Is God a Hypocrite?
My last post dealt with the varying translations of the 6th Commandment. Does it prohibit “murder” as the newer texts indicate, or more generally “killing” as is listed in the King James version? I concluded that “murder” is what is meant and that Christians are not hypocrites when they accept some killing as justified, such as in the cases of self-defense, some forms of capital punishment and just war.
The skeptic may then shift his challenge. Whether it prohibits killing or murder, how does the God of the Bible, the God of the Old Testament, justify the destruction of human life, either directly by his own hand or by ordering the ancient Israelites to wipe out certain enemies? Doesn’t that make God a hypocrite, or worse?
No, it doesn’t. There is no hypocrisy or contradiction in this setting because the rule-giver is not subject to the rules he creates. There is an unspoken premise in the challenge. We are all used to the notion that “no one is above the law.” The skeptic assumes that God occupies a position like that of a legislator. The legislator cannot commit crimes and then claim to be above the law because he wrote the law. This is so because the legislator is part of the class to whom the law is addressed and is controlling.
But God occupies a different position, because he stands above his creation. He is not one of many, who just happened to be entrusted with the power to write law. He created the power to make law, at least as far as we are concerned. As the creator of life, he has absolute authority over his creation…
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