…the Creator of the universe!
I’ve often remarked that critics of Christianity often deploy the following two distinct objections:
(1)”The Christian God is a monster because he doesn’t stop the evil people.”
(2) “The Christian God is a monster because he goes ballistic on people for the most trivial ‘infractions’ of his inscrutable and/or immoral code.”
So, does anyone see a way to understand how the above might actually cancel out? Here’s a hint: We’re dealing with an infinitely intelligent, knowledgeable, wise, and good being, by construction (of the argument, not of God).
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I attended an excellent Presbyterian Bible study in Nashville. Once, someone asked the teacher why God only punished the whole Earth once (in the Flood), since (the guy in the crowd thought) humans were just as sinful today as they had been in Noah’s day. The problem with God’s apparent consistency was twofold: (a) If God is okay with the world being as sinful as it is day, why did He punish the people back then for being essentially as bad as us? In other words, God should have had 0 worldwide catastrophes. (b) If God thought those people deserved to be (almost) wiped out, then He should do the same every few generations, so that there ought to be many many episodes like the Flood. And yet, God chose to punish all of humanity exactly 1 time. Why?
The teacher’s answer surprised me. He said something like, “Well, the reason I think that the answer couldn’t have been zero, is that in that case, people might have thought God was bluffing. This makes us take Him seriously.”
The more I think about that, the more I like his answer. Remember, the Bible says that one day, the “world is going to end”–because God is going to come back and do it personally. People say, “Hey, it’s not the end of the world,” to mean that we should all relax and stop fretting about a situation. But actually, in this particular case, it is the end of the world, and you should pay attention. No time to stop beating yourself up and take a pill chill. You want to have anxiety (until you reach the solution) on this one.
Because God destroyed the world once, at the “end of the world” nobody can play dumb. They can’t pull a George Constanza, “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell ya, I gotta plead ignorance on this…”
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The more I study the Bible (with my study partner–it’s like this), the more sense it makes to me. I remember when I was a lot younger thinking something like, “The gospel accounts are wonderful–who doesn’t like Jesus?–but man there’s some crazy stuff in the Old Testament. God was so mean back then!”
But now, if I had to sum up the “Bible as literature” in two sentences, it might go like this:
In the first part of the book, this one character has to explain who he is to everybody else. Then in the next part of the book, he gives them the perfect example to follow, given that they now know who he is and can understand the full context of his model behavior.