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By Mike Edwards

If you read the Bible closely enough, who blames those who challenge God morally. Did God really kill all but eight in the world by a global flood because God couldn’t handle rejection? We condemn people drowning a litter of puppies in the river. Other ancient literature spoke of local floods. Perhaps the writers use hyperbole to make a point, but that doesn’t explain all of the OT.

I Sam. 15:3 is only one of many passages that reports God commanded the destruction of innocent women and children in war: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them…put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” God orders killing non-virgin women but not virgins: “save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man” (Num. 31:18). Really God! Exodus 12 claims God intends to kill firstborns without lamb’s blood on their doorframes (Passover).

How one views the Bible leads to different explanations.

Did God control or guide the writers’ thoughts to perfectly represent God which then requires explaining certain actions by God, or did God not interfere with writers misrepresenting God at times? OT writers could have been influenced by surrounding cultures as to what an all-powerful God should look like. When the OT records “God said,” this isn’t audible speech but could be a figure of speech conveying figuratively an inner impression felt from God – right or wrong.

We can’t prove God did or didn’t inspire the Bible. The Bible can be viewed as recorded experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in other documents. God didn’t necessarily have in mind recordings wouldn’t be questioned. Writers may have contributed actions to God that weren’t true. This explanation can help Scriptures not being used blindly to justify violence God supposedly approved.

Is violence explained because God can do whatever the Hell God wants?  

It is normal to feel compelled to justify passages above because God’s actions in the OT don’t always seem moral from a human perspective. So, it is suggested God’s ways don’t have to be fair because God is God. Yet, the Bible encourages us to be perfect like God or imitate God (Mt. 5:48, Eph. 5:1). If God’s actions don’t seem fair at times, should we imitate such actions? If human and God’s perfection are different, how can we know how to be perfect like God? We don’t always know what perfect love is, but I doubt God is the parent that says “do as I say not what I do.” 

Is violence by God simply warfare exaggeration?  

Warfare rhetoric was common in ancient literature to induce fear and victory. A US leader may say we will completely destroy ISIS. But, even if God didn’t mean to be taken literally, why would God inspire such violent metaphors in I Sam 15 to include women, children, infants, and animals? Humans leaders don’t even use such language against terrorists. I question if the writers heard God correctly.

Did God approve certain violence to bring the Israelites freely along to the truth?

It is argued that Israelites laws were a step up from other ancient near eastern laws. At times maybe they were, but it is rational to question many of the laws set forth. Did God really approve a woman being required to marry her rapist (Deut. 22: 28-29) as if this was a step up to protecting victims from a life of shun? Did God walk on eggshells because the Israelites couldn’t handle the truth that requiring a woman to marry their rapist is just further victimization? I am convinced only humans, not God, thought this was a good law at that time.

I know, I know. If you can’t trust the Bible what can you trust!

Who doesn’t know God hates murder, sexual abuse, stealing, adultery, even not treating others like you want to be treated? Terrorists rationalize forcing beliefs about God on others, or be killed, because God supposedly inspired such thoughts recorded in a Book. Total certainty about God according to the Bible is an illusion. Biblical scholars, who respect Scriptures, don’t agree what the Bible says about hell, women, gays, etc. Different opinions standing side by side, as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. 

It matters if the Bible is viewed as inspired by God or not.  

The idea of an infallible Book has led to assuming God’s view on morality only come from a Book such as the Bible or Quran. It is seldom admitted interpretations of a supposed infallible book could be wrong which has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the name of God. Fallible books can’t hide behind assumed infallible interpretations, which lead to misunderstanding or rejecting God for the wrong reasons. We can’t prove when the Bible records “God says” that God really inspired such words. Questioning leads to less justification of violence.

 

 

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by Jim Gordon

War in our world has been a constant companion to mankind. It becomes more and more the way of life but the effects seem to be worse and worse.

Growing up in church we were taught that God is love and that we should love our enemies, yet we heard all the stories about God telling the Israelites to go to war against their enemies and kill them all. That always confused me as it seems so contradictory.

It seems like you can find wars going on anywhere in our world today, many of them are over matters that seem so unimportant. Kind of like the fighting and arguing that goes on within the organized churches. People fight over such insignificant reasons, over difference in doctrine or bible interpretation. Yet we are supposed to be known for our love for one another. Something seems odd about that to me.

I personally believe the best way to calm a hostile situation is with a loving, calm and peaceful attitude. I also know we live in a world that is not under God’s command. We live in a very hateful, stress-filled world where people are only concerned with their own goals and interests and they will do whatever it takes to accomplish those goals.

In a perfect world we would have no need for war because we would all being loving one another, caring for one another and be more interested in the needs of others. Obviously, we do not live in a perfect world and war is going to be an issue.

PeaceWar

I feel that most wars are needless and so many people fight and die over issues that are really not important. Most of it boils down to money and power, just like everything else in a world without God.

Yet there are times when I believe war may be necessary. It is still terrible and still not the first or best choice but there will be times when wars will need to be fought. In our world where money, power, hate and selfishness rule, there will be times when people, ideals or causes will need to be stopped. Unfortunately, that means sometimes there will be wars or else the innocent will be walked over, taken over, tortured and killed.

This is not the plan of God. This is human nature running rampant in a godless world. War is mankind at its worst even when there is a necessary reason to fight. Those necessary times when the ideals and goals of the Hitler’s and bin Laden’s of our world need to be stopped.

I honestly believe that many of the stories in the bible about God commanding war and killing of people is a misinterpretation of God. We know that Jesus displayed what God is really like. He said that God is love and that we are to love our enemies and love our neighbors. I do not believe God ever caused the killing of people because God never changes. It was people of the time telling about life as they saw it and they attributed their actions to their God. Actions and killings that really were not ordained by God in the first place.

As followers of Jesus, our allegiance belongs to Christ. He is the head of the Kingdom of God in which we live. We are citizens of heaven and we live by a different code than the world. Yet we still live in this world which is under a different ruler, a ruler of hate, power, money and selfishness. Although war is not our first choice and not what we feel is right, there are going to be times when it is necessary to stop the evil being done towards the innocent.

I pray for wisdom for our leaders that wars and fighting will not be started over issues that are not about the safety and concern of the innocent. I pray that more diplomatic ways of love and acceptance can prevail and we can live together in this world without all the hatred, wars and killing of innocent people.

 

This post was part of the July 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of Just War and Pacifism. Here are links to others who contributed this month. Go read them all!

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