reply to post by Miri08
Well, I'm very happy to have helped you out, glad that you stuck with me
By the way, the failing of people who use instances such as you cite in the original post is that they take a literal view of the Bible, but only
the parts that they agree with
. So they lay claim that "God is evil" by saying "look at all these people he killed" (a literal reading of the
text) and denounce it as an evil deed by dismissing the parts of the Hebrew Bible that demonstrate that God cannot be immoral (a non-literal reading
of the text.) This is colloquially referred to as "cherry picking".
Of course, with that in mind, the other position I gave you, the non-literal reading, would seem to suffer from the same shortcoming, and my literal
reading friends do occasionally give me a little poke in the ribs for it, but here's why it isn't the same thing. I believe that points of
theological reference should be taken literally, because when they are, they remain remarkably consistent, are still demonstrable today (for those who
see God at work in the world) and represent what we can
know about God. As with the literalists, I believe that there are things that we
cannot know or understand about God (the whole "My ways are not your ways" thing,) but there are definitely things that we can know.
However, on matters which do not represent points of theology, we tend to take a more flexible view that there are matters of culture and history in
the Bible, which may or may not be accurate, and may or may not reflect what God thinks (rather than what the author thought.) It's not that we say
that something didn't happen, just that we allow for the fact that it might not have. So, unlike the "God is evil" irrationalist, we're not cherry
picking, because we don't dismiss things we don't like, we just don't factor them in, and if you were to demand that we defend something we're not
sure about, we always can take the same position of the literalist, that it must be moral, whether we understand why or not, because we have a literal
interpretation of the attributes of God.
An example would the dietary laws in Leviticus, which were steadfastly held to by the Jews, and still are today. However, Jesus makes the point that
it's not what goes into you that makes you unclean, but rather what comes out -- food doesn't drive a wedge between you and God, but the words you
speak can. And thus, Christians eat whatever they want, while Jews avoid pork and shellfish and stuff. A literal reader will have a perfectly valid
explanation for that, while a non-literal reader just says "that was a cultural thing, not a theological thing, so it isn't important that it be taken
The weakness of the non-literal position is that it is a rather dangerous path to follow for the theologically challenged (which represents probably
99% of Christians,) because it can allow one to justify pretty much any act as being moral, even ones that are obviously wrong. Because, in the end,
it doesn't matter what we
think are moral acts, but what God thinks.
Best of luck on your continued journey.
edit on 13-9-2012 by adjensen because: (no reason given)