One of the things I’ve been doing to get the word out about Grounded in the Bible is contributing to subreddits about the Bible and Christianity. These groups are not restricted to Christians, but they are open to anyone to ask questions and generate discussion on these topics. As such, these subreddits often have atheists and people of other religions in them.
So, someone posed the question (paraphrased): For atheists and other non-believers, what is the reason that you don’t believe in God? What would have to happen for you to change your mind?
And one of the atheists answered (paraphrased): God is too violent. Even if I did believe that God existed, I wouldn’t want to follow him because of his excessive violence. Why would I want to follow anyone who can’t control his anger and who might kill me at any moment in a fit of rage?
My question to you today is, in light of what we learned last week about God as Judge, How would you respond to this atheist?
I think my response would be that God's wrath is only a part of who he is, and that wrath is only directed at those who don't follow him and instead pursue sin or other gods. You really have to look at ALL the characteristics of God to understand who he is, and then make your decision to follow him (or not) after that. Focusing only on God's "violence" leaves out God's patience - 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is patient, not wanting anyone to perish. It leaves out God's forgiveness, and his mercy and compassion. Yes, the Bible has stories about God killing people in a fit of rage. But this is always after they have proven that they have turned away from him, disobeyed him, and hardened their hearts. The Bible is filled with even more stories of God relenting on his anger, having compassion on those who have repented, and giving them another chance. And another. And another. That was one of Jonah's arguments for not wanting to go to Nineveh - he knew that if they repented, God would forgive them (Jonah 4:2), and Jonah wanted them to be punished. That's the God I want to follow - the one who is patient and forgiving. And that far outweighs his violence as long as I choose to follow him.
Comment from Facebook post: I guess I would ask that person for an example and how they think God should have handled it. A young child may get angry at a parent who forcefully keeps them from running into traffic.