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Is God inconsistent?

by and

Published: 4 February 2014 (GMT+10)

In letters and at ministry events, we often receive challenges mainly from skeptics trying to stump us by citing passages in the Bible about God killing, or ordering others to kill, ‘innocent’ people. Parents and church leaders please note we are particularly noticing an increase in university students using this approach. We suspect this is because Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion (see our review), is being highly recommended to students on campuses. (The students have actually told us that.) In his book, Dawkins writes:

“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, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.1

We should not be surprised that a God-hater finds God repugnant. But some suggest that this portrayal of God in the Old Testament contradicts Jesus’ admonitions in the New Testament, loving our enemies and so on. Jesus seems to portray a more loving, forgiving and merciful God, they argue. Some claim that these two ‘different’ Gods falsifies the unity of Scripture. In our experience, most Christians have never been taught how to defend against this very common accusation.

But the Bible clearly presents a consistent narrative from Genesis to Revelation of God’s big picture plan for the salvation, redemption, and judgment of human beings. In particular, the Bible reveals how God created the nation of Israel and used it as a means of bringing the Saviour, Jesus, into the world. If we keep this ‘big picture’ in mind there are a couple of ideas that help to explain apparent inconsistencies.

Is the God of the OT different from the God of the NT?

First, it is not true that God’s character undergoes a dramatic shift between the Old and New Testaments. God’s holy nature means that not only is He sinless, He must judge sin that corrupts His Creation. He has always done this and will continue to do so. In fact, when a person makes an accusation about God he or she is, in fact, making a judgment. But this is the first problematic area, because man’s judgment on what is right or wrong is arbitrary if not rooted in God’s nature, and is usually based upon justifying a person’s own sinful desires which slant perceptions of what is right or wrong, good or evil etc. But God has a right to set the rules and decide what is good or evil because He is the Creator. He is morally perfect so His laws will always be good.

Wikipedia

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Second, while the OT reveals how God judged sin before the incarnation of the Saviour, the OT actually has dozens of statements about God’s mercy, His patience, and in particular, His merciful acts to people and nations. For example:

Yahweh passed before him and proclaimed, ‘Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation’” (Exodus 34:6–7).
‘And should I not pity Ninevah, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?’” (Jonah 4:11; see also Gen. 18:23–32; 19:15–16; Ps. 36:5–6; 145:8–9; Jer. 18:7–8; Lam. 3:22–26).

And people forget that the NT has plenty to say about judgment, including some of the most terrible images of eternal condemnation that we have ever seen (and the most colourful language about Hell comes to us courtesy of Jesus Himself). For instance:

“I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11–12).
The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the general and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’” (Revelation 6:14–17; see also Mark 9:47–48; John 3:36; Acts 12:23; Rom. 1:18; 2:8; Rev. 14:11; 19:15).
While the New Testament’s picture of salvation and mercy is clearer in some respects, that is only because Jesus, the Saviour, is finally revealed.

While the New Testament’s picture of salvation and mercy is clearer in some respects, that is only because Jesus, the Saviour, is finally revealed. It’s only through Jesus that we can experience God’s mercy and forgiveness of sin. Jesus is the ultimate solution, ordained by God from the Creation of the world for the sin problem that everyone experiences. For everyone who does not accept God’s free gift to be eternally free of sin, there is only judgment and condemnation for sin. So there is no difference between God in the OT and NT. It is Jesus (God the Son) that paid the ultimate penalty for God’s perfect and holy justice.

Is God’s judgment immoral?

If there exists a being who is omnipotent (so He can right every wrong) and omniscient (so He knows every wrong that’s ever been committed), would we expect this being to act on His perfect knowledge to give everyone ‘what they deserve’? Every abused child could see justice, everyone murdered at the hands of bloodthirsty dictators. The only person who would object to such perfect justice would be the guilty ones or those who want to continue in sin in rebellion of the Creator. In fact, God’s perfect and holy nature demands that He will do exactly that. God will punish all sinners who have rebelled against Him—it’s not about how bad a sin is, but the sin nature of a person, and the fact that their sin offends God.

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But atheists don’t even believe that God exists, so all their outrage at Him rings hollow. It’s a bit like someone complaining about Santa Claus giving the rich kids better presents. A nonexistent being can’t do anything! But even under their own standards, they would not be able to accuse God of injustice since atheism, with evolution at the core of its belief system and its ‘survival of the fittest’ mantra, cannot provide an objective standard of morality to ground their own accusations; see Can we be good without God? If God is culling sin and helping perfect the human race somewhat, then the atheist/evolutionist should actually be applauding Him; after all, God would be the great ‘selector’. And surely there would be nothing wrong if the nation of Israel vanquished a weaker foe. That would be consistent with the evolutionist’s worldview, so why complain?

Still, we recognize that many atheists claim God is acting inconsistently with His own character by mandating punishments such as death. But in reality they misunderstand God’s character and that He is acting righteously both when He judges sin and when he mercifully saves sinners.

Again, we only have a problem with God’s judgment because we’ve all sinned and deserve to be judged. No one likes the thought of that because it casts a spotlight on us and our own nature. But let’s look at some specific instances of God’s judgment:

Noah’s Flood: In the second biggest catastrophe of all history, God killed all air-breathing animals and people outside the Ark (the biggest is, of course, the Fall in Eden, which ensured the death of every human being and animal that ever lived). Scripture tells us that the whole world was violent, corrupt and wicked. Even fallen angels were actually violating women in an attempt to threaten the lineage of the Saviour (see Who were the ‘sons of God’ in Genesis 6?); who had to be fully human as the “Last Adam” (as Paul calls Him in 1 Corinthians 15). God’s judgment of the world was absolutely just, but also merciful, because it preserved the possibility of Jesus’ coming. Because man was given dominion over the Creation, including the animals (Genesis 1:28), it was subject to God’s judgment when mankind caused it to fall. A fallen creation, and even violence in the animal kingdom, is an apt reminder of how sin corrupted everything under man’s dominion (Romans 8).

We only have a problem with God’s judgment because we’ve all sinned and deserve to be judged.

The conquest of Canaan: The Canaanites were a very immoral nation, participating in all sorts of sexual immorality and idolatry—the most infamous sort of which involved burning their babies alive on a red-hot idol of Molech. In fact, God told Abraham that He would not give him the land in his day, because the iniquity of the people had not reached a sufficient level. Although God foreknew their sin would increase, He waited because He wanted it to be so apparent that no one could say He was being unjust (Genesis 15:16).

We should remember that God often uses humans to bring about His will and His judgments. In the conquest of Canaan, Israel was acting as God’s instrument of judgment, just as much as if God had sent a plague or famine. This is clear because God can give commands about what to do or not to do with the spoils, and so on. God also showed mercy to people in Canaan who believed, for example, Rahab and her family (Joshua 2, 6) and the Gibeonites (Joshua 9), by sparing their lives and allowing them to live in Israel. And when Israel became corrupted by idolatrous practices and started committing these same atrocities, God similarly used Babylon and Assyria to judge them. The purpose of experiencing God’s judgment was so that repentance might follow.

The killing of innocents in the judgment of nations: Invariably in God-ordained wars in the Old Testament, innocent women and children would have been killed, and sometimes the destruction of innocents was part of the judgment of the nation (for instance, in the killing of the firstborn sons in Egypt, see later). Some bring this out as their strongest condemnation of God. However, we must remember that from an eternal standpoint, there are no ‘innocents’, because we are all infected with a sin nature (Rom. 5:19). We all deserve to die because of our sin, and it makes no difference whether that happens to be at 90 from old age, or from a bombing at 7 years of age. If death outrages us (and it should!) we should not be angry at God, but at the sinful condition which brings death. Even the Lord Jesus (the Creator Himself) cried and wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, displaying His tragic concern at how sin had marred His creation by bringing death and pain into the world (John 11:33–36).

It’s ironic that if God ordains a judgment against a nation, the skeptics want to condemn God for killing innocent people. But in manmade wars, many humans seem to accept or justify that the death of women and children will be an inevitable consequence of battling to overcome a hostile nation, for example. This shows that their judgment of God in such a way is arbitrary. Their manmade wars are justified, but God’s are not.

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The plagues and judgment of Egypt: This well-known event in history is a good example of what we are talking about. God wanted to create a nation out of the Hebrews who were being held captive and forced to work as slaves in Egypt. Out of this nation God would fulfill His promise to Abraham. So why was God’s judgment warranted? For one thing, the Hebrews were initially welcomed as citizens in Egypt. It was an evil Pharaoh that decided to change the rules and enslave them. Also, initially God, through Moses and Aaron, merely asked for a time and a place where the Israelites could worship God. Pharaoh’s refusal escalated the matter. Furthermore, Pharaoh was warned that if he did not comply things would get worse. He received several examples or warnings of God’s power and justice. Besides all this, after he initially seemed to relent and agree, Pharaoh went back on his word (his heart was ‘hardened’), despite the afflictions that his people were enduring as a result of his refusals. Pharaoh was the head of his country and, as such, had a responsibility to his people. It was Pharaoh’s fault by his actions that caused his people to suffer in such a way. So, this example shows how God was patient and at the same time demonstrating the hardness of man’s heart towards Him.

Another often overlooked and important aspect when God judged nations like Canaan and Egypt is a spiritual one. God’s ultimate adversary is Satan. In the case of Canaan, innocent babies were being killed as a result of the worship of evil deities. And there were few nations on Earth that worshipped as many false deities as Egypt. The Egyptians were preoccupied with the afterlife and they believed in the power of these evil spirits to help them live eternally. As such, this was a massive deception that caused millions of them to perish for eternity. In short, while at the same time as punishing individuals and nations, God is also judging and battling evil forces in high places. This was never more evident than in Egypt.

Eternal condemnation of those who die apart from Christ

Some argue that it is immoral for God to condemn people to an eternity of Hell for sins committed in this finite life. While this is dealt with more thoroughly elsewhere, there are a few key points to understand:

First, heaven would only be a pleasant experience for those who are sanctified through Christ’s sacrifice, so they are free from sin and love God. A sinful being in God’s holy presence would not be able to bear being there.

Second, people are sent to Hell because they have sinned and because they are sinners—in other words, it’s not only what they’ve done; it’s what they are. We are desensitized to sin because we are sinners, and mankind increasingly seeks to justify sinful actions (calling evil ‘good’ etc.). But to God (and to the holy angels and glorified believers), sin is the worst thing in the universe. Adam and Eve were condemned for one sinful act, but as their physical descendents we are physically born sinners. Our sinful nature is our default inherited position that condemns all of us, because like the heads of nations whose actions impact their citizens, Adam was the federal head of Creation and all mankind. The natural inclination of an unbeliever is unremitting rebellion towards God. And even if, for instance, 100 years of punishment were enough to pay for 100 years of sins, it still wouldn’t change the fundamental nature of the person, who is still sinful and hates God. So Hell is the ultimate answer to: what should God do with people who want nothing to do with Him? The answer is: give them what they want. Hell is basically a place where God’s presence is only manifested in judgment, because they’ve rejected God’s mercy and good gifts.

Third, Hell is the answer to all the injustices of this life. There is a fundamental injustice to this life regardless of whether one thinks God acts unfairly or not. There are so many wrongs that are seemingly never punished. God puts all this right in the ‘age to come’ (Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30).

Finally, and most importantly, every single person in Hell will have consciously rejected whatever revelation of God he was given, whether he was only given the witness of nature as in Romans 1, or whether he rejected the fully-fledged Gospel of Jesus (and Scripture indicates that the latter sort of person will be judged much more harshly than the former). The reality is that Hell is our default abode because all of us are sinners, but God in his unmerited favour (grace) provided a way for us to be saved.

Is God’s mercy immoral?

The question of whether God’s mercy is moral would be absolutely foreign to most people in Western society, because mercy is seen to be almost a cardinal virtue. But imagine if someone committed a vicious crime against you or someone you loved: would you want the judge in the criminal’s trial to show mercy? No! We all have an inbuilt desire and expect justice in cases like that, which is actually part of the image of God in us—especially when we, our loved ones or our property are involved. So, why do we question God’s right to seek justice for what He owns (all of Creation). We would be outraged if a judge decided to let the criminal go free, because he hasn’t upheld justice. But on a cosmic scale, this is what happens every time God forgives a sin, or even lets a sin go unpunished for a period of time. By God demonstrating His love for us first, many people often respond to that love and thus hearts can be changed—even the seemingly worst sinners.

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See, the moral problem isn’t how God was morally justified when He deluged the wicked world; it’s how He could save Noah and his family, because they were sinners who also deserved to die. It isn’t how He could order the slaughter of the inhabitants of Jericho, it’s how He could spare Rahab and her family. It isn’t how He can condemn sinners to Hell—that’s what sinners deserve—but how He can forgive them and welcome them into Heaven. Romans goes as far as to say that God had to prove His righteousness of His forbearance of sins (Romans 3:21–26).

The Gospel explains God’s judgment and mercy

The ultimate answer to how God can be consistent both in His judgment and His mercy is found in Christ’s death and resurrection. God’s nature of demanding justice and punishment for sin has not changed—it’s just been paid for by the ultimate sacrifice. Because Jesus paid the penalty of sin for all who trust in Him, God is free to extend mercy to those who repent. But for those who reject Christ, there is nothing else; there is no other way to be saved, and demanding another way would be the worst imaginable insult when He already gave so much for us to be able to be saved. God did not have to provide a way for humans to be saved at all; He did not provide the possibility of reconciliation for the angels who rebelled. In God’s love and mercy Jesus’ sacrifice is the ultimate answer to those who claim that God’s judgment is unjust, or that His judgment and justice is inconsistent with the mercy proclaimed in the New Testament.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Dawkins, R., The God Delusion, p. 51. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Terry P., Australia, 4 February 2014

The “good” Richard Dawkins makes out that God aka Jesus Christ is a fiction that is as evil as all hell…

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, … etc.”

Did it ever occur to him, that if the God of the Bible is in actuality a fiction (does not exist) as he claims, then the God of the Bible he describes must have been a creation of his god, the god of the big bang and evolution?

Kevin W., New Zealand, 4 February 2014

Excellent article. Very complete answer to the detractors common objection. Well done.

John A., Australia, 4 February 2014

By our natural birth, we also have hell as our default destination because we have the wrong father , and that is his destination. Although we are God's creatures, we are not His children by our natural birth, and require supernatural rebirth to be adopted as sons into His family. Even though it seems harsh, we have had many recent human parallels in both Australia and the US, where (usually) fathers have killed their small children and then themselves as a result of domestic disputes. Those small children didn't contribute to or deserve their fate, they simply had the wrong father, and suffered as a consequence. We're all invited to freely join God's family, but we must make that choice.

Victor B., Australia, 4 February 2014

"In letters and at ministry events, we often receive challenges mainly from skeptics trying to stump us by citing passages in the Bible about God killing, or ordering others to kill, ‘innocent’ people. Parents and church leaders please note we are particularly noticing an increase in university students using this approach." Many Thanks for a timely, relevant and intelligent response to this increasing "New Atheist" approach to undermining the character of God and his word.

Mary V., Australia, 4 February 2014

A very clear, well-written article. We truly are desensitised to sin. This is partly because we compare ourselves to others rather than to God Himself, and as the Proverbs say, 'all the ways of a man are right in his own eyes' - we can always find ways to justify our own actions. Another factor is the prevailing mentality of humanistic psychology, which considers that we are by nature good, or at least morally neutral, and blames any bad behaviour on our upbringing or other outside influences. Sadly, this kind of thinking in turn desensitises people to the gospel and their need of salvation.

Kyle L., United States, 4 February 2014

What people like Richard Dawkins do not understand, is that God is just. Would it be just to let man get away with his crimes?

Would it be just to create us with no choice, no free will? Would it be just to let wrong deeds proceed unpunished? What he forgets, is that God is just, and this just God planned, and did, die in our place. That sacrifice on that cross was the greatest act of love that has ever happened, and he so sadly fails to remember what He did in our place.

Stu D., United Kingdom, 4 February 2014

Would it also be a fair point around the destruction if innocents to say that any children killed may have in fact gone to heaven? Being at an early age could have meant they weren't yet destined to hell and so God has in fact removed them from earth and they are with Him now? Not questioning the points you made which are indeed foremost and valid, but just wondering if this adds to it also? Thanks for a great article!

Gary Bates responds

Just a point on this. You might be surprised to hear that not all sections of the church believe that children immediately go to Heaven. The one thing we can be sure of though is that the God of the universe will judge rightly.

Hans-Georg L., France, 4 February 2014

"Second, people are sent to Hell because they have sinned and because they are sinners—in other words, it’s not only what they’ve done; it’s what they are." Those who are sinners in Adam only but not in their own lives - like babies dying without Baptism - are barred from God, but not condemned to torments of Hellfire for being that. Those who die in mortal personal sins are sent to Hell - fire and brimstone and worms that never die and gnashing of teeth and darkness - not just for being something, but for specifically being still guilty of what sins they had done. Themselves.

Lita Cosner responds

Baptism doesn't save babies any more than it saves adults. This latter view is known as baptismal regeneration--that one needs to be baptised to be saved. CMI does not adhere to this view and believes that baptismal regeneration is a heretical idea. See Is baptism necessary for salvation? and also our Statement of Faith which specifies that salvation by grace through faith alone.

Richard C., United Kingdom, 4 February 2014

Dawkins uses our sense of natural justice to condemn God. But we cannot use natural justice to explain God's actions ('the Canaanites were very bad people - incidentally if so, why didn't Jesus die for them to rescue them from God's judgment). Hiding behind this sense of natural justice (which incidentally Federal Theologians have invented to explain more forcefully why Adam should have known better), is the idea that the Canaanites could have behaved better. But we know God hardened Pharaoh's heart - for His glory; God did not just respond to Pharaoh's 'choice'. To make God responsive to man's 'choice' diminishes Him. God will be God - like it or lump it. The area of evil and suffering (theodicy) is one, perhaps the ultimate one, where the believer is invited to say 'I do not understand but I do believe that my God is good'.

Steve M., United States, 4 February 2014

Wow, this was fantastic! I find that so many atheists I speak with desire to degrade God as EVIL for judging most always referencing to the Old Testament. But God is the 'I AM' unchanging forever and his judgment is always consistently applied. These attacks on God are similar to those serving in prison who attempt to justify their crimes or plead their innocence. One thing for sure with our all knowing God, no sin will escape His sight. But how blessed are we who have our penalty paid by the blood of King Jesus Christ. "Blessed is the man whose sin, the Lord will NEVER count against Him." That is mercy and love beyond anything we can imagine. Yet so many reject the pardon and His Son outright because of their desire to continue to follow evil. Thanks so much for this wonderful article.

Denise P., United States, 4 February 2014

What a useful, sword-polishing article in the spirit of Jude/Eph 6! Defending the faith& the character of God to publicly refute the slander of His Name. Confronting the irrational& indefensible hypocrisy of 'relative truth' ('relative' to me, my way, I am...where sadly we all have been: perhaps not so loudly as 'me thinks the man protests too much' desperately bitter Dawkins--but in our hearts nonetheless: Romans, Eph, Gen etc). Truth was such a sticking point when I hid in proud scholarly skeptical cloaking devices & excuses from the God Who loves enough to attack our idols& to discomfit us with truth by His grace through the Spirit of truth & the word faithfully proclaimed & received through the foolishness of preaching. He has created us in His image & equipped us with sufficient light (John 1, Romans 1&2) ---relating, knowing ability-- to respond to His grace by faith: with even that needing His sovereign aiding grace to be effected! -----The incredibly self-righteous (& flimsy, willfully ignorant) excuse for turning from God that is addressed in this article is keeping many in our purposely dumbed down & sin-compromised generation from hearing the Gospel challenge all so desperately need to repeatedly hear faithfully proclaimed: 2 Tim 2. The deceived& deceiving socialist managing priest-class working their crassly pragmatic& gnostic program of 'education' is constantly & tirelessly steering toward their preconceived& antichrist human divinity-potential 'dream-outcomes' idolatry, & Bible-less or Bible-wrest missional, mystical Babylonian 'Christianity' to deceive the sheep. It is high time for the priesthood of believers to awake, repent& obey the real commission of Christ:exchanging citizenship & going to Him outside the camp, taking up the armor of God& sword.

Tina G., South Africa, 4 February 2014

For a very long time I couldn't match the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament. The Old Testament God killed people and I feared that God. A few months ago my eyes of understanding the truth opened after listening to an audio teaching of [deleted per feedback rules] "The true nature of God." For the first 2000 years, there was no law and God did not punish people. Then He gave the law to Moses and punishment started. Moses was the first to punish a man who picked up sticks to make a fire on the Sabbath, after the law was given. The people got so rotten and corrupt, but God loved them so that He had to act and gave the law so they could recognise how guilty they were before God. And then Jesus came and paid the price for our sins on the cross and God is not holding our sins against us anymore! God is just good!

Josh B., United States, 4 February 2014

People feel that God's judgment is unfair until it comes to their judgment. This society does not look at Gods word for what it says but in how they can get Gods word, judgments, and mercies to conform to their perspective, but these same people will say that God is consistent when they have something at stake or when things are going well.

Graham H., United Kingdom, 4 February 2014

A brilliant well thought out article. Thank you. I am Glad God is in the judgement seat because we only have to look at this earth and how badly we judge, how badly and bigoted others judge, how we read news stories and immediately Jump in with our judgement. Only later to find out that they were innocent. God has given us a chance to judge and with all the wars, disputes and times we fail For the next generation, it just shows how bad our judgement is. Is it not tine for our Eternal Prince of Peace to make his kingdom Come.

Chris H., Australia, 4 February 2014

Thank you for this article. This morning I was reading Exodus 21 where Moses laid out the laws for God's covenant people Israel to follow as a response to God's merciful rescue. I was particularly struck by the frequent references to justice tempered by mercy. We are quick to see one aspect of God's character over the other, but indeed both are conspicuous in the Law of Moses. God truly is a consistent Lawgiver.

Sas E., United Kingdom, 4 February 2014

I don't know how someone can look around them and say there is no God. Very baffling indeed. May God have mercy on these people.

Randy S., United States, 4 February 2014

"Jealous, petty, unjust, unforgiving, a control-freak; vindictive, a bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." Actually Dawkins is describing himself. One day, when it is just him and God - all alone - this will truly describe God: "When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you. Consider this, you who forgot God, as I tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you." After God tears him to pieces the first time, Dawkins will realize, to his horror, that he is not dead, and his body, now “fitted for destruction”, is still whole, ready for round two. Then God will come and tear him to pieces again. Same realization from Dawkins. Same horror. Then God will do it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And….And ….

mike H., United States, 5 February 2014

I try to read your articles every day. This is one of the best. I hope that students required to read Dawkins' book will answer to their professor with this article. God bless you.

Greg A., United States, 5 February 2014

Very glad you wrote this; it is a critical argument against Christianity. But I would not compare our soldiers' harm done to innocents to God's OT decrees/judgments to kill everything and everyone (men, women and children). God ordered Israel to do this-it was no accident/unintended consequence. It is the most difficult part of the Bible to understand since, on the face of it, it appears totally contrary to the character of God. There is no doubt that children died in Noah's flood too. So far, the best explanation I can find is in Acts 17:26-27 which describes God choosing where and when in history people are born. Him knowing people's hearts (even children's hearts), we can surmise that perhaps most or maybe even all those killed during the above two episodes did not have a heart for God (Revelation 13:8 & 17:8; those whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life since the beginning of time--this implies that all names were in the book before time began). In addition, we can see God does not look at death the way we do either-he sent all of the disciples to a Martyr's death. The above explanation also helps reason why natives on a desert island that never got a chance to hear about Jesus could be condemned too. And the biggest fact in all of this-we (and especially atheists) look at these issues with very finite/limited vision whereas God sees everything before during and after time. Hope this helps.

Annabelle B., Australia, 5 February 2014

This could not have come at a better time. I would say that this is perhaps the greatest problem that unbelievers face (and sometimes unbelievers, too), and to have it so well addressed in what I may call your best article - this is fantastic. I really needed it as well.

Thank-you.

David S., United States, 5 February 2014

"Even the Lord Jesus (the Creator Himself) cried and wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, displaying His tragic concern at how sin had marred His creation by bringing death and pain into the world (John 11:33–36)." This passage has given me much solace; however, I have wondered why there aren't more passages of Jesus' reaction to seeing His creation saturated in death and pain? (I hope it is not just because Lazarus was a close friend.) I would think this would be a struggle everyday. At least it is for me.

Gary Bates responds
john P., Australia, 6 February 2014

As always an excellent article.Those who reject God will get their wish unless the Holy Spirit gets His Foot in the door of their hearts and they repent. We look forward with joy to being with God in eternity if we accept Jesus as our Saviour

Neal P., United States, 6 February 2014

Oh, my! With such positive feedback, how can I say what was on my mind throughout the whole article and through all the comments? But I will: The bigger question (encompassing all our minor ones) is...Since God, the I AM, knew (knows) all, why did He get the "whole thing" started in the first place? Yes, He "needed" love, some say. Then, we could argue, He is not the all-sufficient One. And "arguments" can go on until eternity! With David, I end up saying, "LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me." (Psa 131:1) I, too, pray for Richard Dawkins. Compassionate Christ, have mercy on him. Bring a God-fearing brother to his side through whom You can reveal yourself.

John R., United States, 7 February 2014

The position that God is inconsistent is logically fallacious; it is a series of anachronistic "straw men" arguments, with "loaded terms" to evoke emotions, that is guilty of the logical flaw called "hasty generalization". It is also faulty Inductive reasoning (I am an adjunct Theology Professor and an adjunct Logic Professor). I would suggest a stronger defense would be, instead of trying to counter example by example which could lead to an impasse, to stress the pattern or continuum depicted in Biblical traditions. Follow the words of John the Baptist, Jesus has his "winnowing fan" (Luke 3:17, Mt 3:12). Great image of harvesting! God, YHWH, is a warrior and visited harsh judgments on his people. This is "threshing", a process wherein the grain is beaten or trampled to separate the kernels from the stalks. God's judgments were balanced by his love, hesed, and protection of his people. In ancient times, the workers slept on the threshing floor to protect the harvest. God sent the Patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, Kings and Prophets to protect his people. It was now up to the Messiah, Jesus, to disperse, or winnow, the chaff for the final cleansing or judgment of the harvest. This was a much gentler process.

Is here a contrast between the images of YHWH and Jesus? Undeniably! But, as the harvest analogy indicates, it is part of the continuum of Salvation History. Those that see an inconsistency are merely ignorant to the sweep of salvation that encompasses both Testaments.

Larry S., United States, 8 February 2014

I've often wondered why God would harden a heart if this a just God. The Pharaoh in his heart was already a murderer proving that as he murdered the first born of the Jews The Pharaoh thinking or believing he is a god perhaps thought himself justified. I believe God sees the pride that Pharaoh exhibited and his heart was hardened in kind and so Gods last plague was of the Pharaohs own doing.

Daniel B., United States, 8 February 2014

If you really think about it, evolutionists try to counterfeit everything that philosophically only makes sense within a Biblical worldview and then they try to use that against the Bible. For instance they start with logic and reason. They claim intellectual superiority and for centuries they have championed themselves as free thinkers in the Age of Rationalism or Reason. But the entire concept of logic and reason does not even consistently fit within their worldview as CMI has often pointed out. That's their main counterfeit and of course the second is their argument by outrage. They are trying to apply moral outrage which is completely inconsistent within their worldview. IF we are all animals (as that great picture CMI has an illustration of) then being outraged by the shedding of blood is silly. There is no such thing as "innocent" blood in the animal kingdom. In the animal kingdom we can see infanticide, rape, mass murder, etc. But who cares because they are just animals which is why they are not taken to court. Where is the room for saying that death, pain, and suffering is unjust within a worldview where death, pain and suffering is what advances life forward? Within a worldview where it's not the responsibility of the strong to help the weak if it offers no tangible survival benefit to the strong.

Again they literally don't even see that they are taking concepts that only make sense within a worldview with a Creator God and trying to use them against God. It's no wonder the word of God says "professing to be wise they became fools"

Robert W., United States, 8 February 2014

Quality explanations. Great article. Every person is born with the "light" of God, and they WILL believe if they seek after Him. Nothing is greater than coming out of that darkness into the "light", that is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. It's men who make war, not God.

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