Did God Get a Makeover After Malachi?

Many have asked Wayne and Brad how they reconcile the seeming disparity between the God of the Old Testament who acted at times with wrath and destruction and his presentation in the New Testament as the loving 'Abba' Father. Was Jesus really the exact representation of the Father, or were they playing some cosmic version of good cop/bad cop? Tackling that question requires that we probe the whole of Scripture for a consistent and coherent view of the God of the universe that contains both his extreme measures as he seeks to rescue the world, and his loving and unchanging nature, which we can trust whole-heartedly.


  1. Wayne and Doug,

    Thank you for the interesting discussion about the God of the Old Testament vs. the God of the New. I believe you brought out the apparent inconsistencies between the view of God. I appreciated your comments about Old Testament scripture can be interpreted – especially from us “evangelicals” who have a literalist bias.

    Other possibilities exist and Old Testament interpretation must be understood that it is somewhat “foggy” in that the Old Testament developed over centuries as opposed to the New Testament that developed over one century.

    For example can we always interpret everything stated in the Old Testament as “exactly as God said it” or are there possible flaws due to gaps in how the various writers understood God’s actions. Examples of this apparent inconsistency are found in parallel narratives in the Old Testament.

    A perfect example of this is in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. These two passages are clearly the same story of King David who was “incited” to take a census of his fighting men. This same story has the same results that the judgment of God came upon David’s action through a plague that came upon Israel and David’s realizing that he had sinned. Here are the major differences:

    1) In 2 Samuel 24 the Bible states that “The LORD incited David to take a census”.

    2) In 1 Chronicles 21 the Bible states that “Satan incited David to take a census”.

    So who incited David to take a census – God or Satan? Are both accounts “correct” from a literal viewpoint or are there some other possibilities?

    Is it possible that, in God’s progressive revelation that took centuries, that the earliest texts of the Bible depicts God as both “good and evil” because those who wrote it couldn’t understand God in any other way? This would explain why the God who called Moses would also try to kill him before he entered Egypt in Exodus 4:24. So is God schizophrenic? Why would the God who called Moses try to kill him at the same time? Clearly the answer is the same God who is “good” was also understood to be “evil” in the earliest Biblical writings.

    Thus there wasn’t any concept of a “Satan” until much later in the Bible. Good and evil came from one and the same person. If one reads the Pentateuch, with the exception of the “serpent” which is later “understood” to be Satan in the New Testament, there is no mention of a “evil one” or “Satan. Thus it would be God who both commits both “good” and “evil” because that’s the only way God was understood by the people of the time.

    So pertaining to 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 we can argue that these stories appear “contradictory” because the understanding of a “Satan” didn’t emerge until after 2 Samuel was written but was fully realized by the time 1 Chronicles was.

    I believe many of the Old Testament stories that depict God in an evil light were interpreted by the writers at the time in a less “revelatory” means than would be in later Old Testament and certainly in the New Testament narratives. Thus the “schizophrenic” God who was both “good and bad” was eventually understood, through His revelation to be something different. A God who is loving, merciful and beneficial who was separate from an “evil one” (a Satan) who would call himself a god and be identified as a “liar, deceiver and murderer”.

    Thus it can be argued that “how” God was understood progressed as his revelation progressed in the Old Testament and later into the New Testament.

    Thanks again for your excellent program.

    Gary L. Allan

  2. Hey thanks guys for this podcast. The comment that was made about Jesus being the Word and not the book was very helpful. I have feeling that the Bible being called the Word was not quite right for awhile now. That when I read the book that it said Jesus was the Word and that both the Old and the New Testament always point toward Jesus as the messiah to reconcile us to the Father. So, thanks.

Comments are closed.