Preface


       Too often theology is presented to students, and exists in the common mind, as a series of dogmatic statements that are perceived to be ultimate truth. This is hardly a realistic portrayal of the field. Theology in reality is a dynamic, never stagnant, and never completed specialization. There is far more that we don't know about God than that we do, and there are still plenty of holes in our understanding. Theology used to be called the queen of the sciences. This characterization has faded with the artificial split between religion and science, but it is not a bad description. Like any science, theology is unfinished; there are many questions that are begging of answers, and the thought behind this book is to point out just how little is really understood, and just how much work is still left to do.
       The title of the book was carefully selected for the purpose of startling the reader. Good theology should do that, because complacency is frankly one of the worst dangers to this field. Children often ask questions that are funny, but sometimes their questions are also profound and even a little discomforting, creating situations where we realize that the nifty clothes we thought we had on really aren't much to speak of and we're perilously close to being naked.
       The question that is the title of this book was inspired by an overly literalistic translation of Numbers 14:18, which tells us that God is "slow to anger". "Anger" is a secondary meaning of the Hebrew word "nose;" this secondary meaning "anger", apparently derived from the fact that a person's nostrils will flare when he or she is angry. And the word translated "slow" can also mean "long." Thus, it would be possible, though confusing, to translate Numbers 14:18 (and those other passages which express the same statement) as "God has a long nose." That is a Hebrew idiom which means in English, "God is slow to anger"; it is not a description of God's physical appearance.
       Thus, the answer to the question posed by the title of the book is "yes"; and it is a great comfort that he is.

       R.P. Nettelhorst
       Lancaster, California