June 19, 2011

"bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser"

Carl Olson debunks once again the line that the God of the Old Testment is an ogre... Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog: One bad of a hell argument:

...One of the more memorable instances of this is the description by atheist Richard Dawkins in his best-selling book The God Delusion of the God of the Old Testament as "arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." As I wrote in one of my "Opening the Word" columns, "That remark indicates far more familiarity with the dictionary than with the Bible." To make this point, here's a quick quiz: which of the following statements is made by or about God in the OT and which were made by or about Jesus in the Gospels?

1. "But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire."

2. "But thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness."

3. "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell..."

4. "Light rises in the darkness for the upright; the LORD is gracious, merciful, and righteous."

5. "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell..."

6. "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness..."

7. "And you, Caper'na-um, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."

8. "I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel which he has granted them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love."

9."There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out."

10. "Nevertheless in thy great mercies thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God."

Yep, you guessed it: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 are statements made by Jesus in the Gospels, and 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 are statements by or about God found in the Old Testament. The basic point is that both the Old and New Testaments speak of judgment and mercy, punishment and love, communion with God and separation from God. And the word "hell" is just one way of describing or referring to eternal separation from the presence, life, and love of God, just as "heaven" is one of many ways to refer to everlasting communion with God....

There's lots more one could say on this subject. My post here might be interesting, on how the conquest of Caanan (Palestine) depicted in the OT was in fact far less violent than it is portrayed; that the slaughters were a sort of literary device that was applied to any take-over, even if it was really a peaceful change.

Posted by John Weidner at June 19, 2011 1:38 PM
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