I had a lot of interesting feedback from my last blog and noticed one very consistent thread with all of the comments: none of them spoke of the the God that Jesus loved - none of them spoke of his most basic teachings. None of them spoke of Paul's declarations of unconditional love. All their comments were based on Old Testament scripture. I made this comment on a Facebook thread and thought it may help expand the issue somewhat.
I feel I need to make very clear my views on the Old Testament, especially in relation to Israel's national psyche - it's religious paradigm that governs all of its moral judgments.
Again, I am not judging individual people. Your average Israeli is just like you and me, caring and loving, wanting the best for their friends and family (hopefully).
The problem for me was always the gross discrepancy between the character of God that Jesus and Paul portray and the God that the OT displays. I totally understand the traditional viewpoints about the purpose of the Jews etc, but ultimately I simply couldn't correlate the psychopathic horrors of a god that would demand others to commit genocide on a massive scale. I also simply cannot get my head or heart around God picking one barbaric tribe to be his "chosen" ones and make a bloody covenant with them based on performance, adherence to complex rules and regulations, and a fear that we could accidentally offend him and get zapped.
I have studied and read deeply as a christian for over 40yrs, even went to bible college, all in an effort to understand all these complexities. The only real answer I ever got, after endless questioning and digging, was that His ways are perfect and we have to trust His sovereign purposes - God is God and in the end he can do what He wants, we just have to have faith that He has our best intentions.
In the end, however, that just doesn't cut it. You see, to make it all "work", to give consistency and integrity to Gods character and heart, I had to turn my brain off, and abandon rational thought, logic, compassion, heart and the very essence of love that He has put deep in my heart - the love that Paul describes in 1 Cor 13.
I began to see that the entire OT was simply one particular ancient tribe trying to make sense of life and spirituality. They are writings of struggle, power plays, loss, victory, hatred, self justification, barbarism, cultic practices - all wrapped in a deeply held belief that they were the only nation on the earth that God had any interest in - that God actually despised every other person he had ever created and demanded that this one tribe annihilate the rest.
No matter how much I tried to work through the analogy, metaphor, the hidden purposes of God and the deep mysteries that point to Christ, the glaring facts remained - if the stories in the OT are true, then that God is the most horrific psychopathic monster imaginable, and we have been brainwashed to believe He is loving and caring.
So for me, we have been utterly duped, slowly and inexorably over centuries, to believe in a schizophrenic God through the use of incredibly complex doctrines that are MAN MADE. We have created a god in our own frustrated, distorted image - fickle, angry, abusive, conditional, narcissistic, and yet somehow, who loves us.
I cannot with any integrity whatsoever believe in that God. If He is love (as New Testament points out), then the Old Testament is NOT God speaking to us, its nothing more than an ancient tribe justifying its crap. Sure there are some great bits in it that actually do express His real heart, when those people caught the occasional glimpse of it.
No, the Old Testament is NOT God speaking to us, its NOT His holy word, its NOT the expression of His character or heart.
I now find it completely and utterly offensive to the very core of my being to think that God commanded ruthless, brutal murder and genocide - no matter how much theology you care to wrap it up in.
God IS love - if what we read doesn't fit that, then its not God - end of story.