The character assassination of God continues... (Part 1)
Newsweek published an article titled, "Countless Souls Cry Out to God." While that is true, consider the tone and points of the article:
From the very first paragraph, the reader is set up to consider a malevolent God of the Bible: "But most of those who survived to weep and mourn—like most of those who died—had never heard of Noah or the Biblical God of Wrath, figures so familiar to Christians and Jews..." (my emphasis).
I consider myself a Biblical Christian, and I don't consider my Father God to be one "of Wrath." In fact, in my opinion, my Father God is merciful, kind, gracious, forgiving, and giving. Wasn't it the God of the Bible who first created life? Wasn't it the God of the Bible who first devised a plan to restore mankind to paradise after mankind chose to reject Him? Wasn't it God the Son who died the second death to give mankind eternal life? As a Christian, do you consider your Father a "God of Wrath" or of Love?
The Biblical God of Wrath
When speaking of the "Biblical God of Wrath," it's obvious the writers are focusing on God's justice, disregarding for the moment His mercy. That's fine. At times, God's justice must be considered because the appeal of His mercy hasn't worked. The simple, "The wages of sin is death" apparently doesn't work for most people. They gotta have it spelled out. Fine. But to say that it is the "God of Wrath" that is "so familiar to Christians" is inaccurate. To put it mildly.
Yes, God is one side justice (in fact, He loves justice and so do I) and one side mercy. But He "delights in mercy." He is patient with everybody, wicked or righteous. God doesn't play favorites, either.
Those Other Religions
My second issue with the article is its lumping in of Christianity with all those "other" religions. Christianity is such a far cry different from any other religion on the earth, to play it off as something similar is ignorant.
About Hindus, the article says, "For them, all of life is controlled by the play of capricious deities." The definition of "capricious" is "characterized by or subject to whim; impulsive and unpredictable." That's pathetic. Who could be happy in that system? But let's contrast that with the God of the Bible, who is "the same yesterday and today and forever." The God of the Bible does nothing without first telling His people. I'm thankful the God of the Bible is not capricious.
Newsweek also says that Hindu gods are "ambivalent." It is defined as "uncertainty or indecisiveness as to which course to follow." Sounds like they're confused. Again, in high contrast to the God of the Bible, who knows what's going on and cares deeply for His children.
Buddhists apparently feel the same about their gods as Hindus theirs. Newsweek says "there are many weather gods to both blame and propitiate with assorted prayers and offerings." Blame the gods and try to convince them not to do that again. Look up "conciliate" also. All I can say is, "Yipes!"
Now about the Muslim faith, Newsweek says, "All that happens is Allah's doing, and nature itself—wind, rain, storms—constitutes signs of his mercy and compassion." So, the same storm as viewed as "punishment" by the Hindus and Buddhists, is considered a sign of "mercy and compassion" by Muslims. Newsweek continues, "Even the destructive tsunami, therefore, must have some hidden, positive purpose." Wow! What a contrast to the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs of "capricious, ambivalent" gods. Does this sound like Islam spin to you, too? (I hate to sound suspicious, but who are the authors?)
Finally, Newsweek quotes Akbar Ahmed, who says, "On the individual level, they also have this notion that God is testing them by taking away a child or a spouse. Will you lose your faith or will you continue to believe?" Contrast this with the God of the Bible, who tempts (tests) no one. God wants you to be confident, secure, and full of hope.
Anybody familiar with the story of Job knows that the Bible doesn't attribute all acts to God. Satan is an active agent on this planet. He is free to roam about and cause havoc. It's his planet. Adam gave it to him. In Job's case, the troubles weren't a test of faith for God's learning, but for Satan's. God already knew the faith of His servant. He also knew Job would withstand Satan's test. And Satan is quite happy when men of this world attribute his acts to God.
My heart beemed for a moment, I admit, when I reached the Christian part. Newsweek writes, "Christians also had to look to their faith to make some sense out of the sudden loss of lives and of whatever possessions they had accumulated. For them there is the example of Jesus on the cross—the God who takes on human flesh and, with it, a criminal's cruel torturing and death." Ah, the crucial difference of Christianity... a compassionate and loving God, coming to earth in human form and, being sinless, suffering the penalty of sin so that sinners might be restored to purity and to paradise. What a contrast with the pantheons of those other religions, who must suffer the whims of truly worthless gods. For the worth of a god is in what that god does to restore man to peace and joy.
Well, then they say this: "But even though the acceptance of suffering is deeply embedded in the Christian world view, the death of so many innocent children alone was an excruciating test of the Christian belief that their God is a God of love."
The question about God's character- about his intentions- rings out just like it did back in Eden when it dribbled from the serpent's possessed lips. The insinuation is, "God is not a God of love." If He were, how could something like this happen? How could all those children perish? These questions are asked out of ignorance by many these days. Others ask because they are instruments of Satan seeking to turn mankind from the benevolent God of the Bible, just like he did in heaven and in Eden. For the testimony of scriptures is that God is a God of love, fighting the forces of evil so that mankind will one day live again in paradise.
Wrapping up, Newsweek makes this rather jarring comment: "Whole families, whole communities, countless pasts and futures have been obliterated by this tsunami's roiling force. Little wonder that from Sumatra to Madagascar, innumerable voices cry out to God. The miracle, if there is one, may be that so many still believe."
There you have it. Newsweek mocks your faith. They laugh at you as they ask, "Can a loving God allow this?"
The psalmist of the Bible asks, "How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever?" Though not given an immediate answer, the Bible makes it plain that the answer is "not forever."
And despite the mockers, I will do as the psalmist:
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. The arrogant mock me without restraint, but I do not turn from your law. I remember your ancient laws, O LORD , and I find comfort in them" (Psalm 119:50-52).