The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is God Violent, Or Nonviolent?

Is God Violent, Or Nonviolent?


Muslims did not invent “holy war.” According to the Bible, Moses and Joshua proclaimed that at God’s command, men, women, and children were to be killed: “You must destroy them totally….Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” Deuteronomy 7:2.

Yet Jesus said: “Love your enemies.” Matthew 5:44. Luke 6:27, 35. And Jesus is “the exact representation” of God (Hebrews 1:3). Also, John said that “God IS love.” 1 John 4:8,16. And in Romans 13:10 we read, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.”

So, did God change? Christians insist that God’s nature is unchanging:

o Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
o James 1:17 “…The Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

In this paper, we examine this problem of inconsistency, a possible solution, and certain implications of that solution for our study of the Bible.

Divine Violence:

Examples of violence held to be ordained by God in the Old Testament:

~The Flood of Noah. Genesis 6.

~Moses, Joshua, and Samuel proclaiming that God wanted certain men, woman, and children to be killed, e.g.,

:black_small_square: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.’ So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.” Numbers 15:35-36.

:black_small_square: “For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” Joshua 11:20.

:black_small_square: “Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants.” 1 Samuel 15:3.

(Interestingly, the apostle John puts truth on the Jesus side of the equation, not on the Moses side:

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17.)

Examples of scripturally justified violence in the New Testament, overturned by Jesus:

~The woman caught in adultery was to be stoned to death, according to the Law. But Jesus rescued her. John 8.

~In Luke 9:51-56 (KJV), John and James wanted to kill the disrespectful Samaritans by calling down fire from heaven on them, the same way the prophet Elijah had on disrespectful soldiers in 2 Kings 1. But Jesus “…Rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (So then, exactly what manner of “spirit” were they of?)

Unfortunately, violence in Christ’s name is a reality that has continued into more recent times: The Crusades of the Middle Ages. The Spanish Inquisition. Calvin’s Geneva. The Salem Witch Trials. These, in the face of Bible verses that state “Our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood,” and, “The weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal.” Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 10:4.

A Suggested Solution To This Apparent Contradiction:

Is there any way to explain or reconcile these discrepancies? Is the use of violence in keeping with God’s nature…or Satan’s?

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In this verse, it certainly looks like God is only about** LIFE**, but that the devil is about DEATH. And we know that God considers death an enemy: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26.

Please note: Hebrews 2:14 shows us it is actually Satan who has the power of death, not God:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he [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.”

Author and theologian Richard Murray discusses believers’ confusion in correctly distinguishing between God and the devil, especially in the Old Testament:

So a possible solution is to concede that when Scripture appears to say God is violent, angry, cruel and oppressive, it is *not *actually talking about the GOD we know through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Rather, it is talking about the motives and methods of Satan, the god of this world; the Scripture writer, in that instance, has misattributed to God what is actually of Satan. (Please read Murray’s excellent article, referenced below, for much more evidence about this.)

How To Characterize The Bible If God Is Actually Nonviolent:

How then do we interpret and characterize the Bible, if God is in fact nonviolent? We agree that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). But what if the Scriptures are only part of a “progressive revelation” of God’s true nature in Jesus—a revelation that keeps on growing forever? Jesus himself is, after all, THE Word of God (Revelation 19:13), and showed himself to be the arbiter of all Scripture. He said, “All authority has been given to ME in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18. And, “You have heard it was said…but I say…” Matthew 5.

Theologian C.S. Cowles maintains that,

Professor Cowles further says,

Among many other interpretations about the two trees in the Garden of Eden, it has been suggested that they represent two ways of relating to God: that 1) by eating from the Tree of Life, God would rightly be perceived as unipolar, only life, and 2) by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, He would wrongly be perceived as bipolar: vacillating between life and death; protectiveness and violence–if not appeased.

Recall that James says double-minded people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-8). Surely a bipolar view of God leads to bipolar people, insecure about God, and defrauded of their full inheritance in Christ. A. W. Tozer believed we each tend “by a secret law of the soul” to gravitate toward, and grow to resemble, our mental image of God.

One thing is certain: man chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:6), and since then, “We see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Regarding how to steer clear of that legalistic, literalistic glass in our study of the Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:6 spells out that the new covenant is not by the letter, but by the Spirit, “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” We must be led by the Spirit of Jesus to correctly interpret Scripture! (We suggest here that Satan is the great legalist, not God.)

Finally, Jesus wants us to give special importance to Scriptures that point to him, as he did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:27.

We characterize the Bible, then, as only a part of a never-ending, progressive revelation of the goodness of God.


SATAN: Old Testament Servant Angel or New Testament Cosmic Rebel?” by Richard Murray. (The most important article I have ever read.)

Scriptural Inerrancy? Behold, I Show You A More Excellent Way” by Professor C.S. Cowles.
[] Cowles inerrancy.pdf (276.0 KB)

Grasping at Straws Part Ten–Evangelicals Defend Genocide” by Dr. Ken Pulliam.

For Further Consideration:

If God is nonviolent, what implications would that have for other beliefs/doctrinal positions commonly held in Christianity? For example,

~Is God the one who sends prophesied destruction, as commonly believed, or is He exclusively trying to warn about danger in advance, and also to provide the way of rescue? In other words, is God genuinely a heroic fireman, humbly offering His life in order to save people? Or, is He bipolar: both warning, and destroying, both fireman and arsonist? (I have argued that any perception of bipolarity in God comes from melding Him with Satan. But God is a unipolar, loving Daddy, who only gives life; the devil is a unipolar death dealer.)

~Was it God the Father who poured out anger on Jesus at the cross, as commonly believed, or was it Satan?

Are you familiar with the “Christus Victor” theory of the Atonement? In contrast to the traditional Penal Substitution Theory, the idea seems to be that it was actually SATAN’S wrath being poured out on Christ at the cross, not God’s. Jesus did not jump in between us and an angry God, and say, “take it out on me, Father, instead of on the children,” because actually *‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us.’ * 2 Cor. 5:19. And Hebrews 2:14 reveals Jesus died to save the children” from the devil of death, not from his loving Father!

Christus Victor is related to the Ransom Theory, with the idea that “redeeming” means “buying back.” Satan offered all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus, “in an instant” (Lk 4:5)—without Jesus contradicting his right to do so at that time. But at the cross, Jesus purchased back what Adam lost in the Garden, by his blood. Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer (as was Boaz for Ruth).

Recall the discussion of a property deed scroll in Jeremiah 32. That passage helps our understanding of how a kinsman could buy back land lost by the owner, by paying the purchase price. The sealed book could then be delivered to the original owner, or the heir. The heir could, at his convenience, break the seals, and, with the open scroll as his authority, take possession of the land—by force, if necessary.

So, as to the Second Coming, the final process of evicting Satan begins when the Lamb starts breaking those seals on the title deed (Rev. 6). But we have been warned in advance that Satan will not go quietly.

(Regarding blood sacrifice and God’s true nature, please see Is God Bloodthirsty?”)

~Is hell (more accurately, the lake of fire) a never-ending torture chamber, as commonly believed, or limited in time, and for corrective purposes? Recall: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Reconsider Matthew 25:46, regarding the fate of the damned and of the saved. Jesus says,

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment but the righteous to eternal life.”

1. But the Greek word translated “eternal” (or “everlasting”) is aionios, and does NOT in fact mean “unending or everlasting in quantity of time.” Rather, aionios speaks to an "indeterminate age set by God alone.” This adjective is used to describe something within time, not outside time (that is, in eternity). Aionios is the adjective form of the Greek word aion, where we get our English word “eon” (age). Young’s Literal Translation for aionios is always “age-during.”

2. And the Greek word translated in this verse as “punishment” is kolasis, a term used to describe the pruning back of trees, to allow fuller and healthier growth. It is also used to describe corrective punishment, “inflicted in the interest of the sufferer.” (For vindictive, vengeful punishment, “inflicted in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction,” the word timoria is used.)

Note: Many erroneously believe that if you deny that the punishment of this verse lasts forever, then you must also deny that the “eternal” life of the saved is unending. But that doesn’t follow, because this verse is dealing with life, or punishment, WITHIN TIME, during the final eon. However, eternity is outside time.

In 1 Cor. 15:20-28, we discover where time will come to its end, and eternity will begin. When the last person has repented in the Lake of Fire, the purpose of the Lake will be finished. It might take a long time, but “Love is patient.” 1 Cor. 13:4.

In a way, that Lake is like the fiery furnace in Daniel:

—Jesus will be present with the captives. Rev 14:10- Greek: basanizō means “to test the purity of gold,” but is also translated *“to torment”,

—in non-physical, purifying flames of “divine incense.” Greek: theion; also translated “brimstone,” as “divine” fire was originally used to purify and dedicate something to deity; also, “purge” comes from Latin purgare to purify, from purus ‘pure,’ which derives from the Greek FIRE, pur),

—freeing them from all their bondage.

Of course, to know God is to be loved by Him, and then to love Him in return. The only possible reasons a person would reject God are because he is either deceived, or misinformed. Those obstacles will be lovingly removed. And each individual captive there will eventually repent (change his mind), accept Christ, and come out of that Lake of Fire, with no bonds, and without any smell of smoke!

“God is LOVE” --not “loving,” but “love.” Love is not one of many competing attributes: it is His very essence, His very DNA. Yes, God is a consuming FIRE (Heb. 12:29): a consuming fire of love.

“Fire will try EVERY man’s work, of what sort it is….If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, BUT he shall be saved, yet it will be like an escape through FIRE.” 1 Cor. 3:13, 15.

Each unsaved captive will gradually be unbound by Jesus to receive him, and to accept the invitation to come through the gates into the City (“On no day will its gates ever be shut” Rev 21:25), in order to take the free water of life offered there. Jesus shall lose none of all those God has given him: all are predestined for salvation; all, sooner or later, will believe.* “In Christ ALL* will be made alive” 1 Cor. 15 v. 22. And only “then comes THE END” v. 24. All Death will have been abolished (which would include the Second Death, The Lake of Fire) v. 26, and God will finally be “all in all” v. 28.

When the classroom of time ends, the real adventure begins.

(Drawn from various resources, e.g., —

Regarding aionios:
-The Meaning of Eternal and Everlasting, by Dr. Stephen E. Jones
-Eternity in the Bible, by Gerry Beauchemin
-Terms for Eternity: Aionios and Aidios in Classical and Christian Texts, by Ilaria Ramelli and D. Konstan

Regarding kolasis:
-The Apostles’ Creed, by William Barclay, in which he cites Plato, Aristotle, and Clement of Alexandria

Regarding time vs. eternity:
-Is Hell Eternal or Will God’s Plan Fail? by Charles H. Pridgeon )

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[size=150]GREAT ESSAY![/size]

Hermano, I think this is a great presentation. To me, The word of God in it’s most pure and simple form is all that Jesus said and did. I believe this is what was told to man in the beginning of creation (John1:1) and is the seed that has been planted in the heart and mind of every man that is born into this world. There are many truths written in the bible that man has learned along the way, but we must remember that it was written by fallible men. All scripture must be examined in the light of Christ, and the Spirit of God that is in our hearts and minds. I also think that observation of the world around us will reveal many of the truths that have been written about in the scriptures.

You mention the two trees in the Garden of Eden. To me, the tree of life represents the way of life according to God (the word). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents the way of life according to man. This is the tree that bears bad fruit as spoken of by Jesus; the serpent and satan being the liars and deceivers of the world, men who practice the evilness of their own hearts.

In answer to your question, in light of Jesus, God is nonviolent. But we live in a world that has both good and evil. Therefore, God has given us the authority to judge that which is evil and bring to justice those that break the universal laws of God (John 5:27-27). But we must judge according to His word, to the best of our ability. In my opinion, sometimes war may be necessary if there is no other option.

I go along with Greg Boyd in his Christus Victor model:

Along the same line, in the Christus Victor view, Jesus was afflicted by the Father not in the sense that the Father’s rage burned directly towards His Son, but in the sense that God allowed evil agents to have their way with Him for a greater good. This is how God’s wrath was usually expressed towards Israel In the Old Testament (Judges 2:11-19; Isaiah 10:5-6) It’s just that with Jesus, the greater good was not to teach Jesus obedience, as it usually was with Israel in the Old Testament. Instead, God the Son, bore the Father’s wrath, expressed through the powers, for the greater good of demonstrating God’s righteousness against the powers and sin (Romans 3:25) while defeating the powers and setting humans free from their oppression.

Michael, where in the Bible do you find the expression “God the Son”?


Many times, I have heard this kind of thing said about the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but I am not sure it is the case. Why did God plant the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden, if he did not intend man to eat from it? Was it only to provide a temptation? Is there anything wrong with being able to distinguish good from evil? Indeed, the writer to the Hebrews states that this is a mark of spiritual maturity:

Here are my thoughts on the matter. I think God fully intended Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but not at that time. For Adam and Eve had been recently created, and although they were physically “mature”, that is a man and a woman, they were mentally and spiritually immature. God wanted them to first eat from the tree of life, and to mature in mind and spirit, and then eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan wanted to thwart this process by getting them to disobey God and eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil right away.

Actually such activities were assigned to Satan even in the Old Testament. Who incited David to number Israel?

Each of these statements is part of an account of the same event.

Muslims did not invent “holy war.” According to the Bible, Moses and Joshua proclaimed that at God’s command, men, women, and children were to be killed. “You must destroy them totally….Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” Deuteronomy 7:2.

True but unfortunately Muhammad applies it globally. Thanks for posting this info, it is something I’m aware of and I wrestle between this view and the Satan is a servant of God view.
Why doesn’t God just destroy Satan and allow humans unfettered free will? Do you think there is any clue in the parable of the Wheat and Tares?

Actually such activities were assigned to Satan even in the Old Testament. Who incited David to number Israel?

Not often but even on those occasions Satan was only seen as a servant of God.

Hi Steve 7150,

Perhaps people DO have unfettered free will. Perhaps Satan is able to influence only those who willingly permit him.

Some people, instead of saying they were tempted by God, say, “The devil made me do it.” James didn’t even bring the devil into the equation. So blaming Satan may be an excuse for wrong behaviour.

Paidion, I’ve read your thoughts about the two trees in the garden. This can be true as well. As with many of these stories, I often find multiple truths in them even if it is not what the writer was thinking about at the time. What was the author’s original intent? I keep coming back to the question, if God intended for Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then why does He tell them not to? If this were something God is warning us not to partake of, then the spiritually mature would know better. This reminds me of when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. It seems to be the same temptation. There are men who seek power and glory only for themselves. They pretend to be do-gooders in order to get others to follow. Meanwhile, behind the veil of righteousness, they are self seeking, liars, cheaters, thieves, etc… I think that this is what the author may have been trying to say. You are definitely right, that God’s truth comes first. He is the Alpha and Omega. Should we not trust in His word and decide to go another way, we find out through experience that God’s word is true.

I believe God has established chaos(creation subjected to futility Ro 8) as the means of bringing mankind into the glorious liberty of the children of God. In the midst of futility we choose a path, within the crucible of the life in which we have been placed, and God is very active in the process.

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.

We learn(or not) to hear and follow Him through the school of failure. “As a man sows, so shall He also reap”. The only exception to this law is the mercy of God, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved(healed, delivered)”. In all things we learn the devastating consequences of devotion to self, self service and self preservation- each of us in our own crucible and all of us in the crucible together- families, communities, cities nations, generations…

But the lesson must go deep, into the center of our very being, “For the word of the Lord is alive and activated to divide asunder soul and spirit- making manifest the thoughts and intentions of the heart” and “all things are open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”(Heb 4:12). The crucible of life in this world is stirred by many elements, but the Lord is creating out of the ashes of our defeat the seeds of His victory through the light of the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ(2 Cor 4:1-5)".


“Mercy triumphs over judgment” and “His ways are higher than our ways”.

So we can be confident in His wisdom,

For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36** For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.** Amen.

Tho I don’t believe in “unfettered free will”(he who now restrains will restrain till he be taken out of the way), I do believe we are largely free to choose whether to do justly and walk in kindness- or to serve ourselves and live at the expense of others- the lesson of Christ crucified.

Before God sends chaos breaking over the walls of a life, or a city or a country… I believe there have been many appeals to do justly and kindly to one another that have gone unheeded…Jerusalem, O Jerusalem, how I longed to gather you under the hem of my garment as a hen gathers her chicks…but you would not" “I have sent them prophets and wise men and they have slain them” “All day long I have held out my hands to a wicked and rebellious people”.

The way I see it Satan is just the “smith that blows the coals”, and where choice listens to his voice the coals of dismay grow hotter and chaos abounds so that “a man will reap even as he sows” until he comes to the end of his way and cries out for mercy. Where choice listens to the voice of the I AM, still waters will flow up from the innermost being, His tabernacle, until no chaos can shake the testimony, and the light flows from the faces of those who have received the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

In places where more people are listening to the light, the fruit of light abounds in peace, justice, kindness- but always in this age- chaos, futility, and sin eat away at the walls of righteousness, tempting men to forsake the light, so that chaos may enter and iniquity abound(Romans 1).

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

James wrote:Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:13,14)

Some people, instead of saying they were tempted by God, say, “The devil made me do it.” James didn’t even bring the devil into the equation. So blaming Satan may be an excuse for wrong behaviour.

Not in this verse but James did tell us to resist the devil , the devil is said to walk around like a roaring lion looking to devour, Paul advised us to put on the fill armor of God so Satan is an adversary to take seriously. Certainly if we give in to our sinful desires we are not resisting the devil and he influences us.

[size=120]Friends, my reactions to some of your comments:

Paidion, I’m glad you and I agree Satan is real, since this round I haven’t taken time to address the Girardians about that point again. Brother, I’m not sure why you mention David’s temptation to do a census as an example of something that was assigned to Satan. I don’t believe God has ever actually “assigned activities to Satan.” The devil is an enemy, and in no wise is he utilized by God in any way, shape or form.

Eaglesway says that "As a man sows, so shall He also reap.” But I think he agrees that grace and mercy (e.g., Hebrews 4:16) trump sowing and reaping every time…for those who are willing to receive it. (Mercy: not getting bad we deserve. Grace: getting good we don’t deserve. An unbeatable combination.)

Steve asks if the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Mt. 13) gives us an explanation for why God doesn’t “just destroy Satan” already. I think so. Our choices as free moral agents will continue to play out inside linear time—apparently through a couple more “ages.” There will be a judgment in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20), where the Lord will continue to pursue and woo resisting sheep. Love is patient.

Our God is a consuming fire. Our God is love. Our God is a consuming fire of love. To paraphrase Prof. Talbott: to resist the love of God in Christ, a person would have to be deceived, or insane. Within linear time, God’s healing fire will help people unclench from their lies. But outside linear time (in eternity) we are ALL already seated (at rest, but not inactive) with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).

I think the words “It is finished” (three little words; two in Spanish: “Consumado es”; one in Greek: “Tetelestai”) will continue to be unpacked, forever. We will never come to the end of the treasures Jesus has made available to us through his obedience. What is included in his “Divine Exchange”? Unlimited good! The Messiah already 1) took our pain and suffering (distresses, griefs, sorrows, infirmities, and sicknesses), and 2) gave us his shalom (health, prosperity, friendship, safety, contentment, peace). Is. 53: 4, 5. It cost Jesus everything, but it’s all free for us to receive, now. “Whoever desires, let him take…freely.” Rev. 22:17.

I used to think “spiritual warfare” was about fighting things like Mormonism, Islam, abortion, the Antichrist. Now I know that basic warfare is recognizing the devil right in the middle of the Christian camp. In broad daylight, he sits there, convincing us that our loving heavenly Daddy is a bipolar monster. That we must successfully perform (through prayer, fasting, et al) to try to earn what is actually free. Satan is the god of a religion that demands adequate performance, but gives only exhaustion, condemnation, and the fear of hell.

Is God violent, or nonviolent? This is really a question about the fundamental nature of God, isn’t it? I sure would appreciate your taking another look at the Murray material I reference. He lays things out so wonderfully. Murray’s article literally changed my life!


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Is God violent, or nonviolent? This is really a question about the fundamental nature of God, isn’t it? I sure would appreciate your taking another look at the Murray material I reference. He lays things out so wonderfully. Murray’s article literally changed my life!

A good book to read is “Don’t Blame God” by John A Lynn. He claims that the OT biblical authors use a writing technique known as “metonymy’s” replacing one for another so in the OT when evil was committed though it was attributed to God it was really Satan. This is also the premise Murray used. To me it is really interesting that after hearing little about Satan in the OT , Jesus is quickly tested by Satan in the NT who offers him all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus turned him down but never challenged his right to offer the kingdoms of the world.

Hi Hermando,

Sorry about that, Hermando. Without thinking, I used the word “assigned” only because you mentioned that New Testament writers assigned evil to Satan. When saying this, I was thinking that Old Testament writers assigned evil to Satan also. I didn’t mean that God assigned Satan to do evil.

Notwithstanding, the passage I quoted affirms that Satan enticed David to do the census, while the earlier passage stated that God incited him. Is this a contradiction? It apparently is, but I think it suggests that there was a development in Hebraic thought. Earlier Hebrews ascribed all supernatural acts to God, while later Hebrews ascribed only good supernatural acts to God, but evil ones to Satan.

**Violence in Islam is a sizzling topic these days. Here is a recent news story with a twist:

“Pranksters film people’s shocked reactions at reading violent passages from the Bible - after being told they are from the Koran” … Koran.html**

Hermano,John & Paidion- The passage you are referring to in the OT uses the word satan which means adversary. One passage says David is satan to God and the other one is vice-versa. This to me illustrates my point satan is not a supernatural fallen angel but an adversary. When Jesus called peter satan He meant Peter was being adversarial to Gods way, putting human way first. When radical muslims call the USA the great satan, they are calling us the great adversary. The only other place satan is used in the OT is in Job. If satan, Gods enemy who sought an overthrow in heaven, is a fallen angel then what is he doing in Gods court, in Gods presence??? If you think of adversary everytime you read the word satan it will begin to fit together that anyone who is an adversary, especially our sinful nature, is what is being meant and not a supernatural fallen angel.

Robert, the above essay presupposes the belief that angels are literal spirit beings created by God to serve Him. That some, the good angels, have remained obedient to Him and carry out His will, while others, the fallen angels, disobeyed, fell from their holy position, and now are in active opposition to the work and plan of God.

As you know, Angelology is a slippery subject, because every biblical reference to angels seems to be incidental to some other topic. Like many things, they are not treated in themselves.

From what I recall in my studies, the Church Fathers believed that angelic beings regulated nature. I myself believe Satan, as a superhuman malicious intelligence, meddles in meteorology and geology, causing, e.g., the worldwide Flood of Noah (see my comment, “Did God kill everyone in the Genesis Flood? Or did Satan?”, and note the Hydroplate Theory), and tinkers with the genetic code, causing, e.g., carnivorous animals, influenza, and diabetes. Points I certainly cannot prove.

So obviously our views on Satan are very different.

You should find interesting my earlier post, “Fighting For God’s Nonviolence,” wherein I first lay out my alternative to the Girardians, who, like you, believe “satan is not a supernatural fallen angel but an adversary.” Some of the comments there are from distinguished advocates of René Girard’s Mimetic Theory, e.g., Michael Hardin, and my favorite filmmaker, Kevin Miller.


These topics are good. I have pondered much in the last several years regarding this topic. I can really see both sides (violence always being wrong, vs sometimes necessary) - I think Paidion might have explained it best when he mentioned a hierarchy of morality. For example, Killing is wrong, but if Killing someone saves millions of lives, then Killing is morally right in that scenario. I believe this to be accurate, otherwise we have too many dilemmas that we cannot solve and the person of God is in constant doubt as to what they should do.

Now, as for the non-violence part - I have done a 180 on this. I really was almost sold on the idea that violence was always wrong, but for some unexplainable reason, I reject that idea fully now. Violence is both necessary and proper at times. Perhaps in heaven, that would be true, but not on earth. As for my defense of it - The whole being of man himself being a defender, warrior, etc… It is built into our genetics. Taking that away and portraying Jesus as this feminine weak guy that we must mimic, is just wrong. He was bold as a lion, spoke harsh words against those who oppress and was anything but a push over. These are just my opinions… I reserve the right to be wrong. :slight_smile: