7/08/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy John Shores ~
In a discussion with an Orthodox community, the owner of the blog (Father Stephen) and I embarked upon how the Old Testament (OT) God can only be "rightly understood through the lens of Christ." At least, that was his statement. I replied:
I see absolutely no difference between the Old Testament God and the Jesus as described in the Gospels.
He took offense at this and called my comment "glib." I rather think he lost his patience with me at that point. And I am sorry that he did.
His response underscores something revealing about how even the best Christians view their God.
If you know someone who is a really good and admirable man and you say that his son is "just like him," would the natural reaction be to take offense?
If someone says, "He's just like his old man" and an offense is taken, that offense can only be possible because the "old man" is not someone with a good character or reputation.
If one sees Jesus and the OT God as equally glorious, how is it possible that they see any contrast between them? To say that there is a contrast is to admit that one does not see them as equals.
I was completely honest and sincere when I stated that I see no difference between Jesus and the OT god. Here's why.
How the OT God and Jesus Interact With People
In the OT, God is patient and tries to get people to see that honoring him is for their benefit. He provides great things for them. He blessed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, made Joseph the HHIC* in Egypt, freed his people from slavery and gave them the Promised Land, and pretty much guaranteed their prosperity as long as they behaved to his liking.
But when those people end up behaving as people do, they got 40 years tacked onto their travels away from Egypt and didn't see the promised land or they got famine or they got sent into slavery.
Jesus was no different. He went around doing good and trying to help people see God as a Father (a new concept for the Jews). Then in the middle of his "Blessed are the..." sermon he announces that people are no longer responsible just for what they actually do but now there are thought crimes (if you lust or are angry etc.) that are worthy of judgment, and by the way, instead of just killing you here and now, you are now eligible for eternal damnation.
Jesus has no problem with telling people, "You think those people were bad because a tower fell on them? Unless you repent, you're similarly screwed" or "...and these shall go away into everlasting fire, but the righteous..." etc.
How are these things any different from the OT? Honestly, where did anyone get the idea that Jesus was a nice person?
Death on a Cross
How are these things any different from the OT? Honestly, where did anyone get the idea that Jesus was a nice person?Indeed, it is these very things that make the Cross that much more of a mystery. How is the net impact going to be seen as anything other than "Be good, don't even think about being bad or you're at risk of judgment; yet I know you can't help being bad so my death and resurrection will empower you to be good so that you don't have to face eternal torment."?
I mean, why even bring up Hell if you're not serious about it? Why create such a place at all unless it's gonna be used as a motivator to get people to change their behavior?
What the hell? Honestly!
And let us not forget that there is absolutely no evidence that Jesus-God ever changed anyone's behavior. Every change in human behavior can be attributed either to force of will or traumatic brain injury.
Jesus the Mediator
Many people see this Jesus person as the mediator between God and Mankind. The implication is that God is a hardnosed character who will send you into eternal torment if you behave badly. Jesus is the guy protecting the rest of us from God.
It's not a pretty picture. Nor is it accurate.
The OT and the NT paint portraits of one and the same person. God in a Bod is just as awful as the ethereal god. Worse, actually.
It mystifies me how anyone can objectively look at either the god of the OT or the Jesus described in the Gospels and come away with thinking this is a good and loving person.
And once again I am forced to resort to humanistic morality and refuse to believe in any god rather than to believe in an awful one.