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.”
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.
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