How Do We Reconcile the Old Testament God with the New Testament God?

1 John 4:18
New Living Translation (NLT)
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

What do we make of the Old Testament God who commanded the children of Israel to commit genocide, pillage and other atrocities? Could this “God” be a projection of the shadow self – a mirror image of the dark side of humanity – of the people living in the Old Testament times? Would this be the reason these people were killing and plundering other tribes in the name of “God” and being intolerant of those who did not worship the same “God” as they did? How do we reconcile such a petty, vengeful and barbaric “God” with the New Testament God we read in the Bible – One whom Jesus revealed as our loving “heavenly Father”?

According to this website:

“The shadow self is what sabotages our relationships, jobs, it denies our spirit, keeps us from realizing our destiny and dreams. It is what we sweep under the rug. It gets buried and repressed into our deep unconscious self. ….. Other people mirror back our hidden emotions and feelings. Owning to manifest your full potential you have to claim the parts of yourself that you denied, hidden or given away to others to act out for you. If you keep attracting people with similar qualities or traits in your life it is to show you what aspects you are disowning in yourself. This gives us an opportunity to recognize them and reclaim them.”

It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism.” – Carl Jung

So in view of understanding the human psyche, here are my thoughts on 2 Kings 10:18-27 about the killing of worshippers of another faith:

The old testament prophets and kings didn’t really hear God correctly – more likely they heard the voice of the conscience/Satan/dark side of their humanity.

They saw God in their own darkened image. The old testament God – the one that was judgmental and vindictive – was simply a mirror of their shadow self.

We know that Jesus is God and He came to show people what God is truly like. So if God = Jesus, therefore God doesn’t destroy lives, but saves and heals.

Therefore, any command the prophets or kings thought they heard regarding killing the enemies or outsiders or unbelievers or worshippers of another faith, is not from God.

The Bible may have recorded those events, but it doesn’t mean God was behind those killings or God supports them.

Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” All the old testament folks had never seen the Father. They saw mostly a mirror image of their duality manifesting in terms of good and evil, light and dark, but not a unified image of God who doesn’t dwell in duality but in unity – in tune with Himself.

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:11-13)

Hence, Jesus came to renew people’s minds to see God (our true Self) as Love, so that our thoughts flow in tune with God’s thoughts once more. This is the rhythm I believe Rob Bell was referring to in his video “Rhythm“.

When people begin to see themselves as whole and complete, made in God’s image, they recover their true identity, and they become integrated in every way. “By Him (Jesus), all things are held together (or are integrated).”

The old testament folks dwelt in duality, and out of their disintegrated and distorted image of God and of themselves, they ended up doing cruel things, like genocide, etc, all in the name of “God”.

Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to call the fire of heaven to consume the Samaritans, saying that “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. The Son of Man did not come to destroy but to save man’s lives.” I believe it’s because Elijah did not have the same spirit of grace as Jesus has. Elijah was heeding the voice of his seared conscience (sin-consciousness and self-righteousness), not the voice of God the Father.

The children of Israel thought they had to fight and kill in order to possess a physical promised land. Jesus came to show them the true rest – “Cease striving and know I am God (we are gods)”.

What happened in AD70 is not the vengeance or punishment in the physical sense from God – it was the suffering and torment in the conscience of those who were under the old covenant of law mindset, thinking that God is Someone who judges and condemns. It was the voice of their fallen mindset accusing them, and thinking that the attack of the Roman army on Jerusalem was caused by God, when actually it was their mirror image of the schizophrenic God that they had mistakenly believed in, because they refused to believe the good news that Jesus is their true identity.

Related links

“Violence in the Old Testament” by Derek Flood

“Cleansed from an Evil Conscience” by Colin Lagerwall

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Jim says:

    I loved this post because much of our current view of the Bible originates from the Reformation period and the idea of sola scriptura. It seemed like a good idea at a time when worldview was shaped by the feudal system view of judgement, justice etc. This led to (intentionally or unintentionally) the idea that the God of the OT was different from the God of the NT (or maybe started taking Prozac in the inter-testament period) and to questions like “what kind of God would ….?”

    One answer is that God is God and can do whatever He damn well wants to. Although very much true, another alternative is that the OT writers were guided at times by their own emotions. The authors expressed their own perception (or those that were passed down to them) of particular events and not that the Holy Spirit possessed the writer (their eyes rolled upward with only their sclera exposed in a glowing aqua color while their hand wrote). Admittedly, the prophets were probably given more specific words as they were messengers God sent to remind Israel of how they were doing with respect to their covenant.

    I appreciated your statement that although the Bible recorded those events, God may not have been behind those killings or even supported them. This view of the Bible (especially of the OT) goes a long way in addressing the view of a split personality God. This does not mean that the OT isn’t useful, but that one should consider that along with translation errors and cultural differences was the potential that the authors wrote in the voice of their own humanity.

    More important to us is that Jesus came to reveal the Father and that He is love. Difficult to comprehend scriptures may just reflect that the writers were human and influenced by their own emotions. The Holy Spirit, and not sola scriptura, is our real guide to knowing the heart of God as revealed by Jesus.

    Many thanks for your post.

    1. Jimmy Tan says:

      Thanks for your kind words and encouragement, Jim.


  2. herbsquare says:


    It is fine to draw from secular culture to support, or rather, help clarify Biblical concepts- but we must not build the other way around. It is a mistake to read the Bible in light of Jungian concepts- I’m not playing hate on Carl Jung but note that he was NOT a believer and employed various occult practices in the development of his theories. Thank God for the Spirit of Truth!
    The main problem created by your reconciliation of the O.T. God with the one in the New (I’m not playing hate on you, either- rock on! I appreciate the fact you are speaking to a troubling issue which is confusing for many and does not seem to jive with what we see in Christ. You handled it intelligently and creatively) is that you have bought into the popular criticism spun that the God of the Old Testament sponsored genocide and other evil acts. You reconcile this by suggesting what we have received in Scripture is the product of a warped perception of God by His, at that time, spiritually-handicapped servants… But, to do this undermines the innerancy and infallibility of divine revelation as we understand it. Your argument supposes the problem to be with GOD’S WORD, rather than with our understanding of it. To be sure, the Old Testament (and new) record the acts and thoughts of many of God’s servants who have completely missed the mark and are acting out of line with His purpose. The Golden Calf is a good example, or Ecclesiastes (the cynical, pointless life of one living “under the sun” as opposed to one in light of the Son) or Samson or whatever, the list goes on and on. The Old Testament is a colossal record of man’s failure to perceive and move with YHWH while God remains faithful and continually makes a way for those that diligently seek Him…
    However, your argument above does not apply to the fact that when YHWH ordered the COMPLETE annihilation of the Canaanites, every man, woman, child (babies!) and their animals and loot, too, that is exactly what He meant (the Israelites failed at that command, too, by the way.) It was not genocide because God is a righteous judge of HIS CREATION and our lives are already forfeit because of sin, so- not genocide but capital punishment to be carried out by the instrument of His choice at that time, His Theocratic tribal-nation of Israel. That the Canaanites had hundreds of years of merciful time to repent (from Abraham to Joshua) must be considered. Additionally, God dealt with His Chosen People the same way when they began to act like the people they disposessed.
    The point of reconciliation between the Old and the New is, of course, Jesus and Calvary. Life is different for us today because the righteous wrath of God and requirement for all sin has been met in the atoning sacrifice of our Obedient Master, Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (insert “HALLELUJA!!!!” here.) The world is no longer being “smoted”(?) for sin. The Good News of Grace is that God is NOT mad at us and you can receive life if you want it! Jesus makes it very plain who the destroyer is and it is not His Father, or mine or yours if you are in Christ (insert another “Hallelujah!” here.)
    Again, back to the Bible-interpretation-issue-thingy-
    Accept the fact that God’s Word is eternal, true and sure (Mat.24:35). If you are full of- and submitting to- the Holy Spirit He can make you of good understanding, you have the mind of Christ! Jesus is the LIVING WORD! By all means, practice sound hermeneutics and read things in context and with the cultural mind set of the time and place it was penned, but be formed by the Scripture and not the other way around. The problems are never with the Word, only our current understanding of it, and I say this as someone who survived a liberal seminary with my faith intact. SOLA JESU, BABY! THANK YOU FOR THE GRACE!!!!

    1. Jimmy Tan says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You have a point that Jesus is the Living Word.

      As for God being a righteous judge, I would see it from Jesus’ point of view – His justice is not to punish sinners (whom we all were, according to our old Adamic mindset), but to deliver us from oppression. Jesus came to set free those who were oppressed by religion.

      The people living in the old testament, who lived before Jesus came as a revelation of God, thought they were separated from God, hence they were living in spiritual darkness, not knowing they are one with God.

      Hence, Jesus has come to open the eyes of the blind. He came to awaken us to who we really are. We are all God’s children, and there is no separation between us and God, and there is no separation among ourselves.

      Salvation is not about being saved from an “angry God” or from a physical torture chamber in the afterlife (which many christians equate with hell). Salvation is about being saved from ignorance of God’s love and our true identity. We are to be saved from religion and legalism that brings fear and condemnation, so that we can experience wholeness in every way.

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