My husband suggested I blog a bit of my own written response to our friend's ideas. So, here it is, in part:
I guess I have never viewed God, even in the Old Testament, as being a particularly angry being, or at least I have only seen him (and I am using the universal "him" here as using him/her gets unwieldy) being angry with justification. As a heavenly parent it doesn't offend me as his child if he eventually has to resort to anger to regain my attention, or the attention of my church community or nation, to try to save us from further sad consequences of our own decisions to refuse to choose what is good and loving. When my son used to try to play in the traffic in front of our house and refused to listen to reason, my anger as expressed in yelling and withdrawal of privileges was a way to try to impress upon him the seriousness of possible dire consequences to himself and others. My punishment was an expression of love, even though at the time he didn't understand it and thought I was a terrible person. I guess I never before considered that Christians as created beings would think their creator never had right or reason to be angry. To me, if he didn't do everything possible to try to let us know we are in danger or creating danger for others, then I would see him as indifferent rather than loving.
A major factor in my decision to become a Christian was reading the Book of Job. I was tired of my own poor choices and their results. I was freaked out by the possibility of the Hindu notion of the god within because if what is within human beings is all there is to a god's expression of possibilities then I saw no point in living. I was looking for someone bigger and greater than humans, someone ultimately with the ultimate good of the universe in mind, and I found him in the God that confronted Job in the midst of Job's own apparently God-ordained sufferings and decided that, whether or not Job was an actual person or the book was simply an analogy regarding the characteristics of our creator, that was the gutsy, calling a spade a spade kind of God I could relate to. hahahaha
It was the same when I read the stories about Jesus. The idea that he would willingly be the ultimate substitutionary atonement for an imperfect creation to be restored to harmony with a perfect creator (as defined by the creator's concept of perfect rather than my own) filled me and still does fill me with awe. The way he lived out the love of the father, yes, even in expressing anger at those leaders in the temple who were leading their followers astray, for their own good as well as for their followers, struck me very deeply.
I do not understand all the reasoning behind God's requirement of blood sacrifice. I find it repulsive to be honest. However, because I see God as being so vast and bringing ultimate justice, then if he thought these blood sacrifices were necessary for us to recognize the seriousness of his role as creator, then I accept it even though I cringe at the very idea. I am quite certain Jesus could have escaped his punishment at the hands of government authorities, or at least made a good attempt with the help of his followers. That he didn't even try, that he believed his life sacrifice was necessary for the sake of all his followers who were to come, still brings me to a place of awe. I have accepted God's definition of love that is more than simply fuzzy good feelings and also contains elements that my human emotions are capable of taking great offense to, such as the idea that sometimes suffering results in a greater good.
So that is the gist of what we talked about. This is a rather hackneyed account of the conversation and subsequent emails, but the discussion we had has certainly inspired me to at least try to discover more effective ways to talk to the people in some of our oldest, mainline churches that are starting to redirect their interpretations of the Bible and other Christian literature. It can be a discouragement or a challenge and I think I am getting more fired up to prepare myself to enjoy the challenge rather than run from the discouragment!
Obviously I need your prayers! Bless you!!