Many Christians read the Quran (or, at least select quotes from the Quran) with abhorrence. “The God of the Quran is bloodthirsty and cruel!” they exclaim. But many non-Christians read the Bible with the same abhorrence, coming to the same conclusions about the God of the Bible, especially the God of the Old Testament. Is there any justification to their conclusions? And how is it that Christians can read the same Book and see it so differently?
Critics would point to things like these in the Old Testament:
- God destroying the entire world, save just 8 people, with a flood
- God testing Abraham by telling him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice
- God giving the Israelites a law that they could purchase slaves from other nations
- God giving the Israelites a law that a man who raped a woman was required to marry her and never divorce her
- Moses telling the Israelites that they should kill every man, woman, and child among the Canaanites
- Moses giving the Israelite men permission on one occasion to spare all the virgin women for themselves but to kill everyone else
- The psalmist saying that those who smash Babylon’s babies on the rocks would be truly happy
In the New Testament, critics would object to the frequent talk about the judgment of hell fire along with the concept that Jesus was the only way to God, among other issues.
How, then, can Christians so highly prize a Book like this? How can they find it to be the epitome of love, compassion, kindness, justice, liberation, and truth?
It’s because they understand God through the cross, meaning, they understand that: 1) we all sin and deserve God’s judgment; 2) rather than condemning us for our sins, God condemned His own Son to die in our place; 3) God now forgives us and accepts us into His family as we put our trust in Jesus.
This, to believers, is the most incredible, even mind-boggling expression of divine love. And since we know how good and loving our heavenly Father is, we read the entire Bible in that light.
Not only so, but we find passages throughout the Bible that are of the loftiest, most uplifting, ethical quality.
We find the Ten Commandments to be wonderful standards for life.
We find the words of the prophets to be the most powerful words of justice ever spoken.
We find psalms like Psalm 23 or 103 to be deeply spiritual and radiant with God’s goodness, grace, and love.
We find books like Job to be extraordinarily brilliant compositions dealing with the difficult issue of the problem of suffering.
We find perennial, up-to-date wisdom in Proverbs and great existential wrestling in Ecclesiastes and beautiful love poems in the Song of Solomon.
And we find the moral lessons of the Old Testament to be quite clear, profound, and relevant.
As for the New Testament, we find nothing higher in the world of literature than the Sermon on the Mount or the parables of Jesus or Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13.
And rather than seeing an emphasis on hell, we see an emphasis on God’s extraordinary measures to rescue us from a hell we so richly deserve.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Brown