Thursday, February 2, 2012

FacePalm of the Day: Debunking Christianity: "Why We Must Treat the Bible No Differently Than Any Other Book" By Biblical Scholar James A. Metzger

John Loftus posted the following comment from Dr James A. Metzger

...many theologians and biblical scholars continue to speak of the Christian God in only the most sterling manner: as, for instance, all-loving, just, infinitely wise, and inexhaustibly merciful. But this is not the God of the Bible – not even close. If that were the God of the Bible, I would retain little respect for its authors, who would have proven themselves far more interested in promoting a fiction they liked than in bearing witness to the terrible, unpredictable Power they felt best accounted for (often unseemly) facts on the ground. There’s just no way that the omnibenevolent, all-wise Sovereign of traditional Christianity created and presides over this place. No, if there’s a God at all, he’s likely just the sort we find in the Bible – magnanimous and cruel, loving and spiteful, noble and base, impulsive and deliberate, intelligent and incompetent, responsible and spectacularly negligent. A little like us, in fact, but with a lot more power. Link

This is really amazing...but not in a good way. Metzger seems to think that there is a conflict between describing God as "all-loving, just, infinitely wise, and inexhaustibly merciful" and the actions of God in the Bible. I disagree. There is no contradiction. I think Metzger is confused because he mistakenly thinks that the Bible describes a god like us despite all of the chapters and verses describing how God is not like us at all.

Here are just two but there are loads of others

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
   call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
   and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.- Isaiah 55:6-11


19 God is not human, that he should lie,
   not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
   Does he promise and not fulfill?- Numbers 23:!9

Metzger seems to be making a major mistake. Where the Bible tells of  God's justice and punishment of sin, he fails to see that it does not mean that God is not benevolent or loving. He is like a child who pouts because of his being chastised and disciplined by his parent - although he knows he deserves it. Metzger makes the same mistake many Christians make in thinking that God is just a buddy - an equal. God is not like that at all. "Sovereign" is too small a word to describe God's authority., power, and the right to do anything pleases and how he pleases it - even if we don't like it. God is so much in control, he even allows us to not like it so that we know just how much we need God. It's a blessing.  You get to understand God better and yourself as you understand your relationship with God better. God always causes His people to triumph, but we don't get tell God what that triumph looks like - He tells us. Recall that God does give us mercy but He decides to whom, when, and how much.

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,
   “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
   and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
 22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? - Romans 9:14-24

Debunking Christianity: "Why We Must Treat the Bible No Differently Than Any Other Book" By Biblical Scholar James A. Metzger
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