Despite what many preachers will tell you, what you take away from the Bible is a personal choice. I tend to repeat this point because I see it as critical to the spiritual well-being of those of us exposed to the Bible, especially to the institutional church's interpretation thereof.
This assertion, implied or overtly stated, is totally false. If that were not the case, there would be no current discussion and disagreement among those who embrace the Bible as to what it means. The idea that such disagreements result solely from willful misrepresentations and complete ignorance of the
Even the most casual observer of the Bible recognizes the wide variation in the way God is depicted in various portions of the scriptures. The church routinely dismisses this disconcerting fact by concocting a theology which supposedly eliminates any confusion. God's character is multi-faceted in the church's explanation, and supposedly these different characteristics are reconcilable. Realistically though, the church's attempt at that reconciliation relies much more on traditional pre-conditioning than logical explanation.
Given the myriad and opposite ways God's character is demonstrated in the Bible, every reader is forced to make a choice about which aspects of God will be significant. Many will insist that they make no such choice, granting equal importance to all that the Bible may say about God, but the conflicted way the Bible speaks of God, renders such claims imminently questionable.
For all who feel some attachment to the Bible, either through church exposure or merely cultural conditioning, recognizing the purely personal nature of Bible interpretation should be spiritually liberating. Anyone can assert that each person must understand the Bible their way or the institutional church's way, but the very nature of the Bible proves that assertion to be false.
So, go ahead and decide what to believe about God and stake your claim to that portion of the Bible which supports that decision. In so doing you will be not one whit different from the most