Would President Obama Bomb the Canaanites?

I’ll get right to the point. I think President Obama would have bombed the Canaanites way before God annihilated them. Why am I even bringing up this hypothetical situation? Are statements like this even helpful for us today in our walk with God? For those questions I need to back up a little bit.

obamaI sat at the Credo House, in Heretics Corner, having a very important conversation. A young man who had been a strong believer the last time we met had grown shaky in many of his beliefs. This guy, whom I’ll call Jake, grew up in a very liberal part of the country and was born to liberal parents. His parents are intellectual people who view Christianity to be the opium of the masses.

Jake, slowly but surely, had been worn down by many conversations with atheist family members. Jake and I sat down to discuss many aspects of Christianity he was struggling to believe. After more than an hour and a half of great conversation he finally dropped the bomb. He said, “Alright, this is it, here’s the big one. My family and friends bring this up all the time and I’ve never heard a convincing response. Why is God so unjust in the Old Testament? How can God be loving when he does things like kill the Canaanites?

It’s a wonderful moment in any serious conversation to get to the real heart of an issue. Jake and I had been discussing issues in the periphery and now we were in the center of what was really bothering him. How does an intellectually honest Christian live with a God who called for the annihilation of the Canaanites? I know some of you reading this will think there is no such thing as an intellectually honest Christian, but please humor me for a bit while I talk nonsense.

Whenever we move into the issue of some of God’s actions in the Old Testament I typically have an image pop into my head. For some strange reason I go back to Thanksgiving. I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving many years ago when I finally was able to move from the little kids table to the adult table. At least at my house growing up we had a big table reserved for just the kids at Thanksgiving. We had another big table for all the grownups. Some cultures have elaborate ceremonies marking the passage from childhood to adulthood. The great ceremony, for me at least, was moving from the kids to the adult table.

I was so excited to move from the little kids table but it did have a distinct drawback. The conversations at the adult table were all about adult topics. If I wanted to sit at the adult table I needed to be willing to have an adult conversation. If you’re willing to criticize God for His actions in the Old Testament, you need to be willing to have adult level conversations.

If you are not willing to have an adult level conversation about God, please do not continue reading this post. Additionally, if you are under the age of 18, please stop reading this post. I’m going to get into some topics I want your parents to preview before you read. Seriously, stop reading if you have a weak stomach or are young.

Okay, I’m assuming everyone reading right now is consciously sitting at the adult table ready for an adult conversation. Here we go.

Before jumping directly into dealing with the Canaanites, let’s take a step back from that particular time and place and observe our world.

Let’s not pretend we live in a white-washed world. We live in a world where terms like Holocaust; Rwandan Genocide; and Darfur, Sudan have meaning. These atrocities were not committed by precocious little kids stealing candy from their sisters. These events were horrific. If my 6 year-old son asks me what happened during World War II, I can only provide a sugar-coated answer. I can only use simple words like good guys fought bad guys. I must hold back my more detailed adult knowledge.

Just last week I heard about an evil causing me to take a few shallow breathes. The details of this dreadful evil are difficult to even swallow at the adult table. Several men in New Delhi, India boarded a public transit bus and started gang raping a young girl. After raping her repeatedly they eventually rammed a metal rod up into her body which brutally ended her life. Four men were arrested and tried as adults. Some additional boys involved in the rape were so young they couldn’t be tried as adults.

Now, New Delhi is known as the rape capitol of India. Rape is common there and the men are usually given the benefit of the doubt. It is quite possible these men could have received a slap on the wrist. How could they get less than the full wrath of India?

I could probably make a case that none of these men would have done this terrible crime on their own. They were overcome by a mob mentality. The power of the group took over and each person lost their head. Yes, these young men should definitely be sentenced to prison but since they experienced a mob mentality there should be some leniency, perhaps.

Based on the knowledge the Indian society gained regarding the details of the crime, however, the young men were sentenced last week to death by hanging. The collective response throughout India was a recognition that justice had been served. When we put God on the stand and try him for being unjust, we need to remember there are terrible deeds happening in 2013 requiring extreme justice.

Let’s start going back in time a few thousand years and analyze the morality of the Ancient Near East. You may have heard of Baal worship. Baal is frequently symbolized in the form of a bull. Why? Because the people recognized the large testicles of bulls. Why did this matter? Well, people who worshiped Baal were many times looking for it to rain. In an agricultural society rain is of utmost importance. Baal worshipers thought they could force the hand of their god and make it rain.

Baal worshipers would get together and have massive orgies. Their hope was to turn on their god and force him to have an orgasm. His semen would fall to earth as rain. Yes, that’s a hard thing for a pastor to preach on Sunday morning to a mixed-age congregation. Remember, we’re at the adult table discussing the morality of God. Here’s an ancient Ugaritic poem:

To the earth Baal rained,
To the field rained ʿAliy.
Sweet to the earth was Baal’s rain
To the field the rain of ʿAliy.

[Side note: I’m not trying to be shocking or overly emotional. I’m just trying to be honest with reality while sitting at the adult table.]

MolechYou can see why Moses was so upset coming down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments when the people were “celebrating” after forming a golden calf.

In addition to Baal worship, the Canaanites worshiped a god named Molech. How do you worship Molech? You heat a large statue of Molech up to an insanely hot temperature. You then take a living baby and place it in the hands of the Molech statue until the baby burns to death. Of all the world religions I have studied, the Canaanite worship of Molech is the most frightening. The Canaanites were not innocent people. If that’s how they worshiped their god, you can only imagine how they treated one another.

Do you think the continual burning of children alive, coupled with many other proven “crimes against humanity”, is much better than Syria utilizing chemical weapons in 2013?
Many of the proven atrocities from Canaan, Babylon and Assyria would certainly have caught the attention of President Obama if these were countries today. President Obama, interestingly, was elected in 2008 with an anti-war platform.

In no way is my intention to debate if President Obama should bomb Damascus. I simply want to point out that an intellectual lawyer and community organizer was elected in 2008 partly on his insistence that he was clearly against the Iraq war. No one, Republicans and Democrats together, would have accused President Obama as being a war mongering leader. He already, however, bombed Lybia in 2011 and tried to make a case for bombing Syria.

President Obama has come to recognize when an individual is in charge and has reliable information of wrongdoing, it may be necessary in the pursuit of doing good to destroy people.
This is adult table conversation. I don’t think President Obama is a moral monster for wanting to bomb a country that is willing to use chemical weapons. I don’t think President Truman is a moral monster for dropping atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 responsible for killing more than 230,000 men, women and children. For some reason Jake’s parents voted twice for President Obama, possibly support the actions of President Truman, but mock God as a moral monster.

There are, however, some incredible difference between President Obama and God. The one difference most applicable in this conversation is that God is all-knowing. He is fully aware of every tragedy. He is fully aware of every horrific event. God does not need to wait for an investigation to be done. He does not need to send in inspectors, he already intimately knows the situation.

India was aware of that horrible gang rape, but God knew every rape that day throughout the world. It is amazing, I believe, that God allows any country to flourish. If any president had full knowledge of every thought and action, he would probably be seeking congress to bomb all countries of the world.

Our observation of the Old Testament, however, seems to paint the opposite picture of God. Yes, God did pull the trigger a couple times throughout history and dropped atomic bombs. Many more times, however, His mercy and patience far outpaced that of humans.

Jonah is an excellent example. God sent Jonah to tell Nineveh that they would be destroyed. The Assyrians were bastards. That’s the easiest way to explain them. They invented ways to torture people. Crucifixion was first developed by them. They are known for conquering countries and then putting giant fish hooks through the cheeks of conquered people and marching them all the way back to Assyria. The Assyrians would have violated the Geneva Convention every day.

Jonah, famously, goes in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh. Why? He knows the type of God he serves. A war mongering moral monster? No. He knows his God is quick to forgive people. He is slow to punish. He is slow to avenge. Jonah doesn’t want Nineveh to have any chance of forgiveness. Jonah wants to fly the Enola Gay over Nineveh. God, however, is more restrained than Jonah. He wants to give Nineveh a chance to repent. The book of Jonah is an adult table book. God forces Jonah, kicking and screaming, to Nineveh and the people repent. The book ends with Jonah wanting to commit suicide because God forgives people who don’t deserve it.

I am convinced, using only evidence from the Old Testament and the news today, that President Obama would have called for the destruction of Canaan long before God gave his assent.

68 Responses to “Would President Obama Bomb the Canaanites?”

  1. Is infant sacrifice more or less horrific than forcibly medicating someone so they can be made just barely mentally competent to be executed? It’s hard to make precise comparisons, but I’d say the two are at least within shouting distance of one another, morally speaking.

    You’re right, I think Obama would definitely order the killing of every man, woman, and child in Texas (another state where the leaders believe prayer can cause rain) if he found out this sort of thing was in the works there. It’s exactly the same sort of thing as precision strikes against regime targets made to enforce violations of international law.

    Just think how much worse the Canaanites’ punishment would have been if they went around stoning adulteresses or forcing rape victims to marry their rapists! They got off easy.

    By the way, does actually it say in the Bible that all of the various Canaanite massacres were performed in order to punish or prevent child sacrifice?

  2. Good post. However, it must be noted that ONLY God has the ability to read human hearts and knows the deep innermost thoughts. Therefore, it is only He that can rightfully and justly judge and render punishment and destruction. No one, not even Obama, even with all his intelligence reports, has the right to start a war and kill. This is a huge difference. We do not have the capacity to judge anyone or any one nation.

    Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NKJV)

  3. Just a few side points:

    Obama has made no case for bombing Syria. He was just going to do it, until the outcry arose and THEN he decided to “make a case” for it. (Which he hasn’t yet actually done, by the way, since there’s not sufficient evidence to decide exactly who used the chemical weapons in the first place.)

    Also, let us not talk about this man Obama as though he’s just another president. This man is arming jihadists – you know, those same people that are eliminating Christians all over the ME? This alone should have him removed from office and tried for treason.


    As to the main point here, I have never understood why so many people – even some actual Christians – have a problem with God’s treatment of the Canaanites.

    Even without knowing the more detailed background of these people’s culture and practices it’s clear just from the biblical accounts that these were people who deserved the judgment they received.

  4. Am I insane? Or am I the only sane person I know?

    I’m asking because “How could God have killed the Canaanites?” strikes me as a completely silly question, and causes me no angst at all.

    Very simply, God takes all lives. Nobody gets the benefit of breathing earth’s atmosphere forever. God also gives all lives. Nobody has a life that did not come from God.

    So how can it possibly be morally offensive for God to take a life? or two lives? or a million lives? or all the lives on the planet?

    The simple, correct fact is this: God is not a man. To judge him as a man is insane.

    Or, slipping from the hyperbolic to the technical, judging God as a man is anthropomorphic, and commits a category fallacy.

    We can talk all day about what the Canaanites deserved, and we’ll be right if we do. We can talk about how God meets people where they are, not expecting perfection, and uses their cultures to teach His lessons; and the fact that He calmly allows Bronze Age behavior is no more shocking than that He calmly allows 21st century behavior. We’ll be right if we do that, too.

    But none of that erases the fact that to judge God at all for taking life is beyond ridiculous. They’re all His to take.

  5. Michael,

    Great article! When I come to this question I go all the way back to Genesis 15:12-17 when God tells Abraham he’s giving the people of the land 400 years to repent! He’s waiting for them to turn around before he judges. In Noah’s day he gave them a preacher and 120 years. But, when horrible sins are committed there is a day when God will judge…and that day awaits our culture as well. thanks for your great words.

  6. Even if the cultures of all the -ite nations are established as horrific and a stench to God, I don’t think this will satisfy the athiest/agnostic crowd (and many Christians) since infants and children are included in those wiped out not only in the conquest of the Canaanite lands and environs, but also during the Noahic flood and the last plague in Egypt. I personally can only make sense of God’s actions by acknowledging the infants and children in question were corrupted by original sin and/or by some genetic predisposition to extraordinary evil because of the culture they were a part of. Only by thinking along those lines can I say God’s actions were just. But it doesn’t “feel” comfortable.

  7. I don’t know what you and the young man had or subsequently did cover in your conversations. But the issue of God ordering what is described basically as genocide (or other things we consider ghastly and immoral today) can legitimately come only AFTER other key questions. One of them is “How do we know, how can we validate that God even gave such an order?” (Many progressives believe in God but not direct revelation.) Even if such a possibility is taken on faith (as opposed to historical or scientific evidence), then the historical question still arises: “How do we know that the Israelites DID even slaughter Canaanites en masse at Ai, Jerico, etc.?” Archaeology, along with OT scholarship in the last few decades, is uncovering pretty strong evidence that they never did…. At the least they cannot find any corroborating evidence where it would be expected… But the problems are much more than that — positive evidences contrary to scriptural accounts in many cases and on key claims.

    Of course, if Israel didn’t wander for 40 years in Sinai and subsequently drive out Canaanites to occupy the “promised land”, a lot of other OT history is called into question and vice-versa, which does not at all fit the orthodox picture.

    And that is part of the point. Unless the kid, or others like him, and older believers or non-believers as well, have done some serious scholarly checking, they may not even be informed where the true and deep difficulties lie in an orthodox “historical-grammatical” interpretive (or “literalist”) approach.

  8. does actually it say in the Bible that all of the various Canaanite massacres were performed in order to punish or prevent child sacrifice?

    And more. Here is an example:

    When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:29-31)

  9. I think dropping 2 atomic bombs on a civilian population is not justifiable and is contrary to our Lord’s teachings in every way.

  10. Amen there “philynk” and “bethyada”!

    And thank God that the atomic bombs were used on Japan, they certainly helped END the Pacific war and the carnage! The intell for a major invasion of mainland Japan had the allies casualties at over, 100 thousand on the first day! My Irish great uncle fought the Japanese at Burma in the British Army, and he said the only way to stop the Japanese was to completely destroy their will to fight! And the Adam Bomb did just that! War is indeed Hell!

    And btw, many in Radical Islam are almost the same, I fought some of them in Gulf War 1 as a Royal Marine, many were always quite willing to die for their cause in Islam, literally submission to god’s will, i.e. Allah, to kill the infidel (unbelieving).

  11. Btw, technically both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were Japanese Naval Bases, and quite enemy targets. And both the Germans and the British dropped bombs on civilian targets and cities in WW II. Not right in a full humanitarian sense, but most certainly WAR!

  12. Just a point and question, but I wonder here how many have had military service, and especially in combat? For those of us that have, this is not just an academic and ideological question!

  13. The real question should be, not “why did God destroy the Canaanites?”, but why has he allowed sinful human beings to live at all in their rebellion and hatred of Him? And that includes every one of us until and unless we have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. It is his mercy that should astound us. God is supremely just and supremely merciful and the ultimate evidence of that is the cross where God poured out his judgment, the judgement that we deserved, on His only-begotten and beloved Son, who had committed no sin, so that we could find mercy, and forgiveness and a restored relationship with our Creator. Who are we to EVER call God unjust?

  14. This is why I support the Credo House. I thank you for that post.

  15. This post fails to address much of what concerns me about the Canaanite genocides.

    To my knowledge, no one has addressed Thom Stark’s (cleaned up) version of Is God a Moral Compromiser? Rather, we get a bunch of posts like this that attack straw-man criticisms of the Bible. Paul Copan complained about the tone of what Thom wrote and never came back to address any of the substance of Thom’s actual arguments. Can he?

    If apologists want to ignore Stark, then Christian Philosopher Wes Morriston’s concerns re:Inerrancy and Genocide would be equally challenging.

    Strawman sums up this post best. Tim, it’s not hard to find good arguments against the innerancy of these genocide stories.

    edit: fixed broken link

  16. Good thoughts Tim. Innocents die in every war and we accept it (though we hate it). The atomic bomb analogy is good. It’s as if people say “Well, it’s justifiable when WE kill entire populations, but not when God does it.” I’d guess that the two bombs dropped on Japan killed many times more than died in Joshua’s campaign. Not that that’s a good thing, but still…

  17. Great article (even if it is a bit USA centric)

    I tend to think that people who have moral questions about God often do not realise that these arise from mutually exclusive sides of the same coin.

    The common ones I have come across are:
    1. How can God allow such evil like the Holocaust to take place?
    2. How can God annihilate whole races/groups of people like the Canaanites?

    In other words, He is damned either way.

    The same flip-side exists regarding the timing of intervention- if he is too slow or fast acting he is still damned either way depending on which side of the coin you are looking at.

  18. “Well, it’s justifiable when WE kill entire populations, but not when God does it.”

    Presumably God has more options than we do – certainly better options than to tell ANE men to run into a city and kill non-combatants with primitive weapons. Anyway, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    “Not that that’s a good thing, but still…” still what? It seems there is some part of you that noticed these apologetics are poor.

  19. “Who are we to EVER call God unjust?”

    Steve Richie, if we take as a premise that Yahweh is a God of Perfection, then sure, it is silly to EVER call him unjust. The critics of these texts are either not convinced that Yahweh is that kind of God or that those texts are somehow errant. Even if Jesus sacrificed himself for us in an extreme act of mercy, it could still be the case that the Torah is in some parts errant.

  20. When you talk about genocide you talk about eliminating certain people groups. How can we be so righteous when we’ve been allowing the aborting of over 50 million babies in this country. The god Molech has been resurrected in United States and is inside the wombs of young women carrying out their rights to do with their bodies as they please. Father forgive us.

  21. Great post Tim!

    I’m not sure this has been mentioned yet, for the kid in the corner, but the OT should ALWAYS be interpreted throught the lens of the NT (and vice versa). Rule #1.

    In other words, the historical accuracy of the OT is much less important than the NT lesson. In this case, the Canaanites represent sin in our life and the Hebrews are us, Christians. We are to ELIMINATE all sin in our life.

    Did the Hewbrews clear the land of all sin? Nope, they ended up inter-marrying, leading to their eventual downfall.

    Be perfect, as your Father is perfect.

  22. Michael, while I do not think that you have to be worried about being recruited to be the next White House Press Secretary, I do think your blog post is a bullseye. The subtle problem with those who still would criticize God for the slaughter of the Canaanites is simply that they never can make themselves behave well enough “to sit at the adult table”.

  23. And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
    -Romans 9:10-24 (NKJV)

  24. “I think President Obama would have bombed the Canaanites way before God annihilated them.”

    thank you, though, I know that You, Lord, can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2b

  25. The logic of Romans 9 has much to be desired for anyone already doubting the trustworthiness of the canon. Just to give one example, it seems to say that Jehovah’s creator status is relevant to moral questions of his behavior. If that logic holds, then a creator-devil would also be above questions of morality.

  26. He is the Rock, His work is perfect;For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice;Righteous and upright is He.
    -Deuteronomy 32:4 (NKJV)

  27. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
    -1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NKJV)

  28. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve…

  29. Deut 12, among other things:

    1) does not list infant sacrifice as a casus belli,
    2) contradicts the acceptance of human sacrifice to Yahweh in e.g. Judges 11 and
    3) affirms polytheism.

    I see no one has any reply as to how one should evaluate distasteful cultural practices within other nations’ borders such that their mere existence constitutes a justification for military action. Abortion is super-legal in Canada. If Obama goes on TV tomorrow and announces we will wipe out the entire population of Ontario (maybe keeping the teenage girls for our brave GIs), would Credo House throw him a parade?

    But please, more condescending posts about how people who have doubts about genocide — genocide!!! — are just “children who can’t behave themselves enough to sit at the adult table”. I’m sure that insulting rhetoric will have the fence-sitters converting in droves…

  30. For the record:

    Nobody has mentioned the correct reason that God commanded the Israelites to obliterate the Canaanites.

    The reason was not just that the Canaanites had become irretrievably wicked, though that was true. It was that if the Israelites did not remove the Canaanites, they would end up mimicking their practices (which, in fact, they did.)

    The nations of the earth had fallen under the dominion of demonic spirits, represented by idols and false deities. God selected one nation on the planet to be His own possession as a model to the demonized nations of His righteousness. The purity of the holy nation was crucial to the redemption of the rest of the nations.

    That is why the corruption of Israel was so grievous to God. And it is also why, after they fell, He had to send His own Son to model righteousness, and then to create a holy people by means of His own, Holy Spirit.

    The biblical evidence to support all that is too voluminous to reproduce here, but that’s the complete picture. And after painting a portion of that same picture, Paul exalted with this:

    Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

    Romans 11:33-36

  31. staircaseghost, re#2 and more,

    just as Jephthah’s rash vow was based on the ignorance of God’s character, your attempt to malign God’s character won’t change the truth. You can thing anything you want, but that doesn’t change reality.

  32. The text presents Jephthah’s vow as coming right after the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. That story, like many others in the Bible, is sympathetic to Hérem.

  33. @philwynk

    I think I DID cover the main reason in my comments, although not in the detail that you provided.

  34. Thanks, staircaseghost. I’m always interested in yet another ridiculous attempt to judge actions in the Bronze Age by 21st century standards, and then to accuse God, the Almighty, of wrongdoing because He did not force Bronze Agers to adopt our own, modern version of moral reasoning.

    And since you seem so fully agitated about God’s audacity in condemning tens of thousands of Canaanites to death, perhaps you can explain why you’re not similarly agitated about our own audacity in condemning tens of millions of infants to death. God’s a Monster because he doesn’t act like we do? Are you insane? Heck, I’ll lay God’s monstrosity beside the monstrosity of the average, modern Progressive any day, without any fear at all. That any man should judge God is beyond ridiculous, but that PROGRESSIVES should be the ones to do it? Pardon me while I wet myself laughing.

  35. Just please fix the last word: assent. “Ascent”, on the other hand, is from the same root as “ascend” – to go up, to rise.

  36. Actually, America is long overdue to suffer God’s judgement for the slaughter of the innocent unborn since 1977. The Lord, indeed, suffers long and is merciful. He hears the cry of the blood of innocents and his hand will not stay forever.

  37. Well said:”It is amazing, I believe, that God allows any country to flourish.”

    I ponder how this old earth measures less than a speck in the vast universal creation of GOD. Creatures of dust that we are, on a speck of a planet, shaking puny fists against GOD while committing such atrocities, it truly is a wonder that He does not just blow us away with His Breath.

  38. Excellent points.

    On the hypothetical, I am sure that many Christians would bomb Syria before either Pres. Obama or God. [Remember the Sons of Thunder?]

  39. I see no one has even pretended to present and defend even a minimally consistent standard for ranking the comparative acceptability and proportionality of international interventions regarding chemical weapons in Syria, abortion in Ontario, execution in Texas, and child sacrifice among (the other) Canaanites.

    It has been illuminating, however, to make three columns, and on the left place all the comments explaining what a morally great person Yahweh is, and on the right place all the comments explaining that it’s impossible to judge whether Yahweh is a morally good person, and in the middle place all the comments where Christians said to other Christians, “hey, these replies on a matter of fundamental doctrine appear to be contradictory, you guys in the other column should change your beliefs about whether Yahweh is judgable.”

    The middle column is empty.

    Philwynk of course has no idea what my views on abortion are, because he doesn’t know me and because I have never written on the topic. And since this thread is not about my views on abortion, I will only leave you with this teaser: they are nested in a moral framework which at least meets minimal standards of consistency when it comes to the use of violence against international military and civilian targets. Which is what the OP claimed to be about.

  40. Dear Staircaseghost, “It’s a wonderful moment in any serious conversation to get to the real heart of an issue.”

    the wages of sin is death..But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.All of us like sheep have gone astray,Each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. Isa 53:5-6

    He made Him (God Himself) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 2 Cor 5:21 ;1 John 4:10
    (caution: difficult and offensive)

  41. Robert

    “Well, it’s justifiable when WE kill entire populations, but not when God does it.”

    Presumably God has more options than we do – certainly better options than to tell ANE men to run into a city and kill non-combatants with primitive weapons. Anyway, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Actually that argument proves to much, because the same reasoning would entail that God would not command or permit governments to try people for murder, after all God has more options than we do certainly better options than to rely on human courts.Similarly God would not command human beings to not steal, after all God has much better options to prevent theft than relying on us to not do it.

    The issue is not what God can do, the issue is what a loving and just God can command us to do, what actions and policies would he command human beings to do.

    If you grant that God can command imperfect human beings to seek justice on earth by setting up courts, refraining from murder and theft then you have already accepted that God permits and allows human beings in all there limitations to seek justice on earth, and one simply needs to ask wether its ever morally permissible for humans to kill non combatantants or wether these is an absolute prohibition. That means you have to look at the numerous articles in the literature today which are that non combatant immunity is not an absolute prohibition that holds whatever the conqsuences.

    If on the other hand you think God would never command humans to do something if he had better options then you have to deny he would ever ask human beings to engage in justice or set up just policies at all.

    I believe I have pointed this out to you before.

  42. Robert

    “The logic of Romans 9 has much to be desired for anyone already doubting the trustworthiness of the canon. Just to give one example, it seems to say that Jehovah’s creator status is relevant to moral questions of his behavior. If that logic holds, then a creator-devil would also be above questions of morality.

    No it doesn’t what it says is that if something is someones property that means they are entitled to use it how they like.

    This would be true with a creator devil btw, if a creator devil owned something then he would have property rights over it, thats the reason I can’t just go next door and steal from my neighbour even if he is an evil scum bag.

    But your also need to read Romans 9, because the point is different to what you think it is, note the text Paul is alluding to two old testament passages Isaiah 29:16 the other in Isaiah 45:11. Neither has the sense your suggesting, the first talks about not being able to say God does not know what he is doing, not simply the fact he is creator. The second, has to do with claiming again that the Potter does not know what he doing. The reference to Pharoh, which Paul cites if you read it refers to God’s mercy in tolerating Pharoh and allowing him to live.

    For someone concerned about straw men you seem pretty keen on them, especially seeing you cite two writers whose arguments consist largely of straw men.

  43. Matthew,

    “If you grant that God can command imperfect human beings to seek justice on earth by setting up courts […] you have already accepted that God permits and allows human beings in all there limitations to seek justice on earth”

    I do grant this possible, but if a holy book such as the Bible contained a story of Yahweh commanding sacrificial rape for some supposed greater good, like justice, I would believe that this so called holy book is errant rather than think, “Yes, I suppose sacrificial rape *is* sometimes warranted.”

    The same is true of genocide – or whatever you prefer to label the actions against the Canaanites.

    God, in all his love and power is very unlikely to resort to sacrificial rape to get what he desires. I think the same is true of genocide and it’s very perplexing to me that you disagree.

  44. Matthew, as you know, the sacrificial rape comparison is not original to me. For other readers, I will link to our friend Randal Rauser.

  45. Robert,

    One could argue that killing the children was an act of mercy. The adults killed will be sent to hell for an eternal suffering for all eternity because they have rejected the truth. The children who have not entered the age of consent will be in heaven. You should look at things from an eternal perspective.

    Pharaoh under his own free will chose to not allow the children of Israel to leave Egypt till all the plagues of god where done to show the power of God, yet at the same time God, before the beginning of time shoes pharaoh for this demonstration of power.

    So, pharaoh is fully guilty of his choice yet god chose him to make this choice. Both are true

    Man, any man, can at any time choose God or reject God out of his own free will yet God has chosen whom will choose him. Both are fully true and unexplainable. So the Armenians and the Calvinist are both correct and are both incorrect. Trying to explain God with human rationality will always lead to error for God is beyond human understanding.

    You, yes you Rovert, you think you are so wise in your humanity, you are a fool. You think you can rationalize God and Gods actions. You have absolutely no Idea who or what God is. If you don’t repent of this pride you will soon (in an eternal time frame) find out what God is about and you will be without excuse. With regret for your decision based on pride. Don’t be a fool and repent while you still can.

  46. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
    -2 Peter 2:1 (NKJV)

    and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
    -2 Peter 2:10-19 (NKJV)

    And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
    -2 Peter 2:2 (NKJV)

    For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of…

  47. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit, ” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
    -2 Peter 2:18-22 (NKJV)

  48. Surely I am more stupid than any man, And do not have the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdomNor have knowledge of the Holy One. Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?Who has gathered the wind in His fists?Who has bound the waters in a garment?Who has established all the ends of the earth?What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know? Every word of God is pure;He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
    -Proverbs 30:2-6 (NKJV)

  49. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
    -1 Corinthians 2:10-16 (NKJV)

    However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written:“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of manThe things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
    -1 Corinthians 2:6-9 (NKJV)


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    […] Tim Kimberley recently posted on the question of the commands to exterminate Canaanites in the Bible. In the post, he suggests that the genocide may have been justified since the Canaanites were practicing things like child sacrifice. […]

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