Where does the hardline Churches of Christ get this picture of God? They claim it is from the Bible, as they comb through looking for scary pictures of God striking people dead on the spot. The obvious answer is: from their own families. They raise their children to fear their parents, often sneaking up behind the child to smack the child during some act of disobedience, screaming at, beating and frightening the child. The children line up in the family pew looking clean cut, conservative and well behaved; children to be proud of. Hardline churches preach painfully bad child rearing practices that almost guarantee that those children will grow up to have personality disorders, unable to handle independent decisions, depending entirely on prescribed rules. The family roles are typical of dysfunctional and alcoholic families: The Central Addict, the Chief Enabler, the Little Caretaker, the Golden Child, the Scapegoat, the Sex Kitten, the Lost Child, and the Clown Mascot. These people with personality disorders, find it normal to think of God as angry, unpredictable, vengeful and secretive, demanding loyalty. They often migrate towards large demanding organizations with clear rules and expectations: the military, federal organizations, engineering and large computer companies.
It is difficult for people raised in these families to leave their harsh church, and declare independence from their families. There aren’t happy, mature authority figures in their heads to replace the pictures of angry, vengeful parental figures.
Oh, wait! The Godfather was really nice and loving some of the time. So the kind behavior confuses the adult child of a godfather type person. “Surely my parents aren’t included in these descriptions; I remember so many happy memories. Never mind the orders to go kill my brother, that was necessary, he was unfaithful.” Your only reason for existing is to serve the godfather parent. Any kind of individuation is considered evil.
Contrast this with Jesus’ description of the Prodigal Son‘s father, a description that Jesus longed for his people to understand.