the shape of leadership

Is God a Vindictive Bully?

A conversation with Paul Copan

George P Wood on November 3, 2022


The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction,” wrote the atheist Richard Dawkins. He went on to describe God as “jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Dawkins, who is frequently wrong but never in doubt, isn’t the only person to perceive problems with God in the Old Testament. The second-century heretic Marcion was so struck by the difference between the Old Testament and New Testament that he believed they taught about different gods altogether. He went on to delete the Old Testament from the biblical canon, along with any New Testament book he perceived as being too friendly with the Old Testament.

So, how do we reconcile the portrayals of God in the two testaments of Christian Scripture? That’s the question I pose to Paul Copan in this episode of the Influence Podcast. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host.

Paul Copan is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is the author of numerous books dealing with questions in philosophy, ethics, and apologetics. His most recent book is, Is God a Vindictive Bully? published by Baker Academic.

This episode of the Influence Podcast is brought to you by My Healthy Church, distributors of Bible Engagement Project.

Bible Engagement Project gives churches access to a library of kids curriculum and small group resources all in one subscription.

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