Canaanite conquest

Why is the Bible so violent?

During the time of Noah, God wiped out humanity with a flood (Gen. 6-9).
During the time of Moses, God killed all the Egyptian firstborns and then drowned their army in the Red Sea (Exo. 12, 14).
During the time of Saul, God told Saul to completely slaughter the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15).
During the time of David, God smote Uzzah for merely trying to stabilize the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6).
During the time of Hezekiah, God destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kgs 19:35).

Why is the Bible so violent?

To hear my 38 minute response to this question, click on the video.

Christ Community Church (a multi-campus church in the Chicago suburbs) invited me to speak on violence in the Bible as a part of their summer of 2017 sermon series entitled, “Elephants, the questions we can’t ignore.”

The video begins with an moving 2-minute story that answers the question, “Do elephants really never forget?”  I appear at the 2:05 mark.

To listen to the audio, click here.

I don’t cover all the incidents of violence in the Bible, but focus on what I believe to be the most troubling one, the Canaanite conquest recorded in the book of Joshua.  Some of this material appears in God Behaving Badly, or in my Relevant article on the Canaanite Genocide.



Does God command genocide? (GBB 11)

Does God command genocide?

One of the most difficult questions that face people who believe that the Bible is the word of God is, “Why does God command his people to wipe out the Canaanites in the book of Joshua?”  It looks like he’s commanding genocide.  Isn’t that the crime that qualifies Hitler as the worst person of all time?

After reading God Behaving Badly, Ryan Hamm at Relevant magazine asked me to write about the Canaanites.  So, I took some material from chapters 2, 4 & 5, modified it and improved it.  The article just came out in the most recent edition of Relevant (September-October 2011).  Title: “Reconciling the God of Love with the God of Genocide.”

Here’s the link to the issue.

I start with two arguments that don’t really help resolve the problem (one appealing to liberals, one appealing to conservatives) because they don’t take the text seriously.  Then I give five arguments that make more sense and take both the text and the problem seriously.  I conclude with a few words of advice.  But I don’t “solve” the problem.  This is not one that will ever easily go away.  But even in the midst of the Canaanite slaughter, we see images of hope and a movement toward Jesus.