The other day I rented the movie “The Cabin in the Woods” written by atheist Joss Whedon. Some might argue that I am reading too much into this, but I am convinced that Joss meant some of the lines as an oblique critique of Christianity. At the end of the movie, the two main protagonists are sitting on the steps talking about the end of the world when one says to the other, “Well if the old gods require blood sacrifice, then maybe it is better that humanity dies than continue to serve their dark needs.” Having read a bit about what Joss believes, I think this is meant as a slap at Christianity. What Joss is saying is, “Even if the God of the Old Testament did exist, it would be better to die than to serve Him.” As impossible as some atheists will find it to believe this, I actually agree with that basic sentiment.
I came to Jesus Christ because I wanted to be a better man. Speaking figuratively, Jesus came to me and said, “Rob you are a sinner with murder and hatred in your heart, but I can help you to be filled with love and joy and peace.” This is the offer that I accepted when I became a Christian and if you could convince me that what God really wanted was me to become a knife-wielding bronze age barbarian who hacks sinners into tiny little pieces, then I would have rejected that offer of “salvation”. I don’t need divine help to be a bronze age barbarian. I can do that very easily on my own.
Yet after I met the Jesus Christ who said of those who were crucifying him, “forgive them father for they know not what they do” I was shocked and horrified to discover what the Bible actually said in the Old Testament. At first, I tried to rationalize it. “Well it’s not really that bad. Those sinners really deserved it.” Later on, I decided to ignore the terrible atrocities. After a number of long years, I believe that God finally revealed the true meaning of these passages to me. While I have written about these conclusions in the “Understanding the Old Testament/Throwing Moses Under the Bus” series of posts, I also put together a quick quiz to formulate the ideas as simply as possible.
A Rational Faith Appendix 3: A Reformed Christian Quiz
Pastor Rick Warren famously claimed that the second reformation was a reformation of behavior and not of belief. Since behavior follows belief, this is not entirely practical. Take the following quiz to see if you are a Reformed Christian by belief.
1. God’s whole purpose in creating the world and everything in it is:
a) To teach people to emulate and believe in the holy prophet Moses.
b) To teach people to emulate and believe in the holy prophet Elijah.
c) To teach people to emulate and believe in the holy apostle Paul.
d) To allow God to burn those who don’t become Christians in hell.
e) To teach people to emulate and believe in His perfect Son Jesus Christ.
2. When God the Father pronounced his judgment that sinful man deserved to die, Jesus Christ said:
a) “You are right Dad. I will take a sword and hack up those sinners.”
b) “You are right Dad, but why should I care?”
c) “You are wrong Dad. Those sinners don’t deserve to die.”
d) “You are right Dad, but You should really have mercy on those sinners.”
e) “Father those sinners do deserve to die, but I ask You to have mercy on them and I will go down there and die in their place.”
3. When God pronounces judgment on sinful man to a sinful man, He wants:
a) That sinful man to emulate Moses and hack up those sinners with a sword.
b) That sinful man to emulate the priest Eli and not do anything.
c) That sinful man to argue that sin isn’t so bad.
d) That sinful man to pay lip service to mercy.
e) That sinful man to realize that he deserves to die also and emulate Jesus Christ by interceding on the condemned sinner’s behalf.
4. When God pronounced judgment on the sinful nations of the Promised Land to Moses and the nation of Israel, He wanted them to:
a) Pick up a sharpened piece of bronze and hack those sinners to death.
b) Not do anything.
c) Argue that sin isn’t really so bad.
d) Pay lip service to the idea that God should have mercy on those sinners.
e) Them to be like His Son Jesus Christ and His friend Abraham (in Genesis 18) and intercede on behalf of the condemned sinners.
The point of this quiz is that it is never God’s will that sinful man should be judged. God is heartbroken that people will not turn from their evil and wants us to be heartbroken as well. When God tells us that a nation deserves to be destroyed, He wants our reaction to
be, “God that is terrible! Isn’t there anything we can do?” He does not want us to react, “Oh goody! Can we please go in there and kill them all?” Moses and the nation of Israel did not realize this and in being willing to bring judgment upon the nations around them brought judgment upon themselves.