Tonight I had a conversation with my older brother, Matthew and he got into explaining what he does with the seeming disconnect between the Old Testament & New Testament. (Just a little background: he’s a Quaker and has been questioning these things for years) One of the ways in which he deals with it is that he doesn’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. From an intellectual standpoint, he simply can’t accept all the errors he finds in Scripture or the apparent contradictions of who God is. He can’t reconcile a God who supposedly commands genocide with Jesus who tells us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. He said that Israel got it wrong, that they misunderstood God and did things he never told them to. Matthew said that if you look at other Bible-era literature you see that lots of religions will claim that their god tells them to do something, that Christianity isn’t unique in that. He measures everything about his faith by Jesus and what he reads in the OT simply doesn’t line up with that picture so it can’t be the way it’s written. This opens a number of doors for him such that many Muslims or Hindus could very well be going to heaven as well because they recognize their need for God and are seeking to serve God just like we are. Call me crazy but that reeks of universalism.
He also said that he gets tired of the many churches in our country that sell a Christianity that has all the answers when Matthew believes there are things we just can’t know. Well, there’s a point I can agree with. I do believe that our God is beyond full comprehension and the more we know about God, the more we’ll realize we don’t know about Him. But this other stuff….it scares me. He can’t be right, everything in me says he can’t be right because it messes things up. It changes everything about Scripture and even your view of God changes with this stuff. But to adequately explain why I think he’s wrong, that’s harder to do. I like how the MCUSA website puts it, “We believe that all Scripture is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit for instruction in salvation and training in righteousness. We accept the Scriptures as the Word of God and as the fully reliable and trustworthy standard for Christian faith and life.” I’ve always assumed that because Scripture is “God breathed” (2 Tim 3:16) that He wouldn’t have inspired authors to attribute words to Him that He didn’t say.
So then how does one reconcile the seeming disconnect between the OT & NT? How do you come to grips with a God who tells His people to carry out genocide? Obviously a whole lot of prayer is required but some insight would also be nice. I’m okay with saying I just don’t know, but golly it would be nice to know how to respond to my brother when everything in me tells me that he’s wrong.