Evangelical Update

A resource for lefties who want to understand conservative Christians.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Two Gods and Interpretation

There is a division in the Christian Bible: Old Testament and New Testament.

It seems that those who want to challenge Christians can easily begin by pointing out that the angry, vengeful God of the Old Testament (plagues, floods, Joshua slaughtering an entire city) conflicts with Jesus' peaceful message (turn the other cheek, love your enemy) in the New Testament. Since Christians believe that Jesus IS God, how are the two conflicting portrayals reconciled?

I've noticed that conservative Christians (CC's) who study the Bible have the ability to interpret a passage to meet today's standard of understandability. I've rarely encountered a CC who will admit that the passages are out of cultural context for our day. And when they do occasionally admit it, I wonder: where does one draw the line between objective truth vs. an antiquated relativism?

If one is creative enough, he/she may explain away any sort of conflict in passages. (I know, some of you will say there are no conflicts...) How do you feel about creative interpretations? Is it fair to interpret the Bible rather than taking it at its face value?