Tag Archives: Canaanites

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.

Paul Copan interviewed on the hard passages of the Old Testament

How would you respond to all of the troubling stories in the Old Testament, (conquest, slavery, etc.), and the characterizations of God as jealous and angry and vengeful? Paul Copan has written a new book on those topics and more.

From the Evangelical Philosophical Society blog. (H/T Mary)

What surprising thing did he learn while researching the book?

Surprising—and yet not surprising—is the fact that the more deeply I dug into understanding the ancient Near East, the more the biblical text made sense and the more favorable it looked in comparison to other relevant texts in the ancient Near East.  For example, the strong bravado and exaggeration typical of ancient Near East war texts (“leaving alive nothing that breathed”) was used even when lots of the enemy were left standing and breathing!  What’s more, Israel’s warfare—directed at non-combatants in citadels or fortresses (“cities”)—is tame in comparison to other ancient Near Eastern accounts of, say, the Assyrians.
As far as servitude (“slavery”) goes, this was voluntary and contractual rather than forced (unless Israel was dealing with, say, hostile foreign POWs who might be pressed into service to cut wood and carry water).  Yet Israel’s laws prohibited (a) kidnapping, (b) returning runaway (foreign) slaves to their masters, and (c) injuring servants.  If these three Mosaic regulations were observed during by Western colonial powers, slavery would not have emerged and the nineteenth-century history of the United States would have looked much different.

What kinds of questions will people who read the book be able to answer?

While I can’t cover all the territory I would like in this book, I try to address the range of topics that are most pressing and most frequently raised by the critics.  Part I deals with the phenomenon of the New Atheists and their arguments—and their case against the “Old Testament God.”  In fact, as you can see in the table of contents below, I use their quotations as my chapter headings!  In Part II, I deal with issues related to the nature of God: Is God narcissistic?  Why should God get jealous?  How could God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

Part III looks at life in the ancient Near East and how Israel’s laws look in comparison to those of other ancient Near Eastern cultures.  I maintain, first, that while many of Israel’s laws are not ideal (human hard-heartedness is part of the problem, as Matthew 19:8 indicates), they are generally a significant humanizing improvement over other ancient Near Eastern cultures.  God meets his people where they are—with their embedded, fallen moral and social patterns—but he challenges them to greater moral and spiritual heights.  Then I go on to address topics like Israel’s kosher and purity laws, its civil laws and punishments, the treatment of women in Israel, slavery (or better “servitude”) in Israel (and I extend the discussion to include the New Testament), then finally the question of Canaanite “genocide” (which it most certainly is not!) and of whether “religion” produces violence.

In Part IV, I argue that the biblical God serves as the basis for objective moral values and that atheists borrow the metaphysical grounding for human dignity and rights from a theistic worldview in which God makes human beings in his image. Finally, I refer to the role of Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the Old Testament, who illuminates the Old Testament and puts it into proper perspective.  Moreover, his followers, when living consistently with his teachings, have actually made a remarkable moral impact on the world which scholars in both the East and the West, both Christian and non-Christian, acknowledge.

If some of you are following my debates on Facebook, then you know that I am using this argument against one of the atheists I am currently debating on the topic of spanking. Never, ever let an atheist get away with making moral statements. Moral statements are meaningless in an atheistic universe.

Paul Copan’s new book might be worth picking up because I don’t have anything on that topic. Not many people ask me questions like that, but maybe that’s God’s grace since I would not be able to answer them well anyway. Usually when I read something, he sometimes gives me that question from someone the very same week. It’s very interesting when this happens. But that’s what I mean when I say relationship with God. I mean we work together.

By the way, if you are looking for some good apologetics books for Christmas, take a look at this list at Apologetics 315.

Brian Auten interviews Clay Jones on the problems of evil and suffering

More good stuff from Apologetics 315. (H/T Apologetics Junkie)

By the way, I notice that Brian is offering some FREE BOOKS to anyone who fills out a teeny, tiny little survey.

The MP3 file for the interview is here.

Topics:

  • about Clay Jones’ area of interest and publications
  • how did Clay become a Christian?
  • how did Clay get interested in the problem of evil?
  • what is the deductive (logical) problem of evil?
  • the popular version of it: why do bad things happen to good people?
  • what are some good books on the intellectual problem of evil?
  • what’s a good book for people who are struggling with suffering?
  • how can Christians defend against the problems of evil and suffering?
  • can God perform logical contradictions?
  • is God’s top priority for the world to make us have happy feelings?
  • what good reason is there for God to permit evil and suffering?
  • can God prohibit evil and still let us have free will?
  • can God prohibit evil and still prepare us for Heaven?
  • why do people even raise the objection from evil and suffering?
  • why do people find the slaughter of the Canaanites so troubling?
  • what kinds of sins were the Canaanites committing?
  • do people really understand how much God hates sin?
  • how much does suffering really matter on an eternal scale?
  • how can Christian apologists convince themselves that people really sin?
  • what is the “the banality of evil”? Are normal people capable of evil?

Two things that I got out of this lecture: 1) When people ask “why do bad things happen to good people?” you can ask them who is a good person? And ask them why they think that God would want “good people” to be happy in their own way instead of having a relationship with him. And 2) his advice that Christians should read about real evils like genocide and mass murder, to understand that ordinary people are capable of incredible cruelty, and capable of rationalizing it, too. It is very rare that anyone really stands up to their culture, like pro-lifers and pro-marriage people do today. It’s really hard to do! Especially when the bad guys make it harder to do the right thing.