Nearly every religious person has had such crises of faith, and the problem is that people aren't being taught the right things. They get all their
beliefs from a preacher, and they
get all their beliefs hammered into their heads in seminaries. It is therefore the church's agenda that gets
preached, the church's choices in interpreting scripture. It is that agenda that is flawed; it's self-reinforcing, self-perpetuating. The bad
translations of Coine Greek into Latin into English don't help, either. But.
The real problem is frames of reference. We down here with our limited three-dimensional view of an eleven-dimensional universe can't possibly even
comprehend what's really going on out there. God's point of view, his frame of reference, is so vastly wider than ours that you have
he can see a lot more than we can. He knows many things we don't. It is our lack of understanding what things are like from God's perspective that
leads to crises of faith. It is caused by our own ignorance.
Allow me to address specific points...
...it is getting harder for me to imagine a merciful god who would command the utter destruction of men, women and children by the sword as
spoken in the Old Testament... The world is so full of hunger and pain... Can you really allow that to continue and yet be a merciful God?
This dichotomy between Old Testament God and New Testament God is a classic that few people can think their way around, but there are possible
explanations. If reincarnation is real, for instance, God knows that anyone killed can have a chance to come back and try again to live a worthy life,
and thus, slaughtering all those heathens was doing them a favor
because when they came back, that heathen culture wasn't around anymore to
poison them. But he only did it up to a certain point; now, those poisonous cultures stick around, poisoning the minds of their children in an
endless, pointless hate cycle. (Palestine vs. Israel.)
The world is not full of hunger and pain because of God. The world is as we've made it. Some people have divine influences guiding their actions;
some are rather the opposite. No evil in the world is of God. This is why the story of Job was put in the Bible, to show the things Satan does to us.
God let Satan do what he wanted to Job and his family (maybe one of them was reincarnated as an Apostle, who knows?), and what'd Satan do? A swarm of
murderous barbarians. A lightning storm. Another band of marauders. A tornado. These aren't things God
did. He was letting Satan do them.
I submit that nothing has changed. God has allowed Satan full dominion over this planet for thousands of years now. Every bad thing that happens is
Satan's doing, either directly (natural disasters) or indirectly (marauding bands of marauders aren't likely to be Godly people, meaning they follow
the other guy). That is the symbolism of Job. What if God is still allowing this for the same reason: tests of our characters? What if we're
Job? If that's the case, it's the answer to why God lets bad things happen to good people. And remember the frames of reference. It's
likely that God knows this life, here, on Earth, is totally meaningless aside from his reasons for creating it. We're here to learn, to improve, to
be purified, to prove ourselves. We are not here to be Blackwater goons or Monsanto CEO's, making themselves comfortable at others' expenses. Eighty
years or so is nothing
compared to the vast stretches of cosmic time, and we all exist throughout all of it. We just can't remember that other
life right now. This
is the dream. The Kingdom is the reality.
Whether one individual's life here is a hundred years long or only a hundred days, it's roughly the same percentage of eternity. What happens to us
here will, for most of our existence, be just a brief memory. A dream we once had. An idea for a story we might write one of these eons. And those who
don't get it
will end up all alone in a dark, empty universe, selfish to the end. Which may never come.
“Saved by faith not by works,” but “faith without works is dead,” appear to cancel each other out.
I don't know off-hand the church's official explanation for this, but here's mine. Okay, I admit it, it isn't mine, it's by Titus. Titus 3:5
"He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by the cleansing bath of the new
birth and renewing of the Holy Spirit..."
We'll be saved from eternal death by Jesus. He makes us better people than we were before accepting him; that's the rebirth. Our love for him and
his philosophy should
make us go around doing good things, random acts of kindness, all the time, every opportunity we can handle. If you're
saved, you will
do good works, just like if you're ginger, you will burn in the sun.
And I've run outta room.