Old Testament God angry, New Testament God loving. Right? Or wrong?

Painting of God

In the Old Testament, God, who is variously known by names like Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai and El Shaddai, is active, angry and violent – talking to Moses, defeating armies, guiding by pillars of smoke and of fire, and threatening those who disobey.

But in the New Testament, God seems to be more relaxed – a voice at Jesus baptism and not much else – while Jesus, and later the Spirit, take centre stage.

Is this a fair picture, a caricature, or totally wrong? What should christians think about the Old Testament picture of God, especially the violence he seems to sometimes initiate?

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Knowing God’s will – do we have to learn Greek?

Tug of war

It was an argument about women preaching in church.

The first guy was a moderate and a historian, and he wrote a book about why women should be allowed to preach. The second guy was a pastor and a conservative, and he argued against this view. The first guy replied, the second guy responded. Each response was slightly more testy than the one before, but still polite, I guess.

I don’t want to focus on the topic just now (that will come some other time) but on the basis of the two arguments.

If that doesn’t sound all that thrilling, please read on, because I think it is very important.

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When the Bible becomes a reason to disbelieve

Reading the Bible

I began this blog almost 4 years ago with a post that included this comment:

“In recent years I have met, mostly on the web but also in person, many believers who struggle with some aspects of their faith that they feel no longer seems right. They don’t have significant doubts about Jesus, but they do have doubts about some of what they have been taught.”

In the subsequent 4 years, many christians have emailed me via this blog, asking questions about their faith. For some it has been some doctrines that didn’t cause them to doubt Jesus, but for some, unanswered questions about the Bible have led them to the edge of the cliff of giving up their faith.

It seems there is a growing crisis of faith in the Bible, and there is more than one way to respond. Which way is right?

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If Jesus ran for President would he bake a cake?

Jesus at an election rally

It’s the beginning of the presidential “race” in the US, and although I live on the other side of the world, the outcome is important for Aussies. (For a start, if America decides to have another war, odds are Australia might join them. :( )

I have heard that Senator Ted Cruz (about whom I know almost nothing) was the first cab off the rank, announcing his intention to seek nomination for the Republican party while visiting Liberty University. (Ironically, the students were not at liberty to choose whether they could attend this event or not.)

That event would have been unremarkable to me, except that blogger and author Benjamin Corey wrote a blog about it, asking what Jesus might have said if he was invited to visit Liberty University. His comments were so powerful to me that I had to share it with you.

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Deuteronomy

CS Lewis on the Bible, history and myth

CS Lewis was one of the most influential christian writers of the past century. His view of the Bible comes from his expert knowledge of ancient literature, history, language and culture.

I think he points us to a better and more faithful understanding of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, that can help us all understand difficult aspects and explain them to others.

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The government shall be upon his shoulders?

The first Christmas

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.”

I quoted this passage from Isaiah 9 last Christmas, and I still think it is profound. But what does it say to us today?

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How could some Jews believe Jesus was God?

Last Supper

Two years ago I wrote about the progression we can see in the New Testament of the disciples’ belief in Jesus (see How did Jesus become God?), how they seemed to go from incomprehension to belief he was the Messiah, to belief in him as the unique son of God. In particular, I referenced New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s then view that this process took 60 years (from Jesus’ death to the writing of John’s Gospel).

Not long ago Ehrman published his book on this topic (How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee), and he has changed at least some of his conclusions on this matter.

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