Is the God of the Old Testament a Moral Monster? Part 1

moralmonster1mainWhat is God like? The answer depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I think the God of the Bible is a loving, gracious, merciful, all-powerful Father. If you ask Richard Dawkins, he would probably refer you to his book, The God Delusion, where he has painted for us the following vivid portrait of God:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

I would like to believe that Dawkins' portrait is quite different from the portrait most people would paint. However, the ratio seems to be reversing. More and more people seem to be buying into this redefined portrait. The shift is undeniable. In his book, God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis used a courtroom analogy to convey how things have changed:

The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are quite reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge; if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God's acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.

I have no doubt that if C.S. Lewis were writing today, he would say that the verdict is out, the trial is over, and God has been found guilty as charged. However, for the honest Christian, the questions that matter most are not about how many people embrace the new portrait, or whether Dawkins has issues with God, but rather: what are the arguments presented in support of such a hostile view of God and do the arguments have any merit? Or as Paul Copan phrases the question in the title of his recent book, Is God a Moral Monster?

[Read the rest of the article at Reasons for Hope.]