Reconciling the God of Love with the God of Genocide?

David T. Lamb, author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?, has written an article in the September/October issue of Relevant on the alleged incompatibility of the Old Testament wars and the Christian God. He shows why two common responses fail to resolve the problem (one offered by liberals, one offered by conservatives) and then offers five arguments that take both the problem and the text seriously.

Read it here (jump to pages 108-111).

4 replies
  1. Tom Joad
    Tom Joad says:

    I don’t want to be antagonistic, but the title here again is pretty startling. The fact that our evolved brains demand that before we worship God, we ‘reconcile the god of genocide’ with the words of Jesus should be a simple, accessible indication to all Christians or wavering monotheists that the God in the bible is not a positive moral being. The fact that you even need to consider questions like ‘did God order genocide’ should be raising alarm bells in your minds about just how moral God is. I mean seriously…. genocide!! Think of the most obscene act imaginable, and you probably think of genocide… and now there are thoughtful, rational people engaging in the reconciliation of acts of genocide with a loving God. I can’t think of a more appalling waste of intellect and resource.

    God is wrathful because God is love… and fear is the heart of love… I mean these kind of statements are Orwellian. They are completely absurd! And yes, I have read the link.

  2. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    “The fact that you even need to consider questions like ‘did God order genocide’ should be raising alarm bells in your minds about just how moral God is.”

    Why, when the answer is ‘no’?
    And even if the answer was ‘yes’, doesn’t God, who gave all people life, have the right to take it away?

  3. Tom Joad
    Tom Joad says:

    With due respect to the linked author, there is still debate over whether the answer is ‘no’, even amongst devout Christians. I would contest it, but… again, the fact that there is ANY ambiguity tells us plenty about just how moral the bible is.

    As for the idea that God has the right to commit genocide, having creating life in the first place, well now you are very transparently attempting to fit the sqaure peg into the round hole. You start from ‘well im not sure if this is genocide’ to ‘even if it was, God is supreme and it must have been just either way’ rather than starting without the shackles of religion and stating the obvious: genocide is about as evil as evil can be, and if you’re ambiguous on the subject, you’re not a moral example I want to follow.

  4. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    “the fact that there is ANY ambiguity tells us plenty about just how moral the bible is.”

    No, it doesn’t. I’ll repeat what I said to you before in another tread on a different post. God’s explicit condemnation of X is not necessary for the Bible to be divinely inspired and hence a guide for moral turths? Just because a little study and careful attention to context and responsible interpretation regarding X doesn’t mean that the Bible is not both inspired and a good guide for moral principles.

    And I’m not being ambiguous. For me, attempting genocide would be extremely evil. For God? No, I don’t see that it would. What you need to answer is the question what makes something evil and what makes something good? This is your burden if you are to carry the “God is immoral” argument. Untill then, the assertion that genocide is evil is fine, but its actually you who are being vauge.

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