The old testament shows a God who at times is a genocidal maniac, who plays games with people just to see if they will obey his every whim. Asking someone to kill his son to prove his love deserved an answer like “Go to Hell” instead of obedience. Isaac and Jacob’s God needed psychological help. Then the new testament gives us a God who is much less psychotic, and perhaps more loving, but still lacking in empathy and compassion by sending souls to Hell, sacrificing his own son, etc. Then we have the post-Jesus, early theologian’s God with his big list of confusing attributes, mysterious ways, and with an incomprehensible personality. Today most of the Christians I know still think of God as first, the only real God, then a loving father figure who listens to all our prayers, keeps us safe, provides for our needs, etc. Which is the real God? They can’t all be the same.
I think of it as the Trinity “revealing” itself. The Father is much more strict and as you would say “genocidal”. The Son is loving and compassionate. The Holy Spirit is all knowing.
Also, the Old Testament is composed of ancient stories that lack the character development of the New Testament. They’re intended for instruction not psychoanalysis. God doesn’t change; however, to us it may appear he’s changed his tune.
clarkgamble – You… don’t read a lot of Middle Eastern mythology, do you?
I mean, the God of Israel is reasonable. He’s nice. He makes promises and keeps them. He makes clear covenants with humans. He invites them to join Him and be His people, and He acts as a father to them as well as a king.
The gods of Babylon had a creation story that involved cutting their own mom/grandma into pieces, and doing some very bad stuff with the pieces.
The gods of Babylon also claimed to have created humans so that they could have someone to do work and to live “under the yoke” of slavery.
Babylonians had to do big sacrifices and festivals every year, in order to get the gods to promise to keep the world from dissolving back into chaos during that particular year. The destruction of the world and of all humanity was only kept away by paying rent for the world every year.
I could say similar things about the gods of the Egyptians, the gods of the Greeks and Romans, the gods of the Hittites, and so on.
Meanwhile, it is abundantly clear that the OT and NT are talking about the same loving and reasonable God – unless you do like Marcion and chop out most of the Bible, so that you can keep all that evidence out.
The wrath of God in the Old Testament was necessary to bring the world, particularly Israel, out of their diabolic ways of Paganism.
If you think that Jesus is a different God to that found in the old Testament, then you should read his appearances in the book of the apocalypse. He is, after all, the person who is to cast the final judgement upon every person and ultimately to throw a lot of us into eternal punishment.
This stinks of Marcionism.
Research that ancient heresy to see why you’re way off the mark in your assessment.
Could be Gnostic too. They thought the Old Testament God was an evil being called the Demiurge.
Re: Isaac – As has been pointed out many times, the point for Abraham was that he had already been promised that his son Isaac would have many descendants and would be a great nation. So Abraham, as a guy experienced with the exact terms of a bargain, figured that Isaac was going to be all right.
Likewise, as has also been pointed out, Isaac was old enough and strong enough to carry a load of wood sufficient to entirely burn him up. So he wasn’t a little kid; he was a grown young man, who also could figure out that God had something planned and that he was going to live.
Of course, if God had been a standard Middle Eastern deity, the safe bet would have been that Isaac would have died horribly, and only would have had kids thanks to some creepy magic spell that kept only his male parts alive. Or he would have been a procreating zombie. Or any number of other horrendous possibilities, because mythology can get pretty unprintable pretty fast.
But Abraham and Isaac trusted God, and they trusted Him not to be creepy about the way He kept His promises to them. Which says a lot.
Yeah the heresies of the Gnostics were the first ever Christian heresy.
And heresies are like cancer to the Body of Christ - they spread and kill the individual cells of the body. And they have a tendency to mutate, go into remission, then come back. Thats where the idea of burning heretics at the stake comes from - it was thought better to kill a single cell of the body than to let the whole organism rot from the inside. You have to get into the minds and worldviews of medieval people to understand these things, but too many of us moderns just want to be confirmed in our prejudice, because that’s easier than taking the time to thoroughly research things from both angles. Its easy to impose modern socioeconomic and political contexts and project them back centuries in time - it’s much harder to try to set your mind to the ways of thinking like a nobleman in 14th century France.
Thats why you see elements of Gnosticism in Marcionism, elements of Arianism in Iconoclasm, elements of Catharism in Protestantism, and so on and so forth.
You miss what is written. This event was a prophecy of Jesus. The father of the to be chosen people, loved God so much he was willing to give up his son. But the Father loves us so much that instead of stopping Jesus, His only Son, from being hung on the cross He allowed it to happen for our sake.
The Old Testament and the New Testament, while inspired, are very different in terms of their genre and context. Our conception of God is molded individually because God must be “all things to all people”, and we see that in the hands of each author in the Bible, both Old and New Testament, expressing him in their own ways and in their own situations. Ultimately, the underlying theme that God has revealed to us in scripture - no matter what way the author has conceived him to be - is that man is broken, he cannot come to God on his own, and he needs a savior, and that savior is Jesus Christ.
I don’t find there to be any difference at all. God expressed himself clearly each time, even making sure to link each of those instances by affirming his identity.
Call me blunt but people assume God doesn’t have the right to annihilate the planet and every living being on it if he so wishes. That’s wrong. Our existence is a privilege. Which is why it matters at all.
The son came to appease the fathers need for perfect justice using perfect mercy. Entirely the point and if anything, further proof of consistency.
Or do you think Jesus just said ‘I AM’ for giggles.
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