Q & A with Dr. Craig: Problems with the Old Testament
Dear Professor Craig,
It’s an honor to write to you and I thank you for your Christian apologetics website that’s been very stimulating for me to read the past few years.
I am an agnostic (leaning heavily towards general theism) with some family ties to Christianity. The past few years, I have myself been searching quite deeply and investigating the truth of Christianity and I find your work very helpful in this area. As of the moment, I personally find many of the arguments for general theism quite compelling (especially your Kalam cosmological argument). However, I am not sure I can make the leap to Christianity just yet. There are still some things I am working through and investigating and thought I might ask you about one of the areas that’s bothered me quite a lot and makes it tough for me to trust in and believe Christianity.
The area that bothers me quite a bit is what to make of the Old Testament of the Bible. What I mean, Professor Craig, is that the Old Testament makes some claims and/or paints a picture of God that seems so far out there compared to the New Testament. Two key examples of what I mean would be:
1.) Extraordinary miracles (such as Jonah living inside of a whale, a talking snake, and the Exodus story, which doesn’t seem to have any historical/archeological proof).
2.) A wrathful God, who seems petty and filled with anger (I’m thinking of God’s punishments set forth in the Book of Leviticus, which seem scary and extreme).
Professor Craig, I realize that some people caution to not always read the Old Testament literally and I am aware of that and keep that in mind, but on the whole, it does seem my two key areas of concern above would still hold. God really does seem in the Old Testament unusually angry (again, I’m thinking of punishments in Leviticus), as well as, extraordinarily grand in the scale of his miracles, which seem nearly unbelievable when reading about them.
My question for you is essentially how you would respond to these apects of the OT? Is it really reasonable to believe that all of the seemingly outrageous supernatural events reported in the Old Testament were literal and took place (despite, for example, there being no evidence of the Exodus)? And, secondly, is it really reasonable to believe that the Old Testament God who articulated punishments, such as those found in Leviticus, could be the exact same God as the person of Jesus in the New Testament? It’s these issues that prevent me from trusting in Christianity at the moment, because the Old and New Testament depictions of God and his interactions with humanity just seem so inconsistent at times…
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