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.



“It’s about cooking”: Julie & Julia

“It’s about cooking.”  I knew that would grab their attention.

My two teenage sons and I were driving home from soccer practice.  Their favorite films were the Pirates series, Lord of the Rings and Inception and they like to play Halo on the Xbox.  Violence, death and mayhem appeal to them.  (I didn’t actually think cooking would be a draw.)

I told them, “You need to watch at least 30 minutes of Julie & Julia before you can move on to a recorded episode of Wipeout” (more mayhem).  J & J had been sitting on my desk, unopened inside its red Netflix envelope, for several weeks.  Shannon and I had been waiting for an ideal time to watch it after the boys were asleep, but during the summer, they kept staying up later and later.  With this lame strategy, the film would never get watched.  So, I hatched an ingenious plan to make the boys watch with us.

(I know you’re not supposed to review two-year old films, but I thought it was possible that there were a few people out there who haven’t seen it.)

The trailers were all romantic comedies or artsy foreign films.  I wasn’t sure we were going to make it to the 30 minute cut-off.

But then as the story unfolded, the boys engaged.  It was not only funny but also fascinating, particularly to see how Nora Ephron (writer, director) wove together the stories of Julia Child, who taught America how to master French cooking, and Julie Powell an aspiring writer who committed to cook all 524 of Child’s recipes in only 365 days while blogging about the adventure.

We made a serious stop at 35 minutes for the required cookies/ice cream break and to give the boys an opportunity to declare, “Wipeout, Now!”  They, a bit like Fred Savage’s character at first in The Princess Bride, agreed to keep watching.  (Their favorite section, not surprisingly, was the Dan Akroyd spoof of Julia Child from Saturday Night Live–it had blood and mayhem).

What I appreciated about the film is how it portrays mentoring from a book.   Even though they never meet, Julia disciples Julie in the realm of cooking.  One of my professors at Fuller (Bobby Clinton) challenged students to receive mentoring from Christian biographies, particularly as you get older and find it hard to find mentors.  This film portrays how powerful book mentoring can be.

Any film about cooking that can hold my sons’ attention must be pretty good.  Well-written, clever, funny and fascinating.  We highly recommend it.

Any other cooking flicks you think my sons might enjoy?