biblical violence

How people treat the violence in the Old Testament

old testament violence

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A striking example of the kind of biblical violence most of us ignore

What is more “biblical”? To be kind to family members that belong to a different religion or to beat them with rocks until they bleed to death?

Turns out there is no specific verse about loving such family members, but there is one saying it’s “biblical” to murder your family if they try to convert you to another religion.

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods”… Show them no pity or compassion and do not shield them… You must certainly put them to death…you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them… Stone them to death.” (Deut 13:6-10)

The great Bible hero Samson ended his life as a “suicide bomber.”

Samsons last great act was the destruction of a building that resulted in the death of 3,000 civilians (including women) who were members of a different religion, while they were not engaged in war, but were at a worship service.

“Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson performed. Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “Lord God, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other.  Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. (Judges 16:27-30)

The great Bible hero Samson ended his life as a “suicide bomber.”

Incidentally, to help us appreciate the number of casualties, the September 11 suicide attack also left about 3,000 civilians dead.

Conservative Christian pastors, who believed in the Bible, were strong defenders of southern slavery

Holding on to good doctrines doesn’t prevent one from also having despicable beliefs. As recently as 150 years ago, Christian pastors, who affirmed Protestant orthodoxy, inspiration of the Bible, deity of Jesus, substitutionary atonement on the cross, etc, also advocated slavery. Here were their reasons (1):

BIBLICAL REASONS

  • Abraham, the “father of faith,” and all the patriarchs held slaves without God’s disapproval (Gen. 21:9–10).
  • Canaan, Ham’s son, was made a slave to his brothers (Gen. 9:24–27).
  • The Ten Commandments mention slavery twice, showing God’s implicit acceptance of it (Ex. 20:10, 17).
  • Slavery was widespread throughout the Roman world, and yet Jesus never spoke against it.
  • The apostle Paul specifically commanded slaves to obey their masters (Eph. 6:5–8).
  • Paul returned a runaway slave, Philemon, to his master (Philem. 12).

EVANGELISTIC REASONS

  • Slavery removes people from a culture that “worshipped the devil, practiced witchcraft, and sorcery” and other evils.
  • Slavery brings heathens to a Christian land where they can hear the gospel. Christian masters provide religious instruction for their slaves.

SOCIAL REASONS

  • Just as women are called to play a subordinate role (Eph. 5:22; 1 Tim. 2:11–15), so slaves are stationed by God in their place.
  • Slavery is God’s means of protecting and providing for an inferior race (suffering the “curse of Ham” in Gen. 9:25 or even the punishment of Cain in Gen. 4:12).
  • Abolition would lead to slave uprisings, bloodshed, and anarchy. Consider the mob’s “rule of terror” during the French Revolution.

POLITICAL REASONS

  • Christians are to obey civil authorities, and those authorities permit and protect slavery.
  • Those who support abolition are, in James H. Thornwell’s words, “atheists, socialists, communists [and] red republicans.”

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SOME BRIEF RESPONCES

FACT: Southern slavery was horrible, violent, sadomasochistic, barbaric, and utterly immoral. Southern slavers, believed all the doctrinally orthodox points modern evangelicals believe, but ALSO used the Bible to support their atrocious act of slavery

RESPONSE: Modern apologists are embarrassed by this fact, so they want to distance the Bible from Southern slavery as far as possible. So they make arguments about “difference.” They want to save face and distance themselves and their religious views as far away as possible from this slavery.

FACT 2: Certainly Greco-Roman slavery was different (Greco-Roman language, law, war, economy, infrastructure, etc was also “different”) however, it was not better. To be a Greco-Roman slave was not qualitatively better than a southern slave. Southern slavery is more known for being race-based (although arguments are made that Greco-roman slavery too was race based, see http://www.yale.edu/glc/events/race/Isaac.pdf). Yet, both types of slavery were utterly horrible for the slave.

In both (a) the slave could be raped, (b) the slave could be beat to death or tortured , (c) the slave was property not person, (d) the slave could be separated from family, children, spouse by sale, (e) the slaves children were born into eternal slavery, (f) the slave could be set free, but usually wasnt.

There exists a canon within a canon that contains the books Christians actually read

There is a “canon within a canon” that contains the books clergy and laity frequently read and recommend, while there are other biblical texts that are oft hid.

“For centuries there has been a kind of canon within the canon, a selection of biblical texts read in liturgical contexts that are therefore the principal contact most believers have with the Bible. Conspicuously absent from [readings] are most or all of such books as Joshua, with its violent extermination of the inhabitants of the land of Canaan at divine command, or Judges, with its horrifying narratives of patriarchy and sexual assault in chapters 11 and 19–to say nothing of the Song of Solomon, with its charged eroticism, or of Job, with its radical challenge to the dominant biblical view of a just and caring God.” (1)

-Michael Coogan, leading Hebrew Bible scholar

Bible translators hide the reality of the ancient text to avoid shocking readers

Conservative biblical translators frequently change the reality found in the original languages to produce more sales. They sell a neat version of the Bible that people expect, not the one that is original.

bible-shock

“One area especially lacking in courage is Bible translation. Many translations do not convey exactly what the original biblical languages –Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek– say. In this way translators avoid shocking people by making the Bible seem like one book with internal consistency, rather than [what it is,] an anthology exhibiting development of doctrines and a concomitant inconsistency.”

Dr. Michael Coogan of Harvard (Editor of the New Oxford Annotated Bible and recognized as one of the top Hebrew Bible scholars alive.)

The conquest of the New World by “Christian” nations

The conquest of the Americas by “Christian” forces from Europe was as grotesque and horrific as these purported killings by ISIS in Iraq.

destruction-of-the-indies

Bartolomé de las Casas, an eyewitness, documented the treatment of natives by the “Christian” conquistadors as follows:

They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike.“

“They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!”

(Las Casas, “The Devastation of the Indies”)