I have a new article up at NewEvangelizers.com.
A common attack that believers receive from antagonistic atheists is one that involves the Old Testament.
The challenger will often quote some law from Leviticus or Deuteronomy like not touching women during menstruation (Leviticus 15:19). Or they will point out something seemingly barbaric ordered by God. This is especially true with the herem or “the ban,” where God orders the people of Israel to slaughter all living things (men, women, children, cattle, etc.) in a condemned area. The sheer ridiculousness or savagery of such dictates is then held up for ridicule to show the absurdity of Judeo-Christian beliefs.
There is quite a bit that could be given here in response. But for the sake of this article I would like to focus on a particularly bad defense of the faith that I’ve found often regarding these attacks.
Essentially, the counter-argument I hear is “That’s the Old Testament. We don’t really follow the Old Testament. We follow the New Testament, which ignores most of those silly things.” The unbeliever is trying to use the Old Testament as a cudgel to beat over the head of the believer. The believer who uses this counter argument thinks that they are able to disarm the unbeliever’s objection by removing the force of that cudgel. But what they are really doing is cutting themselves off at the knees.
The implication is that we seem to have two different Gods: a God of the Old Testament and a God of the New Testament. The God of the Old Testament is violent, vengeful, and severe. The God of the New Testament is gentle, forgiving, and cuddly. This is a very old heresy called Manichaeism, which set these two Gods in opposition. The alternate view, which is not much better, is that God radically changed in disposition and nature. He was angry all the time, then He took His divine Prozac and became much more mellow after. I’m not sure that everyone who holds this view would articulate their positions in either of these ways, but it is nevertheless what they boil down to.
There are two main problems with this.