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Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted April 24, 2010

Published in Lifestyle

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In God We Trust

Read More: forgiveness, God, homosexuality, judgment, love, New Testament, Old Testament, vengeance

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God and the Bible are very touchy subjects for many people, such that when someone challenges traditional concepts they have their heart and soul invested in, it oftentimes generates anger and animosity.

It isn't my intention to trample on the belief systems of others. My goal is solely to be a catalyst for rational thought that can lead all of us to a unified truth as to who or what God really is.

I am, by no means, an expert on God, religion, or the Old and New Testament. I have studied comparative religions as well as spiritual and mystical texts, but I am not a scholar.

I am, however, an expert on cognitive dissonance, which is a state of mind that is created by two conflicting ideas that co-exist. That is how I feel about the Gods of the Old and New Testament.

For a very long time, I was confounded by their opposing philosophies. And then I stumbled upon a thought that allowed me to make sense of it all. I share that with you now:

"In God We Trust." The question is: Which God do we trust? Do we trust the God of the Old Testament, who is filled with anger, hate and judgment? The God who has all sorts of rules, many of which make no sense to us today? The God who believes in vengeance, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?

Or do we trust the God of the New Testament, who believes in acceptance, forgiveness, and love? The God who speaks of turning the other cheek? The God who, basically, has only one rule: love ye one another?

It never made sense to me that God would be angry, vengeful, or jealous. Those are traits of imperfect beings, those who are scared and threatened. It never made sense to me that a loving father would condemn his children to an eternal hell of suffering and pain.

When my child did things that I perceived were unloving, cruel, and wrong, it never occurred to me that she should be punished forever for making a mistake. It never occurred to me to label what she did as sin.

It occurred to me that she was learning and growing, and that what she needed was compassion, guidance, forgiveness and tolerance, not eternal judgment, wrath, guilt, shame, punishment and pain.

What kind of loving father would want that for his child? No loving father would. It's not possible. There must be another explanation as to why the God of the Old Testament was so angry and vindictive. I began to wonder if, perhaps, rather than God making us in his image, we made God in ours.

And then I read the New testament. Now, here was a Supreme Being, an omnipotent spiritual force to enlighten and elevate mankind that made sense to me.

So how do we reconcile the Old Testament with a God who banishes some of his children to eternal hell and the New Testament with a God who understands that his children know not what they do, forgives them, and finds a place for all of them beside him in Heaven?

Is there a way to make sense out of the Old and New Testament and come away with a concept of God that we can trust, put our faith in, and teach our children to honor and emulate?

What if the Old and the New Testament are more reflective of a message God wanted us to hear for our survival as opposed to a definition of who he is? What if, at the time of the Old Testament, for the survival of the race, people needed to do certain things?

For example, what if, in order to survive, we had to take the attitude of an eye for an eye because if we didn't, we would be slaughtered. What if we had to be vengeful? What if we had to not forgive and forget because if we did that would lead to our demise?

What if, for our survival, we had to believe in the scarcity principle that if others had more we would have less, so we best take what we can and kill those who stand in our way?

Equally so, what if, in order to survive, we needed to not eat specific foods and not engage in specific behaviors? This might explain the many rules of the Old Testament that are presently hard to fathom.

Indeed, the argument could be extended to the rule that two men not share the same bed, in the sense that, relevant to those times, procreation and, therefore, survival of the race, depended upon men sharing their bed exclusively with women.

The argument could be made that God had to frame homosexuality in such harsh terms as sin and abomination, in order to frighten people sufficiently such that they would listen, obey, and populate the planet, thereby ensuring survival.

Essentially, what if the God of the Old Testament, in his wisdom, chose to present himself as a role model of jealousy, vengeance, wrath and restrictions, with threats of hell and eternal damnation, so that we would, as a race, survive turbulent times?

Okay, then. Now time passes. The race has survived an era of extreme disease and pestilence as well as viciousness and violence.

Now, in order to survive, we needed to adopt a different philosophy, a different strategy of living, a strategy of co-existence, a strategy that didn't involve kill or be killed, but rather one that involved turning the other cheek and cooperating with our enemies so that we didn't end up destroying each other.

Perhaps survival now required we turn our swords into plowshares. Perhaps now the message God wanted us to hear was that the meek shall inherit the earth. Not the weak. The non-violent shall inherit the earth.

So God sent Christ down to earth to set us straight, to spread the Word, which was basically: "Forget about all that eye for an eye stuff. That's old news. That won't work anymore. Here's the good news. From here on in, its gonna be, 'love ye one another.' From here on in, it's gonna be, 'love thy enemies as thy friends.'

"From here on in, if we are to survive as a race, we must give up our judgments and resentments against our brothers and sisters.  We must accept each other and forgive each other. We must love each other.We must share what we've got. We must give to the poor. We must help the weak and the infirm.We must cast no one to the wolves.

"If we don't make these changes, if we, instead, maintain the old philosophies of selfishness, judgment, jealousy, vengeance, violence and war, we will end up destroying everything we have fought for in the past."

Next week: The Neo Testament


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7 Comments | Leave a comment

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I'm with you, makes perfect sense to me. Peach

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thank you.

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The Old Testament was a big advance over the religions of that time that sacrificed babies on the altar of Baal. Christianity made great strides in clarifying our understanding of the cosmos. I agree we need to refine our present understanding that has strayed away from Jesus' teaching and found reasons to hate and kill those who don't agree with our interpretation.

This has got to stop. We are all too well-armed! Killing those who disagree with us doesn't change the minds of those who survive.

We've got to evolve quickly to a general understanding of what Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, and many others have tried to get us to see. Our survival as a civilized race depends on it.

So, yes, go ahead and talk about religion and God. What could be more important and timely? Thanks for your courage to talk about these issues.

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thanks for your support.

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Nice thesis, great ideas. One thing you should be aware of, though. The Old Testament does not contain a hell concept. There's hint of that kind of thinking in the book of Daniel, perhaps the last Old Testament book written. But the full doctrine of hell emerges in the New Testament with Jesus being the one to first deliver the teachings. Even the turn-your-other-cheek Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7 contains several disturbing hell verses. Yes, there are many verses in the New Testament that imply all are saved in the end (though many mainstream Christians will deny this), but there are equally many that say numerous if not most people will be damned. It's contradictory, and one simply has to pick and choose. I think we should pick and choose the kind and generous stuff and disregard the punitive stuff, but many Christians see that approach as misguided if not downright evil.

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thanks for your comments and kind words and clarifications... w

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In the old testament rules were set up for our own protection. The 10 commandments were given to try to live by, but man had to realize that he couldn't...therefore he needed GOD, his creator. We were never created to do life alone.
You talk of God's jealousy, judgement, and wrath, which are all reflected in the Old Testament-but you forgot to mention the God of grace who used sinful people, like David to accomplish his works over and over again-when they turned to him. God is like we are to our children. We set guidelines, but our emotions are a mess as our children make decisions-and we hope they make the right ones. As always-there are consequences to our bad decisions. God tells us how to live life...we have to choose which path we'll take. He didn't make us robots.
The God of the new testament is the same as the God of the old. The new covenant was created once Christ died and arose. No more blood had to be shed..no more animal sacrifices. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice who walked the earth reflecting his father's personality. We are able to SEE God through Jesus' ways. He never changed. The rules are the same-except for the foods. I believe he was trying to keep HIS people healthy and as time went on, ways to "keep" food and prepare it changed. Acceptance was always God's way of loving people-but he loved the sinner, not the sin.

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