The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Did Jesus endorse atrocities?

This is what the New Atheists who were former fundamentalists keep saying: Jesus was a moral monster far worse than Hitler since he not only endorsed the atrocities in the Old Testament but also taught and approved of eternal conscious torment.

I dealt with this objections in this post.

I mention the possibility that Jesus, as a human being in a Jewish context, might have been inconsistent.

Is this a life option for you?

Warning: the photos clearly show the evils at hand here. It is therefore not a great idea to look at this before falling in sleep.
However I deemed it necessary to make people visualize the extent of human wickedness, in the same way Conservative Christians show us pictures of abortions.

Hi Lothar

Just quickly, the photograph that your link takes us to is horrific - it would be a good idea if you warned people about it first.



I don’t know what you mean by ‘inconsistent’ - in what way? As a trivial example, if he was a carpenter, did he build some chairs better than others? Or more seriously, did he teach inconsistently about his Father? Was his moral life inconsistent? Did he learn as he went along?

I don’t know about the trivial things - I do assume, since he was fully man, that he learned how to do stuff the way we do - not succeeding on the first try, taking instruction, watching and imitating. Like us.

People have tried forever to uncover his inconsistencies in matters of God,faith and understanding the O.T., without any luck as far as I have been able to find.

Jonny: that’s done! Sorry if it hurt you.

Dave: I would certainly** like to believe** that Jesus was inerrant with respect to his theology.
But I have problems believing this since he both taught us to love our enemies and that everything in the Torah is inspired.

I am not asking that for the sake of the provocation, but to see how other people deal with this very difficult topic.

There’s no real tough problem here, really. When you say ‘inspired’ , that has to be explained. This has been covered here recently and often. I’m not up to writing an essay on it; hopefully someone else will.

I think my answer is ‘No Jesus did not endorse atrocities’ :slight_smile:

^ Same here. I don’t see any textual evidence for Jesus endorsing atrocities.



But militant atheists would say that by saying all letters of the Torah are inspired, he did endorse genocides and the killing of raped women.

This is why I believe that, if this saying of his was truly historical, he was inconsistent with the rest of his teaching.

This is not at all a conclusion I like, and I really wish to be proven wrong.

On another thread - today - you mentioned that you did not think the bible is even inspired, and that it is completely inconsistent - so you cannot use that bible to refute anything, can you?
How can we help if you take away the bible? Philosophy? Mysterianism?

Militant atheists will try to play with your head.

There are folks who ask questions just for the sake of keeping their unbelief and being challenging.

I ask questions because I crave finding answers which will allow me to really believe.

I don’t think that Jesus endorsed atrocities either (though it cannot be really known).
But I think he might have well been inconsistent.

I am a very doubting agnostic Christian and it is really hard for me to experience God’s reality if I am alone in my room, most of the time I can only pray if I am with other persons.

Many well-meaning fundamentalists told me this is the case because my** sinful pride** prevents me to believe.

Well I prefer being honest to God.

Dave: philosophy and the fact that God has to be **perfect **in order for Him to be God.

Otherwise there are many things we cannot know but we are allowed to passionately hope they are true.

I think that Tillich would most likely agree with me :slight_smile:


The threads concerning the Cherem texts (by Sobornost) and Pilgrim (John)'s thread about Another Look at the Genocidal Texts should be of interest. They don’t directly address your question, but they do address things you’ll need to cover in addressing this question. I would urge you to read those threads and then ask for elaboration back here on this thread, on anything that you’re still wondering about.

Blessings, Cindy

Maybe if you could give examples of the inconsistencies we could help you with them.
Same with endorsing atrocities - please give examples so we can all get to work on it.

Just to throw my 2 cents in, I think this is a very interesting question (or really three questions…maybe more) The first is "what was the nature of Jesus’ knowledge (being both divine and human) while on earth? Some very thought-provoking posts on Randal Rauser’s blog awhile back–for The second is "does the OT ‘endorse atrocities’? The third would be, “how did Jesus view the OT scriptures?” (Regarding inspiration and such) It might be worth addressing these questions separately. The second question regarding the OT and atrocities has been addressed quite thoroughly here but not the other two—at least recently.

I think it is undeniable that the OT endorse atrocity.

As for Jesus contradicting Himself, let us consider:

  1. Jesus taught mercy, compassion and even to love our enemies
  2. Jesus also taught that each letter of the Torah is valid
  3. the Torah taught men to stone women having been raped and not having screamed. A terrorized woman not daring open her lips is apparently enjoying the rape and deserves an atrocious death.

Does that seem a bit contradictory to someone ?

Now I must say that historically speaking 2) is far from being an established fact, this might have been an useful invention of Mattew.
This is a step many liberal Christians such as James McGrath take.

Evangelicals have basically two choices:

a) Saying that 3) was a good and warranted thing, as John Piper and McArthur teach
b) saying that 2) does not mean that Jesus thought it was without error.

It goes without saying that I find it is extremely outrageous to defend a).

But maybe someone has interesting insights about b).

Lovely greetings and shalom.

By ‘valid’ - my thinking is along the lines of - yes, it belongs to the old testament ‘canon’ as it were. Validity in that sense is not the same as saying “yes I endorse that what came out of the mouth of the OT writers, but that it does belong there”. In other words, it still needs to be interpreted, that’s the key.
He did not explicity condone atrocities - and I think that if we are going to attack anyone’s position, we’d best go with the obvious and explicit things that person says.
You will remember that Jesus did NOT condone the stoning of the woman taken in adultery?

As to OT harshness - my position is that our religion is the religion of the NT, that the progress in revelation is apparent and significant. And maybe someone knows of a good exegesis of those verses on rape - in fact a recent thread, if I’m not mistaken. I’ll try to find it.
“The dispensation of Moses, compared with that of Jesus, we consider as adapted to the childhood of the human race, a preparation for a nobler system, and chiefly useful now as serving to confirm and illustrate the Christian Scriptures. Jesus Christ is the only master of Christians, and whatever he taught, either during his personal ministry, or by his inspired Apostles, we regard as of divine authority, and profess to make the rule of our lives.”
That is from W.E. Channing, and I think it is a reasonable approach.

So no, I don’t see any contradictions.

Seemingly the following is the offending passage:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire." (Matt 5:17-22 ESV)

The first thing to understand is that “the Law and the Prophets” refers to the five books of Moses and the Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. Jesus said that the Scriptures spoke of Him (John 5:39). So Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies which spoke of Him. Not an iota or dot will pass from the Law until Jesus accomplishes all that was predicted concerning Him.

Now some think the next verse “relaxing one of the least of these commandments” is speaking of the Hebrew laws which Moses gave them. I say not.
Rather I affirm that He is speaking of His own commandments which He gave in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. Some of His commandments contrasted with the laws of Moses and others went even deeper than the laws of Moses. Jesus then gives examples of His commandments compared to the laws of Moses.
Notice that Jesus didn’t even say that the laws of Moses came from God, but rather, “You have heard that it was said to those of old”.

The first example is one of the ten commandments, “You shall do no murder.” But Jesus says that everyone who is angry with his brother is in liable to judgment. In other words, such a person is really a murderer at heart. The Mosaic commandment was to get revenge, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, but Jesus’ command was not to resist and evil person. If someone striked you on the cheek, turn the other and let him strike that one, too.

The fact is, Jesus NEVER committed any atrocity! He was never known to kill anyone, or command his disciples to kill anyone (quite unlike the OT standards in which God supposedly commanded the Israelites to kill and destroy).

Hi Lotharson,

I would agree that certain authors of the OT endorse atrocity. As discussed in some other threads, that does not necessarily mean God himself endorses atrocity.

That being said, I would agree with your “b” above. The question then is what does Jesus mean when he says that each letter of the Torah is ‘valid’? I am no biblical scholar so I would wonder what other ‘Rabbis’ of Jesus time said regarding the atrocities in the OT? Is there a tradition at the time that discounts the atrocities? Is he endorsing the overall divine inspiration of the OT while agreeing that the narrators of the ‘genocide’ texts are ‘unreliable’? (See my post on this thread:[Bash those babies’ heads in - it’s in the Bible, alas) Expert input would be appreciated! :wink:

P.S. I wrote this before the posts of Dave and Paidion above, so haven’t digested them yet.

The arc of Rabbinical tradition is towards merciful interpretation. Now at the time of Jesus the Targums – Rabbinical glosses – on Isaiah’s messianic banquet did change Isaiah’s peaceful vision and envisaged the gentiles being slaughtered in a cherem at the feast. It was obviously such interpretations that inspired the zealots and other factions in their disastrous war against the Romans – which Jesus warned against – when they actually spent a lot of time killing each other in the name of factional religious purity rather tan uniting against the Romans (as is often the case with religious violence).

But alongside this exclusivist element in Judaism there was also a more merciful tradition . The horror at the shedding of innocent blood came to trump all other legal considerations. The tradition of arguing with God for clemency as Abraham did –even if seemingly against God’s decrees was seen as pleasing to God. So the debate about these texts and the questions they raise was not seen as rebellion against a sovereign lord – in Judaism human beings are allowed to argue with God. There were also moves to place the cherem texts as something applicable only in the past but no longer relevant.

The merciful rabbis’ rejection of cherem is a reflection of their own sensibilities. As M. Greenberg has observed, they must have regarded this understanding of the law as implausible because it is so harsh and inconsistent with other values, such as the prophetic concept of repentance and the prediction that idolaters will someday abandon false gods, and the halakhic principle that wrongdoers may not be punished unless they have been warned that their action is illegal and informed of the penalty. In effect, they used interpretation to modify and soften the law in deference to other, overriding principles.”

Thanks, Dick!

That was very helpful and may explain much if Jesus was endorsing the ‘more merciful tradition’.