First of all, some would contend that the points that I raised in an earlier posting are not troubling at all. This is indeed how Gods works in the world: God does have a chosen people, who gets land. God blesses this chosen people and destroys its enemies. God punishes those who are evil and blesses those who are good. This is right and just. This is the moral order that God has created.
But those of us who are troubled by the biblical beliefs that I have identified take a number of other approaches:
- God in the Bible is depicted as jealous, vindictive, and violent, but the biblical God was still an improvement over the gods of other near-eastern cultures; the Hebrews were leaning in the right direction.
- The jealous, vindictive, and violent God is not the only image in scripture; we simply need to put more emphasis on those passages that depict God as compassionate, just, and concerned about universal humanity.
- The name of God was abused by biblical people, but the prophets are included in scripture as a corrective to these abuses.
- The jealous, vindictive, and violent language about God in scripture is not historically literal; it is poetry that is suggestive of theological concerns that do not call for killing human beings.
- The jealous, vindictive, and violent images of God can be seen in actuality as being projections of human propensity to be jealous, vindictive, and violent. They do not instruct us in reality about the nature of God, but they point out the parts of our own nature that we tend to hide and deny.