But it doesn't change the answer to question 1: the God of the Bible is pro- slavery, anti-shellfish, and anti-gay. To say anything else is either dishonest or delusional.
Sure it does and no it isn't.
I have very little time to get into this but I'll take a quick stab it it... The "God of the Bible" in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, those books quoted by Frank as indicative of a vengeful, judgmental god, are books of the Torah which were carried over into christian theology as a historical reference to the teachings of Jesus. The Law is stated in Genesis by Moses, but they were restated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. The Torah proclaims the law of Judaism at the time. Jesus then says that he is here to fulfill the law of the Torah and restates it for a contemporary age -- even there Jesus is saying the ten commandments have been misconstrued. Nowhere in Matthew 5 does he mention homosexuality or slavery. He restates the laws and makes them MORE stringent, not less. The christian who believes that the Word of Jesus is the Word of God can easily make the case that Leviticus no longer applies.
Matthew 5 (New International Version - UK)
21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
27 You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'
28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart
33 Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'
34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne;
35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
37 Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Paul then goes on and does some gay-bashing in his letters, but Paul isn't part of the holy trinity. To a liberal christian, one who accepts Jesus as God in human form, it is no great stretch to take the words of Matthew 5 and and use them as a template for being a "good" christian. God gave the Law to Moses. Other folks expanded on that. Jesus said they went too far in some cases, not far enough in others.
Let me spend a minute on Paul. Paul (narcissistic, egotist that he was) is thought by most scholars to have a tortured soul. He was a miserable man who went around persecuting everyone who didn't agree with him. He had his moment on the road with a vision and was a changed man --- although, not really. He changed his focus but not his approach. He still persecuted everyone who didn't agree with him, but it was a different group. He changed from persecuting christians to shilling for the cause and persecuting those who disagreed with him about The Way to redemption (same 'ole song, different verse). Paul went off on a rant proclaiming himself a equal to the twelve when Peter didn't like the fact that Paul was changing the message away from the law. Paul and Peter had a pow-wow and decided to spend their lives on different parts of the planet. Paul goes back to the Mediterranean and Peter focuses his own efforts on the Galilee.
Paul, as an emotionally tortured man (possibly homosexual, according to some scholars) needed
a redeeming savior. He didn't need to live by Jesus' Word (he doesn't mention them in any of his writings) he needed a way out of his personal hell. Paul is the one who proclaims that we are all born sinners. He has impure thoughts he can't banish but rather than take them on as his own problem he says, "Not my fault, man, I was born this way, and if I'm a sinner then, by golly, so is everyone else. I'll embrace Jesus as my redemptive savior. He died for my sins and by accepting his sacrifice on my behalf I too will be saved. You do as I say and you will be saved too." Nice dodge.
Jesus talks about the beauty of the world, the goodness of people, the pleasures of food and drink. Paul talks about sin, sinners, guilt, and getting the hell out of here and on into heaven. Jesus talks about blessed participation in this world, Paul talks about divine abstinence.
Hundreds of years pass. Lots of scripture is written, reviewed, judged, included/burned and Paul's message surpasses Peter's (and even Jesus') by those who felt that Jesus as redemptive savior was the way to go. The Book was formulated and the copying begin -- except where it was copied incorrectly either by accident or by intent (see Ehrman, "Misquoting Jesus").
To say that there is only one way to "be" a Christian, and that that one way is to except the entire Bible as the inerrant word of God is a fundamentalist perspective. To call anyone who has a different view a hypocrite is specious. The liberal christian is more concerned with the message of Jesus, not the story about him or what Paul decided.
The fundamentalist gives equal weight to Moses, Leviticus, Jesus, and Paul. The fundamentalist uses a litmus test of accepting Jesus Christ as one's savior who redeems us of our own sinful nature. The liberal christian looks at the message of Jesus and accepts him as God in human form (Unitarian christians go so far as rejecting the birth and resurrection stories, focusing solely on the message) with instruction on how to live one's life as a way to get to heaven.
One word on the Torah... Jews didn't keep the Torah as a stagnant view of jewish law any more than Jesus did. Jewish tradition includes midrash and halakha which interpret the Torah for a changing universe -- just as Jesus did in the sermon on the mount.