“Bible replacement” - a simple way to approach troubling Bible passages:
That could be a very useful practice. Thx.
Read down to the reply by Yaakov117. It is a good one. The Old Testament portrayal of God is difficult to reconcile with the New Testament portrayal of Jesus, particularly in how Jesus behaved and what advice he gave us. Yaakov117 explains why (in his opinion) there is a difference.
The Old Testament portrayal of God is impossible to reconcile with the New Testament portrayal of Jesus.
I think Richard Murray in his book “God-vs-Evil” did the best job of explaining the difference.
He said that the OT writers considered Satan to be an agent of God who could not go beyond God’s instructions to him. So although it was Satan who carried out all that evil such as totally destroying nations (including women, young children, and babies), they said that God commanded it (since Satan supposedly carried out God’s orders. But in the New Testament times, Satan was considered to be the enemy of God who acted on his own. Actually this independent Satan began to be recognized even in OT times.
The Old Testament clearly indicates that David sinned in numbering Israel.(Why that was sin, I’ll probably never know). But the question is: who incited David to sin in this way? Here is the account in 2 Samuel:
Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army, who was with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people.”
But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (2 Sam 24:1,2,10 ESV)
And here is the account, written centuries later in 1 Chronicles:
Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.”
But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. And David said to God, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” (I Chron 21:1,2,7,8 ESV)
At an earlier stage the ancient Israelites believed that God brings about both good and evil, a God who brings both joy and suffering to mankind. Satan was understood to be a servant of God who was sent by God to tempt or to test man or to bring suffering or death upon him. But Satan could do nothing without God’s permission (as in the book of Job, where he brought suffering to Job and death to his children with God’s permission).
At a later stage of development the Israelites saw Satan as an independent being who did evil in his battle against God and God’s purposes, a view that carried right into New Testament times when Satan tried to tempt even the Son of God, opposing Him rather than being His agent.
Very interesting. Great post.
But what you say here seems to show that the Old Testament portrayal of God can be reconciled with the New Testament portrayal of God. Key to the reconciling is a change, from Old Testament writers to New Testament writers, in how Satan was viewed, a change that began to become evident in the Old Testament as the “independent Satan began to be recognized even in OT times.”
So, I don’t see that it is impossible because you have just done it, using Murray’s ideas! It’s the same God, but a different Satan. Make Satan an independent agent, and we end up with a good God, both in the Old and New Testaments.
So you can use the methods described in the OP to identify the “bad God” depictions, then apply ideas like what @Paidion suggested to resolve them. I think other tools in the toolbox could include myth, exaggeration and attribution of human inclinations to God.
NO! If the two different portrayals could reconciled, it would show that God is both loving and murderous. What Murray has done is to explain the two different portrayals.
But, according to what you said, what Murray has shown is that the portrayals of God, though they seem different, are not really different. It is the different portrayals of Satan that made the portrayals of God seem different. Thus, when the different portrayals of Satan are accounted for–that is, when the distortions so caused in God’s described character are removed–what remains of the Old Testament portrayal of God can be reconciled with the New Testament portrayal of God. By reconcile I mean “to make consistent with one another,” and that is the most appropriate definition of reconcile that fits here, as seen in the list of definitions from Merriam-Webster.
Seems to me you both basically agree with each other on the theological point as your differences are in definitions of the word reconcile.
“Reconcile” has turned out to be a challenging concept/doctrine. The question is whether to understand reconciliation as a now/not-yet teaching or as a ‘done deal’.
Still very much a live issue on this forum, and very interesting.