Is God a Tyrant?

I recently watched a Nightline debate where the topic of conversation was “Is there a God?” Atheist Kelly O’Connell stated that she would “rather go to hell, then go to Heaven and be forced to worship a tyrant.” This is a very succinct way of posing the question, “How do people view the God of the Bible?”

To explore this topic we will need to pull some examples from the Old Testament depicting how God dealt with man (since the New Testament represents God’s new covenant for mankind through the incarnation of Jesus). Lets begin then, with the Book of Jonah, which says in chapter 1:1-2, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.’” Here we notice that God has given His prophet Jonah the information that He wants people to know – namely that they have sinned.

Later in chapter 3:5-6, He says “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.” Essentially the people in the city that God was angry with decided to heed the warning of the prophet Jonah and change their ways. Chapter 3:10 then finishes with “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.”

Let’s look at one more example from the Old Testament in the Book of Micah. Chapter 1:6-7 says “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the field, Places for planting a vineyard; I will pour down her stones into the valley, And I will uncover her foundations.” We note again here that God is issuing the warning first. Then immediately moving on to chapter 7:9, which says, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.” And finally Chapter 7:19 that says “He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

Have you noticed the pattern? A.) First God warns us, B.) then we are given a chance to repent and change, and C.) if we do so, there is forgiveness. If not, then judgment. Now if we look carefully here these are not the actions of a tyrant -- but rather of a holy, righteous, and loving Father. Think about it, a good parent warns you when you are out of line, right? Then they give you the chance to change. If you don’t shape up, then you receive punishment. After all, what kind of a parent would God be if he didn’t care enough to exercise discipline? Be careful here however, as I am not just equating our relationship with God to the relationship of a human parent and child. Our justice can (and often is) flawed. God’s judgment is perfect.

We must also remember that the Bible tells us God is slow to anger and merciful. Can’t we see that this is probably true? For decades America has propagated sin after sin: abortion, drug abuse, greed, murder, etc. Our country was founded on faith 230 years ago… what do we stand for now?



  1. Except God kills people for things such as masturbation. That's not "slow to anger" or "merciful". In fact, God spreads death a lot. He even once killed 99.999% of the entire population of living things on the planet. What "slow to anger" "merciful" being would do that? He killed all the first born children of Egypt because what the head of state of Egypt did. Could you imagine us going into Iraq and killing all the firstborn little boys because Saddam was a bastard? And could you imagine us saying that was "merciful"? Holy shit.

    Our country was not "founded on faith" and I'd say that from 230 years ago, at least we don't have slavery. But of course, God was OK with that, right? You can even beat your slaves as long as they don't die immediately. He's pretty clear about that.

    What he's not clear on, of course, is that he doesnt support drug abuse. Your morals don't come from the Bible, they come from within. When they're in the bible, great. When they're not, screw it. You pretend like it is. And when there's something in there that you disagree with, screw it, you pretend like it's not there.

  2. Good thoughts PuntReturner - thanks! We begin to build a slippery slope when we presume morality comes from "within" though (see my older post about the Moral Arguement). If your morality is true for you because it came from only you, and mine is true for me... then who is right? Who is to say that Nazi Germany was immoral or not? Wouldn't it just be a matter of subjective morality?

  3. This article forgot to mention the many instances that that "God" called for the slaughter of not just defenseless women and children, but of entire peoples. The bible condones slavery, rape, infanticide, ect. I can't imagine wanting to have anything to do with a being who would dream up a place of unimaginable tortures and send people there for things like lying while people who have killed are given a free pass into heaven if they repent and are sincere about it.

  4. Hello Anonymous. This is an interesting issue for Bible believers. If God is so great, what about all the sacrifices, wars, etc -- right? One interesting thing I have noticed during rebuttles like you mention above, is that as we judge what God does or doesn't do in the Bible, we place ourselves as morally superior to Him. An interesting position for us to be in: thinking that we are entitled to judge God! At any rate, thanks for reading. You're response shows you are a thinking person.


  5. but remember before God did all those things, He gave people chance to turn away from their sins.


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