'Faith' is not believing something despite the facts - on the contrary - Biblical faith is a matter of believing the facts.
"It's not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, it's that it's been tried and found difficult!" - G.K. Chesterton
THE CLASSIC PRINCIPLES FOR THE SOUND INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE
Some people have lost faith in God because they have not been able to reconcile some of the seemingly brutal aspects of the Bible with God being All-Good and All-Loving. Often this stumbling block occurs when someone fails to distinguish between the Bible’s narratives and the Bible’s instructions. There are some brutal, horrible things accurately described in the Bible. But this does not mean that God endorsed or endorses such things. Take for example, imprecatory prayers…
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!
An imprecatory prayer is an emotive prayer from someone who is asking God to take vengeance on someone. There are several of these prayers found in the prophets (particularly Jeremiah) and especially in the Psalms. On first glance they appear violent and terrible. But there is something else going on here.
These imprecatory prayers reveal that true condition of the human soul. The Bible is the divinely inspired – and therefore, the inerrant Word of God. It records these prayers of anger and anguish accurately without condoning them, or even implying that they would be answered. They highlight the difference between what God affirms and what God endorses. To put it another way, it shows that the Bible will accurately record prayers, events, and actions, which God had not endorsed or even condoned. This calls for a distinction to be made between how we view Biblical narrative and Biblical injunction.
A few years ago, a Labor Senator from New South Wales failed to do just this. She asserted in the Parliament that the Bible was among the most violent of all the religious holy books because of verses like-
¶ And Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.”
Second Kings 8:12
What this Senator had failed to do is what many people who do not appreciate the Bible’s genres do. She had failed to realise that the Bible never endorses such violence, but it does narrate evil people performing it. I wonder how many people who feel they cannot believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired and infallible Word of God because of such violent verses in the Bible have also failed to make this vital distinction?
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