Rejecting and Embracing the Bible, Rejecting and Embracing the Love

If you read a passage that records God’s people doing awful things, realize it is not a revelation that God is awful. Rather, it is a passage that reveals God is willing and wanting to work with people no matter how awful they are.

That includes me.

That includes you.

Jesus is God and he said he came to fulfill. God is love, and this love is greater than all faith (which may be full of doubt) and hope (which may be buried in despair). Jesus’ fulfillment of all that came before is a fulfillment of God’s love in God’s people.

That includes me.

That includes you.

This is what the Bible records, and this is what the Bible reveals. He wants his people to become more and more like Jesus, the one revealed in scripture from beginning to end. The Bible is God’s gift, a record to guide his people in knowing him and growing in him.

That includes me.

That includes you.

The Bible is a record and a revelation. To understand it requires reading the whole of scripture, not bits here and there in isolation. Don’t reject as unscriptural those Bible passages you find distasteful, but rather wrestle with them as they reveal God and people.


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23 Responses to Rejecting and Embracing the Bible, Rejecting and Embracing the Love

  1. Beth Caplin says:

    “If you read a passage that records God’s people doing awful things, realize it is not a revelation that God is awful. Rather, it is a passage that reveals God is willing and wanting to work with people no matter how awful they are.”

    I have no problem with God’s people doing awful things as much as I have a problem with GOD ordering his people to do awful things. I haven’t heard any satisfactory explanations for why God would command genocide of innocent women and children, except that perhaps the people who wrote those stories down were mistaken in what they believed God was asking of them. In fact, that’s the opinion of quite a few rabbis, past and present, and therefore less conflict. But in evangelical circles, mention the possibility of God’s people communicating like a game of Telephone, and suddenly the whole Bible falls apart an Christianity must be false.

    • Tim says:

      I see the same conundrum as you, Beth. Yet when I see Jesus I see God, and I know he always loves.

    • Pastor Bob says:

      I wonder if you could expand on this, “I have a problem with GOD ordering his people to do awful things.” Where are these awful things? Within the scriptural record, annals of history, or somewhere else?

      • Beth Caplin says:

        God orders the genocide of the Canaanite people, including women and innocent children. But this God is supposed to be loving. That presents a conflict for me. What’s especially confusing is how atheists are said to lack a moral compass because of their non belief, and live a morally “relative” lifestyle. But God says in the Ten Commandments that murder is wrong, and goes against that later in Scripture. God can essentially change his mind and sanction mass murder because he feels like it. That is morally relativistic to the extreme.

        • Pastor Bob says:

          Thank you for the response!
          As a Bible scholar I can share with you a few points that may bring a different understanding to this.
          God has a loving nature. This love allows His creations to NOT follow Him. Any parent, leader, authority person will share that disobedience has a price, and the consequences may be dire. The Canaanites did not follow God’s plans, and the Bible records they did “evil” in God eyes. The Bible tells us that that this evil had to be removed. Outnumbered Israel did just that (almost, the Philistine problem later). The Laws of the Old Testament were harsh, showing us again the Law was a sign and/or symbol of His Holiness.

          Contrast this to the New Testament model, NONE of the laws were revoked, only the consequences. We are to love the sinner into and through repentance. (The issue of self-defense is not explicitly covered, and will not be developed here.) Big example, the adulterer/adultery couple is not to be killed, but the consequences are huge. They are to be loved into and though repentance.

          God’s OT remedy for adultery is clear, Idolatry is the religious equivalent of adultery.

          Simple, maybe a bit blunt, but I hope this gives a new perspective.

        • Beth Caplin says:

          I promise I’m not trying to be difficult, but that answer still leaves me with questions. God condemns murder in the Ten Commandments, but later commands the genocide of an entire tribe, including the women and the children. How does that not make God hypocritical? He’s supposed to be all-powerful, was there *really* not a better way to handle the situation? If God is a parent-like figure and knows things that we humans have no way of knowing, much less comprehending, why doesn’t he make his wishes more clear so we all agree?

          As far as God’s creation choosing not to follow him, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to choose this based on lack of tangible evidence. Belief is not so simple as choosing yes or no. We believe based on what is real and true to us, and for people who prayed for years for God to show them signs, who followed biblical instruction to the letter and heard nothing, you just can’t say they were weak and walked away due to lack of conviction.

          This idea of God is like a parent by the side of a pool watching their toddler swim. The parent warns the toddler not to go into the deep end, but the toddler doesn’t know any better and goes anyway. What kind of parent would let the kid drown, and later say “Hey, I warned her not to go there, but she chose not to listen”? That’s the image Christians paint of God when they talk in these terms. And it doesn’t do much to convince me that this is the ideal picture of love.

        • Tim says:

          On an unrelated note, I used that jumping into the pool thing in a post back in 2013. Only I really jumped in:

  2. Pastor Bob says:

    I don’t think I get it, maybe because i really do, after much thought i scribe these words of doubt.
    Care open the door a bit further?
    Thanks (anyone else too…?)

  3. susan furst says:

    The enemy would like to make you doubt God’s loving character. There are things we will not understand until we are with the Lord. Remember He chose to die for us While We Were Yet Sinners. There is no greater love. Trust that love and be thankful that he called us out of darkness(satan’s domain) and into His marvelous light! God is always good, there will always be things, mysteries we won’t understand until we are with Him in heaven where everything will be revealed!

    • Tim says:

      Satan is a grand misrepresenter. He misrepresented God’s words was his tactic in the Garden (“Did God really say …”) and in the wilderness (“He will command his angels concerning you …”).

  4. Mary Anne says:

    There’s been a book published in the past couple of years–I think it’s called How to Read the Bible and still be a Christian, or something similar, and I think it addresses this very problem, among others. I need to take a look at it, because I’ve wondered some of the same things.

    A similar incident that troubles me is when Achan takes some items from plunder that was supposed to be totally destroyed, and not only does that man die for what he did, but his whole family with him. ALL of them. It’s in the 7th chapter of Joshua:

    “Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”

    “Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them . . .”

    What did his kids do? The donkeys? The sheep? And yet, as you say, Tim, this is the same God–this is the One who became human and died for us in an unimaginably horrid fashion so we can be with Him in peace forever. It’s a knotty problem.

    • Tim says:

      I’ve wondered the same when it comes to that event. I know the Bible narrative is not always giving us every detail to a story, but I’d sure like more detail on that one.

    • Pastor Bob says:

      The simple answer to the Achan dilemma is this, the seed of sin needed to be destroyed. The destruction of property so no reminder of the sin would be available.

      The longer answer (fairness?) is best left to God.

  5. Pastor Bob says:

    Hi Beth,
    It is safe to assume that (almost?) every child has been burned after being warned not to go near/touch stove or appliance. The pool illustration works when the parent retrieves the scared child – which does happen. To move to the extreme cited earlier suggests that one premise must be true, becasue the opposite cannot.

    God is God, He alone is allowed to take the human life that He has created. (Still not going to touch self-defense.) Man can take life (animal for food) but is incapable of creating life (the same animal). Man cannot create life in the seed that is planted, God created and it awaits the proper conditions to grow. Some seeds fail, still man cannot bring the dead seed back to life.

    As valuable and precious as human life is to God, He alone has the power to take out a civilization for their deliberate disobedience. As painful as this is for some, the nature of God requires it. That being said for the Old Covenant, deliberate disobedience still has its consequences, but much of these are not seen in/under the New Covenant. As stated in many places, we are to love the person through their deliberate disobedience. We are not to support the bad decisions, but the person as a whole.

    Abandoning the pool scenario, the adult child will not levae a substance abuse problem. The parent cannot force them to change, yet the only option is to let them suffer outside of the home. (Some states will seize the property of non-involved individuals if criminal activity is present on the property.) The lack of shelter is the last tool available to show the errant individual the errors of their ways.

    There are countless volumes written on this subject. Simplification will have to suffice here. best option is to look further into this, much has been written.

    Best to you and Blessings!

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