One of the things I love about the Bible is how honest it is about human failures. If you wanted to pick the three most important figures in the Bible aside from God, David, Moses and Paul would have to be on your short list of candidates. How are these men depicted in the Bible? Are they perfect men whose every act was righteous and true from birth? Or are they depicted as real people with real flaws?
When I read the Bible, the answer is very clear to me. Moses, David and Paul are real people with real flaws. Moses is afraid of public speaking, Paul struggles with self-righteousness and David is a poor father. More seriously, all three men were guilty of murder and are only righteous by the grace of God through faith. The Bible is very honest and upfront about the flaws of the leaders of the Judeo Christian faith.
If the Bible is honest and upfront about the flaws of human beings, is it honest and upfront abou the difficult aspects of understanding God’s actions? One of the striking things about the book of Job is the way that Job speaks about God, “He has filled me with his poison arrows” (Job 6:4) Does God condemn Job for these accusations? No, in fact God rebukes Job’s friends for trying to sugar coat what God has done, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7) So the Bible is honest about human flaws and also is very straight forward in presenting the more difficult attributes of God.
So if someone were to ask me why I write essays like “Jesus Orders a Massacre” or “Reasons to Disbelieve” my answer is that I am emulating the Bible. I am not white washing what the Bible says or trying to sugar coat it, I am dealing as honestly as I can with the subject matter and “putting the ugliness on the table” for rigorous examination. Yes this approach is very unpopular and Christians don’t like it, but it does not seem to me that true understanding can come any other way.