What if you only had four minutes to defend Israel’s attack on the Canaanites?

Questioning the Bible by Jonathan Morrow
“Questioning the Bible” by Jonathan Morrow

Jonathan Morrow is giving you just four minutes to respond to a well-known challenge to belief in the Christian God.

Can you handle it?

If not, here is a podcast to help you get ready.

Description:

Is the God of the Old Testament violent and bloodthirsty? Did God really command genocide? Why did Israel attack the Canaanites? These are just a few of the tough questions I tackle in this episode of the think Christianly podcast. Learn how to respond to one of the most challenging and emotional objections to Christianity in under 10 minutes.

Summary:

  • quotes Richard Dawkins to set up the objection
  • response: does God have the authority to give and take life?
  • response: after the Fall, things in the world are not the way they are supposed to be
  • response: Old Testament commands for the Jews to judge other nations are specific to them in that time
  • response: “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” are not accurate descriptions of the attack on Canaan
  • response: the attack on the Cannanites takes place in the context of redeeming the whole world

Here is the Christian Post article he was interviewed for, where he had to answer:

Jonathan Morrow, author of Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority, says readers are often perplexed by Old Testament scripture because “sometimes we just picture a God where anger and love can’t co-exist.” Yet he explains, “We all have seen people who have been taken advantage of and that makes us angry [because] we love them. So those emotions can co-exist.”

[…]Along that same line, Morrow clarifies that God’s instructions to the Israelite army in Deuteronomy 20 to destroy the people occupying the land of Canaan is “about judgment, not genocide.”

“The Bible teaches clearly that all people are sinful and in rebellion, kind of living in open rebellion against God, and God is just to judge anyone,” says Morrow. “But in this particular case with the Canaanites, there’s several things going on there, but one of those things was the wickedness of the people which was well documented – child sacrifices to Moloch and others, and bestiality and a lot wickedness.”

He says this judgment was necessary because “Israel’s national survival was crucial so that the Messiah – we would know Jesus as the Messiah – and God’s saving purposes of redemption to the world could one day be born because if the Messiah was supposed to come through the lineage of Israel and Israel co-mingled with this wicked people and was ultimately destroyed, that promise of hope and blessing to the whole world could not have been realized.”

[…]Morrow recognizes that Old Testament questions are particularly challenging. “We live in a sound bite culture and so this is one of those questions where it kind of gets thrown out for people, why does God command genocide, and that’s really easy to say and then it takes some time to respond to because there’s some context.”

Morrow says his sound bite answer is: “These passages are about judgment; they’re not about genocide.”

However, he encourages believers to find out the asker’s real interest in this question. “I would ask them, you know, it sounds like this is a pretty emotional question for you, why is that. Let them talk about it some so you can better understand because that’s the goal. We’re not just trying to win an argument; we’re trying to understand and help people.”

It the asker is after truth, Morrow advises Christians to “ask them … are you interested in kind of walking through and getting kind of messy about looking at the evidence for this because I’d love to share that with you, and sometimes they’ll go, ‘yeah, that’ll be great.'”

Other times, Morrow says, the asker is simply looking for “space and distance from God and this question allows them to put space between them and God.”

By the way, Morrow and McDowell’s basic apologetics book – “Is God Just a Human Invention?” – is my first pick when mentoring new people in apologetics.

UPDATE: J.W. Wartick has reviewed the 11 Questions book on his blog.

4 thoughts on “What if you only had four minutes to defend Israel’s attack on the Canaanites?”

  1. I get this question from deathscorts at murder mills a lot, and the quick answer is simple: “You are the Canaanites, because you sacrifice children to your gods, and God will one day do far worse to you.”

    When we soften the answers down, we actually give the wicked in our culture an excuse to say “Whew! I’m glad that was for a different time and place, or I might be really worried.” So, it is might be a good intellectual argument, but it is really poor at reaching the lost.

    The truth is that if God does not harshly judge our nation, then He owes an apology to Sodom & Gomorrah, the Canaanites, and many more. We are FAR worse than all of them combined. And the only reason He apparently has not destroyed us is that He can still work His Good through our evil AND there is still a remnant left in the US, not so much in the churches much anymore, but in the Spirit.

    The best lecture hall answer to this question that I have seen is this one:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It tend to ask questions back.

    I ask them if they believe it is good to sacrifice children to appease a God.

    Do they support brastiality.

    Is it wrong for God to not want a society among them that had these things as some of their defining traits that even among other cultures they were known as being quite bad.

    I will point out God always allowed for those that were repentant to be accepted in and phraseology that says to remove them wasn’t meant as an absolute.

    Then I point out they didn’t fallow through on removing all points of that culture. Spending much of their history worshipping other gods in high places.

    I don’t see it as a mark of genocide but much like sin in our lives God was giving them a plan for creating a nation that would last.

    The Jews were bad at following God and eventually were allowed to be conquered by other countries.

    It is not a mark to say others can commit genocide but a part of the promise of God to his people Israel. It they truly followed god he would preserve their nation. If they kept turning away they would fall.
    So this explains why they were allowed to be conquered and eventually lose all of their homeland because they did not listen to God

    Like

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