If you missed the first post from this series, please click here and take a moment to read the introduction.
P.S. I know this response is longer than the others, but admittedly this is a tough criticism and I decided to give it a longer treatment.
The God described in the Bible is a cruel jerk who wipes nations out and demands that people worship Him out of fear of eternal damnation.
This critique only works if you believe that God does exist, it can’t be used as an argument to prove His non-existence. Just because God’s a jerk doesn’t mean he’s not real. That’s like saying Hitler isn’t real because he committed a bunch of atrocities. It’s a non sequitir.
If you’re saying that the God of the Bible IS real and He’s evil, now you’ve got a case. Here’s the trouble with that. If God is real and He created everything which exists then His decisions are made in a realm which so transcends our own that we cannot sit in judgment of His actions. He determines what is good and, by extension, what is evil. Therefore, we are unqualified to say that He is not justified in the things He does, even if we’re severely offended by those things. He is not obligated to do what fits in with our sensibilities, but we are obligated to do what fits in with His.
As for the second part of this critique, that God demands we worship Him out of fear of hellfire, this is an incomplete summation of Biblical revelation. God saves humans from their just judgment by judging Christ in their place. It’s not a demand of worship that He’s after, but He is wooing people to love and enjoy Him out of joy for what He’s done. God not only saves people from the consequences of their actions, but He saves them into a relationship with Him which is characterized by eternal bliss and pleasure in Him. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you resist His call by not taking refuge under Christ, then you will be judged. But that warning is not what gets you to worship God, it gets you to warn others. For what kind of love would Christians have for their neighbors if they did not warn of this coming storm? And not only that, we are to present the blessedness, peace, and joy which is granted to those who know God intimately.