In response to this.
First off, I pretty much agree all around with what Alex had to say, with the obvious exceptions of the Catholic/Protestant argument here. One of the biggest problems that Christianity faces is that many of it’s practitioners try to define a supernatural God with the understandings/motivations of a human.
First off, the “Part I” and “Part II” God. I can’t give a solid answer to something I don’t honestly know. I do know that God himself didn’t change, just that the story became significantly more compartmentalized the further down we go. At the beginning of the Bible, the story is referencing mankind in general, with the occasional insight on a particualarly noteworthy person (Noah, Abraham, Isaac & descendants, etc.) After a while, the story specializes on God’s “Chosen” people, and how he deals with them. So God goes wholesale on the mayhem on people who are outside of his “protection”, Idol-worshippers or people out to do damage to people who are under his protection. The NT on the otherhand is more like an instruction book for someone in the “protected” list, since I honestly think it’s pretty much useless unless you already have a desire to MAKE it relevant to you in the first place. Of course, that’s just my outlook on it.
God’s “Plan” for us all.
Well, it’s a lot more difficult to articulate this point, since I kind of actually know what I’m talking about here. Most people take the concept of “God’s plan” to mean that he has each step in our lives planned out like some people plan meetings in a PDA. I think it’s more along the lines that, at the end of your life, a certain task will have been accomplished. Everything inside of that end result is up to you, and he provides encouragement to go a certain way through the reward/punishment route, but in the end it’s as it is written “God causes the sun to shine on the wicked as well as the righteous, and the rain to fall on the just and unjust.” In the end, one thing has to be kept in mind. You are not the central character in God’s overall plan, so it’s not like his “plan” for you has to be all grandiose. Could be something as simple as cheer up a certain person when you’re 32 so they don’t commit suicide, then they later go on to invent cold fusion or something.
The infallible word of God.
Alex defined that better than I could. Some is literal history, some is allegory, some is poetry, some Parable. Oddly enough, I’ve read some of the bible before choosing my faith, and if I go back and read those same passages, they have a different meaning to me now. I won’t go DaVincci Code and say that the Bible CONTAINS God’s Word, because I believe that it IS God’s word… just for those who can understand God’s thoughts. (not the most articulate statement, but accurate enough)