I know some of you will probably think I may be a bit silly for raising this question, however here is my reasoning behind it.
I was watching the Louis Theroux documentaries last week (America's Most hated Family & America's Most Hated Family: In Crisis 2011) where he visits the Westboro Baptist Church. Now of course 5 seconds into the documentary you realise what religious nuts these people are, however the more I watched and heard their opinions, the more I began to realise that they may actually have the best understanding of the Christian 'God' of any Christian denomination that I have seen.
I think that they understand that he would be jealous, capricious, unkind and malicious. They take the Bible literally and are strongly opposed to things like homosexuality, sex before marriage etc. They give thanks to God for everything, not only the good things in life - Cancer, soldiers dying and family members leaving the church, never to be seen again.
They do not make up excuses as to why their God let's such terrible things happen on a daily basis, they believe it is his doing and therefore is the way it should be.
Yes, they are completely bonkers and their beliefs are atrocious, but their views are nonetheless very interesting.
If you haven't watched the documentaries, do yourself a favour and watch them. If you have and maybe had similar thoughts or completely disagree with my idea, it would be great to hear your opinions.
I think you have to understand that they represent an extreme form of hyper-Calvinism and they believe in predestination with a vengeance. As your fate was already decided before you were born this would mean everybody acting against God's commandments, rules and regulations is therefore certain to be doomed. In their view those who are predestined to be saved are but a small subset of these already totally mad Christians. This is would be why it is actually very hard to join the sect if you're not related, no matter how utterly confused or mad you are.This interview with Nathan Phelps might shed some light: http://www.irreligiosophy.com/?p=1408
They do take the Bible very seriously, and you won't catch them on making stuff up that isn't in there. But so do other Christians who are far less extreme as they do draw other theological ideas from the same texts.
I think it would be a bit problematic for an atheist to position him or herself as an arbiter about which of the theological constructs underlying certain adopted articles of faith is more true to the Bible.
I don't see why an atheist cannot compare theology to biblical edict and draw conclusions like any other rational person. In fact, outsiders to Christianity would be better suited for the task. It is true that some atheists have an anti-religious bias. Yet sectarian Christians surely also have bias based on their religious membership, which would similarly effect their judgement in the same pursuit.
I remain unable to comment on the OP, since I am not familiar enough with the Old Testament to draw any conclusions.
Let me first clarify that I do have an anti-religious bias. I really, really dislike it.
Perhaps I'm not expressing myself as clear as I'd wish, then this is because I'm simply not yet able to. I was trying not to say that you can't compare theology to Biblical texts as such. Or that you can't argue about this or that reading being more or less compatible with a proper historical context or whether a certain reading is keeping to textual coherence or pointing to inconsistencies and discrepancies for example.
You can also argue that some theology is closer to a literal and naive reading. You can say that this or that theology seems artificial and strained, seems taken out of textual context and so on. That is all fine and it's fun.
But at the end of the day - as Karl Pilkington would say - it is meaningless, because theology isn't about truth-finding in the first place. It isn't even about being internally consistent. It isn't about historical continuity. It isn't about ethics or anything that is decidable. It is all pretentious bunk.
It isn't all equally stupid, pompous or harmful bunk, but when argued that with the proper (not theological) arguments from a perspective outside any respective theological framework aforementioned criticism either reduces to an appeal to sense, or when more assertive an invitation to exclusion/ seclusion. Both are pretty impotent strategies of engagement. Increasingly so, the larger the disparity, but necessary nevertheless. Unavoidable also.
They are just as inconsistent and inane as other Christians. They just happened to pick a different part of the book to focus on and are more aggressive.
They do not have a good understanding.
They are absolutely bonkers , but in my opinion , they make no excuses for their biblical texts and I believe are closer to the biblical truths than anyone else
Loving the Lord your God with all your heart means you must follow the Old Testament as well as Jesus said "I have not come to abolish the law , but to fulfill." and "I have not come to bring Peace , but a sword"
Even Jesus meant business and so do the WBC.
I do not see how the actions and beliefs of these people are in any way conflicting with the Bible.
That makes them true Christians in my book.
...which is why I'm not Christian.