We can arrive at the belief in the existence of God with the use of natural reason alone unaided by faith. We are called to something more than though. We are called to faith. We are called to trust in Him. This means we must believe in his word even when it would challenge reason to do so. There are certain Bible passages that require more faith from us than others do.
Should we question God’s definition of goodness? Is it really possible for God to be guilty of an intrinsic evil when he alone has the authority to create new life and to take it away.
One example of a passage of scripture which challenges our faith is 1 Samuel 15 where the Lord sent Samuel to Saul to reveal this message from our Lord “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. 2 Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
Is there a way to take this passage figuratively? Or should we take His Word literally? If as Catholics we are called to believe that the Bible is God’s divinely inspired words how can we dismiss these words as mistaken? Is it possible for God to make a mistake when he is omnipotent and omniscient? If God ordered a massacre of the Amelakites does this run counter to his goodness? Or did God in his infinite wisdom choose exactly the events which would pave the way for His Son to become Incarnate? Or does it fit with God’s goodness that he knew that Jesus would bring salvation to all and that Israel was an integral part of the plan so for redemption to occur he chose to ensure that Israel would be saved from the Amelakites?
I understand that this is an extremely troubling passage from scripture. Today the conditions are different from that of the time of Saul and Samuel, before the time of Christ’s Incarnation. The conditions that made it possible for God to order the massacre of Amelakites down to the women and nursing infants included the essential fact that Christ had not yet become Incarnate. Since it is impossible even for God to undo the Incarnation the set of conditions as a whole are nonexistent and impossible to recur.
Bringing this full circle, this particular passage challenges our human reason, calling us to greater faith to believe that God’s inspired Word is inerrant from beginning to end.