Turning God into Satan

Alison’s commentary on this passage from John 8 is particularly keen.

What do you get when you take God (Yahweh) and make him out to be demanding sacrifice, always pushing burden of the law down upon us (like an accuser). Yep, you’ve just flipped God into Satan.

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

-John 8:39-47 (ESV)

Alison’s comments:

“These notions of paternity are radically and incompatibly different: one notion is that of a father who, however unblemished his pedigree seems to be, in practice leads his children to lying and killing. Jesus links this father to the murder of Abel by Cain (John 8:44). We might call him the father of the founding murder; traditionally he is known as the devil, and the devil understood not as a mythical figure, red, with horns like the Greek god Pan, with a trident in his hand “all the better to roast you with,” but that much more worrying figure, a satanized god, someone who seems to be God but is in fact an obstacle, an accusation, the whisperer behind the lynch.

Jesus is saying, in reality, to his interlocutors: the God who has been reveaing himself to Israel during all this time IS NOT the one who you say; your interpretation and use of God turn him into Satan; only my interpretation of him is faithful to who God truly is.”

-James Alison, Raising Abel, p.64