Statesboro, GA, USA
My position is that some things in the bible don't live up to brighter revelations that I believe are found in ourselves and in democracy. I think one of the most obvious is the justice system and how willing men were to kill men for what they believed in. The bible is life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.
You're right, the justice of God, and the punishment of sin is not a "brighter" vision at all. His mercy and longsuffering is definitely the brighter revelation. But you still have to answer the question about those who reject God's longsuffering and mercy. To not actively punish, or to not decree consequences, at that point, would not make God more than merciful, but less than just.
And your idealization of Democracy is hard for me to take seriously, for I live in one. Remember that the same Democratic principles you are praising, which ensure rewards via "the pursuit of happiness" for those who do well, also admits the possibility that misery may be pursued, and the happy roads left sometimes untrod. Aren't men punished with death sentences even in the good ol' democratic USA? Even many who are opposed to the death sentence, recognize the unsavory necessity of incarcarating people their entire lives in prison, for the protection of society.
No, I'm not trying to directly equate God's economy with the governments of men. But I am trying to show that your constant appeal to "democracy" does not at all prove your point, but actually is much closer to the point I've been trying to make.
If democracy has punished men severely only after many many chances and opportunities, and only as last resort, then how much more is this true of God?
But acknowleding such, doesn't mean we should omit acknowleding how much more advanced Democracy is in many ways today, especially in human rights and justice.
Democracy is no sure-fire solution to the problem of "human rights". Do you realize that under democracy, Roe versus Wade (for example) has allowed legally for some 50 million unborn human beings to be killed? And what did they do wrong?
It's all perspective Essorant. We call former generations "Brutal" and "Barbaric", but we have our own sins to look at and consider. Of course we're going to say theirs are worse. That's what we do, with individuals too, else there wouldn't be so much gossip among our places of employment. They (those who lived in ancient times) used axes, spears, and swords. We use technology, economic maneuvering, and clinical settings to do atrocities. We're more politically correct in our horrors.
Another thing, the Bible does comment on it's own "imbalances", as you call them. The "eye for an eye" concept was actually intended to lessen the passion of a man to poke out two eyes for his one. In a culture of bellicose brutality, this was actually a step in the right direction. The Mosaic prescription, though we might not like it, was like more like a grey stone among black stones. And I don't automatically assume that our American approach is an pearl.
The law of Moses was also given to demonstrate the concept of Justice, and the reality of sin to a people with no revelation of such things. Whereas Jesus did change the dynamic somewhat with his covenant of grace and forgiveness. But where this new "covenant" is not recieved, the law and justice does not simply disappear. None of this changes God's prerogative to punish sin, where that punishment is demanded by justice. Even if the "bowels of divine mercy" have been extended through the New Testament, it still may be possible to avoid them ... to neglect "so great a salvation".
Morality to me is about life and peace. It has no room for violence and murder.
We know better because better is done. People get jail, rehabilitation and help all under man's hospitality. That to me is much more civilized than throwing a thunderbolt at the person or throwing him into a firepit called hell.
Essorant, you've said this so many times, that I have to call you on it. Do you really believe that under our present Justice System, all criminals are really rehabilitated that undergo "rehab"? You think we don't "throw the lightening bolt" of the Electric chair, or "throw a person" into a firepit called prison, if they keep going back (with increasing intensity) to their criminal ways?
Again, I'm not trying to say that God's econonmy is nothing more than a celestial version of democracy. But, please, stop using democracy falsely as somekind of utopian vision, by which you can contrast my views. You're either ignorant of our present justice system, or not being wholly honest here. You always strive to see the best in everything and everyone Essorant, and that's admirable. It's actually one of the things I like most about you. But maybe that's what you're doing in an extreme way ... wearing rose colored glasses as you look at Old Betsy's stars? You can't seem to see her stripes.
The reason is that "punish by death" (murder) and "superlative" can never stand together.
If better means are rejected, then to "punish by death" does not necessarily entail what you call murder. The Bible makes a distinction, for example, between the sword of civil government (following the law of God) and the dagger of a rogue. I'm not saying that the earthly manifestation of punishment represents the "best". (It does represent the worst). But I am saying that there is a difference between punitive death and murder, biblically speaking ... and before you say it, even in a wonderful democracy like ours.
I'll quote C.S. Lewis here: "An exhortation to charity should not come as a rider to a refusal of justice".