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"I am an atheist. I do not believe in any god or gods or anything supernatural. So don't waste your time threatening me with eternal torture at the hands of some super being -- you might as well claim that I'm about to be serenaded by Alvin and the Chipmunks, I'm just not going to take it seriously."
There are two issues here. One is the character of God. Another skeptic insinuated the same thing when he posted, "Can anyone interpret Numbers 31:7-18? Anyone?" The portion of Scripture tells how God told His people to kill every man woman and child and keep the virgin women for themselves. There are a number of other verses in the Bible that paint God as a merciless tyrant and if you so desire, you can "quote mine" them and have, what may feel to you, a good case against the character of God. As far as you are concerned, He is guilty of genocide. Add to that the terrifying threat of an endless Hell, and the worst of sinners feels justified in contempt for such a deity.
Let me tell you about my father. He regularly left my mom to take care of us kids (when he was around, there were times that he physically beat us). I remember him once killing a defenseless animal with his bare hands. With that information you would be quite justified in saying that my father was a tyrant--an abusive pig of a man.
Here's some missing information. The reason he regularly left mom to take care of us was because he was a builder, and he was working long hours to make money to buy food for his beloved family. He did physically spank us when we lied or stole anything. He cared enough to correct us when we did wrong. Oh, and that helpless animal. He found it on the side of the road. It had been hit by a car and was dying. He put the poor animal out of its misery, and it grieved him to have to do it. My dad was a loving father and an extremely compassionate person.
Quote mine the Bible and you will paint God as a tyrant. But let me give you some more information. God gave us life. He gave us eyes to see the incredible creation he made for us. He gave us ears to hear wonderful music He created for us. He gave us taste buds to enjoy all the incredible variety of food he made for us. And we use His name as a cuss word. We are unthankful and ungrateful for the unspeakable goodness He lavished upon us. So what did He do? He became a perfect Man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The first time Jesus opened His mouth to preach, they tried to kill Him. Scripture records that humanity tried to murder Him ten times before He reached the cross. But that's why He came. This incredible kind, loving and forgiving God is also a God of justice and truth. His very nature demands that when a man murders another human being he must be punished. His justice demands that when a man rapes a woman, he must be punished for his crime. His righteousness cries out for justice to be done when anyone transgresses His perfect Law. So what did this kind God do? He gave His life on an unspeakably cruel cross, taking the punishment for the sin of the world, so that evil humanity could escape being justly punished in Hell.
So when I see Bible quote mining, I have a balance. I don't see my Father as a tyrant because Scripture gives me extra information that tells me that He is just and holy, and that all His judgments are righteous and true altogether. That terrible cross shows me that His wrath hasn't changed, but it shows me unspeakable love and mercy, goodness and kindness, compassion and care.
That brings us to the second issue, the character of the questioner. Having asked these questions of thousands of people, I feel qualified to give the answer I think he would give me. How many lies have you told in your life? "Many." "Perhaps a hundred?" "Easily." "Have you ever taken something that belonged to someone else, even if it's small?" "Yes." Have you ever taken God's name in vain?" "Plenty of times." "Have you ever watched sex scenes in R-rated movies?" "Of course. Many times." If a peeping Tom did the same thing through a bedroom window, we would call the police and have him arrested as some sort of sexual pervert, and yet you have done the same thing as a peeping Tom, only your "window" is a movie screen. So I take it that you also look at women with lust?" "All the time."
So Mr. Questioner, you are a lying, thieving, blasphemous, sexual pervert, and you have the gall to stand in moral judgment over Almighty God! Who do you think you are? Who are you to reply against God? Lay your hand upon your sinful mouth, and humble yourself before the justice of God spills over onto you and you find Him giving you what you deserve.
God killed a man and his wife because they told one lie. You have told over one hundred, and yet He has let you live. This isn't because He has changed His standards. He is simply extending His kind hand of mercy towards you, a liar and pervert.
If I have a question about the character of God, I have the good sense to hold my hand upon my mouth until I am in Heaven, and there God may see fit to answer it. But if you stay in your sins, you will get a satisfactory answer to a point where you will say, "Oh, I understand. I was wrong" will be of little consequence in Hell.
Mockers think that they have a "smoking gun" as evidence against God, and are the sort of people in the front row of a lynching mob. In truth, they are building their own gallows. They can't see clearly because they have a sequoia in their eye.
If the skeptic still wants to complain that God killed women and children in the Old Testament, he should realize that He did more than that. He proclaimed the death sentence on the entire human race--every man, woman and child. We will all die because we have sinned against God. So if you are a skeptic, stop whining, get right with Him through the Savior, and escape the damnation of Hell, while you still have time.
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God is good
It is perhaps too easy to dismiss critics who say things that we don't like. Sometimes we give trite answers to things that can't really be understood this side of eternity. It may be answered, but not understood.
So why would God allow his perfect universe to be corrupted to begin with when so many creatures suffer so much? As believers we trust that God is good. If he weren't we would be in even more a world of hurt.
Maybe our inability to understand has more to do with the illusions we have been raised with. Modern Americans and Western Europeans have created a kind of fantasy land, Camelot if you will. We can't see what the nature of men is really like, as we have restrained it some under our system, and blinded ourselves to what can't be restrained.
We can't seem to help ourselves, swayed by hopes, desires, lusts we can't seem to control. Why must we be punished for something we cannot control? Longing to be something more than we are, but bound to earth like lowly animals-cursed to pain and death. As Tozer said, the earth at last leaves us only a grave. And a sightless something passes through life crushing lives and leaving broken civilizations in its wake.
It is by faith we believe God is good. We can point to beautiful facets of life-like the world can point to ugly facts of life. Even Job got confused and misidentified the direct source of his suffering. God accepted the responsibility for Job's troubles, saying that Satan provoked him to harm Job.
When Job accused God of a punishment discrepancy (I don't deserve this), God essentially showed Job that he did not know enough about the universe to make the determination that God is unjust. When Job repented God freely forgave Job, and raised him to the heights of earthly success. With all our technology, it is still true of us. We don't know enough to judge God. Perhaps when the believers are all changed into those magnificent creatures we all wish to be, we will find the rich answers we seek. It is a matter of faith that God is good. The entire universe hangs on this one truth.
|Posted On: 05/03/08 10:07:24 PM
||Age 55, FL
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