The nature of God
Believe it or not, I really do have a life. As a matter of fact, it can get quite busy, as it did today. But, out of respect for you, and a sense of the just and fair, I feel that your letter should be addressed. I'm afraid, though, that I must agree with our mutual friend Francois that you might not yet be ready for the God of Love Whom I teach.
I used to believe precisely as you do now. But I will not be making references to the Hebrew Scriptures specifically. for it is not possible to find in them any reference where, as you say, "God was unjustified in eliminating bad." For the same reason, it would be impossible to find any condemnation of Hitler in*Mein Kampf,* for it was written from a place of bias. The Hebrew Scriptures do not, from my perspective, talk about "God" at all, but discuss only the behavior of Jehovah. They are also written from a perspective of bias to which Christians no longer subscribe: that God communicates with only Jews, as His special "chosen people." I don't believe that life is spiritually enriched by Scripturalism, or playing games by "quoting Scriptures" in pathetic ego-struggles of "one-upmanship." And life is made much poorer by any form of bibliolatry.
To me, the words of the resurrected Christ do NOT sound "distinctly like Yahweh." For Christ , in Revelation 2:5, says only, "I will... remove your lampstand from its place." This is a very far distance from the brutal atrocities of Yahweh, which would be better described by, "I will cut your throats," or "I will bludgeon you to death," or, "I will burn you alive,..." etc. You get the point. Christ does NOT threaten to massacre or slaughter men, women, and children who displease him.
Christ did NOT say, "I'm going to punch your lights out." That is what YOU said about what Christ said. So, it is only your interpretation, and, I believe, an invalid one.
"Bad, evil, and corruption will not be tolerated." I agree. God wants to remove these from the universe. But, again, eliminating evil is different from massacring human beings, which would be an attempt to rid the world of evil by committing still more, and greater, evil. This is not the solution of an all- wise, all-powerful, loving God, but that of a madman.
The Revelation is not meant to be taken literally. It is a book of symbols, an allegory. All students and scholars agree on this. Even in the text you cite, the "sword of my mouth" is symbolic. Christ does not have a literal sword in his literal mouth. His "sword" in his "mouth" is obviously the verbal pronouncements against evil. If the "sword" is symbolic, so is the "fight" in this same verse. Christ does fight evil in the heart. This does not mean that he murders innocent people.
In the next text that you cite, the "bed" and "adultery" are both symbolic. So, then, is the "striking" of the "children." I believe that the Revelation is an allegory of spiritual conflicts in the heartmind of the Christian. So, the characters in the book all represent components of the heartmind. When God "strikes dead" certain people, this means that certain aspects of heart and mind are "killed" by the presence and activity of Love.
The same is true of the next verse: The "iron scepter" is symbolic, so the "dashing to pieces" must also be. For you cannot rationally, consistently "pick and choose" when interpreting the difficult book of Revelation. To be consistent, you must accept either that it is ALL symbolic, or ALL literal. You can't just choose arbitrarily.
As you say, I also believe: "Bad will be destroyed ..." But, to re-emphasize, this does not imply murder of innocent women and children by a just forgiving God. Similarly, in the phrase, "wrath of the Lamb," the "Lamb is symbolic, so the "wrath" must also be.
When I refer to certain people among the ancients as being honest, it was not said, as you sarcastically suggested, because I was "there." But any reasonable person will leave room for the possibility, in any group of many thousands of people, that there are some good ones. It is statistically certain. It would take a bitter, cynical person indeed to declare that every person in any nation was evil. It would also require an immense bigotry. The"facts" imply that, within any group that is large enough, a percentage of them will be good, honest people.
Also, when I said, "You do not destroy evil by killing human beings," you resort once again to sarcasm in your reply, "You're right. I don't." I think that you fully and well understood that the meaning intended was that no one in his/her right mind tries to rid the world of evil by murdering innocent human beings. If a "god" does act this way, he resembles more a Hitler than a Christ, and is psychotic. Only people of weakness resort to violence, brutality, stupid force, and mayhem to solve a problem.
I don't believe, as you falsely imply, that "the Bible is a lie." But I am not a Jew. I am a Christian. As a Christian, I am bound to accept as relevant to my life only the Scriptures of Christianity. If I were a Jew, then I would be required to accept all the Hebrew Scriptures. I know that this perspective will seem scandalous to you. But I have found, after three decades of careful research, that I was forced to conclude that the god of the ancients was different from the God taught by Jesus. I accepted this only reluctantly and gradually, as I believed exactly as you do now. So, for now, I will say "no" to your directive, "read the OT," by which I think you mean the "Hebrew Scriptures."
I must close for now, but I sincerely hope that this reply has not been too long.
Love and Blessings
As you can see, my friend, I have once again attempted to keep open the lines of reasonable and rational communication with our mutual friend Pomegranate. I do dare to hope, perhaps futilely, that he will prove to be a little more flexible and reasonable than the god that he worships. But we'll see.
I will not, at any rate, debase myself to the emotional level of screaming and name-calling. Not that Pom has done this either; to his credit, he has not. But you are clearly right: the entire issue of a warlike god is highly charged emotionally, especially for believers.
I agree that fundamentalism plays largely on the conscious or unconscious fears of members. This often emerges as hatred. And you are right again: This all comes from selfloathing. And they find no real solace in losing their tiny hatreds in a greater shared group-hatred.
The point that I would emphasize is that, when the ancients said that their god commanded them to go to war, they were simply "scape-goating" onto their god. This was to justify their own genocidal or bigoted hatred of people of other nations. They turned into bloody pulp men, women, children, and even babies of the hated races. This was equivalent to the holocausts of Hitler, but, since it was all ascribed to god, no one dared question it. Even today, over three thousand years later, everyone is still terrified to "question god."
But the true God had nothing to do with these monstrous atrocities. The ancient warlike people were so accustomed to war that it was actually their goal to have the most fierce, ferocious god imaginable. They wanted their god to be a monster, so as to intimidate their enemies. So, they created gods of horror, atrocity, and unbelievable brutality. If you had talked to them about a God of love, they would have dismissed you as "weak," not to mention, hopelessly foolish. What good was a God of love in a world at war? They would have dismissed you entirely, as entirely insane.
I also congratulate you on your clear-sightedness. The most basic and core teaching of the JW cult is severely and unquestionably anti-human. This is the literalization of Revelation 16:16, resulting in the grotesque teaching of Armageddon, or the massacre of the entire human race, the destruction of civilization. this ghastly nightmare would make Hitler's concentration camps, all combined, look like a Sunday picnic in the park.
You're also right that Pom has not yet been able to grasp that God is not Jehovah, but, in time, it might just begin to sink in. I have never rejected, and will never reject, the God of Jesus. But, for the record, I do turn away from the jealous, insecure, pathetic, angry, unstable god of the primitives of the Hebrew Scriptures. Jehovah was, as you imply, directly comparable to any of the other ancient war-gods. Even the Jews never conceptualized Jehovah as the God of the universe, or of all people. From the beginning, he"belonged" exclusively, lock, stock, and barrel, to the tiny nation-state of Israel. And he followed this microscopic nation around like a pathetic little puppy, trying to talk them into worshipping only him. (It seems that the other gods of the surrounding nations were a lot more fun to worship, and the ancient Israelis were constantly "going astray.")
To their real credit, Hebrews, at least later in their history, Abraham notwithstanding, did not practice regular human sacrifice. But to their discredit, they created seas of blood and infinite pain by their backwards belief that killing living things pleased their less-than-compassionate god, who seemed to get off on the death of ferocious and threatening creatures such as lambs.
You are right on target, Francois: If a person's view of God has not changed from that adopted and created three thousand years ago, that person seems suspiciously paralyzed. And the decision is crystalclear: We cannot simultaneously accept a god of war and psychotic brutality and a God of peace, love, and forgiveness. I also agree with you, Francois, that the Hebrew Scriptures were, not astonishingly, written by men, and were infected with the imperfections and prejudices of those men, including ideas of racial and religious superiority.
Please be assured that, in our evolution towards more advanced spirituality, someday every person will be prepared to receive into her heart the God of Love.
Love and Blessings,