The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Progressive Theology

“Do yourself a favour Bob and read that article I posted a link to.”

Davo, thanks for your efforts to clarify you view!

This article is old stuff to those who read the many current books that also argue that we should not “use some OT war passages to argue that God is violent.” I find theses that commands with genocidal language are not morally problematic because Israel never effectively accomplished total extermination irrelevant to evaluating whether the morality of such commands & efforts conflicts with Jesus’ message.

Of the many present books on this, I’d commend the summaries and debate in “Show Them No Mercy: 4 Evangelical Views on God and Canaanite Genocide.” I like Pt. Loma Nazarene’s OT prof, C.S. Cowles view, who alone concedes the tension with Jesus’ ethics. (Also Gregory Boyd’s two volume study: “The Crucifixion of the Warrior God” exhaustively addresses such articles’ contentions)

You’d argued preventing Israel’s “internal” (or moral) corruption “justified” such commands. My rejoinder all along has been that the OT reflects a more “positive” view of commands to exterminate problem people and such efforts, than does Jesus whose teaching contrasts with that. Your insistence that
no “positive” attitude is portrayed toward such commands and efforts is what made me curious.
But I’m not seeing any reason not to acknowledge that that positive OT theme exists.

I’ve read this book twice, Bob. Cowles’ argument is excellent! It’s exactly my position. I opine that the arguments of the other 3 are weak, and not much different from one another.

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Regarding Saul’s mandate to kill all the Amalekites, supposedly at “God’s” command, the prophet Samuel confronts Saul later in the same passage:

1 Sam. 15:18-19a
“And he [GOD] sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the LORD?"

Samuel himself then goes on to put to death the king of the Amalakites: “And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal.”

Thank you for the linking to the thoughtful discussion on the “The Amalekite Genocide.” In one place, it says,

People argue, with a fair bit of justification, that this looks like God is commanding genocide, and therefore that this creates some problems for our understanding of God’s goodness.

But it doesn’t just look like “God” is commanding genocide: according to the text, He indeed commanded complete genocide, which Saul failed to carry out—and for which he was subsequently confronted by Samuel. So, speaking of “wooden literalism,” that is what the text literally says that “the LORD” said to do. (And you affirm your belief that, as the text literally states, God indeed commanded people groups be slaughtered—if not in whole, then at least in part. Whereas I, the wooden literalist, do not believe that–in the face of the text literally saying that. :face_with_monocle:)

But my primary issue here is not so much whether it was one person who was literally put to death at God’s supposed command, or, as in the case of the Noahic Flood, possibly millions. My issue is that in light of NT revelation 1) of God being agape love (1 John 4:8, 16), and 2) of the existence of, and clarification about, the devil actually being the one with the power of death (John 10:10, Hebrews 2:14)—when people go back and read these murderous stories, how can they not see that the unchanging God of love was never the one who commanded any such killing to begin with?

The Israelites should have been evangelizing (Gen. 18:17-18, John 4:22), not killing (Ex. 20:13, Deut. 5:17)! But kill they did, and yet the Lord continued to be gracious to them.

The following, I suggest, is an example of the Lord’s way for Israel to have been dealing with its enemies (versus Moses’ or Joshua’s or Samuel’s or David’s way):

2 Kings 6:15-23 (NIV)
15 When the servant [Gehazi] of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
22 “Do not kill them,” he answered." Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

After all, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we Christians now recognize more clearly than the Israelites did, that it is actually God’s kindness that leads people to repentance (Rom. 2:4), and that God has always wanted all men to be saved (Is. 45:22, Ezek. 18:23, 1 Tim. 2:3-4, 2 Pet. 3:9).

Me too. Cowles’ is bold, but seemed most honest with the texts. The other 3’s Bibliology felt bound to defend genocidal commands as right, and then struggled with avoiding concluding that its’ principles can apply again for us, with only slight variants amid our still evil unbelieving world about how to dodge the implications that seemed obvious to many generations of violent churchmen.

Hermano… although you quoted me you haven’t appreciated the actual point of the quote, i.e., that the evidence points to their understanding of said commands in terms of hyperbole. Jesus literally said and literally meant… “you must be born again” as in, this must happen, BUT Nicodemus in his religiosity couldn’t get past his wooden literalism — big difference.

With this constant hit-and-miss bowdlerising so many Universalists seem to employ it is little wonder the position itself struggles for credibility in evangelical circles.

Your assertion appears to just ignore engaging the textual counter evidence Hermano presented, especially that when Israel acted as if God did not mean what he actually said, or as if it’s only hyperbolic exaggeration, they are rebuked for disobedience and punished.

I see the narrative actually seeks to justify these commands and their use of genocidal language.
As I did, Hermano also presented other texts that offer a contrary approach to overcoming evil.

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Just had this thought the other day. If one of Jesus’ functions was to properly interpret the scriptures (Torah), then that means everything we need to know can be found in the Torah. Right?

This seems to me like a non-sequitur. I.e. I’m not seeing why if would follow from one of Jesus’ functions being to give an authoritative interpretation of Torah, that he could reveal nothing else, or that everything would already be found in the Torah.

I go with Bob on this.
NTW brings out that Paul’s assessment of Torah is that:
It is a great thing
It was given to show that the cancer of sin runs right through the chosen people as well as gentiles
The depth of that cancer calls for a greater remedy than ‘keeping Torah’ - it calls for a regeneration by the Holy Spirit, not ‘just’ forgiveness.
So Jesus came not just for the Jews, but for the remedy of sin throughout the human race, by pouring out the Spirit on those who believe in him in reality. Not mental assertion to propositions, but an actual spiritual renewal.

Much of this debate is obviously predicated on a persons ‘view’ of what or who ‘YAWH’ God is. God had a specific view of what Israel was to be and God’s focus in scripture was definitely Israel, but somehow some don’t like the way he dealt with them so have changed the narrative in their favor.

So I said my stuff.:wink:

Ah I see your point Bob - thanks

Interesting , but I would say that Jesus came not just for the Jews, but for the remedy of sin throughout the human race. Get rid of the believing part.
Jesus was and is the savior= the one that connected God with humanity. And that is ALL HUMANITY!

I will never give up the ‘believing’ part. Let’s leave it at that.

hmmm when will you ever give up your part in God’s plan and accept God’s gift of the Christ?

Chad as you know, I am trapped in the Evangelical mindset and unwilling to search the scriptures for fear that you might be right. All evangelicals and most believers since the Ascension have also been wrong, even though the apostles spent actual time with the Real Jesus.
And I have been trying to please God by my own efforts, trying to earn his love and ignoring the blessings of salvation for the past 40 yrs or so, completely ignoring the free offer of grace.
So based on that poor record, it may be a while before I come around. Peace.

Dave to Chad. We need a song, to emphasize this sentiment!

I agree with the stimulating thinking of C.S LEWIS ON THE GOODNESS OF GOD AND THE GENOCIDES OF JOSHUA:

“Yes. On my view one must apply something of the same sort of explanation to, say, the atrocities (and treacheries) of Joshua. I see the grave danger we run by doing so; but the dangers of believing in a God whom we cannot but regard as evil, and then, in mere terrified flattery calling Him ‘good’ and worshiping Him, is still greater danger. The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible.

To this some will reply ‘ah, but we are fallen and don’t recognize good when we see it.’ But God Himself does not say that we are as fallen as all that. He constantly, in Scripture, appeals to our conscience: ‘Why do ye not of yourselves judge what is right?’ — ‘What fault hath my people found in me?’ And so on. Socrates’ answer to Euthyphro is used in Christian form by Hooker. Things are not good because God commands them; God commands certain things because he sees them to be good. (In other words, the Divine Will is the obedient servant to the Divine Reason.) The opposite view (Ockham’s, Paley’s) leads to an absurdity. If ‘good’ means ‘what God wills’ then to say ‘God is good’ can mean only ‘God wills what he wills.’ Which is equally true of you or me or Judas or Satan.”

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I had not run across that from Lewis. Excellent!!

Thanks Bob. I agree that the inherent goodness of God triumphs any scripture that depicts Him as otherwise.

Who said you have a poor record?