The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Don't worry. The Amalekites are fine.

I don’t think the OT innacurately depicts God. I think we just misunderstand how God has been progressvely dealing with man. Jesus quotes a ton from the OT and says some pretty harsh things to the Pharisees, like “Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Jesus verifies the judgment of Sodom and Gomorah and the flood, so I don’t see how it is possible to redact the events of His judgments on those occasions as being inaccuracies of the OT authors.

The God of Jesus is very wel represented in the OT, especially in Isaiah and Hosea :slight_smile:

Quote Paidon
“God had nothing to do with those atrocities or any other atrocities! Do you think that when a little girl is tortured, raped, and killed, that God was the author of that evil? Did He have some deeper purpose in “allowing” it? He didn’t allow it, in the sense that He gave permission to the one who committed the crime. It’s true that He did nothing to prevent it. But as I see it, this has everything to do with the fact that He created man with free will like Himself, and usually will never interfere with that free will.” Quote Paidon

I was speaking rhetorically agian Paidon, in the post you quoted. The above quote is a part of the point that I was trying to make. I was speaking to the conclusions that I would draw if I saw God as acting in a totally sovereign way with man, and there is a legitimate argument as to whether a Soveriegn God is implicated in that evil which He allows- unless there is a higher principle at work. There is something other than what I was sarcasticly stating going on, but for me it is deeper than God just “not interfering with free will”, it has to do with His teaching the corporate man a higher principle, which is YHWH himself, I Am portrayed in jesus on the cross.

There are two messages at work. “You are not as important as I am, I will do to you what I must, or what I want, for what I need, or what I desire.”

The other is “You are more important than I am, because I love you, and I will do anything to bring you into love, even die”.

These atrocious events of which I have spoken, are the result of the first message. Everyone is guilty on some level, or has been at some time, of accepting or promoting that message(Col 1:21; 3:7, Eph 2:3). God is speaking to the collective consciousness of man (and also the individual cells within it) though the events themselves which He allows- not just to avoid contradicting our will, but to demonstrate the superiority of the second message, into which He is bringing all.

The loudest trumpet of that second message, the unavoidable, indelible image of it, is Christ crucified.

As the two messages act out across the immense landscape of the ages, the collective consciousness of man is being illuminated- as Steve alluded to earlier "because of the hardness of your hearts Moses gave you divorce but now, in the new reality, that will no longer fly "(paraphrase :slight_smile:- but in the earlier ages, God has His lampstands, His lights in the heavens. man has never been totally without His voice, but man has never been totally without His interference either. Look at the flood. Big time putting a stop to the free will of man.

So God is not totally sovereign(because He doesnt want to be)- and He is not totally hands-off either- but why?

Well, who has known the mind of the Lord and who has been His counselor?

Not me! I am probing, shooting in the dark, looking through a glass darkly, but I think the reason is about free will- being set free from self will into the glorious liberty of the children of God, which requires someone(Jesus) to proclaim the message, “I will die to bring you into love”(Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven), but also the Father moderates the process according to a dispensation suitable to the fulness of times- the gathering of all things into one in Christ. Which is why I think Jesus is drawing us, not dragging us- which is why I think all these atrocities are allowed to continue.

Genesis 1:26
Fill the earth and subdue it: have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on earth.

The definition of dominion is authority or control; sovereignty.
The definition of sovereignty is total independence and self government.

Matthew 26:53 Or do you not think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels.

Why didn’t God just destroy these people? It is because the earth is man’s realm. He gave it to us in the beginning.
We make a mistake when we say that God is destroying peoples or places in judgment against while we are here on earth. We are the only ones responsible. It is our own sin that causes this destruction.

Yes, that would be a matter of rejoicing! So can you help me to understand, for example, the following two laws as supposedly given to Moses as LOVE?

If you had a rebellious son, would you be okay with the command of a god to have him stoned to death? Would you consider that to be pure, unadultrated love?

Did you know that Connecticut followed such laws in 1650, believing that they were really following the laws of God? The following page doesn’t show it, but another page of these capital laws indicated that a rebellious son is to be put to death. Notice #7 prescribes putting to death any man who has engaged in anal intercourse with another man, and #8 anyone who has committed adultery.

Paidion, thank you for your great examples.

Let me first say that I have only since last summer started my studies of the Old Testament as presenting God as morally perfect. It took me the better part of a decade to have an explanation for every single supposedly “everlasting Hell” passage in the New Testament. Since the Old Testament is considerably longer than the New, who knows how long it will take me to work through the entirety of the O. T.

At this point in my studies I can affirm only this: That I had never yet studied a “morally problematic passage” with the result being “yep, there’s no getting around the moral problems in that passage.” Instead, in each one I have studied I have either come to the conclusion that the moral problematics are due to misinterpretation, or that the jury is still out and it needs more research. Things are hopeful!

Since everlasting Hell used to be obvious to me, and since everlasting Hell is a much bigger problem than the asserted problems of the Old Testament, I have faith that the (comparatively) smaller problems of the O. T. will ultimately reveal themselves as illusions.

I haven’t studied the two passages you present, but I would like to mention two considerations regarding the Law of Moses:

  1. I have a suspicion (but only a suspicion at this point) that all the passages commanding capital punishment are not meant to be for the shedding of the blood of those who have violated the Law, but rather are meant as pointers to the Blood shed by Christ for the cosmos. “You mean God gave these laws regarding capital punishment and never meant for them to be literally applied?” That’s right. That leads to…

  2. My impression of the overall Old Testament narrative is that once Moses wrote the Law and put it in the Ark, it pretty much stayed there and remained a dead letter. I don’t remember, for example, anyone ever being put to death in the Old Testament according to the Law of Moses. Nor do I remember anyone ever observing the Jubilee (which was supposed to be a major and recurring calendrical event). Etc. Instead I see this overall pattern:

Joshua died and was succeeded by the time of the judges. This was a twisted and bizarre time in Israel’s history. Talk about problems. They seemed to not even know that such a thing as Moses’s Law existed, much less lived by it.

Then came the time of the kings. Saul was a failure. David was a good king, but a loser personally. Solomon started off good, but then crashed and burned. Whenever did they follow the Law? When ever did they try to order their kingdom by it? Solomon put the Ark in the Temple (which was NOT according to the Law, which instead enjoined a Tabernacle), and then the Ark (including the Law written by Moses’s own hand inside it) basically vanishes from the narrative.

Then comes the time of the divided kingdom. ALL the kings of Israel were wicked and at least most worshiped idols. The same can be said for the kings of Judah, save for Hezekiah and Josiah. None of these characters gave two figs for the Law (if they even knew of it, which is doubtful). Even righteous Hezekiah seems to have no knowledge of the Law. During Josiah’s reign they found a copy of the Law, and they basically asked, “What is this?” They didn’t even know what the Law was! Then they read it and realized that Israel and Judah had never followed it!

But Josiah was ignominiously slain by an arrow, and Israel’s habitual idolatry and wickedness returned.

In short, most Israelites were utterly unconcerned (or even ignorant of the very existence of) the Law. The handful who tried to live it never, to my recollection, killed anybody in trying to obey it. It seems that the righteous knew that the “capital punishment” provisions of the Law were not meant to establish a death penalty, but rather to point to the coming death of the Messiah.

This is all very sketchy at this point, but it opens up promising avenues for exploration.

  1. I concur with Eaglesway that women, children and babies must have died in the great flood and in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is basic common sense.

  2. This would seem to imply that those who believe that God was immoral in commanding the destruction of (many or all) Amalekites must have theological issues with the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah as well. If so, then the middle word of “The Evangelical Universalist” is being stretched if not torn.

  3. I think it’s plausible that by “all of the Amalekites,” the biblical author meant “all of the Amalekites located in a certain geographic region.” This interpretation would get around the apparent contradiction between I Sam. 15 and I Sam. 30 described in the opening post.

  4. I believe we all must be careful to not create God in our own image, based on our extremely myopic view of the big picture, especially regarding death.

The biblical texts tend to be extremely terse. Not much is spelled out. Consequently, there is room for lots of interpretation. One thing that really drew my attention to that was Aronofsky’s recent Noah movie. Nothing in that movie contradicts the text of Genesis, but the film’s interpretation of the text is radically different than that of the typical American Protestant book of Bible stories retold for children. Because of this difference, a great many people lambasted the film for being “unscriptural”. This, alas, only shows how often we equate our fallible notions, presuppositions, and interpretations with the scriptural text itself. In so doing, we set ourselves higher than any Catholic has ever set the Pope: Of our interpretations we say, “This is the infalliable word of God!”

To belabor a point, this is illustrated by all the nonsense about an everlasting Hell that has been presented as coming from the Bible, when the truth is light years distant.

When we are confronted by a difficult passage of the Bible, I do not think it wise or to God’s glory to interpret it in such a way that the text is understood to say that men slaughtered babies in obedience to God’s direct command to do so. I would think that anyone coming to such an interpretation would at once shake his head and say, “Wait a minute… The holy God commanding the slaughter of babies? That’s the sort of thing done by the Bible’s greatest villians, Pharaoh and Herod! I obviously took a grievously wrong-headed turn in my interpretation. I’d better try again, and be serious this time.”

Nobody would dream of interpreting the New Testament like that:


“Oh, well you know those verses in which Jesus commands us to cut-off our hands and gouge-out our eyes? I obeyed those.”


Here is a thread that I started in another forum back in July 2012. You may find it relevant to the matters we are discussing in this thread.

Thank you for directing me to your post. I also recognize the fact that the writers of the bible are talking about different laws, especially in Romans when Paul talks about being freed from the law and other such verses. In fact I was just about to post a new topic about this, but you summed it up nicely.

As you mentioned, Exodus 34:28 tells us that Moses wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. Again, Deuteronomy 5 reviews the Ten Commandments, ending in verse 22 which says “and He(God) added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me”.

So yes, I believe that man later added the Levitical laws. Some are in accordance with God’s laws. Then, there are some that don’t seem to fit at all. Who knows what they meant? We see how this happens from our own history. How many thousands of laws do we have on the books today? But this is the way of man, and so God found it necessary to come and restore His words back to their pure, unadulterated form, which I believe were spoken in the beginning.

And thank you, LLC, for your comments. I thought that maybe no one would click on that link.

I read it, too. Thank you!

My big thing regarding the law of Moses comes down to two considerations:

  1. Both the Gospels and the Mosaic Law command things that would be bloody and inhuman if misinterpreted in a literal manner.

  2. Neither the Christians with the Gospels nor the Jews with the Mosaic Law have carried out these commands in a literal manner. Otherwise virtually all Christians would be blind and mutilated, and Jewish communities would practically wipe themselves out.

If we as Christians have always thought it repugnant and absurd to (for example) cut-off our own hands, wouldn’t it be reasonable to suppose that Jews (both today and millennia ago) felt it repugnant and absurd to cut-off a woman’s hand in the example you gave, Paidion? And that therefore Jesus never intended for us to literally cut-off our own hands, just as Moses never intended for people to literally cut-off the hands of women?

Geoffrey, I think it was done literally in the Mosaic command.

According to the OT, there are around 100 commands in which God said that the Israelites were to kill people.
If that was not literal, what did it figuratively mean?

Here is Jesus’s blessing on the merciful: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt 5:7)

And here is the blessing of the psalmist on those who kill Babylonian babies. It is addressed to the Babylonians:
“Blessed is he who seizes and dashes your infants against the rock.” (Psalm 137:8)
If that was not literal, what did it figuratively mean?

I could hesitantly answer the second part.
If i was in exile, under the thumb of a power that oppressed me and my family and stopped us going to our home…i might get angry enough to write polemics like this Psalmist. Would i genuinely want to see babies killed? I don’t know…i’d be in the grip of powerful grief and anger, so maybe i would! Does that mean literally this SHOULD be done? No. However, the inclusion of this Psalm legitimises the human experience of futile rage at an oppressor. It’s similar to how we must listen to the demands for bloody justice from a family who has lost someone to a murderer, but as a society, we ought not to become murderers ourselves…justice has due course and mercy, in the end, must rule over all. Part of our reconciliation into God’s Kingdom at the end of days will not just require the repentance of the sinners, but the forgiveness of the victims…they will not be healed otherwise. However, their grief is for a time, and God validates it and understands it. That’s why this was included. It does not exhort us to kill the babies of our oppressors…it says that God understands our grief and our cry for justice and deliverance, and that it’s not “wrong” to feel that. However, taking the Bible as a whole, we must eventually move past it and forgive, or we will not heal.

We had a short but interesting thread on Psalm 137. Might be worth a 5 minute read:

Paidion, let me focus in this post solely on the Mosaic Law contained in the Pentateuch.

First, I would like to reiterate that I am unaware of the Jews in the Bible ever carrying-out the capital punishments in the Mosaic Law literally. I think that alone provides strong evidence that these capital punishments were not meant literally.

Second, consider John 7:53 to 8:11. (I am unconvinced that this was a non-historical addition to John’s Gospel. I think it happened exactly as narrated.) The Pharisees and scribes brought the woman to Jesus to test Jesus. (“Let’s see if this uneducated hick knows the Law.”) The first thing Jesus did was write with His finger in the ground. I think this illustrates that He was the one who wrote the Ten Commandments with His finger. Then He gives the authoritative interpretation: Only One Who is without sin can carry-out the capital punishment. The Pharisees and scribes showed by their actions that they acknowledged the correctness of Christ’s interpretation. They dropped their stones and walked away. If they thought Christ’s interpretation was false, they would have swiftly said, “Obviously an executioner does not have to be sinless, because otherwise there could never be any executioners. Duh!”

I think Christ was giving voice to the traditional interpretation: God alone can execute, because He alone is sinless.

Then Christ gave sentence of execution on the woman.


Yep. He told her to “sin no more”. In other words, He told her to put her “old man” to death. THAT is the death that God, the Sinless One, imposes upon sinners. He puts our old man to death so that we might live. His justice is His mercy. God graciously imposes the death penalty upon us ALL, because we all have sinned. Alas for us if we didn’t get put to death. Only by putting to death the sin infecting our human nature can we live. God is the great Chemotherapist Who kills all the cancer of sin in us, so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.

Lest anyone say that it’s more faithful to the text to interpret it as bloodily literal, let me tell a (true!) story of an old atheist friend of mine. He seriously thinks he can 100% disprove the Gospel any time he wants by saying, “I want a million dollars, in Jesus’s name.” Oops! No million dollars. The Gospel is thereby false, because in it Christ says that you will have anything you ask for in Christ’s name. I point out how absurd this is, but he says any other interpretation is strained. “You don’t like what the text obviously says, so you twist it into a pretzel trying to weasel out of it.”

Let’s not imitate the atheists! :slight_smile:


There are many examples of the sentence of death being carried out towards these sins. For example, Paul was attempted to be killed in that fashion. If, for example, no one took those literally, why was he being stoned? Why were the prophets of bail all executed for their idolatry? Achan? I can definitely think of examples where capital punishment took place…

As far as the issue with the woman… I had read that it required two or three witnesses, according to OT law. Jesus only had one. Additionally, the law said that BOTH the man and the women were to die, not just the women. Unfortunately, the Bible leaves many gaping holes in regards to what happened and why it happened. That is why we have all these different opinions on the matter.

I’ll close with this quote:

I, too, can think of passages in which literal capital punishment took place. What I can’t think of is a case of capital punishment unambiguously carried-out under the precepts of the Mosaic Law. (“As an authorized authority under the Mosaic Law, I have determined that you violated Exodus [chapter-and-verse], so we will put you to death as per Exodus [chapter-and-verse].”) :slight_smile:

As for Psalm 137, right off the bat my common sense tells me, “Obviously God isn’t of a piece with Pharaoh and Herod.”

We notice elsewhere in the Scripture (such as in the book of Revelation) that Egypt and Babylon are sometimes used as symbols for sinfulness. So what are the “little ones” of Babylon? They are sins. Thus, blessed is the one who kills the sins of his own heart.

If this interpretation is absurd, then why is it absurd for us to gouge-out our eyes and cut-off our hands in obedience to Christ’s commands to do so?

Long ago an Orthodox Jewish physician of my acquaintance explained to me how it is practically impossible to carry-out the death penalty under the Mosaic Law. The wikipedia entry on this supports him: … in_Judaism

To quote from that article:

" In practice the application of such a [capital] punishment can only be carried out by humans whose system of justice is nearly perfect, a situation which has not existed for some time or never existed at all."

Let that sink in. A “system of justice [that] is nearly perfect” which “never existed at all”. There you have it. Only the Sinless One can correctly administer the Mosaic Law’s death penalties, and He does so: He puts to death our sinfulness so that we might live.

The Law of Moses doesn’t talk about men killing men. It talks about God saving men from sin. Jesus continued the use of Mosaic-style imagery when he commanded us to gouge-out our eyes and cut-off our hands. This has nothing to do with mayhem, and everything to do with salvation.

While I do understand the sentiment, I don’t think the facts bear out the statement that capital punishment was never carried out in Israel by the law. My reason for saying this is that God was salting the nation with fire, even as He salts the individual with fire. As a nation grows more corrupt, the carrying out of judgment does become more convoluted and less likely to provide justice- but that is not the fault of the law. Thus the law enforcer is judged most severe- but he is charged with preserving the nation, even, at times, through the execution of death, in order to restrain the spread of infection- because when eggregious sins are unpunished, they become commonplace and the community perishes- as we often see today.

The rabs can be read from many perspectives, but the testimony of scripture still indicates the law was carried out, and tho Jesus set forth your point about perfect justice when He interupted the stoning of the adulteress woman- it was still practiced apparently, and practiced even further out by the Sanhedrin upon Stephen.

I do agree with this. “Only the Sinless One can correctly administer the Mosaic Law’s death penalties, and He does so: He puts to death our sinfulness so that we might live.” and “This has nothing to do with mayhem, and everything to do with salvation.”

This is why a new covenant, a higher law, was written in His blood and fulfilled in His sacrifice, so that He stands worthy to judge and to forgive and by both judgment and forgiveness is able to reform even the most outrageous sinner. \o/