Friday, May 26, 2006

Reading Through The Bible

This morning I came across a link to a website written by a nonpracticing Jew who realized there are things he just never read about in the Bible, and so he has decided to start at the beginning and read through the Bible and blog about what he observes. He redily admits that there are things he'll understand, things he won't, verses that he may scew out of preportion, but he wants to lay it all out there and even gives his email address so you can contact him. Now, it is quite the undertaking he has gotten himself into, but I like the idea. And so I thought I'd read what he has written up.

Chapter 3

The Lord—not so good at follow-through. In Chapter 2, He is clear as He can be: He commands man not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad: "for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die." No wiggle room there. You shall die. But then when Eve and Adam eat the fruit of the tree a few verses later, do they die? Nope. God punishes Eve with "most severe … pangs in childbearing" and curses Adam by making the soil barren. Any parent knows you have to follow through on your threats, or your children will take advantage of you. God makes a vow He can't keep—or if He did, He would undo all his good work. So, He settles instead for a half-hearted punishment that just encourages His children to misbehave again. Is it any surprise that we sin again? And again? And again? All the way down to the present day. You can call this "original sin," but maybe it's just lax parenting.

This isn't, incidentally, the mighty and distant God of Chapter 1, who shaped the universe and poured the ocean. Instead, this is an exasperated, down-to-earth deity, peevish at being forced to hunt through the Garden of Eden to find His wayward children—more like a frustrated dad who lost his kids at the mall than like God on High.

Now, admittedly it could seem like God doesn't follow through, especially if you skew things to mean that they will die immediately. And that's probably a fairly common misconception, but God never said they would drop the moment the fruit passed through their lips. I think it could be argued pretty well that had they not eaten the fruit they never would have died. But they did eat the fruit, and they do die...eventually. But the death mentioned in chapter three, many would argue that it was a spiritual death, a separation. After all, it is after they eat the fruit that they were commanded not to that they were expelled from the garden. Their sin brought death on two levels, a spiritual level that began the cycle of separation from God because of sin as well as a physical death.

But as skeptics we often look at these passages in Genesis and declare, "Ah ha! He said they would die and they didn't! God says something and doesn't follow through." And if this were true that would make God a liar, and the entire foundation for believing the Bible would crumble, after all if God can't be counted on, who can be? If God was lying about our sin and death, why should we believe Jesus when He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me," (John 14:6) indeed there would be no reason to believe...If it were true.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

One more thing, this man essentially implies that it is God's fault that we sin because He didn't do what He said He would. Thus this removes any sense of a need to repent of one's sin, after all it's God's fault. But God did follow through, He is more consistent, more loving, more just than the best earthly father ever could and our sin is not His fault. If it was, wouldn't that basically undo the rest of the Bible. If God sins, how then can He redeem us? It would mean that God is no better than any of us.

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