Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Q & A: same God?

Q. The God described in the Old Testament seems to
be awful coarse and hard. He has the earth swallow
people up, he washes people away in a flood, etc. But
Jesus is another story - he seems to be a kinder,
gentler sort. He has mercy on the prostitutes, feeds
the hungry and generally makes room for the outcast or
loverlooked. I can believe he's the Son of God. The
thing is, the same book tells me about both. Which am
God am I supposed to believe? How can I trust one
book that speaks of both?

A. Let me encourage you to go read it all again, this
time trying to do so without bias and just letting the
evidence speak for itself. If you do so, I think you'll
find much more similarity between the OT and NT
depictions of God than you found the first time
through. There is a great deal of balance.

Honestly, which is more difficult to hear - the
command of the God of the OT for Israel to
exterminate it's enemies (Deut.20:16) or Jesus'
command in the NT that your love for him ought
to make your love for your parents looks like hate
in comparison Lk.14:26)? I think you've overlooked
how merciful and kind is the God of the OT (read
Deut.7:7-8; etc.) and you've glossed over how Jesus
will one day bring flaming justice on those who do
not submit to God (2 Thes.1:7-9).

The God of the OT and the God of the NT are one
and the same. He alone is good and holy, and
therefore nothing that is sinful can remain forever
in his presence. At the same time, he is the loving
Creator of all and longs to give forgiveness and
acceptance to those who return to him and live in
dependence on him, not independent of him.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and
forever." (Hebrews 13:8)

". . . the Father . . . does not change . . ."
(James 1:17)