Did God Really Command Genocide?

By Jon Kauffman

I just finished reading “Did God Really Command Genocide?” by Paul Copan and Matthew Flanagan.1.

Copan and Flanagan made interesting and convincing arguments that God did not command genocide when he told the Israelites to conquer the promised land.

They begin by exploring the possibility of God commanding his people to kill innocent men, women, and children. Were the Canaanites innocent? Did Israel drive out the Canaanites or kill them all.

They continue exploring how the book of Joshua would have been viewed by people of that day and demonstrate the hyperbolic nature of the book of Joshua.

Back Cover

Reconciling a Violent Old Testament God with A Loving Jesus

Would a good, kind, and loving deity ever command the wholesale slaughter of nations? We often avoid reading difficult Old Testament passages that make us squeamish and quickly jump to the enemy-loving, forgiving Jesus of the New Testament. And yet, the question remains.

In the tradition of his popular Is God a Moral Monster?, Paul Copan teams up with Matthew Flannagan to tackle some of the most confusing and uncomfortable passages of Scripture. Together they help the Christian and nonbeliever alike understand the biblical, theological, philosophical, and ethical implications of Old Testament warfare passages.

Reviews

“Copan and Flannagan address the arguments of the atheists who use divine violence in the Bible to undermine belief and confidence in God. Not only are they adept at biblical interpretation and philosophy as they effectively counter this challenge, but they also write in a deeply compelling way that will appeal to both students and laypeople.”

—Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

“In their wide-ranging book, Copan and Flannagan go beyond standard treatments of Old Testament warfare; they incorporate biblical, theological, philosophical, ethical, legal, and historical perspectives on a much-debated but often-misunderstood topic. This volume makes important strides forward in laying out a case for the coherence of divine command theory in connection with these Yahweh-war texts.”

—William Lane Craig, research professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology

“This is a very lucid and helpful discussion of this troubling topic.”

—Gordon Wenham, professor of Old Testament, Trinity College Bristol

“This brave, hard-nosed, and wide-ranging study constitutes a serious attempt at facing all the varied aspects of a question that troubles so many people. Well done!”

—John Goldingay, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

“As a full-scale follow-up to the excellent popular treatment of the topic in Is God a Moral Monster?, this book provides the most thorough and comprehensive treatment of the problem of violence in the Old Testament that I have encountered. The authors tackle the aggressive charges of the new atheists, as well as other equally sceptical but less strident critics of ‘the God of the Old Testament.’ And they do so with a blend of careful biblical exegesis and incisive moral argumentation. The book reaches deep but remains readable, and the summaries at the end of every chapter are a great help in following the case as it is steadily built up. All of us who, in teaching or preaching the Old Testament, are constantly bombarded with ‘But what about the Canaanites?’ will be very grateful for these rich resources for a well-informed, gracious, and biblically faithful reply.”

—Christopher J. H. Wright, International Ministries Director, Langham Partnership; author of Old Testament Ethics for the People of God and The God I Don’t Understand

“Does your god order you to slaughter your enemies? Did God’s command to the Israelites to kill the Canaanites set a pattern for human behaviour? Do Joshua’s wars justify the Crusades? Does the Bible promote violence against dissenters and opponents, as the Qur’an does? Reading the Bible as a modern book leads to false conclusions, the authors show clearly. Comparing writings from Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, and the Hittites with biblical texts, they demonstrate the common use of exaggerated language—so that ‘all’ may not mean ‘every single person,’ for example—bringing clearer understanding of God’s apparently genocidal commands about the Canaanites. Carefully argued, with clear examples and helpful summaries, these chapters give Christians sound bases for defending and sharing their faith in the God of love, justice, and forgiveness. This is an instructive and very welcome antidote to much current thought.”

—Alan Millard, Rankin Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages, University of Liverpool

Pacifism

Copan and Flanagan made extremely strong arguments for their position throughout most of the book. In the final chapter, they discuss “Turning the Other Cheek, Pacifism, and Just War.”

Copan and Flanagan attempt to prove that Christians can use violence in War. Their case is very weak. They take biblical passages and stories out of context and do not demonstrate that Jesus would approve of Christians fighting in War. For an upcoming blog post, I plan to discuss their arguments.

Book is available at Amazon2.

.Paul Copan (Ph.D., Marquette University) is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He has authored and edited thirty scholarly and popular books, including Is God a Moral Monster?

Matthew Flannagan (Ph.D., University of Otago) is a researcher and a teaching pastor at Takanini Community Church in Auckland, New Zealand. He is also a contributing author to several books.

1.Paul Copan, Did God Really Command Genocide? Coming to Terms with the Justice of God. (BakerBooks, Grand Rapids, MI, 2014)

2.Amazon

Does Just War Exist?

Greatest Heresy of All Time? Just War Doctrine?

Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Edited: 2/23/2022

The Loser Letters

A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism.

Today I read an interesting, relaxing, and fun-to-read little book. “The Loser Letters,” by Mary Eberstadt.

Here is what Amazon says of the book.

A wickedly witty satire, The Loser Letters chronicles the conversion of a young adult Christian to atheism. With modern humor rivaling that of the media lampooning Onion, found on college campuses all over America, A. F. Christian’s open letters to the “spokesmen of the New Atheism” explain her reasons for rejecting God and the logical consequences of that choice. Along the way she offers pithy advice to famous atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, in the hope of helping them win over more Christians.

The Loser Files, by Mary Eberstadt

“Of course we score big time with the young guys who aren’t responsible for anything, and don’t really care about anything besides spending most of their time in the basement playing video games and texting girls,” A.F. Christian points out. But what about all those serious, thoughtful people who are Christian believers? If the New Atheism is to make real headway, she argues, its advocates must do more to persuade intelligent theists living meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Amid the many current books arguing for or against religion, social critic and writer Mary Eberstadt’s The Loser Letters is truly unique: a black comedy about theism and atheism that is simultaneously a rollicking defense of Christianity.

Echoing C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and Dante’s Divine Comedy, Eberstadt takes aim at bestsellers like The God Delusion and God Is Not Great with the sexual libertinism their authors advocate. In her loveable and articulate tragic-comic heroine, A.F. Christian, Dawkins, Hitchens, and the other “Brights” have met their match.

Fear of Death

public domain

By Jon Kauffman

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14, 15. NIV

I am currently reading the “Case for Heaven” by Lee Strobel. 1.

In the first chapter, Lee interviews Clay Butler Jones, DMin, and provides many quotes concerning the fear of death.

Harvard researchers released a new study documenting that attendance at religious services dramatically reduces deaths from suicide, drugs, and alcohol. Attending services at least once a week cut these so-called “deaths by despair” by 33 percent among men and a whopping 68 percent among women, compared to those who never attended services.

“People often talk about an epidemic of suicide,” concluded Jones, “but the real epidemic is the increasing rejection of a robust belief in an afterlife. That’s what is miring more and more people in hopelessness. 2.

Strobel and Jones discussed methods people use to gain immortality. For example, they may have children or build something great or track down their genealogy. But the fear of death remains.

A trio of deer crossing the Swan River in Salmon Prairie #MontanaMoment
Copyright © 2021 by Leon Kauffman

In his book, Clay Jones quotes an exchange between atheist Richard Wade and a spiritual skeptic named Anne, who wrote to say that her fear of death was causing her such severe panic attacks that she would almost pass out.3.

Faced with the abject failure of various attempts to achieve immortality apart from God, many atheists have taken another approach to dealing with the fear of death. Maybe, they say, dying isn’t so bad after all. Perhaps it’s actually better than the idea of immortality. Maybe the grave is a blessing in disguise. “They try to paper over the fear of death by maintaining that they wouldn’t want to live forever anyway,” Jones said to me. “They claim that eternal life would be supremely boring.4.

Jones pointed out that heaven will not be boring, “if heaven is real, then God will make all things new, and he will be continually creating a world of joy and wonder for us. If God can create all the beauty and excitement of our current universe, he’s certainly capable of creating an eternally stimulating and rewarding experience for his followers in the new heaven and the new earth.” A Bible verse that says as much popped into my mind: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”5.

But what if heaven is not real? As philosopher Thomas Nagel said, “if life is all we have, then losing it would be ‘the greatest loss we can sustain.’”6.

As a physician wrote in Psychology Today, ‘I’ve tried to resolve my fear of death intellectually and come to the conclusion that it can’t be done, at least by me.’

….Christianity, in contrast, offers the best possible outcome for followers of Christ after they pass from this world. Reveling in God’s presence. Reuniting with loved ones. Living without tears or struggles or fears. Experiencing a wondrous world of adventure, excitement, and exploration. Contentment, joy, love—forever. It’s no wonder that even the atheist philosopher Luc Ferry concedes, “I grant you that amongst the available doctrines of salvation, nothing can compete with Christianity—provided, that is, that you are a believer.” 7.

Caeli, the author of the “Modconspiracy” blog recently said in her post “Life on ‘D’ Street”:

I was one who feared death and hell. Though I lived a life fit for that dreaded place, the fear of the unknown would come to haunt me at night. That was what life in D Street (Matthew 7:13b) was for me before I decided to take permanent residency on ‘C’ Street (Isaiah 35:8, John 14:6)…. When you become a new creation, the fear of death loses its power. Fear of the unknown only remains when the soul has no certainty on its destination. Death is like closing your eyes to sleep.8.

“There are no atheists in foxholes.” War correspondent Ernie Pyle may have been the first of many to use this quote. This quote demonstrates that when death is lurking nearby, people often turn to God.

Susan Kelley performed a study, “Are There Atheists in Foxholes? Combat Intensity and Religious Behavior,” and found many World War II veterans participate in religious activities and even today (75-95 years of age) are still deeply involved in religious activity.9.

My fear of death is the number 1 reason I searched for Jesus and wanted a “born again” experience. Before my rebirth, I gave very little thought to serving Jesus or a relationship with him. Before finding salvation in Jesus, I was terrified of death. Perhaps that is why I was blind to the fact that Jesus required that I forgive those who have harmed me. See “Is it Possible to Forgive?

But Jesus is the antidote to the terror of death. I know from experience. Soon after I experienced the rebirth, I nearly drowned swimming in a river. I tried to swim too far. My arms and legs were weak, I could no longer swim, I was sinking, and had no hope of rescue. I felt a great calm and knew I would see Jesus soon. Suddenly a fisherman who could swim like a fish grabbed my arm and rescued me.

Many atheists claim they have no fear of death. I wonder, is it true?

1.Lee Strobel, The Case for Heaven, A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for Life After Death. (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2021)

2.Strobel, Case for Heaven, Page 12.

3.Strobel, Case for Heaven, Page 17.

4.Strobel, Case for Heaven, Page 20.

5.Strobel, Case for Heaven, Page 21.

6.Strobel, Case for Heaven, Page 22.

7.Strobel, Case for Heaven, Page 23.

8.Caeli, Modconspriacy, “Life on ‘D’ Street”, WordPress, 2021

9.Susan Kelley, No Atheists in Foxholes: WWII Vets Remain Religious. (Cornell Chronicle,2013)

Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Would I Kill Jesus?

By Jon Kauffman

Prague | Graham Willitts | Flickr

The soldiers who killed Jesus were men like us, trying to make it in the world. Likely many had families. Quite possibly they had been taught, when they were young children that it is good and patriotic to be a soldier and fight for the state. Perhaps their parents encouraged them to be soldiers to take advantage of the career and leadership opportunities available to soldiers. Perhaps they were told stories of how Jewish “terrorists” such as the Maccabees had killed many Romans.

As soldiers, they were told that the people they killed on the cross were enemies of the state and a threat to their families. Many of those killed in Jerusalem at that time were insurrectionists, rebelling against unjust Roman rule.

Zooming in on Holland Peak in the late day light #MontanaMoment Copyright
© 2021 by Leon Kauffman

If I had grown up in Rome and become a soldier would I be different? If I had been commanded to nail the hands of Jesus to the cross would I have refused if I thought that he deserved that death because the state told me he deserved it? How would I know that Jesus was innocent? How would I know Jesus was the Son of God? What if I refused to obey my orders? Would I be willing to be court marshaled or executed on the cross myself for refusing to obey orders? Could I follow a just war ethic?

Does Just War Exist?

Greatest Heresy of All Time? Just War Doctrine?

Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13

Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

TWO WIDOW’S (DYNA)MITES

Agent X has been gone awhile.

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

Mark 12:41-44

Let’s review:

Jesus is at the temple in Jerusalem. He’s been making quite a stir (to put it mildly) between his riotous (yes, righteous too) actions and his incendiary preaching (which is tantamount to picking a fight (which will get him killed)) leading us to the offering box, then at that point (AT THAT POINT) in the story, he decides to sit down and watch people make their contributions to the temple of God.

Maybe you noticed that I put in bold all caps font there that it is AT THAT POINT in the story when Jesus decides to do this. Call me crazy, but I sense that says something about something.

The text reports that he observes many rich people make contributions. But then he sees a poor widow make a contribution. And the text evaluates the value of each. The rich put in “large…

View original post 1,918 more words

Does 2 Kings 9 Justify Christian Violence?

By Jon Kauffman

The Old Testament is a history and record of God revealing himself to mankind. Sometimes one prophet will interpret an event to be a command from God and another will have a different take on the situation as shown with Elisha and Hosea.

In 2 Kings 9 Elisha through a young member of the prophetic guild commands Jehu to destroy the evil King Ahab’s son, King Joram, and to become the new king of Israel. (842 BC)

Then the prophet poured the olive oil on his head and said to him, “This is what the Lord God of Israel has said, ‘I have designated you as king over the Lord’s people Israel. You will destroy the family of your master Ahab. I will get revenge against Jezebel for the shed blood of my servants the prophets and for the shed blood of all the Lord’s servants] Ahab’s entire family will die. I will cut off every last male belonging to Ahab in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated. I will make Ahab’s dynasty like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 Dogs will devour Jezebel on the plot of ground in Jezreel; she will not be buried.’” Then he opened the door and ran away. 2 Kings 9:7-10 NET

Jezebel with the help of King Ahab had stolen the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel.

Jehu kills King Joram, kills Jezebel, and becomes Israel’s new King.

Mission Mountains behind the colorful forest #MontanaMoment Copyright © 2021 by Leon Kauffman

A short time later (755 BC?) the prophet Hosea predicts punishment to the dynasty of Jehu for his murders.

So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. Then she conceived and gave birth to a son for him. Then the Lord said to Hosea “Name him ‘Jezreel,’ because in a little while I will punish the dynasty of Jehu on account of the bloodshed in the valley of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. At that time, I will destroy the military power of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” Hosea 1:3-5 NET.

Changes in how circumstances are viewed as coming from God can be seen in the differences between how the 2 Samuel author and the 1 Chronicles author interpret the census of David.

In 2 Samuel 24 (written about 960 BC) the LORD incites David to take a census. In 1 Chronicles 21 (written about 450 BC), Satan incites David to take a census. Early authors of the Old Testament seem more likely to attribute events to God. Later authors begin to attribute evil events to Satan.

In earlier books of the New Testament violence is more acceptable than it is shown to be in later books of the Old Testament as God continues to reveal his true nature.

Moses was a man of God. Jesus changed the teaching of Moses.

Moses:23 But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. Exodus 21: 23-25. NET

Jesus: 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:38,39 NIV

Did God really order Joshua to kill women and children? Or did the people attribute their war-making to God in a similar way as American Christians 1. often claim that God is on our side in war? If Joshua killed and wiped out everyone, why did these same people’s descendants show up later in the Old Testament?

At the time of Joshua, it was common for military rulers to claim to have wiped out every man, woman, and child of their enemy to show their greatness. Often, in fact, the battle could have been a narrow victory where many soldiers escaped and no noncombatant men, women, and children were killed, and yet the military leader claimed a great victory. This was especially prevalent among the Egyptian pharaohs.

According to the film “Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus,” in 1208 BC, the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah had a stele built to commorate his military victories. One of peoples Merneptah claims to have conquered is Israel. The Stele says “Israel is laid waste, His seed is no more.” Pharoah Merneptah claims to have totally destroyed Isreal, but obviously Israel is still very much alive today. 2.

Perhaps cultures changed greatly between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus and people were much more open to the nonviolent teaching of Jesus at the time Jesus lived as compared to the time of Moses.

God sent Jesus at exactly the right time when people could accept his teaching. Rome created an Empire with roads and shipping routes that gave Christianity a chance to spread quickly over the Middle East and Europe.

he Merneptah Stele in its current location. 3.

In conclusion, 2 Kings 9 does not justify violence on the part of Christians today.

Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

1. The War Prayer by Mark Twain

2. Documentary Review: Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus

3. Merneptah Stele, Wikipedia

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13

OUR FRIEND TALKS PACIFISM

Edited: 10/31/2021

Afghanistan – Things You Never Think Of

by Shahe Nahler

When you live outside of Afghanistan, you have such a different life, lifestyle, and perspective than someone who lives inside Afghanistan.

I was born there but live here. Often in my days I have been a “perspective bridge” for those who are here to be able to understand those who are there.

Current events have once again changed perspectives for all of us.

Things you never think of if you live here instead of there.

Continue reading:

Lieutenant Macy Theriot Shares her Testimony

I was given the fortunate opportunity to become friends with Macy when she was serving in Fargo. She shared her wonderful testimony with the Salvation Army War Cry, which I am re-blogging here:

No Longer Neglected, Unwanted, Unloved by Lieutenant Macy Theriot

Is it Possible to Forgive?

By Jon Kauffman

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12

September 29 was my spiritual birthday. Many years ago, I decided I wanted to follow Jesus. I expected Jesus to fill my heart with joy when I prayed to accept Jesus as savior. Nothing happened.

A few years later, on September 29, I was praying the Lord’s Prayer. I prayed: And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Suddenly it became clear to me I was an unforgiving person asking for forgiveness. I was upset with one of my best friends about a minor offense. I could not forgive him. I asked Jesus to help me forgive and Jesus filled my heart with joy.

I have had to forgive people for various minor offenses over the years. But how do we forgive someone who has done great harm to us? Perhaps murdered our child or loved one.

I have read stories about people who have forgiven their child’s or brother’s murderer. Corrie Ten Boom forgave the Nazi for torturing and killing her sister.

Many people have endured far greater pain than I have endured and have forgiven their abuser.

I recently read “The Bearer, Forgiving As Christ, by Dr. William Ury.

Dr. Ury shared steps to forgiveness written by Korean Evangelist Billy Kim.

Billy Kim writes,

First, read 1 Corinthians 13 for seven days in a row…read that chapter, the love chapter, seven days in a row with no one else in mind but the one who has wronged you.

Second, pray for that person for seven days. Don’t talk about the sin. Don’t bring up the sin. Just simply pray for that person.

Third, say nothing negative about that person for seven days.

Fourth, refuse any negative thought about that person for the week. Pray “Holy Spirit, dispel any negativity. I’m not going to have that. I’m going to think about this person in light of 1 Corinthians 13 and I’m going to pray for their best in you. I want Your life in their life.”

Fifth, enumerate as may positives as possible about that person. There may not be many. There may only be one. But there has got to be at least one. Think about that thing. Dwell on that positive. Let that positive permeate your mind Pray for God’s best in their life.

Sixth, listen with interest or compassion to someone who is extremely self-centered. This is close to our concept of discovery. Letting somebody else into your life that is as self-centered as you may have become due to the wrong done to you can be quite illuminating. If I’m listening to somebody who is really bothersome or preoccupied with self-pity, then maybe I can comprehend why the original infraction occurred. This is a great way of leveling out, of identifying with sin, and saying I forgive because, without divine grace in my life, I would have done the same thing.

Seventh, do a good deed each day for seven days on the behalf of the person you don’t like. Write a note. Send a card. Buy a lunch. Offer an affirmation on the way past them in the hall. Whatever it might be, stroke that person in a sweet kind of way for seven days and see what results in your heart.1

Forgiveness is Possible.

1Page 129, The Bearer, Forgiving As Christ, by M. William Ury.

Edited: 10/9/2021

Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

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