Monday, March 11, 2013

Actually, You Don't Believe in the God of the Bible, Period

Many neo-errantists who are also pacifists (the latter is likely the primary reason one has taken on the former) will argue that the Bible functions as a dialogue between negative and positive representations of God. In one passage, you have an evil depiction of God that is then countered by a good depiction of God in another passage. You might have positive and negative aspects even in the same text.

However, what I'm going to argue now is an attempt to show why such a take on the Bible is to reject the entire thing altogether. In other words, I'm going to argue that the above theory is a fantasized conclusion about the Bible that doesn't actually mesh the actual biblical data with the theory. Instead, in order to conclude this, one must actually ignore the entire Bible, not just parts of it.

And let me tell you why this is. The God of Genesis is depicted as cursing mankind, killing off most of the earth in the flood, raining fire and brimstone from heaven upon cities, striking down people who misuse sex and other people.
The God of Exodus is portrayed as hardening Pharaoh's mind so that He can turn Egypt into a punching bag and kill off all of the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, He commands the Israelites to enter into war with the Amalekites, and kills off a bunch of His people for worshiping Him through a golden calf.
The God of Leviticus demands bloody sacrifices, excludes people from the camp for abnormalities and sicknesses, orders that people be executed for practicing witchcraft, homosexuality, etc., and argues that one of the reasons He is violently driving out the Canaanites because of their deviant sexual practices.
The God of Numbers kills off a large amount of His own people, orders the violent destruction of other people, and is both angered at the Israelites cohabitating with a people of another religion and is pleased when two of said people are executed violently for doing so.
The God of Deuteronomy orders the execution of people who commit various crimes against Him, and most importantly, orders the total destruction of the Canaanites.
The God of Joshua carries out this order through His people by not only being involved in the strategy in annihilating the Canaanites, but also killing most of them Himself.
The God of Samuel orders the total destruction of the Amalekites and rejects Saul as king because he does not carry out the order. He uses David, His king of choice, according to His own thinking/heart, to wipe out the remaining groups in Canaan that are worshipers of foreign gods.
The God of Kings continually tells the kings to go up to battle and slay other people groups, disciplines His people by starving them, sending armies against them that will skin them, impale them, cut them to pieces, etc. He eventually destroys the entire Northern Kingdom and sends the Southern Kingdom into exile, leaving the land in devastation.
The God of the Wisdom Books divides people up into two kinds of humanity, wicked and righteous, fools and wise men, and say that God is not to be questioned when men perceive Him as mistreating them. God is judge and mankind should fear Him.
The God of the Prophets is a God of War, who brings war against His people in order to burn off the chaff. He brings war to other nations in order to judge them. He devours people and lands. He dashes infants upon the rocks and annihilates the wicked.

Now, this is all the stuff that supposedly is rejected as a true depiction of God. As you can see, it makes up the entire OT. I could go on to show that the NT in every book assumes something far more violent about God than all of this, as it is focused on God's eternal wrath rather than His wrath in the here and now. His eternal wrath, His rejection of the idea that all people belong to Him and are His sheep, the idea that God accepts this people but rejects that people is found, either implicitly or explicitly, in every book of the NT.

What this means is that the entire picture of God as being a God of holiness that leads to violent acts of wrath upon the wicked runs throughout the Bible, and this is to what the neo-errantist objects as accurate of God.

Instead, they like to say that it is His love and acceptance that is true and should work to counter all of these other things. Hence, they still believe the Bible to be God's Word, but not in the sense as to take all of it as positively and accurately representing God.

Here is the problem, and it's a big one. The love and acceptance of God in the Bible is toward His people, and it functions in the context of violently destroying their enemies. In other words, God's saving love is exclusive to His people in the Bible and that love works by destroying other people. That's the context of salvation texts in the Old and New Testaments. That's the context of the gospel itself. The Divine Warrior dies for His people and removes what harms them from within them  (i.e., their sinful self) and He will return to remove what harms them from without by destroying the wicked with fire.

In other words, this isn't the love with which the pacifist neo-errantists agree depict God accurately. They don't believe in this love that expresses itself through the violent destruction of other people. But that's the love that is depicted of God in the Bible.

Hence, and this is an important point, THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE GOD OF THE BIBLE AT ALL. They do not believe in the loving God the Bible presents because they do not believe in the wrathful and vengeful God the Bible presents.

They somehow think the two can be divorced, but the two go hand in hand. You might want to reimagine what love should look like, but that isn't the biblical version of love. That isn't the biblical God. So in what way is the neo-errantist believing in the God of the Bible? He isn't. He's deceived himself and others into thinking that he has because he's ignoring the type of love and the type of loving God the Bible describes.

Now, I'm sure he'd just say that such is just their ancient way of depicting the God of love, but it's wrong nonetheless. But this doesn't help the case. In fact, it just admits what I said above. The individual who espouses this does not believe in the biblical presentation of God AT ALL.

Instead, he is just taking an abstract concept that God is love and reinterprets that in the context of his modern sensibilities in order to redefine love and therefore what it means to say that God is love. But the Bible at this point has been dismissed en toto. He can try to use it by pouring his modern concept back into passages, but that's not what those passages actually taught about God's love. God is praised for loving His people by wiping out their enemies, by placing them underneath their feet, and as a footstool for His.

So my argument is simple. By not believing in the God of half the Bible, you're not believing in the God of the other half either. In essence, the neo-errantist pacifist rejects the God of the Bible and is merely using eisegesis of his own ideas of love as a way of comforting his soul concerning his lost faith. He doesn't believe in the God of the Bible anymore, but he doesn't want to admit that he is an unbeliever. He just wants to view himself as another type of believer, and indeed, he is. He just isn't a believer in the Bible or its God or its Jesus.

If we're all supposedly looking for so much honesty, then let's all get some and really think about that.

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