If we take the Bible at face value we are confronted with a serious problem. How do we know when God is telling us the facts and when is he just telling us something he thinks we are capable of understanding? This is not quite the same as the argument that God lies on occasion. Those situations where it speaks of God putting falsehood in the mouths of false prophets are considered minor points by the "true believer" and they believe they can easily explain them away by manipulating the exact translation of some of the terms involved.
The problem I’m referring to is found at Exodous 32:9-14
9 And Jehovah went on to say to Moses: "I have looked at this people and here it is a stiff-necked people. 10 So now let me be, that my anger may blaze against them and I may exterminate them, and let me make you into a great nation."
11 And Moses proceeded to soften the face of Jehovah his God and to say: "Why, O Jehovah, should your anger blaze against your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent he brought them out in order to kill them among the mountains and to exterminate them from the surface of the ground’? Turn from your burning anger and feel regret over the evil against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself, in that you said to them, ‘I shall multiply YOUR seed like the stars of the heavens, and all this land that I have designated I shall give to YOUR seed, that they may indeed take possession of it to time indefinite.’"
14 And Jehovah began to feel regret over the evil that he had spoken of doing to his people.
Take a close look at what is happening in this situation. The most straight forward explanation of this scripture is that Jehovah acts crazy- mad without considering all the consequences. That doesn’t make for a very pleasant picture of the person who in his omnipotence and omnicience created everything in the universe. An apologist is immediately tempted to explain this with some kind of personal theory about God’s objective in the situation. For example it might be asserted that God was testing Moses in some way. Perhaps he was testing Moses’ commitment to leading the Israelites. Or some may claim that Jehovah was teaching Moses a lesson in showing mercy. Maybe one or another of these claims is true. But, the Bible doesn’t say. These tales are spun because if you take it literally it makes God look bad.
There is a catch 22 to all of this. If you accept one of the invented explanations you have started a game of croquet with the queen of hearts. Grab a flamingo mallet and try to hit the hedgehog balls. At the very least you must now consider the possibility that every situation in the Bible may or may not be designed to teach some lesson and therefore not to be taken literally. For example how do you know that the Genesis story of creation is a real representation of the facts or is it trying to illustrate some principal such as the headship of man over woman. Or consider the Battle of Armageddon. Is God really going to destroy 6.5 billion people, thus admitting he produced an unreliable prototype? Or is he going to later get talked out of it - teaching humans a lesson in mercy.
This is not an attack on those who believe in the Bible. It is an attack on the dogmatic approach JW’s and other fundamentalists take in explaining the meaning of the Bible. For me, personally, this means I can pick and choose the parts of the Bible I want to believe.