How do we reconcile the loving God of the Old Testament with the harsh God of the New Testament?
That’s how I begin God Behaving Badly but the most recent edition of Christianity Today (July/August 2013) flipped the question around, asking how to reconcile the wrathful, legalistic God of the OT with the loving, gracious God of the NT. I think that’s the way people are used to hearing it asked.
I love the fact that CT is addressing this subject. We don’t talk about the problematic texts in the Bible enough, but atheists like Richard Dawkins are bringing them up in public forums. Christians unfortunately don’t have good answers, probably because these subjects never get discussed in church. I hope CT gets something started here.
CT addresses the topic with four articles:
1) A short intro by editor Mark Galli, “A Paradox Old and New.” He mentions God Behaving Badly (thanks for that), as well as books by Paul Copan and Eric Seibert. In the online version this article appears at the end of the Buchanan article (see next).
2) “Can We Trust the God of Genocide” a pastor’s (Mark Buchanan) response.
3) “Gentiles in the Hand of a Genocidal God” (titled “We are all Rahab Now” in the print version) by a philosophy professor at Eastern University.
4) “Learning to Love Leviticus” by Christopher Wright, one of my favorite OT scholars.
While we’re on the subject, here’s my take on the Canaanite Genocide, from Relevant Magazine (Sept-Oct 2011), “Reconciling the God of Love with the God of Genocide.” To get the whole article, you’ll need to register with Relevant (or email me).
Here’s the CT excerpt of God Behaving Badly, the dreaded wedgie for a wedgie story:
When do you discuss the problematic God of the OT? At church, Sunday school, dinner with your family, or never?