I caught a little bit of Charles Stanley the other day, and he was asking the question, “What is wrong with Jesus?” His point is that there are misconceptions about Jesus, and that it is the Jesus of the Bible that was real. He then went on to talk of the God of the Bible and not of anyone’s imagination. “Ask one of them [who are skeptical about the Bible], ‘What’s wrong with the God of the Bible?’”
Careful with that advice, there, Charles! Apparently, you haven’t been to any skeptics website lately. There are those who cherry pick from the Bible to portray God, especially the God of the OT, as a vengeful and wrathful God. They use the words of the Bible in order to justify their position, and I doubt your followers are equipped to deal with their arguments.
Very few mainstream Christians can address the critics’ statements. A lot of mainstream Christians don’t have the answers. Their theology teaches that the God of the OT laid down a lot of laws and rules and the God of the NT came to do away with all of them. They cannot even begin to address the critics because in reality they don’t recognize them as the same God. They cannot argue against cherry picking because they themselves are engaged in it.
One of the things that impressed me about the theology that HWA taught it is the consistency that flows throughout the Bible when you realize that Jesus did not come to do away with His Father’s commandments, which is more or less what a lot of Protestants teach. The same Being That said to stone adulterers is the One Who told the adulteress to “Go, and sin no more.” The same Person Who told Israel to exterminate entire nations of people was the One Who said to turn the other cheek. Realizing that Jesus was the God of the OT puts it all into a different perspective.
Take the Flood, for example. Critics of the Bible jump upon that story like ants on honey. Yet, how can a Christian address the complaint that a God of love can wipe out most of the earth?
Let’s address the easy stuff first. It is God’s creation, and He can do anything He wants with it. Plants and animals are not made in God’s image. Once they die, that’s the end of it. Nothing about this earth denotes permanence, and there is a lesson in that as well.
What about the people, though? How can God “punish little children”? Why doesn’t an omnipotent God simply make everyone obey?
Because that is not what omnipotence means. Omnipotence means no one can thwart your plans. Omnipotence means you will achieve your result, no matter what. Omnipotence doesn’t define the how, only the result.
Once you realize that God is building a Family, then the reasons become clearer. While I don’t pretend to be privy to God’s thinking on this, some things can be deduced from what we do know. Namely:
1. Sin affects everyone. How often have you heard, “It isn’t hurting anyone else”? Well, that’s simply not true. There is no such thing as a victimless crime. There is no such thing as a cancer that does not hurt and cause pain, and sin is nothing less than a spiritual cancer. It affects the other cells around it.
2. Sin often affects the physical and not just the spiritual. There are physical consequences for sexual immorality, for example. People want to stick their heads in the sand about it, but the fact is that HIV could die out in a couple of generations if everyone were to stop sinning.
3. Cancer must be removed. I’m sure you can figure the rest of that one out.
4. In order to become part of the God Family, you have to learn to think like He does. That means that God often works through people, such as Noah. Their actions teach them to become more like Him. This life becomes a training ground for eternity.
5. When God does act, it is tempered with mercy. For example, even the second death will be rather swift.
6. God acts overall to preserve life. He preserved Noah and his family. He acted before all who were righteous would die out or be killed. God will act again in the end times to keep humanity from wiping itself out.
7. Since all adults were guilty of gross sin, only executing the adults would have left children to fend for themselves. How merciful would it have been to let millions of children starve to death?
8. God gave them life, and He has the right to take it away. Since He is merciful, though, most of them, including the children, will live again in a much better world.
What is really odd about this whole argument, though, is that the skeptics don’t see the inconsistency in their reasoning. The complaint is often why doesn’t God step in to stop suffering. However, when He does intervene, they complain again. It is a lot like wanting to eat your cake and have it too.
There is an accuser of God, of course. He rules the world currently. He has the minds and hearts of the vast majority held hostage. First, people have to be disgusted with the evil before they will be able to really see the good.