Once again, God gets blamed

"Get this book and read it," the speaker said. "It will be the hot topic on campus this year." That's why I ordered The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Montheism, by Regina Schwartz of Duke University.

Prof. Schwartz says we still fight wars because of our Western concepts of exclusivity and our sense of belonging. These concepts originally came, she suggests, from the Bible—first starting with the story of Cain and Abel. If God had never accepted Abel's sacrifice and rejected Cain's, then the latter's envy would not have awakened, stretched, and yawned, until it was awake enough to murder. Cain did the deed, she says, but it was really God's fault.

Blaming God for our transgressions goes back another generation, to Eden. "The woman you gave me," Adam accused. But the charge didn't stick. Neither does Schwartz's charge regarding Cain. Listen in on the counseling session God held with the jealous brother:

"Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (Gen. 4:6-7 NIV).

God tried to guide Cain away from isolation and exclusivity. He wanted more than anything to include him in the worshiping community. But God wanted it to be Cain's decision; He wasn't going to force Him.

It is true that monotheism (the term encompasses so much that is ungodly) shares much of the guilt for encouraging violence and bloodshed around the world—even biblical monotheism, as practiced by constantly straying people. It was easy for "We are God's chosen people" to morph into "Love your (Hebrew) neighbor and hate your (unbelieving) enemy."

But God had a different thing in mind. Not content to leave the world in an "us/them" dichotomy, He calls His people to conquer the world—not with the sword, but with a message of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

—Steve Singleton