Genesis 8:20-22 - God's Curious Remark
By Lulu - 10 Oct 2012
In Reference to: Commentary by Frank L. Hoffman
Daisy, may God bless you for your faith - which He tells us must remain child-like - and that is exactly what such a question is! As a long term Christian I have also found exactly the same issue - and as a Christian vegan naturopath I have been persecuted more within my church family than in the secular world and of course Christians will excuse that as my ways being worldly rather than Christlike.
I stopped reading the old testament only 4 books in. And since then (apologies to anyone this offends) meeting die hard Jewish people I now know why it offends me and you allude to this in your lovely email. I truly believe that the bible has been exactly what He instructed us not to do. I hold to my faith and pray that He will lead me, not the bible. For a fist pumping fire and brimstone preacher to tell me that I must adhere to every word - well that is impossible. It would mean even more suffering is okay - I know it's not. As you say, the contradictions are sickening - and men (and many women) throughout christian history (and indeed Hebrew history with the Torah being very similar to our old testament and lived by to this day) have warped and excused the truth to suit their own purposes.
God forgive me if I get this wrong and I know if He can forgive and love the most vile sinner He can do so for me - but I have asked these questions to many biblical scholars and not always got the answer I want of course - but I also have been told a few truths that deep down I know are real -
1) If He can forgive the worst of sin - rape, murder, adultery, greed - He will surely forgive one who has lived a blameless life which I have to say your letter reflected today. Within the church I have seen the worst of sloth, greed, adultery, corruption, gluttony - the list goes on, but they each excuse it with a prayer and back slapping. In other words, humans forgive each other and boast of forgiveness that makes THEM feel good. I have seen truly abused and broken, beautiful souls come to the House and be turned away. Not necessarily by words, but by actions - the wrong look or slip of tongue can be all it takes to break the back of such hurt. This has resulted in suicide, the most obscene depression, even jail where all it would have taken was a word of support. Now, compare that to say a child born into Buddhism - never killed a fly, never said a bad word, never smirked, given way to lust or obscene gluttony - nothing. Now, in the bible it says Jesus is the way - He is even said to have uttered 'only' way. Now, depending on what we want to believe, some will say we MUST ask Him - even going so far as to say the vilest offender - say a man rapes, tortures and kills children for 50 years, and on his deathbed says "I am going to hell. If you are there Lord, please save my wretched soul" NO ONE can tell me that this man deserves to go to heaven any more than that innocent who has devoted his/her life to good. Yes, man twists the Word to suit.
2) Once, when a broken woman came to our church - yes, she had lived a life of pure excess but had come to the Lord. She was as frail a creature as I could imagine - like a deer in headlights, since coming to the Lord. All she needed was just a period of gentle encouragement and unattached love as she had come to believe love could only be physical. Two sisters who eventually destroyed our church, mumbled a few well chosen lines to her and her life was all but destroyed. Another man, part of a bikie gang but had come to the Lord in the most rapid way I had ever seen in all my years. He just needed love and understanding and patiences. As someone who was married to such a man who refused to repent, this hit me hard. Both of these people were destroyed - the latter went back to jail but for the need of one letter of reference from our pastor who refused to trust him. When I raised both of these in corporate prayer, all the elders muttered about 'If they choose to take offence at our actions, they are sinning." End of story. Now, I may be very wrong but I do not think so - God will tell me if I am! Not a human. To take offence to me truly means if you do not agree you go on assault of the offending party. Yet in church, it is excused as some weak way of covering bad Christian behaviour. In other words, as an elder (or in one of our leaders' situation, he proudly wore a '50 years with...' on his lapel and used that to get out of any real Christian altruistic effort) he could trample a soul coming to Christ, but "Don't YOU take offence by being upset at my actions because I am a chosen one." What a load!
3) 'Pleasing to God' - seriously? MY God loves even the feathers of a sparrow - every hair on my head - and that kind of love includes the smell of burnt offerings? Please! I could not read past the few first books purely because they were VERY human - evil and supernatural even - but NOT the same of the forgiving, loving, caring, and omnipotent God. That sounds more like my brothers at a barbeque on a weekend, with the fat dripping off their chins! I have even found a website that explains the true and original meanings of such a verse - much better than I. He is a HEALER whose greatest hope for billions of lives is that in heaven, if the lion (wolf) shall lay with with lamb (deer) - (see, even man has changed these words!) then no human will suffer. How repulsive that He speaks of animals so much, and man can corrupt them! If this same paternal love is capable of suffering just for fun, there is no way He is as omnipotent as we know He is. No omnipotent God would utter such fallen, human sentiments.
4) Jesus is the ONLY way - yes, He is! But for pious, corrupt figures in the church to say YOU must do what THEY demand in all their misinterpretation of the written Word, I am certain that JESUS is doing the bidding here - it is not up to them, nor what they say. HE is the way - therefore, HE will open the way to heaven, not them, not saying or doing what they feel is right. Like the ardent, strict Christian who advocated apartheid - are they going to heaven? What about the Aboriginal who has never heard the Word? You cannot tell me that God will not love and forgive the fact they never got a chance. The lie that is "A child will not go to heaven and cannot have a Christian burial if they are not baptised" - what a load!
Those early books are little more in many places than the writer or eventual interpreter getting their jollies by appeasing man's lustful and corrupt desires - and for millennia, man has lived by this! No, the most Christ like humans walking this earth have always been child-like and trusting. There is no way a child would happily get up, build an altar, torture and burn animals for fun and then offer that up to ANYONE, let alone someone they cannot see. No, they would take the hand of the One who made them feel safe, trust them, maybe even give their most prized possession (teddy bear or blanket!?) and reflect in their eyes all the compassion and emotion a child can - but they would never even consider causing blood to spill!
Please Daisy, you have a child like heart - and that is what we ALL forget to do. I watched my eldest child live and grow with that in spades. And I watched her love and trust and give and even support those who should know better. I watched her forgive them time and again and never complain. By age 22 she had suffered all that man could do to innocence - within the church - she had been raped, bashed, her goals trampled (studying for leadership and having it thwarted by jealous elders), stolen from, her new husband killed by intentional neglect and enforced suffering, the works of her hands smashed and broken, publicly humiliated and rejected.
As a result, she finds it hard to trust man - or God. But deep down she has been forced back to that childlike faith. It is all she can do! Don't let those dark books hurt you. He will tell us what is right and wrong one day - until then, all we can do is what HE would do - and as someone who cannot hurt, there is no way that includes killing and eating the spoils.
May He give you perfect peace and understanding. GBU