the Canaanites is fundamentally different than jihad in Islam is something I would accept on faith. Kaiser’s explanation isn’t much deeper than that. It presupposes that the Bible is right and the Qu’ran wrong, which is part of Christian belief. (Just as part of Islamic belief is the converse of that statement.)
Do I feel like it was a waste to read this? No, I do not. Kaiser has consolidated here a basic Christian response to the questions he cites. But all-in-all, I don’t think his answers cover the material well enough to work outside of the faith community. There’s just too much that grounds in the presupposition that God is always right.
Again, free book from Kregel in exchange for the review.