I No Longer Believe in the God of the Bible or that Jesus Rose from the Dead

 Angry God

“I no longer believe in the God of the Bible or that Jesus rose from the dead. I no longer am a Christian. I de-converted.”

Those were the words of an old acquaintance I had lunch with the other day.  I had known him for over thirty years.  We met through church years earlier.  Though we no longer attended the same church, I would see he and his wife at church events and around town.  He was always friendly and a nice guy. He was sort of what I would call a thoughtful guy.  Not in the considerate type of way, but that he was a ponderer if that is a word.

Needless to say, his statement over lunch caught me a bit off guard.  He suggested we get together, trade the books we had just written, and discuss our publishing and marketing experiences.

It was then that he shared that he had written three books and one was about his belief in God or should I say why he believes the God of the Bible is not God. I choose not to reveal his name, even though he is actively promoting the book.  For a reason I cannot explain, I feel that I need to protect him from something, maybe himself, so I won’t mention his name, though I will call him Billy.

I chose to read his novel and not his book about God, but he did send me an e-mail attachment of one of the chapters.  I would like to share a share a summary of his conclusions from this chapter. At the end of this summary, I will share with you my response to his conclusions.  He is aware that I have made this a lesson for my Bible study class and subject for my blog.

The Problem with God’s Love

He begins by writing how the Bible teaches that God is love and the source of love. Then he writes how the New Testament shows us that God loves us through sending His son Jesus to die for us and how that we can show our love for Him by our obedience to His laws.

He then points out the attributes of love as given by God through Paul in I Cor. 13.  Most of us know those attributes as patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude or self-seeking, it is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

Billy then makes a case for how God calls himself love, but does not live up to his own definition of love, particularly in the Old Testament.  He points out how God being perfect cannot violate or stray from being personification love.  To fail this test either makes him less than perfect or not God.  Either one is a major issue for the God of the Bible being “The God.”

The God of the Old Testament is Mean

He goes on to point out how God is impatient, mean, boastful and proud. How He is self-seeking in asking men to believe in him and worship Him and obey Him lest terrible things befall them at His hand.  He points out that God is easily angered and delighted in evil and even perpetrated it. He sometimes did not protect his people.  And most glaring is that God definitely keeps a record of wrongs.  He says keeping a record of wrongs is a defining attribute of the God of the Old Testament. Then, God’s anger ran hot and He lost his patience, He dropped His heavenly hammer on them.

He cites many examples of God not living up to His definition of love…

  • The man who steadied the ark and was struck down (2 Sam. 6:7).
  • Ananias and Sapphire killed for lying about money (Acts 5:1-11).
  • Punishing sins for the third and fourth generation (Numbers 14:18).
  • God treating Moses harshly for striking the rock (Numbers 20:11)
  • God’s anger often burned against Israel for many various sins, especially idol worship and He held out his constant threat of driving them from the land he had given.

And how could anyone ever be eternally condemned, thus being barred from heaven, if no wrongs were ever held against anyone? Even if you believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only salvation criterion, a condemned person is still having a wrong held against him: the wrong of not having faith.

God is Inconsistent

He continues…

From these verses and many more that I did not quote, it is obvious that God did not always demonstrate love in his dealings with man; at least not according to Paul’s definition of love. Perhaps Paul got it wrong and love does not entail the things he said. However, if Paul is speaking for God, then God does not even follow his own definitions.

This is interesting in light of something Jesus said. Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:1-3)

Jesus did not seem to like how the Pharisees and teachers of the law told other people how to live, but did not follow those directives in their own lives. Yet, according to the Bible, God himself did not practice what he preached either. He exempted himself from his own rules, thus placing a burden on mankind heavier than what he placed on himself, even though he is much more capable than humans of obeying the commands. The idea of not keeping a record of wrongs basically means we should forgive others and have mercy on them.

God Doesn’t hold himself to the same standard regarding forgivenesss

It was God that admonishes us to forgive.  Yet God, sometimes did not forgive completely to the point of restoring the relationship.  God still allowed consequences to remain such as when He did not allow Moses to go into the promise land even though Moses had done so much.

Billy also pointed out that Jesus demonstrated a more complete type of forgiveness when He met the woman caught in adultery.

He continues…

Many other Bible stories involve differing levels of forgiveness. Some that come to mind are Adam and Eve eating from the tree, the Israelites making and worshipping the golden calf, King David committing adultery and having Bathsheba’s husband killed, the nations of Israel and Judah sinning which ultimately led to their captivities, Saul killing Christians and later becoming the Apostle Paul, and Ananias and Sapphira lying.

The radically different way God extended forgiveness to people can easily be seen in the latter two examples. Paul was involved in the heinous murder of Christians, yet God gave him a chance to repent.  He went on to become one of the most influential followers of Christ that ever lived. Ananias and Sapphira simply lied about how much money they received for some property. God struck them dead instantly without a chance to even ask for forgiveness.

Although there are a few exceptions, God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness usually had conditions attached. If God’s people obeyed him, his favor would shine on them. Mess up and woe be unto them. Yet, I read and hear a lot about unconditional love and forgiveness. Many Christian spokespersons say we should practice this type of love and forgiveness, especially as it applies to our children and family. But I see very little of this espoused in the Bible, the adulterous woman story being one rare example.

Unconditional means without conditions. None. Nada. Or does unconditional really mean “with one condition?” The condition is asking for it. Maybe there is a second condition too.  The person is willing to stop the offenses. I don’t know of anyone who likes dealing with a person who, after being forgiven of a wrongdoing, continues his wayward ways. Yet, in Matthew 18:21-35, when Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother when he sinned against him, Jesus said up to seventy-seven times (some translations say seventy times seven). Basically, He means always. Jesus goes on to say why we should forgive others. Let’s look at the entire passage.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, they brought a man who owed him ten thousand talents. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife, children and possessions be sold to repay the debt.

“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and told their master everything that happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master had him tortured by the jailers till he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)

Even though he had been forgiven a large debt by his master, the slave still tried to collect a significantly smaller sum from a fellow slave. He had him thrown into prison for not paying up. When the king heard about this, he chastised the slave for not forgiving his fellow slave in the same way. He then had the slave tortured until he could repay the debt. This action by the king is reminiscent of the tactics used by the mafia and loan sharks and is not how I envision a loving God operating.

Taking this parable at face value, it would appear that our forgiveness does not have to extend to those who do not in turn forgive others. This is the way the king operated in the parable. That is the way God, whom the king represents in the parable, operates. We can only assume that it is okay for all us regular folk to operate this way also.

On the other hand, the parable’s intent is to show us why it is important for us to forgive others. We do so in order to obtain God’s forgiveness since he will not forgive us otherwise. So, does this indicate we should forgive unforgiving people? If so, then God is again holding us to a higher standard then he holds himself.

The interesting thing about the parable is that forgiveness can be rescinded. God’s forgiveness and mercy is not absolute; it is tentative. When the king in the parable found out about the slave’s lack of forgiveness, he re-instituted the debt previously forgiven.  He even went as far as having the slave tortured.

Wow! I was taught when you forgave someone a debt, it is forever forgiven, regardless of the actions of the forgiven. But according to this parable, God does not operate that way. When he takes a debt away, he continues to hold it over our heads, ever ready to reinstate if we screw up.

In closing, the Bible clearly states what love, mercy, and forgiveness entail, but presents us with a God that has trouble exhibiting these attributes himself in a consistent manner. Yet, we are still told that God is love. Our conclusion must be that the Bible has a flawed definition of love, or God is not love since he regularly fails to exhibit the qualities associated with love. Or perhaps God has a totally different definition of love for himself than he has for mankind. None of these options are satisfying.

See part 2 for my response.

  • Sid Christain

    Thanks for the blog post Clay. It reminds me that I need to be on guard because there are “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4) that will be prevalent in the days preceding the return of Christ. I believe the deception your friend is fighting qualifies. However, I do believe the questions he raises are very valid questions that deserve a Spirit-led response and I am asking the Lord for wisdom to make some comment that might help shine a light on the darkness that is gripping his mind and soul. He does not need to be dismissed as if he were a heretic and left to wallow in deception. He is fighting a real battle and the greatest thing he needs is the thing he is so confused about — LOVE! I will come back when I have something helpful to say. In the mean time, please know that I am praying for your friend and for you as you “give a reason for the hope that is in you.” Thanks again Clay. Take care.

    P.S., Is your book available in electronic form?

    • Clay Mize

      Hey Sid, Thanks for your comments and your prayers. Yes, I think he is a sincere person with valid concerns. I think a discussion of these issues can make us sharper. Hope you are doing well and thanks again your comments and especially your friendship through all the years. Hope to have the book in electronic form soon.

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