Today I thought I would talk to you about my struggle with the inconsistency of the Bible. Philip Gulley who has written several books on this topic is a well know Christian author of the Quaker persuasion. He is one of my favorite authors of any genre. Let’s start this topic with a quote from one of his books.
For what good is grace—this unconditional love of God—if it is not extended to those who deserve it the least but need it the most? God is love. Holiness and justice are not competing commitments. God has not chosen to turn his back on us or to punish us as our sins deserve. God has chosen to redeem us. Nothing requires God to condemn us, so God has not. Rather, in his sovereign freedom, he waits patiently for the day of our redemption.
Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) (pp. 87-88). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
The above quote comes at the end of a chapter entitled “The Character of God” in Philip Gulley’s book “If Grace Is True”. I must admit that I have had many of the same painful questions about the character of God as Mr. Gulley. When I was told to believe that absolutely everything in the Bible is literally and in absolutely true I simply could not reconcile much of the god of the Old Testament to the person of Jesus. Until I was willing to weigh scripture the dichotomy of a vengeful God vs. Jesus of “love your enemy” I was racked with doubt about all things the church pronounced. Could any of it really be true?
I must admit that the God of the Old Testament scares me. When he supposedly in the tenth chapter of Joshua told the Israelites to kill every man, woman and child in the town of Libnash this horrified me. This simply didn’t sound like the God of Jesus I had come to know in the New Testament. I heard various rationalizations trying to reconcile the two gods. One was that God was trying to protect the Israelites from the corrupting influence that intermarriage would have caused. That sounds much like what Hitler used for destroying the Jews. That couldn’t be the answer…
When we finally reject the idea of every word in the ancient and pretty much unverifiable text is absolutely true and applicable for eternity then this contradiction between two gods goes away. I, as Mr. Gulley quotes above, believe Jesus showed us that all scripture is not equal or inerrant. There are just too many places where he taught us a much different way than was recorded in the Old Testament.