Daily Archives: September 27, 2009

5 Unpopular Questions About God’s Love

Mark of Proud Atheists has a post entitled “5 Unpopular Questions About God’s Love,” which presents 5 questions that are designed to make theists squirm. Of course, they are misunderstanding things as per usual. Let me try to clear things up a bit.

Why did God create evil? There are so many types of “evil.” I will assume that Mark is talking about moral evil. The verses that are cited (Is 45:7 and Jer 25:29) do not support the idea that God creates moral evil. This is an example of selective use of Bible translations, something that even Christians are guilty of doing (e.g. Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life). The word that the KJV renders “evil” in these verses actually means “disaster” or “calamity.” I can certainly agree that God creates calamities or disasters, but not moral evil. These verses do not have moral evil in mind.

Why did God cause bears to maul 42 children for poking fun at a man’s baldness? Read the text. Verse 24 says “forty two of them,” which means that there were more than 42. If a mob of over 42 youths were coming at me shouting epitaphs, I’m going to wildly assume that they don’t have my best interests at heart. This was likely the equivalent of a modern street gang, and they were certainly old enough to recognize a prophet of God for what he was–and that means old enough to know better.

Why would Jesus command his followers to hate their families? He doesn’t. This is an example of hyperbole. What Jesus means is that you should love him so much, that everything else looks like hatred in comparison. Look at the same verse rendered in The Message: “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple.”

Why would Jesus bribe his followers to abandon their families? This is a nitpicky question coming from a skeptic who doesn’t believe in eternal life, which is essentially what Jesus is promising his followers in this verse. What he’s really doing here is preparing his followers to lose family over following him, which is a potential cost of discipleship. Look at Muslims who convert–they risk death at the hands of their own family for converting to Christianity. Those people who lose the most stand to gain quite a lot in the hereafter. It isn’t a case of bribery at all. It’s a reward for living a tougher life than others.

Why would a loving God command Moses and others to slaughter children and eviscerate pregnant women? Are skeptics still on this one? I thought I had answered this before. The assumption here is that these are innocent people, but the Bible teaches us the opposite. There are no innocent people. We have all sinned (Rom 3:23; 5:12), and all deserve death (Rom 6:23). Therefore, God, the just and fair judge, is not doing anything wrong by commanding the deaths of these people–they are not innocent!