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The next section of "Is The Bible An Immoral Book?" is headed "Broken Clocks: Bad Christian Rationalisations"
(Note: CMI have a plethora of articles available to peruse over at https://creation.com/qa, including some which may already answer points I have made in this series. Head on over, have a read, compare both sides of the argument!)
The video is right regarding one thing...
...there are some bad rationalizations that Christians use for hard passages in the Bible.
Got that right. I explore this topic in my video "Overlooking The Bible's Bad Bits and Christian Delusion".
While you're checking that video out, feel free to look at some of the others on my channel...drop me a subscribe, perhaps?
One (rationalisation) is to say that they are merely symbolic, but that doesn’t solve the problem...
Actually, I think for Christianity to have any hope of winning the moral argument, the only real tactic they have left is to borrow all the good stuff from secular humanism, then admit that what is in the Bible is merely symbolic/mythical - yes, morality is about maximising human wellbeing, yes, there is a God, but no, that God is not represented accurately by the Bible because various authors throughout history have (incorrectly) tied the character of God to the atrocities and genocides in the Bible.
To defend any other theological position, you're faced with the uphill task of trying to say that yes, God is real, yes, God did command people be killed, yes, killing is good, and yes, killing is good because God commanded it.
Out of the two alternatives presented above, only one of them allows Christians to keep their moral integrity intact.
...never mind that the Bible never presents the passages in question as anything other than historical narrative.
Hold on! In one of the previous paragraphs, Is God A Homicidal Maniac?, the author relied on the defence of genre to say that God really doesn't want children to be slaughtered in Isaiah 14:21 (which is followed by God's desire for genocide in Isaiah 14:22).
And so comes the Catch 22 for Biblical Literalism - either it is ALL literal; or, it is a mix of genres that then requires a hueristic to determine literal from metaphorical, thus, not everything in the Bible is literal.
It has to be one or the other.
Nor does it do any good to separate the Old Testament from the New and claim that the Old Testament God was mean and angry, but Jesus is meek and gentile and nice, so there’s no problem anymore.
Agreed. If it's all the same God, then we have to look at the Bible as a whole, and if we look at the Bible as a whole, we then need to remove the concept of context, because a God who is eternal and unchanging cannot be defined by context - what God said 3000 years ago should be exactly the same as what God said 2000 years ago.
Furthermore, I think current practicing Jews may have an issue putting the Old and New Testaments together. One of my Jewish friends actually considers the Christian practice of revising Jewish texts to fit Christian theology as anti-Semitic.
First, the Old Testament frequently portrays God as long-suffering, merciful and kind;
Except when he's not (which is a pretty long list).
...and second, Jesus had some pretty severe words and actions too, and frequently taught on Hell.
And torture...and slavery...and tearing families apart.
Rather, the answer is to understand the Bible in its historical context, on its own terms.
And this, my friends, has played right in to the trap of context. The author has fallen victim to the Catch 22 of Biblical re-contextualisation -
Either the texts of the Bible are to be interpreted in the contexts that they were written in, or there is no context.
If we want to use a contextual understanding of the Bible, this has the unfortunate effect of denying Christians the ability to make words Jesus said 2000 years ago apply to them in this modern age;
Or, there if you want to argue there is no differentiating context, this then means every single verse, especially all of the passages in the Bible that command genocide, slavery, infanticide, sexism, racism, banning of mixed-race marriage, etc, are able to be criticised and condemned from our the best available point of view and understanding.
Because to admit that the meaning of the text changes with historical context, this means that the book that the unchanging God chose to communicate with the world and with mankind changes and revises things depending on context.
Feel free to leave feedback, particularly if I have got something wrong.
Until next post...
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