Just a random thought here. Scripture says: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 How do you reconcile that Christ is God, yet the God of the OT appears to be nothing like the God of the NT i.e. Jesus Christ. Can you ever hear Christ telling his Church to go a slaughter every man woman and child and occupy the Promised land? That is but one example of the dichotomy. One God commands an eye for an eye and the other to turn the other cheek. It appears to be Night and Day the two Gods of the two Testaments. How do you reconcile this?
I have certainly thought about this long and hard. This is one of the three or four hardest legitimate questions about the Bible and Christianity. I have lectured on this topic in more than one place, and plan on putting together this Spring an entire 10-hour course on the difficult theological questions. In my opinion, the most difficult theological questions are:
1. The trinity. (to us this seems only natural, but when explained to non-Christians, it is actually more difficult than we think).2. The problem of suffering.3. The problem of evil.4. The problem of violence approved by God in the Old Testament (and I would add the associated problem of slavery permitted).5. The problem of hell.
I am a Christian apologist. You are, as I perceive it, a Catholic apologist, so your range of issues is broad, for sure, but perhaps my sphere of questions is a bit broader. I have found that most of the criticism of Christianity are really quite weak. They fall apart upon a fairly basic, reasoned analysis. However, I find these five questions/problems are non-trivial and reasonable, clear thinking open-minded people will struggle with these questions. Other criticism are relatively weak in my opinion (supposed science errors in the Bible, claims of historical inaccuracies, claims of Bible contradictions, and the like, claims that God does not exist or miracles are not real)
I am attaching a study I did on these questions. The part on the question you raise is toward the end. PLease look carefully at the outline.
Defense of Christian Theology Notes Defense Christ Theol PPT 1.17 Mb
My summary is that the God of the OT and of the NT are absolutely identical. The perception of a difference is not without reason, but it is a perception and not a reality. The Old Covenant involved physical things—a physical country with physical cities and territory. The judgment was often physical. The God of the OT was loving, patient, kind, but He hated sin and brought sin into judgment. The God of the NT is loving, patient and kind, but he hates sin and brings sin into judgment. Jesus talked about hell about as often as heaven. God’s plan was to choose a person, prepare a family, a people, and a nation to whom and through whom to send the Messiah. The need was for an actual place, and such a place required an army and soldiers. Death is not evil. Sin is evil. Warfare is not a Christian tool, but in the more physical OT situation, warfare was required, not to raid, pillage and plunder, but to defend the territory of God’s people. An eye for an eye was a concession to the worldliness of the Jews, as was the law on divorce (which God hates!), and his allowance of a very limited kind of slavery. God did not change, but as his relationship with his people changed, and as the new covenant arrived, the rules of the game did change, so that Christians are not to wage war, get divorced, hold slaves and the like. What did not change was God.
Here is part of the outline:
Ex: 1 Samuel 15:2-3 “This is what the Lord of Hosts says: ‘I witnessed what the Amelekites did to the Israelites when they opposed them along the way as they were coming out of Egypt. Now, go and attach the Amelekites, and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
That is tough stuff!
A few points on the subject:
1. If you are not bothered by this on some level, I am worried about you!2. The argument assumes that physical death is bad/evil. This is a false assumption. Sin is evil but death is not. Death is a transition, hopefully, to something better.3. This is the Creator talking here. Like the father said to his kid: I brought you into the world, and I can take you out! God has every right to do as he wills.4. God has a perfect right to judge.5. There is the issue of the religion of the Amelekites. Sacrificing of children, worshipping gods by having sex with a prostitute in the temple, etc.6. The situation for the children in this situation was hopeless.7. In the case of Amelek and other Canaanites, both God’s love and his justice demanded that something be done.8. Either God was going to create a nation or he was not. If God is going to have a “people,” then such people must have a physical land and must have an army. a. God’s plan is to choose a man, then a nation, through whom to send a savior. God’s plan to bless humanity through Jesus trumps all else. b. It is sinful to take the life of another in anger, out of greed or selfishness, but it is not necessarily sinful to take a life in war.9. Everything God did to Israel as a nation was to limit their ability to wage war. a. No authority to establish an empire. b. No standing army. c. No cruelty, no abuse, no rape
Anyway, this is just a start and I hope the outline and power point are helpful.