“Wasn’t God Cruel?”

angry_godRecently, a parent posted this question to our website:

“My son was wondering why God wiped out tribes, including women and children in many stories in the Old Testament.  He thinks this is pretty cruel.  Thanks!

Without a doubt, some parts of the Bible are harder to deal with than others.  Specifically, in Deuteronomy 7:1-6 God commands Israel to “destroy totally” the inhabitants of Canaan:

“the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites…you must destroy them totally.” (Deut 7:1-2)

These commands and Israel’s actions in carrying them out are repeated through other parts of the Old Testament, and often include the fact of destroying women and children also.  Our reaction, or the reactions of our kids are often one of: “How can a loving God command such a thing?”

We may be tempted to explain such things away, or to simply avoid talking about them, but we musn’t because these texts are a part of God’s divine self-revelation through scripture, and teach us important truths about his being and character.  Also, your kids are smart.  They can spot apparent inconsistencies that if left unaddressed or seemingly swept aside will create doubts that could lead to skepticism or disbelief when it comes to other teachings of the Bible.

In addressing this issue of God’s commands to destroy the Canaanites then, here are some tips and talking points to help you answer your kids questions.

1. Know the Bible Yourself First.

First, it’s important to put these events into context.  God’s commands to destroy the Canaanites are found in Deuteronomy, and the events of Israel carrying out these commands are found in Joshua.  This was a part of God’s purpose in delivering Israel out of Egyptian slavery and giving them the promised inheritance of land that he had made to Abraham so many years before. (cf. Genesis 15)

It is important to grasp that these events were very specific in terms of God’s plan and so were not the normal way that he expected his holy people to behave toward other nations or people.  In fact, if you take the time to read God’s law for Israel, it included some very gracious and progressive treatments for foreigners, which was a significant improvement over the cultural context that Israel was living in. (cf. Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Leviticus 19:33-34; 24:22)

That said, know the parts of the Bible that your child is referring to so that you can address the matter in context.  Help them to understand that while these events did happen, they were not normative in terms of how God wanted Israel to treat foreigners, but were a part of a very specific purpose that God had.

What I would say to my children:

“It’s true that God commanded Israel to destroy whole cities, including women and children.  But it isn’t that God wanted people to behave differently back then than he does today.  In fact in much of the Old Testament God commanded Israel to love others, and care for people who weren’t like them, just as Jesus did.  The parts where he commands Israel to destroy a whole group of people are actually very specific, and happened for a very specific reason.”

 

2. Focus on God’s purpose for this command:

When critics bring up God’s commands for Israel to destroy the Canaanites, they usually make it sound as if God was a racist, or just didn’t like them.  It’s important again to affirm that God never acts in a way that is inconsistent with his nature.  So help your children see the reason that God gave his command to Israel to destroy the Canaanites. This is found in Deuteronomy 9:4-6 which you should read with your children:

Deuteronomy 9:4-6   After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you… Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.

So God’s decision to destroy the Canaanites wasn’t because he didn’t like them or liked the Jews better.  (In fact much of the Old Testament records how God brought destruction upon Israel when they committed the same sins that the Canaanites had.)  Rather, it was because the Canaanites’ sin had become so great that it warranted his judgment.

Now, remind your children that all sin brings every person under God’s judgment, but that is why he sent Jesus Christ as our Saviour; to forgive sin and bear God’s punishment against our sin for us.  But not everyone will turn to God for forgiveness, and so one day will have to stand before him and face his judgement.

In the case of the Canaanites however, their sin had become so great that God decided judgment could no longer wait.  We get a hint at this in Genesis 15:16 where God says to Abraham:

“In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here [i.e. Canaan], for the sin of the Amorites [a Canaanite people] has not yet reached its full measure.”

In other words at the time of Abraham’s journey the Canaanites were sinful, but their sin had not yet gotten so bad as to warrant immediate judgment.  God was still going to give them 400 years in which they could change their ways…but they didn’t.

And what was the nature of their sin? The more notable features included idolatry; incest; adultery; child sacrifice; homosexuality and bestiality. What is important to understand also is that it wasn’t just that there were individuals in Canaan who were committing these sins. These sins had become characteristic of their culture. They were built into the very fabric of how Canaanite society functioned. So, to use a metaphor, they weren’t punished by God because of a few “bad apples”. Rather, the entire “bushel and basket” were rotten to the core.

The Bible is clear over and over that God doesn’t show favourites.  He is the righteous judge who will punish all sin, but extends grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ to any who would turn to him and receive it.  In the case of the Canaanites, he gave them over 400 years to show even a sign of turning toward him.  Instead they showed the exact opposite.  So great was their sin and so far had they removed themselves from God that when he judged the time right, he brought punishment for their sin against them, using the Israelites to do it.

What I would say to my children:

“The reason God commanded Israel to destroy the Canaanites was because their sin had become so great. Even though he had given them time and opportunity to turn to him, they just ran further and further away from him into sin.  And because God is holy and righteous and just, he must punish sin…all sin.  In the case of the Canaanites he decided that things with them had gotten so bad that it was time for punishment to come.”

These first two points attempt to bring clarity from the Bible as to what was happening during these events and what God’s reasons were for giving such commands.  It is absolutely vital that we do not by-pass this in teaching our children about these difficult matters.  We want them to accept that when looking for answers, we always turn to the Bible to find out about God.

These next points address the possible follow up questions our children may have.  We’ve addressed what the Bible clearly teaches; now we deal with their possible response to what it teaches.  Here are some tips to deal with those responses.

 

Answering questions with questions:

When our children react to something in the Bible, like God’s command to destroy the Canaanites, we need to know what is fuelling that reaction.  If their response is something akin to “wasn’t it wrong of God to do that?” then we need to understand what assumptions they are holding that cause them to think this way.  The only way to do this is to ask questions.  Asking good questions helps us understand why our children are thinking the way they do, but also helps our children develop critical thinking skills which will pay big dividends as they grow older and face objections about God from the world.

In the case of God’s commands to destroy the Canaanites, if your child feels that God was wrong to do this, probe deeper to find out what assumptions they are holding that lead them to this conclusion. Here are a few questions that I would ask to do this:

 a. “Is it wrong for God to take a life?”

This question will surface a crucial assumption that needs to be correct.  Our secular culture continually bombards us with the message that our lives belong to us.  But this idea of human autonomy is really at the heart of sin, and is absolutely contrary to the Bible which teaches that our lives actually belong to God.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21)

 

[God says:] See now that I myself am he!
  There is no god besides me.  
I put to death and I bring to life, (Deut. 32:39)

 

(See also Genesis 1; John 1; Acts 17:25-28; Romans 11:36)

So, if God is the giver of life and our lives rightfully belongs to him, doesn’t he have the right to take back what is his?  Of course he does.  When humans take a life, it is wrong because we are taking what does not belong to us; putting ourselves in God’s place.  But when God takes a life, he is exercising his rightful authority as the determiner of life and death.  All life belongs to God, and therefore he has the right to give and take it as he wills.

What I would say to my children:

Since God is the giver of life, he is the one who determines when life begins and when it ends.  (cf. Job 14:5; Psalm 90:30)  Since all life belongs to him, doesn’t it makes sense that he alone has the right to determine when a person’s life will end?

 

b. “Is it wrong for God to punish sin?”

One of my pet peeves with some popular Christian children’s materials is that they only teach a part of God’s truth. They focus almost entirely on God’s love and forgiveness, when the Bible places equal if not greater emphasis on God’s justice and wrath.  Yes God is loving, but he is also just…and we wouldn’t want him any other way.  To illustrate: imagine a judge who convicted murderers and rapist of their crimes, but then let them go free because he wanted to be “loving”.  This is revolting on a human level, and even more so when talking about God.

It is important to help our children understand that God’s greatness flows from his holiness…that is his perfect moral character.  God is completely separate from sin and is devoted to his own glory, and rightfully so since he alone is worthy of glory.  Sin is that which seeks to rob God of his glory and give it to someone or something else that is NOT worthy of glory.  To sin therefore is actually to commit an act of hatred toward God.  As Paul says: “the sinful mind is hostile to God…” (Romans 8:7) and as such it brings sinners under God’s judgment.

When it comes to the issue of God’s command to destroy the Canaanites therefore, it is important to remind our children that whenever God punishes sin, he is acting justly.  Any sin against God is an offence against his holiness, and therefore is deserving of punishment.  This doesn’t mean that God is not loving, but his love can never contradict his justice.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.” (Deuteronomy 7:9-10)

What I would say to my children:

If someone stole your bike, wouldn’t you want the police to catch the person who did it and punish them for their crime?  That’s called justice: when wrongs done are punished.  Well, just like a good judge punishes criminals for the wrong they do, God, who is perfectly good also makes sure that all wrongs are appropriately punished.

The Bible teaches us that we have all done wrong…we have all sinned. (cf. Rom. 3:23)  We know that because God loves us so much he sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the punishment for our sin, but not all people accept what Jesus did.  As a result, one day they too must face God’s justice; they must face punishment for their sin.  This is called God’s judgement.

‘When’ we face God’s judgment is up to him to decide.  In the case of the Canaanites, God decided that the time for them had come.  And as judge, it was God’s right to decide what means he would use to carry out his judgment.  In this case, (and this case only) he chose to use Israel.

 

c. “Is anyone really innocent?”

It’s heartbreaking to think about the scene in which Israelite soldiers had to carry out this command to kill woman and children.  And, we should not try to candy coat this either. These were horrible events that we should never wish on anyone.  It’s important to remember also that God himself does not relish or delight in such events. He tell us himself:

“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 23:13)

It is worth repeating that God takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked, but as we’ve discussed, his holiness and justice demands that he punish sin.  But some may object: “That’s fine for the obviously guilty, but what about the innocent like women and children?”

Here it is important to surface the underlying assumption and compare it to God’s Word. Can we really say that the women and children were innocent, and therefore that God was unfair or cruel in extending punishment to them also?  In actuality, we cannot say this because the Bible teaches that all people are sinful.  In fact, because our first parents Adam and Eve became sinful, every child born in their line (which is everyone) is also born sinful, inheriting both a sinful nature and the guilt of sin. (cf. Romans 5:12-21)  What is more, because we are born with a sinful nature that impacts our entire being, we lack the ability to free ourselves from sin and therefore live a sin free life.  As Paul says, “we are slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).  In other words the probability that any baby born into this world will commit sin is 100%.

So, the statement: “God was cruel or unfair to punish innocent women or children” is based upon a false assumption.  Before God, no one is innocent, not even infants.  This is what caused King David to confess:

“Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

What I would say to my children:

Something the Bible teaches us is that every person is guilty of sin. (cf. Psalm 51:5; Rom 3:23)  In fact we are all born sinful.  We know this because no one ever has to teach us to be sinful; we come by it naturally because it is a part of our nature.  This is a horrible tragedy passed on to us by Adam and Eve who sinned first (cf. Rom. 5:12), but the fact still is that we all choose to sin, and so are all guilty of sin.  So really, can we say that before God any person is truly innocent?

 

Conclusion:

Questions like these are challenging to respond to, but so important because they show that our children’s minds are going through the necessary stages of growth, whereby the formation of their minds that comes from our sinful culture and their own sinful nature are being confronted by the transforming truth of God and his Word. (cf. Romans 12:2)  We should not shrink back from tackling these tough questions, and shouldn’t feel like we need to only address them once.  It may take a while for a complete understanding to sink in, so make sure you affirm your kids for asking good questions, but help pattern for them a reliance on God and the Bible to find true answers.

 

11 thoughts on ““Wasn’t God Cruel?”

  1. Scott,

    Too often people (bible scholars even) try to soften these texts, even to the point of denying the inerrancy of Scripture to get around them. Peter Enns comes to mind.

    Thanks for being direct here and dealing with the text as it is, not as some might wish it was.

  2. I think its quite clear from the text and from the summation here that the answer is YES! God is undeniably cruel (but its ok because they deserved it, even the donkeys). Here’s another passage for good measure

    “This is what the Lord Almighty says… ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (1 Samuel 15:3)

    “Gracious and Progressive” ??? There is simply no explaining this away

    Feel free to email me for further discussion.

    • Thanks for your comment Andrew.

      I’m happy to discuss these things with you because they’re really important. You already know what I think, since you’ve obviously read the post, so could you help me better understand what you think by answering these questions for me?

      “Do you think it’s ever right for God to punish anyone?” AND “If so, how severe should God’s punishments be?”

      Thanks.

  3. We know that God is unchanging and so presumably he could hand down a commandment such as this to Christians today (or to the Jews depending on which is the correct religion). If he commanded us to slaughter an entire people should we obey him?

    • Hi Andrew,

      “We know that God is unchanging…” On this we agree since God has so revealed himself. “I the LORD do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)

      “…so presumably he could hand down a commandment such as this to Christians today…” No, this could not happen precisely because God does not change. God’s activities and dealings with his people Israel did not take place in a vacuum whereby God was making up commands willy-nilly based upon his feelings of the day. Rather, he was leading Israel in a direction according to his unchanging eternal purposes. This means that many of his commands were not normative (i.e.“here is how my people should behave all the time”) but particular (i.e. “here is what my people must do at this time in history so that I can fulfill my purpose through them in the future.”)
      God’s eternal purpose in Israel was to establish them as a Holy Nation in which he would begin the process of re-establishing his rule on earth as King. (A rule that has been rejected by the sinful hearts of people like you and me.) Israel as a nation therefore was to serve temporarily as a ‘steward’ of his rule, representing for the nations around them what a nation of people looked like living under God’s rule on earth. His ultimate purpose however was not to bless ONE nation, but ALL nations. (see Genesis 18:18; 22:18; 26:4) And this he did by bringing Jesus as Messiah (Saviour) through Israel. Through the coming of Jesus, God has expanded his rule from a ‘national’ one (i.e. a single nation with a centralized system of worship and government) to a ‘global’ one (i.e. Christians all over the earth giving their personal allegiance to King Jesus – Revelation 5:9) So, Christians can live anywhere in the world and belong to any nation because their allegiance to God’s rule has moved away from a centralized Temple and Government to our own hearts. God’s throne on earth is my heart, and the heart of every Christian.

      Your question therefore “If he commanded us to slaughter an entire people should we obey him?” is based upon a faulty presupposition. He would never give such a command because at this point in the unfolding of his eternal plan there is no room for such a command. The Christian church is NOT the nation of Israel, and the establishment of God’s rule has moved past it’s preliminary stage built on a ‘national’ model to its final stage based upon a global faith community. To put it plainly, He would quite simply never give such a command to Christians.

      You are correct however in saying that God does not change, and in light of that, while the way in which he deals with his people has changed because of the progression of his redemptive plan in history, he is still a Holy God who does and will deal with human sin. Because he is JUST, he must punish sin; but because he is gracious and loving he has provided atonement (i.e. payment) for our sin through Jesus Christ. Now is the time to respond to this gift of forgiveness and pardon, but a time is coming where that opportunity will be gone and God will judge sin.

      To my prior question therefore Andrew, “Do YOU think it is ever right for God to punish anyone?” Obviously how you answer this question will have implications for our discussion about the Canaanites, but it also has personal implications which is ultimately my concern for you.

      I look forward to your response.

  4. If there is an omnipotent and just God, sometimes I wish that God would punish those who deserve it (the Boko Haram kidnappers come to mind). Instead, we are left with these stories of God ordering the Israelites to slaughter women and children and I am left baffled. It makes no sense to me why an all-powerful being would require actions like that to serve his “unchanging eternal purposes”. To me it is incoherent and unintelligible. No amount of apologetic interpretation should convince us that the war crimes of ancient people were justified.

    Why should we worship a god who chooses history to unfold in this needlessly inhumane way?

    • So, there are those like the Boko Haram who “deserve” God’s punishment, and there are others like the Canaanites who do not “deserve” God’s punishment. How did you determining that one deserves punishment while the other doesn’t?

  5. I’m sure you would agree that some crimes are especially revolting. I think it is a common human desire to wish that disgusting human beings like these Boko Haram kidnappers suffer some kind of satisfying justice. Hollywood plays on this emotion in countless films. If God is out there I would kindly invite him to smite them at his earliest convenience. kidnapping school children and threatening to sell them into slavery is disgusting.

    The Bible actually isn’t as clear on this issue of selling women as slaves, it seems that as long as you follow the rules then it is quite alright:

    “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.”
    (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

    In the case of the Canaanites I am in no position to judge an ancient people I know little about, even after your attempt to demonize them. I can only say that I believe genocide is wrong under any circumstance and so it seems the Israelites are the evil-doers in this case.

    • “I’m sure you would agree that some crimes are especially revolting.”
      Of course I agree with you; indeed these are horrible evils that I too believe are deserving of God’s judgment. But the fact is Andrew that God will punish them. God IS just (cf. Psalm 11:7; 33:5) and as such MUST punish all sin. God’s punishment for the sins of the Boko Haram therefore is not a matter of IF, but WHEN. There is no question that it seems like evil people are “getting away” with their sin, but God tells us over and over again in the Bible that they are not. “God will repay each person according to what they have done” (Romans 2:6 – See also Romans 12:19; Psalm 37:28, 38; 73; 94 )

      So, even you agree that God should punish evil. If there is truly such a thing as evil, then God as ALL-GOOD would be the best one to judge it, wouldn’t he? And God as ALL-KNOWING would be the best one to know who deserves punishment for it, and how and when that must happen, wouldn’t he? And God as ALL-POWERFUL would be the one who is best suited to administer that judgement, wouldn’t he?

      “In the case of the Canaanites I am in no position to judge an ancient people I know little about, even after your attempt to demonize them.”
      But haven’t you made a judgment in concluding that God was unjustified in bringing his judgment upon them? Your judgement is “they didn’t deserve God’s judgment”. But again, who has the right or even the capacity to make that judgment? Can’t that only be God? If God is all knowing; all powerful and all-good, isn’t he alone qualified to make final judgments on moral issues?

      Genocide or Corporate Capital Punishment?

      Yes, genocide is always wrong. But as severe and troubling as the Canaanite judgment issue is, I do not think you can call it genocide. Genocide is the desire to kill an entire people on the basis of their race or ethnicity; i.e. something inherent to their being. (In other words not because of what they do, but just because of what they are). It is closely tied to xenophobia, which is the fear or hatred of other races. But God, who is after all the author of life for every race, loves all people. Remember God’s promise to Abraham was that through him, (the father of Israel) God would bless “all nations” (cf. Gen 23:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4)
      Again, at the risk of being repetitive, God’s stated reason for condemning the Canaanites was for what they did (“it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you.” – Deut. 9:4-6).
      God never gave Israel instruction to hate any people. In fact, unlike other nations surrounding them, the Israelites had many laws that gave aliens living among them rights and privileges too. (cf. Lev. 19:33-34; 24:22; Deuteronomy 10:18,19)

      Slavery: (This is kind of a rabbit trail from our main discussion, but I felt it worth addressing.)

      Your equivocation of the Boko Haram’s slave trade and OT laws regarding slavery is a common mistake made by many. Something to keep in mind when reading OT laws is that they must be understood within their own cultural context. They are hard to understand in terms of their applicability to us because, as Bruce Birch says: “These texts are rooted in a cultural context utterly unlike our own, with moral presuppositions and categories that are alien and in some cases repugnant to our modern sensibilities.” (Blackwell Companion to the Hebrew Bible, 2001, p. 297)
      Also, we need to accept that the Mosaic laws aren’t meant to present a moral pinnacle, but rather point God’s people forward to further moral development, (this is the sense in which Jesus calls himself the “fulfillment” of the law (cf. Matt. 5:17)) or point them backward to God’s Creation ideal (cf. Genesis 1-2). But God knew he was dealing with sinful and broken people, and could not take them from their cultural context (the Ancient Near East) to moral perfection (something impossible for everyone because of sin) in one single step.

      A perfect illustration is Jesus’ debate among the Jews about divorce. (See Mark 10:1-9) The Mosaic Law permitted divorce. But God’s Creation ideal forbids it. (cf. Gen 2:24; Matt 19:6) Why would permission of divorce be included in OT Law then? In Jesus’ words, “It was because your hearts were hard…” So here God in his patience and grace in dealing with sinful people gives Israel a law that is far from his ideal moral standard of lifelong marital faithfulness, and yet it is lightyears ahead of Israel’s surrounding cultural environment where women in the Ancient Near East had virtually no rights and could be cast off or even killed by a husband who was not pleased with her.

      In the case of Israel’s slavery laws, these also presented a significant improvement for the rights of slaves within Ancient Near Eastern culture, but obviously were far from reflecting God’s ethical ideal for his people. But it was moving them forward. In fairness though, they cannot be compared to what the Boko Haram have done…not even close.

      I won’t take time to delve into this hear, but here are two links to some very helpful articles written by Paul Copan on this point:

      http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201102/201102_108_slavery.htm.cfm
      http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201103/201103_124_OTSlave.cfm

  6. You misunderstand what I am trying to say. The point that I am trying to make is that an all good, all powerful and all knowing god is incompatible with the one described to us in the Bible. The length of your responses only help my case. Why do you have to try so hard to defend a book that was inspired by a perfect being? Arguing about whether or not the slaughter of the canaanites could be classified as genocide or not is beside the point. (Corporate Capital Punishment? Now you’re just inventing new terms to describe it!) The point is: Why does god order the Israelites to slaughter anyone at all? How is it that an all good god requires the slaughter of children as judgment?

    It seems Christ contradicts himself regarding the OT laws:

    “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

    “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)

    All that aside, the question should be: Why did God allow Slavery at any point in history? Surely he could have included an anti slavery commandment into the 10 and saved humanity the disgusting practice altogether! But instead:

    Exodus 20 verse 3 and 4
    “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
    You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

    I think it goes without saying that the idea of punishing the great grand children of any who break his commandments is a repulsive concept of justice.
    A “Jealous” God? How is it that this “perfect” being be so petty and hypocritical? A Jealous God who then commands us not to be Jealous!

    “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20 verse 17

    It seems more and more people are realizing that there simply are no good answers to these questions. Inevitably, many christian kids will grow up and see the bible for what it is – another “holy” book written by ordinary ancient men with no supernatural intervention whatsoever.

    Thank you for allowing someone with a dissenting opinion to post on your site, I think it is good for everyone who reads it. This will be my last post on this thread, feel free to have the final word.

    • Perhaps Andrew we are both misunderstanding each other. No doubt in large part because we are both coming from very different starting points. Let me just say though that I appreciate the respectful tone you’ve maintained in our discussions, even though we disagree.

      While I disagree with your premise that “lengthly” necessarily means “dubious”, I will keep this response short.

      “The point that I am trying to make is that an all good, all powerful and all knowing god is incompatible with the one described to us in the Bible.”

      Yup, I got that. But my point (which obviously I failed to make clearly or quickly enough) is that in order to make this determination you must be claiming to have actual knowledge of what it means to be “all good/powerful/knowing” since you are assessing that the God of the Bible does not meet this “standard”. What I wanted to know is from where do you get your standard to make this assessment? What is your basis of comparison by which you have determined that the God of the Bible does not qualify?

      As to the rest of your remarks about selected texts, let me suggest reading my post on Christians and the Old Testament.

      I’ve enjoyed our exchange very much Andrew. I hope that we can dialogue again.

      Sincerely,
      Scott Stein

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