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Hi, S. Johnson,
I was hoping that someone much smarter than I would respond to you, but here I am. You bring up many excellent points. And if I were looking at God, the Bible, and faith in a head knowledge, logical way, I suppose I would agree with you completely. But I can't. God is so much more than that and because He is a God of the supernatural it changes my view.
I want to respond to probably the most important statement you made first.
"I do not worship the God of the Old Testament. This is a mean, punishing, jealous God of Fear. My personal, private God is a God of Love."
The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. In Hebrews 13:8 the Bible tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In 1 John 4:8 we also see that isn't just loving, but God IS love. The same God that is in the New Testament, the God that came in flesh, Jesus Christ, is the same loving God of the Old Testament.
But, we also see in the Word that God is a Holy God. He hates sin and can't be around it. We're told in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. And when God saw the sin in the Garden, He immediately began to set up His redemption plan for mankind. Genesis 3:14-15 is God telling Adam and Eve because of what they did He is sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die a horrific death for us so we can have salvation. That is a gift of love. Something He didn't have to do, and believe me, something I wouldn't have done if I were God.
It's true, God is a jealous God. But to understand God's jealousy we have to truly understand the heart of God. We often put God in a box of human limitations. We see Him through our human and limited eyes. But God is not human. He is not us. When we think of jealousy we think of a human jealousy. I want to share this quote with you that I found about God's jealousy.
"The word “jealousy” often carries a negative connotation. Yet, when the Scriptures speak of God as a jealous God, it means that He desires us in the purest, most relentless way. His is a jealousy that humankind can never know, for God is the only one who has a right to be jealous, because He is the only one who is perfect in love. His jealousy is not controlling—it is releasing. Holy jealousy speaks of God’s passionate commitment to us. It underscores the truth that God does not just love us because He has to, but because He wants to. He is not moved to love us merely to maintain His own moral excellence, but because He desires us."
A completely different kind of jealousy.
Now, I will say, I am a woman and when I read the Bible I see nothing but love and respect for women. Yes, He punished Eve because there are consequences to sin. I'm a mom, and when my kids do something wrong there are consequences for their behavior. I want them to learn, to never do that again, and become responsible adults. If there were no consequences, that wouldn't happen. I wasn't thrilled about the painful childbirth thing, but there are consequences. But, if you look at the entire Bible, it wasn't Eve who was "blamed" for the fall of man, it was Adam. Romans 5:12 tells us sin came through Adam, not Eve.
I also see how God used women in the Bible to make HUGE impacts on the Kingdom of God. I think of Ruth, who through her loyalty and obedience was a woman in which you can trace the lineage of Christ. I think of Deborah who God used to bring the Israelites victory over the Canaanites. I think of Mary who, because of her righteousness, was called to greatness and gave birth to the Messiah. I think of Mary Magdalene who Christ delivered from many demons and then was used to tell the disciples Christ had risen from the dead! God has used women in mighty, mighty ways. We just have to understand the Bible in context and recognize the times in which it was written.
In response to this question:
"How can the Bible claim to be the only source of Truth when there were many other sacred beliefs and types of worship found all over the world long before the Bible was even written. And many of these religions make a lot more sense than the Old Testament."
One of the strongest arguments for the accuracy of the Bible are the prophecies. The Bible was written over a span of 1500 years, 66 books, and over 40 different authors. And yet, approximately 2500 prophecies are in the Word of God and 2000 have been fulfilled. The other 500 have yet to be fulfilled (approximate numbers). God hasn't missed one yet. The odds of that happening, for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 10^2000 (that is 1 with 2000 zeros written after it).
A lot of your questions are hard to answer because there is no scientific reason behind it. As I said before, God is a God of the supernatural. He is a God of miracles. He is not bound by human limitations. How could God part the Red Sea so Moses and the Israelites could cross over on dry land? How could Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? How could Jesus heal the blind? How could God rain manna from heaven to feed the Israelites? How could God love us with such a tremendous love that He would tolerate mankind, send His only Son on the cross, bear on His shoulders every ugly sin you committed, every ugly sin I committed, every ugly sin we can't even imagine so we could choose to spend eternity with Him?
There is only one answer. Because He is God! The God of the Old Testament, the God of the New Testament, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the One and Only God! And S. Johnson, that God loves you very much!
Thank you for your thoughtful post.
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