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Is the Bible All About God’s Love and Grace?

genocidal god

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Several years ago, a Christian Fundamentalist by the name of Matt stopped by this blog to let me know what God and his servant Matt thought about me. After a week of comments, I finally banned Matt. You can read his comments here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. After I banned Matt, he wandered over to the Quakers and Jesus: A Spirituality of Love (no longer active), the blog of my Australian friend John Arthur.

Watching John and Matt go back and forth was quite entertaining. I’ve learned John is far more patient — most days — than I am, even when dealing with an intractable Fundamentalist who is certain he is absolutely right like Matt. (Please read The Intractability of Christian Fundamentalists.) In all the discussions on this site and John’s, Matt has not changed or moderated his viewpoint one bit. He is certain he is right. Why? Because he can read the Bible for himself. He has no need of books because he has THE book.

While there are any number of Matt’s comments that I could respond to, I want to focus on the following comment:

The wrathful God of the Old Testament and the loving God of the New Testament is a false dichotomy. The love of God is the central feature of both.  The story of the entire Bible is a story of grace. It is a concept foreign to every other religious worldview, but central to Christianity.

First, Matt lets readers know that there is one true religion — his. Now we don’t know for sure what that religion is because Matt refuses to say. My money is on Baptist or Church of Christ.

Second, Matt believes that the love of God is the central theme of both the Old and New Testaments. This line of argument is often used in an attempt to negate the charge that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. According to Matt, there is one God, a God of love and grace. From Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, the Bible is one long, sweet, and enduring love story. However, such a view is based on either a selective reading of the Bible or an attempt to make the Bible awkwardly fit the love/grace paradigm. As I will clearly show, not only is the God of the Bible not a God of love and grace, he is actually a vindictive, temperamental, genocidal son of a bitch. Richard Dawkins was right when he said:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

One of the reasons people deconvert from Christianity is their inability to reconcile the Old Testament God with the Jesus/God of the New Testament. While Jesus is certainly a much-improved version of God, particularly if one sticks to the gospels or the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reverts to the God of the Old Testament in the book of Revelation. Revelation is 17 chapters of God/Jesus opening can after can of whoop-ass and pouring it out on the earth. The slaughter and violence of God/Jesus far exceeds anything humanity, animals, and the earth have ever experienced. Billions of people will be killed, their only sin being the worship of the wrong God. Even the Jews, Jesus’ people, will face slaughter. Only those saved during the tribulation and subsequently martyred will escape the Lake of Fire.

Here are a few of the things God/Jesus promises to do come the end of the world:

  • 1/4 of the inhabitants of the earth will die of starvation
  • Earthquakes
  • Hail and fire mingled with blood will fall on the earth
  • 1/3 of the trees will be destroyed
  • All the green grass will be destroyed
  • 1/3 of the seas will turn to blood
  • 1/3 of the ships will be destroyed
  • 1/3 of marine life will be destroyed
  • 1/3 of the waters will be made undrinkable
  • 1/3 of the sun, moon, and stars will be darkened
  • Locusts that sting like a scorpion will sting earth’s inhabitants
  • 1/3 part of earth’s inhabitants will be killed by smoke, fire, and brimstone
  • Seas will be turned to blood and all marine life will die
  • Heat will scorch earth’s inhabitants
  • Earth’s inhabitants will be afflicted with painful sores
  • Islands and mountains will collapse
  • Large hail will fall on the earth
  • Those left? They will be slaughtered when Jesus returns to earth

I complied this list by briefly scanning the book of Revelation. There are many more things I could have added, but this list should suffice to prove that the God of “love” in the New Testament reverts to his Old Testament ways, killing everyone who does not worship him.

In the Old Testament, even a primary-age Sunday school student could prove false the notion that the God of the Old Testament is a God of love and grace. The 39 books of the Old Testament are a testament to the genocidal rage and violence of the Judeo-Christian God. One need only read Genesis 6-9 — Noah’s Ark and the Flood — to see how God responds to those who get on his bad side. God drowns millions of men, women, children, infants, and unborn fetuses, saving only Noah and seven family members. Where is God’s love and grace in this story? This is an ancient version of the modern “airliner crash, 250 killed, 1 survived” story. Christians focus on the miracle of the one survivor, ignoring the fact that God killed 250 people.

God continued his murderous ways when he slaughtered everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah, save Lot and his family. Then in the book of Exodus, we find God killing all the firstborn sons in Egypt. Only those who had animal blood applied to their doorposts escaped God’s killing spree. When Israel left Egypt, headed for the Promised Land, God commanded them to kill almost everyone who stood in their way. God especially had it out for the Canaanites, ordering the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites whenever they encountered them.

Shall I go on?

There is no possible way for a rational person to maintain that the Old Testament God is a God of love and grace. I know every argument Evangelicals use in an attempt to make their God look good. All of them fail miserably. The God of the Old Testament, if he were human — and technically, he is — would be sitting on death row awaiting execution for murder and genocide. If he were human, none of us would want him as our father, family member, or friend.

The dichotomy between the Old Testament and New Testament Gods is one of the reasons I deconverted. I suspect the same could be said for many atheists and agnostics. If being a Christian requires embracing, accepting, and loving the God of the Old Testament and Revelation, no thanks! I have often wondered whether the Christian church rues the day they decided to make the Old Testament part of their canon of Scripture. Imagine how much simpler Christianity would be to defend if the Old Testament was tossed into the dustbin of human history. But the Old Testament is a part of the canon, and Evangelicals are left with the task of defending their psychopath Father. Good luck with that.

Imagine a person having no exposure to Christianity one day stumbling upon a book called the Old Testament. Would this person, by only reading this book, come to the same conclusions as Evangelicals? Would they conclude the Christian deities are Gods of love and grace? That a rhetorical, question, by the way.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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16 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Brian

    Inspired, thank-you….. There is no way to reason a fellow out of THE TRUTH.
    One door and only one and yet its sides are two! I’m on the inside you asshole, on which side are you!

  2. Avatar
    exrelayman

    I am of little patience myself these days, and don’t get in there and comment much. Whatever anyone says on the internet offends someone and then discussion/debate yada yada with no one budging an inch from where they started.

    Looked at your link to John and Matt’s dialogue for as long as I could tolerate. Each proponent must cherry pick the Bible to arrive at their viewpoint. God is loving – got your verses right here. God is a monster – got your verses right here. I did get a chuckle out of John’s assurance of what the word ‘sword’ meant in a passage Matt cited contradictory to John’s way of thinking.

    Prior to point by point verse by verse fisking of scripture should be the investigation into the provenance and nature of scripture, in order to assess its reliability. This endeavor is almost always cited by all the ex pastors and ex Christians.

    Seems to me like John is pretty close to a modern day Marcion, in wanting to disassociate from that nasty old Hebrew deity and have a meek, mild, loving Jesus. Anyway, from where I sit there is much appeal to the Quaker philosophy as opposed to conventional fundamentalism. So, between agnostic atheist and agnostic believer, the distance is not terribly great.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      You raise an excellent point about the Bible itself. This is why I recommend fundamentalists and Evangelicals read Bart Ehrman. They must be disabused of the notion that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text. Until this happens, there is little hope of having a profitable discussion.

      I may or may not engage in a discussion depending on how I feel, but I have no illusions about changing their thinking. Until they can at least consider the possibility of being wrong, there is no hope for them.

  3. Avatar
    Geoff

    Matt’s ongoing problem is that he continually cites the bible as evidence of itself. How many times does he refer to ‘the evidence’, and then go into some incomprehensible verse from the bible, OT or NT, that makes sense only if you already believe it. John Arthur, decent guy though he seems to be, is forced, as a believer, to take this nonsense broadside, and try to deal with it.

    Bruce, you make it impossible for people like Matt. First off, you’ve probably forgotten more bible related stuff than he knows. But more than that, you don’t have to share his premise that the bible has any integrity whatever, and has no present day relevance other than as a historically interesting set of documents. It is academically futile to refer to any part as being evidence of anything.

    For example, Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ is a fabulous book. I haven’t read it but I know people who have, and I read all sorts about it. However, its importance isn’t as a standalone book, it is as a base for all the wealth of evolutionary study and evidence that has followed. If Origin were all we had then I daresay evolutionary theory would be floundering. As it is it thrives, because all the evidence shows it to be true.

    All the evidence since the bible was written shows almost nothing to be true.

  4. Avatar
    Kerry

    Your last point is exactly on point. I was having this very discussion with a christian friend the other day. I commented that christians like to have prospective converts read the Gospel of John as a way to introduce them to Jesus/Christianity. They want to show the loving graceful god. I pointed out that this was because proselytizing is based on deception. Anyone picking up a bible and starting in Genesis…at the beginning, would be so disgusted by the time they got to John, that there would be no hope of converting them. Indeed, like you, when going through my own de-conversion, and having read through the Bible numerous times in a Christian University and as a church member, I finally had to admit that these two parts of the Bible were incompatible.

  5. Avatar
    Texas Born & Bred

    Everyone that can read should know that the god of the old testament hates the firstborn Egyptians, Amalekites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, and fags. I guess they had it coming. Too bad these people lived before Jesus when the god of the new testament was more loving!

  6. Avatar
    Teresa

    Love this! I laughed out loud and the “My money is on Baptist or Church of Christ” because I went from Baptist to Church of Christ in my teens. It was only after being allowed in the adult class to study Revelations and being in charge of a preschool class and having to “teach” about Noah’s Ark that my deconversion begin. By 20 I knew that what I had believed in all my life was just as bogus as Santa Clause.

  7. Avatar
    John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for your support over at my website. I should have taken your advice about banning Matt a lot sooner.
    I haven’t done it yet, but he continues to avoid answering my question about reading Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus’.

    I’ve asked him again. If he fails to respond, I will give him a warning, then if there is no response or he gives no evidence of actually reading this book, I will ban him. He does not want to discuss the issues involved, but sets his own agenda.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

  8. Avatar
    John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    I banned Matt from my site today. He claimed that you were an apostate preacher when you were leading churches. His gross misrepresentation of your position when you were a pastor shows me that either he did not read those links you gave him on your blog or he is deliberately misrepresenting you. I think that it is highly likely to be the latter. If he tries to post anything further on my blog , I will simply delete his comments.

    Thanks for your support, Bruce.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

  9. Avatar
    Steve Ruis

    And these people took all of this really seriously. When Moses first came down the mountain with the stone tablets, engraved by God no less, and found the Hebrews worshiping an idol, so he blew his stack and ordered 3000 men killed. Oh, he smashed the tablets first. Apparently he no respect for the word of God … oh, and one of those tablets had the divine commandment to “not murder other Hebrews.”

    God of Love, religion of peace, etc. etc.

    (No wonder that god was grouchy with the Hebrews.)

  10. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    That’s why I don’t read the Book of Revelation, having done it once years ago, and that was enough. There are no winners in that book, God only, and ultimately not even believers. Plus, if I remember correctly, 2/3 of the Jews will be killed, and they don’t know about that little clause in there. Trump was lauded in 2018 as the man who will end the world by bringing on Armageddon. I Googled it after hearing something regarding that on the radio. I’ll type in the names of these clowns egging Trump on later.

  11. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    That’s why I don’t read the Book of Revelation, having done it once years ago, and that was enough. There are no winners in that book, God only, and ultimately not even believers. Plus, if I remember correctly, 2/3 of the Jews will be killed, and they don’t know about that little clause in there. Trump was lauded in 2018 as the man who will end the world by bringing on Armageddon. I Googled it afterwards and hearing something regarding that on the radio. I’ll type in the names of these clowns egging Trump on later.

  12. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    That’s why I don’t read the Book of Revelation, having done it once years ago, and that was enough. There are no winners in that book, God only, and ultimately not even believers. Plus, if I remember correctly, 2/3 of the Jews will be killed, and they don’t know about that little clause in there. Trump wasn’t lauded in 2018 as the man who will end the world by bringing on Armageddon. I Googled it afterwards and hearing something regarding that on the radio. I’ll type in the names of these clowns egging Trump on later.

  13. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Sorry for the duplicate response everyone. My phone wacked out again. Nate Pyle and Robert Jeffress, John Hagee, and other TBN alumni are behind these weird events like that general being rubbed out earlier this year. And almost starting a major war last week. Sad to say, they love the idea of Armageddon so much that the harm to their fellow Americans means zilch. When I Googled the above, their names and others did come up. Biden has his own authoritarian tendencies, and I only voted for him so as not to split the vote. Trump and Co.need to go, straight up.

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