In defense of their traditional interpretation of God and Christ as both loving and merciful while also angry and fearful, the orthodox usually just throw out a few scriptures they think demonstrate this convoluted depiction of God and Christ and then assume that nothing more need be said or discussed. In fact, this defense is meaningless, because it does not address the basic issue of incongruity between mercy and judgment, between love and eternal punishment. To attempt to explain or justify these inconsistencies by simply quoting scripture is ludicrous. We wouldn’t accept the Muslim who justifies murder by quoting the Koran, would we? You think maybe that Muslim could find a few “proof texts” in his sacred book?
I can hear the counter arguments rising in the Orthodox minds now. “The Koran is not really sacred, so that’s why I reject it as obviously wrong. God said that His ways are not man’s, so nothing has to make sense or be consistent in the Bible. The Apostle Paul stated that the Gospel was foolishness to the wise, so once again we see that seeming nonsense is God’s way. Additionally, God warned the early followers against heresies and apostasy. Any challenge of long accepted church doctrine is bound to fall into that category“. This amounts to trying to explain a logical absurdity by contending that God said He was logically absurd. It reminds me of the skeptics question about whether God could create a rock so big that He couldn’t move it. If not, He was supposedly not omnipotent. No, God cannot engage in logical absurdity, which is precisely what Orthodoxy would have us believe.
People who reason like this are the same ones that appropriate the victim’s moral high ground by identifying as the group most likely to be maligned and belittled by the general public and/or the media. In making this claim, I hear them say that other minorities are now protected by law and social norm but not the poor Christians. The truth of the matter is that the institutional church is the only agency in America that is allowed to solicit untold millions of dollars, much of it from the most vulnerable of our citizens: the poor, the poorly educated, and the elderly, using fear and unsubstantiated promises and to do so tax free and without the slightest fear of legal retribution. There are some real victims in this scenario, and ironically many are glad to be victimized. Talk about a “birdnest on the ground”.
Yes, the church is taking heat in the public arena; it’s the same heat the church has always taken and fully deserved when they insisted that what they always taught had to be right even though evidence to the contrary was overwhelming. Remember Galileo and the Roman Church. This is just one more example of trying to defend the indefensible by intimidation and pontification. The chance of that succeeding is rapidly declining.