On the nice and ugly sides of the Biblical God
Bill Prat, a staunch defender of conservative Evangelicalism has written a series of posts with the aim of defending the holiness and goodness of God against the attack of the New Atheists:
Instead of trying to show that Biblical atrocities are compatible with God’s love (a route taken by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan), he has chosen a different strategy:
“Skeptics of Christianity love to point out all the difficult passages in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. By noting these difficult passages, skeptics explicitly or implicitly imply that Christians are foolish (or even deranged) for worshiping the God described in the Old Testament.
My problem with this implication is that the number of difficult passages are dwarfed by the number of passages that clearly describe the greatness of God. These passages come in a wide variety and they are found all over the Old Testament. The skeptic’s approach is, therefore, totally unbalanced – it does not take into consideration the totality of Scripture.
– See more at: http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2013/10/21/why-is-the-god-of-the-old-testament-worthy-of-worship-his-majesty-and-beauty/#sthash.UUfO0bHp.dpuf”
His argument seems to be as follows:
1) the Bible gives us a fully coherent picture of God
2) therefore if some authors describe God as a beautiful and benevolent being, this must be what ALL Biblical writers thought
3) thus there is no particular need to deal with the Biblical terror texts. If one can show that some verses describe God as being loving; He is necessarily loving in the entire Scripture
Of course, all outsiders won’t fail to see this as a terribly circular argument.
Here I can do nothing better than (quite modestly) quoting myself:
“Bill I agree that the authors of these passages expressed beautiful, admirable thoughts about God.
There are three possible positions:
a) the Bible is a book which consistently portrays us a perfect God (conservative Evangelicalism).
b) the Bible is a book which consistently portrays us a horrible genocidal God (view of the New Atheists).
c) the Bible contains human thoughts about God in the same way the books of C.S. Lewis contain human thoughts about God. Some are great, other should be rejected:
By quoting all these verses, you refute view b) but you fall infinitely short of proving view a).
So yes, there are many verses in the OT which emphasize God’s greatness but they are contradicted by countless other texts.
Moreover, I also wrote:
“I have read these authors and here I give my last response to William Lane Craig’s attempt to whitewash these atrocities:
Did you read Thom Stark’s response to Copan?
Moreover, did you take a look at the blog of progressive EVANGELICAL theologian Randal Rauser?
I have never seen any kind of response to these two authors. Apparently, they are best ignored, aren’t they?”
Given my view of inspiration, finding descriptions of God as an immoral being within the Biblical Canon is like finding such pictures in the writings of the Church Fathers, Aquinas, Wesley, Luther, C.S. Lewis and so on and so forth.
It remains a problem, but it is clearly NOT the same as for people singling out the Bible as THE revelation of God.
It is my hope that Bill will examine every Biblical book as an ancient religious texts before deciding if it can reasonably be harmonized with other books. And I hope he won’t feel the need to give up Christianity altogether in the process.