I believe that Genesis should not be read literally as it conflicts with our current scientific models such as the dating of the universe and Evolution. As a result I believe that we must read Genesis as a theological poem not a scientific textbook. Thus I see that we were created and we fell from grace through adam and eve (theological "stereotypes" of man’s greed and foolishness http://biologos.org/blog/what-are-we-to-make-of-adam-and-eve/)
If we take these as metaphors in genesis then should we also take Abraham as a metaphor rather than a historical figure? Should Abraham represent a people that God called rather than a single person who created an entire society through his wife?
My second question is about God and his violent character. This of course causes problems for me as my God is represented in Jesus. He is the God of peace, love, mercy and justice. However the God of the OT has these qualities but also other qualities such as rage and wrath (I read an interesting article suggesting that Gods wrath actually means God giving up on people rather than directly punishing them.) This Characteristic is especially apparent in Joshua as he supposedly helps them kill and win battles to extend their land. This is remarkably reminiscent of medieval times when victory was attributed to God. Even in WW1 the German army had stenciled on their belts "Gott mit uns" (God is with us). This is what I assume is happening in Joshua and other accounts where God supposedly destroys neighbouring coutries. The Israelites won and so God must have helped them to win. I also assume that this is the same with the massacre of the Amalekite Children in that the leaders rather than God ordered their massacre. Jesus certainly wouldnt have allowed this.
I respect the OT for the historical content and I know that many hidden ancient cities have been discovered by study of the OT. But I believe that God of the OT is justice, he is mercy and love just like Jesus. and I believe that some writers of the OT have put their own beliefs in the text. An enemy of Israel is the enemy of God sort of mentality. I believe that if any killings were condoned by God they were in fact condoned by man. I am not sure what this sounds like theologically but I am confident that the God of the NT would not have condoned the killings and massacres and deaths that were attributed to him in OT. This God to me sounds too different and too primitive.Primitive only in the war sense, but in the wisdom and peace sense I believe the OT is dead on and fits well with the NT)
What are you thoughts?
|Genocide and the Old Testament|
There is one question which comes up repeatedly, both as I travel and teach
for Christian groups and at the web site. The question takes different forms, but
in general it goes something like this: If God is such a loving God, how can we
explain the fact that he commanded the Israelites to wipe out entire nations
of people, including innocent children? If God commanded ?do not kill,? how can you
explain that God commanded genocide on a whole nation? A corollary question is why
did God show favoritism toward the Israelites and relative disfavor to other
nations? Isn?t this bias, which the New Testament forbids?
This question is not answered easily. The theological implications are great, as are
My answer will involve a few arguments, but let me say that even at the end
With that qualification to my answer, let me proceed to explain why I believe
Having said that, it is not reasonable to deduce that it is just fine for us
For those who do not have a good understanding of the God of the Bible, his
God had a chosen people. Israelwas chosen, not because God is prejudiced
It is disturbing to me and I assume that it is disturbing to you that God asked I
Bear in mind that God did not give Israelcarte blanch to go around killing whomever
To summarize, it is not unreasonable to find an apparent contradiction in the
1. Our assumption that the death of a human being is inherently an evil thing
2. What is evil is that human beings rebel against God and sin against him.
3. There exist situations in which God?s justice trumps his love for individuals
with the result that God will bring physical judgment on both individual
4. Although humans do not have the right to judge others as deserving of life
or damnation, God does.
5. God?s plan to bless all humanity through Abraham and his descendents is
possible for humanity.
6. If it were God?s plan to send his messiah/savior through a special people
political and religious history, this could not be done in the ancient
Despite appearances to the contrary, the decision to destroy the peoples of
John Oakes, PhD