Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We Must Just Trust

There's a certain frustration I have with apologists. They retreat to the following defense at times.
  • When the critic of Scripture says, "If this is accurate, such and such part of the Bible says something unacceptable;" the apologist cries, "Vague! Ancient! this all occurred so long ago, and was written so long ago, that we just can't know everything about it! We must just trust!
  • And when the critic of Scripture says, "the Bible was written so long ago, and its events so long ago, we cannot trust its claims about anything and everything, especially not for modern man," the apologist switches to the opposite side, and cries, "Inspired! Infallible! God knows all and guided his word to be the perfect view-port into God's will for man! We must just trust!"

Either kind of defense is used interchangeably by apologists, when it suits them. But it seems to me that it's not fair, and that you cannot have it both ways. Either the Bible is an accurate picture of God's behavior and character or it is not.

When a critic points out that God behaved irresponsibly when killing children (for example, the Passover death of the first-born of Egypt) who were by all definitions innocent civilian casualties destroyed by collateral damage in the war between God and His enemies, or when allowing their death (in all those genocidal campaigns, for example the one against the Amalakites, http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/1sam/15.html), then the apologist must admit that stories such as these were chosen by the One who inspired the Bible and considered them important to understanding God's character. These stories tell nothing about the nature of evil; that is firmly established in many other more clear passages. These are stories in which God is the one choosing His own actions, and the result of His choice is that innocents die.

So, let's stick with the position that the Bible is inspired, and each act of God depicted in it is both accurately described, and meaningful to an evaluation of His character. Question: what is God trying to say about Himself when He goes out of His way to kill innocent children?

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