Did God Speak to People of Canaan?

Regarding the issue of God commanding Israel to destroy everyone in Canaan, the position of the critic and atheist seems to be that God gave an excessive punishment on an entire people group with no warning. Such a statement shows a selective reading of the Bible, for God had much dealings with people outside of Israel. It is true that Israel was specially chosen by God as His people who He dealt with directly. He gave Israel the Mosaic Law which He did not give to the other nations. But this does not mean that God never communicated to other nations. The following are but a few examples of how God communicated His expectations to the nations outside of Israel:

  • God repeatedly sent Moses and Aaron to the leaders of Egypt with a message, and repeatedly relented when Pharoah asked Moses to appeal to God (Exodus 7 – 10)
  • God sent Jonah to people of Nineveh, with a message of judgement. The Ninevites repented and appealed to God, and God relented the punishment. (Jonah 3:10)
  • A eunuch from Ethiopia came to Jerusalem to worship, indicating that he already knew about the true God before he came on the trip. He also had a copy of Isaiah he was studying (Acts 8:27ff).
  • Rahab the prostitute from Jericho, a city in Canaan, knew about God and appealed to Him, which resulted in her life being spared and living a long life (Josh. 2:9ff; 6:25)
  • People from Israel went to surrounding countries, intermarried with them, informing them of the true God. One instance was the family of Ruth from Moab, who told them about God (Ruth 1) and when Ruth worshipped the true God, her life was spared and she was blessed by Boaz (Ruth 4:13-14)
  • God gave military victories to other nations, such as Syria (2 Kings 5:1). God healed Naaman, from Syria, when he obeys God’s messenger (2 Kings 5:14)
  • Isaiah gave messages about Babylon (Ch. 13-14, 21), Moab (Ch. 15-16), Syria (Ch. 17), land beyond Ethiopia (Ch. 18), Egypt (Ch. 19-20), and Edom & Arabia (Ch. 21).
  • Jeremiah gave God’s messages to Egypt (Ch.46), Philistia (Ch.47), Moab (Ch. 48), Ammon, Edom, Syria, & others, (Ch. 49), and Babylon (Ch. 50-51).
  • Ezekiel gave messages to Ammon, Moab, Edom, & Philistia (Ch. 25), and Egypt (Ch. 29 – 32)
  • Daniel and his three friends taught about God and gave God’s messages in Babylon, to the point that the king of Babylon gave honor to God (Daniel 2:47; 3:28-29; 4:34-37)
  • Joel gave messages to the people of Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, and Moab (Joel 1:3-2:3)
  • Micah was a prophet with a message to both the Samaritans and Israel, and to all people on the earth (Micah 1:1-2)
  • Zephaniah gave a message to many people of Canaan and surrounding areas (Zephaniah Ch. 2)
  • Simon the magician, from Samaria in Canaan, appealed to God and was received, even though his heart was not entirely right (Acts 8:9-24
  • Jesus repeatedly had compassion on various people from Canaan (Luke 10:33-37; 17:16-19; John 4; Matt. 15:22-28; Mark 5)

There are more, but I think you get the point. In each of the instances where people appealed to God for mercy and forgiveness, God was merciful, and not only spared them but blessed them. Whenever people would not listen to God’s prophet, God judged them according to the knowledge that they had (Romans 1:20).

We do not have every act of God recorded in the Bible (John 21:25). However, the acts we have show a universal theme, of God always making Himself known to people, and if they acknowledge God and change their ways, God spares them. Examination of the entire story of the Bible tells us that it is reasonable to conclude that God gave the people of Canaan adequate warning, but they refused.

The atheist and critic who merely reads one passage in one book and blames God for horrendous acts done in judgement, does not take the context of the Bible in consideration. To continue to ignore the entire message of the Bible, while also ignoring the child sacrifice committed by the Canaanites, shows that the atheist and critic do not desire to discuss the entire story, but only serve as fodder for excuses for what they want to do, which is deny God.

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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49 Responses to Did God Speak to People of Canaan?

  1. Nate says:

    I think you’re overlooking the point that there’s never a good reason to commit genocide.

    But aside from that, things are still more complicated than you make them seem. Many of the prophets you mention do make pronouncements against foreign nations, but I’m not aware of examples (other than specific cases like Jonah) where they actually went and delivered their messages to those nations.

    Also, when you refer to God giving victories to nations like Syria and Babylon, it’s important to realize that these nations probably gave that credit to their own gods. Why wouldn’t they? Just like the Israelites, whenever something good or bad happened to them, their god got the credit. All people have operated that way throughout history. It’s the same thing people do today with prayer. The effectiveness of prayer is never questioned, regardless of the outcome of the prayer.

    There’s still the gaping hole of inconsistency. God actually (supposedly) had a relationship with the Israelites — he gave them is law, he gave them prophets and spiritual leaders, etc. Yet they spent most of their history letting him down. So did he annihilate them just as he wanted to do with the Canaanites? No. He put up with them. Sure, he would punish them quite severely from time to time, but he treated them much differently than he did other nations — nations that did not have near the access to him that the Israelites did.

    Sure, the Bible claims that God shows no favoritism, but example after example shows that’s blatantly false.

    • Nate, do you reject the concept that if God exists and created all humanity, he has the right to mete out punishment as he sees fit?

    • humblesmith says:

      A remnant. Nate, a remnant. God did indeed punish Israel and destroyed the unbelievers, only keeping a remnant who appealed to Him for forgiveness. Romans 11 tells us God always kept a remnant, not all of unrepentant Israel.

    • Nate says:

      Hi Caroline,

      I think that if that god is supposed to be the embodiment of love and morality, then he would not command something like genocide. Punishment, after all, usually carries with it the idea of correction; for instance, if I punish one of my children, I do it with the intention of teaching them how to behave better. If my son writes on the wall, and I cut off his hand, that’s not really punishment — it’s just cruelty. He now would have no opportunity to learn how to behave more appropriately.

      Thanks

      • But I don’t think you really answered my question, Nate. Does God have the right, as our creator, to take away the life he gives?

        And to make your comparison more appropriate, imagine your son totally rejected you as his dad, honored and obeyed someone else, and sacrificed his baby sister to his new father. I think you might agree that more than simple corrective discipline would be required.

        • Nate says:

          But I would not agree that he should be slaughtered. My son could grow up to be a serial killer, and while I would find that horrifying, he would still be my son. I would love him, and I would agree that he should be punished, but not hacked to pieces with a sword or tortured with fire for eternity.

    • Nate says:

      humblesmith,

      That’s still only how he dealt with Israel. The other nations didn’t receive such a chance.

      • humblesmith says:

        In my post, I showed how God spoke to multiple nations and they knew about the message. You respond by saying that God seemed to let Israel off the hook. When I show that He didn’t let Israel off the hook, but treated them the same, you appeal to the other nations as not having the same chance. We seem to be going in circles.

        In reality, God gave all nations an equal opportunity and communicated enough to them for them to realize the truth. Those who accepted God and His ways were welcomed by God, and those who insisted on rejecting Him were rejected themselves. This is true of all people in all nations.

        I maintain that this brief example of going round in circles is due to a prior rejection of God, not due to any desire for truth. Why would God force people to love Him? He’ll accept any who return to him in a contrite heart.

        • Nate says:

          In reality, God gave all nations an equal opportunity and communicated enough to them for them to realize the truth. Those who accepted God and His ways were welcomed by God, and those who insisted on rejecting Him were rejected themselves. This is true of all people in all nations.

          You can make that case when reading the New Testament, not the Old.

          And you can assume that I have a prior disposition to disbelieve and am not really looking for truth, but I could make the same accusation to you in the opposite direction. But only you (and your god, if he exists) knows that, so I’ll withhold judgment on that and give you the benefit of the doubt.

    • humblesmith says:

      Nate: Did you read Paul Copan’s article that I linked a few days ago? In one of them, he makes a case that God did not in fact command the destruction of innocents. I’m just curious to see your thoughts.

  2. Wes says:

    Nate

    If God is only and solely love and morality, then one can never ever trust God to answer when we call on Him for help. If God just loves everyone regardless of what they do, then there is no help for those who are abused. There is no recourse… ever. And existence is purely meaningless and without any moral basis (which you believe God should up-hold). How then do you propose he upholds that moral code.
    Your examples of disciplining your son are somewhat reasonable, only to a point though. The offenses your son ‘commits’ bare no resemblence to slaughtering babies. No one today or back then would have cut off a hand for drawing on a tent wall (least in my thinking). However these people believed killing babies was fair and reasonable.
    The fact that other societies weren’t doing that could have been a reasonable line in the sand to suggest their actions were not acceptable.
    One question for you to answer – A man walks into your local day-care centre and decides he is going to kill someone’s child in the name of his religion… Do you slap him on the wrist and talk to him in the hope he learns better next time? Or do you lock him up and throw away the keys?
    The latter of the two I bet.
    What was the equivalent option back in the days of this passage?

    thanks

    • Nate says:

      If God just loves everyone regardless of what they do, then there is no help for those who are abused. There is no recourse… ever.

      I disagree. If you have two children and one harms the other, but you step in and stop it, does that mean you only love one of your children?

      That really is the whole point, and I think it should apply to the rest of your comment as well. It’s taught that the god of the Bible created us all — we’re all his “children,” so to speak. But the OT shows he’s quite a maniacal parent. And if he was really punishing the Canaanites for sacrificing children, why would he command the Israelites to kill all the children? That’s like being so angry at the New Town shootings that we shoot all the children in the town. It’s insane.

    • Nate says:

      Hi Wes,

      I tried to reply to this, but I guess it didn’t take.

      If God just loves everyone regardless of what they do, then there is no help for those who are abused. There is no recourse… ever.

      I disagree. Loving everyone doesn’t mean there are no standards. If a man has two children and one is beating the other, if he decides to step in and stop it, does that mean he loves one more than the other? Or that he only loves one of them?

      Furthermore, if the problem with the Canaanites was that they were sacrificing children, how much sense does it make to order someone else to come in and kill all the children? Wouldn’t it be better to rescue them? Or show the people committing the sacrifices that they were heading in the wrong direction?

      One question for you to answer – A man walks into your local day-care centre and decides he is going to kill someone’s child in the name of his religion… Do you slap him on the wrist and talk to him in the hope he learns better next time? Or do you lock him up and throw away the keys?
      The latter of the two I bet.

      Yes, you’re right. I certainly wouldn’t decide to kill all the children myself in retaliation. And if a man did try to do that in the name of his religion, I’d seriously doubt the legitimacy of said religion. That’s exactly why I have major doubts about Christianity.

      Thanks for the questions.

  3. As parents we have the blessing of a love given and received that is like no other. It is a love that knows great joy and endures great sorrow. I too would continue to love a child that did horrible things and grieved me terribly. I believe God intends for the parent-child relationship to teach us much about his love for us. But at some point the analogy breaks down because God is not only our “parent” but our creator and master. We are at the same level of “being” as our children, but God is immeasurably greater than us and does have the right to take away the life he gives. We do not have that right.

    What’s more, God’s actions often have eternal consequences, affecting untold numbers of people, in contrast to our very small in scope activities within our relationships. Apparently, the Canaanites were so wickedly idolatrous that God felt it necessary to destroy them completely to guard against them influencing the Israelites, who were to be his representatives on earth. The children who were killed went directly to Heaven and were spared lives of pain and suffering. You may not believe that, but I hope you can agree that if it is true, it is a reasonable defense of God’s harsh judgments.

  4. Nate says:

    We are at the same level of “being” as our children, but God is immeasurably greater than us and does have the right to take away the life he gives. We do not have that right.

    I get why you think that and how it informs the rest of your argument. I don’t really agree though. It’s hard to say what God should or shouldn’t do — I really do understand that. But the Bible lays out some characteristics of God that seem contrary to actions like these.

    We do have evidence of Molech worship and human sacrifice in ancient Canaan. We don’t know exactly how widespread this was or how often it occurred, but even if it just happened once, it would be a terrible thing. I completely agree with you there. But the Bible says that God loves us all and wants all people to come to repentance. So is the best solution to child sacrifice utter annihilation? Granted, it stops child sacrifice, because there is no one left to do them — children included. But is that the best way forward? I’m no omniscient god, but I can think of some better alternatives pretty quickly. Save all the children, is one example. Show the Canaanites miracles to prove Yahweh is the true God, and explain that what they’ve been doing was ineffective and wrong — that’s another. Wipe out the Molech priests and clergy — that’s how things were handled with the prophets of Baal. Or just destroy them all with fire from the sky, or cause them to all drop dead of aneurysms, sparing the Israelite soldiers the horrible fate of slaughtering children.

    The other aspect of this is that the Bible may not be divinely inspired, which happens to be what I believe. If it’s not, then commands like these actually make more sense. We already know that the Israelites wanted the land of Canaan for their own (according to the story), so it only makes sense that they would want to dispose of the current inhabitants. What better justification than to say that God told you to do it? That’s what the US did when it took lands from Native Americans — they even called it “Manifest Destiny.”

    Part of the rationale that’s used to defend genocide like this is the theory that God spoke to everyone during the patriarchal age; therefore, the Canaanites knew deep down that what they were doing was against God’s will. However, the evidence doesn’t back this up. No evidence has ever come to light that shows other nations were aware of Yahweh, other than the Israelites. This is even supported in the Bible. When Moses goes before Pharaoh, Pharaoh has no idea who Yahweh is. When Jacob marries Rachel, her father, Laban, worships idols. All the Canaanite nations worshiped idols as well. Why would all these people worship inanimate objects if they had been communicating with the one true, actual God? That just doesn’t make sense. For instance, if you have a checking account with Bank of America, you won’t go to Chase everyday demanding access to your money. You know where your money is — why waste time with anything else?

    When we read stories that say God commanded his followers to utterly destroy certain tribes of people — down to the women, elderly, and small children — we should open our minds to the possibility that the people writing the stories were either lying or misinformed. If we never even question it, then we’re guilty of the same thinking that was employed by the people that flew planes into the World Trade Center. It’s worth thinking about.

    Thanks

  5. I’m no omniscient god, but I can think of some better alternatives pretty quickly.

    I too would be inclined to save all the children, but as you said, we are both severely lacking in knowledge compared to God. And I’ll bet you could also pretty quickly come up with several examples of where doing what seems to be the compassionate thing at the time would have unintended and even disastrous consequences. I’ll offer a few of my own: consistently relieving your children of duties they don’t want to perform and giving in to their every whim so that they grow to be demanding, selfish, brats. Consistently giving handouts to lazy citizens who don’t want to work, assuring that they will remain irresponsible and on the dole. And I don’t know Adolph Hitler’s history, but I have to believe there were glimpses of his evil nature before he came to power. Imagine all the lives that would have been spared if someone had had the courage and foresight to lock him up, or worse, before he had opportunity to do such damage.

    As for God revealing himself through miracles, the Israelites saw God guiding them by a pillar of fire or smoke, dividing the Red Sea, bringing all the plagues on Egypt as he foretold, raining down manna and quail, and they still ended up rejecting him to follow other gods. Satan knows without a doubt that Yahweh is the true God, yet he chose to rebel against him.

    I too have wondered why God didn’t kill the Canaanites painlessly with just a word. Perhaps his intent was to more forcefully and indelibly imprint on the Israelites the utter seriousness of their sins.

    And I think a case can be made that the Canaanites knew “what they were doing was against God’s will,” from what this blogger has pointed out, and also from Romans 1 and 2 where Paul talks about how men are “without excuse” and that even though Gentiles “do not have the law,” the law is “written on their hearts.” God has given us evidence of his existence in creation, and of right and wrong in our consciences. When we humbly submit to allow them to lead us to their source, God reveals himself. And if we then choose to believe, he adopts us as his own.

    • Nate says:

      consistently relieving your children of duties they don’t want to perform and giving in to their every whim so that they grow to be demanding, selfish, brats. Consistently giving handouts to lazy citizens who don’t want to work, assuring that they will remain irresponsible and on the dole. And I don’t know Adolph Hitler’s history, but I have to believe there were glimpses of his evil nature before he came to power. Imagine all the lives that would have been spared if someone had had the courage and foresight to lock him up, or worse, before he had opportunity to do such damage.

      But this is a bit of a false choice. Should we believe that all the children of that tribe had to be killed in order to prevent something worse?

      In Romans 1 and 2, Paul makes a case for why someone should believe in a god or gods. How they would know it’s the Judeo-Christian god is never explained, nor could someone deduce it solely off creation. In fact, that’s why there have been so many different gods throughout time — people were trying to explain the natural world. If the Canaanites should have known that what they believed and practiced was against God’s will, should the worshipers of Thor have known that too? What about Native Americans, or the early Chinese people?

      The simplest explanation for all of this is that Yahweh is no different from Baal, Zeus, or Thor. He was a tribal god that never really existed, and his followers that wrote the Old Testament said that they took the land of Canaan from its original inhabitants at his command. Archaeological evidence suggests that none of this actually happened anyway — the Israelites were most likely just another tribe of Canaanites, related to all the others. In fact, your point that even with all the miracles, the Israelites still disobeyed is just more reason to doubt that those miracles ever really happened to begin with.

      Instead of trying to excuse and protect a book written by anonymous people we’ve never met, why don’t we consider the very real possibility that the Jewish god is no more real than unicorns?

  6. The simplest explanation for all of this is that Yahweh is no different from Baal, Zeus, or Thor.

    But that explanation is really not simple at all, Nate. Because what I hear (see?) you saying is that the simplest explanation is that there is no God, but that just leads to more questions than answers…questions about the origin and complexity of life, the reality of the immaterial, the evidence for a transcendent standard of morality. Atheists have “answers” but they inevitably prove unsatisfactory and even disingenuous when, for example, they proclaim that the universe could have arisen from nothing, but they redefine nothing to really mean something.

    It also fails to account for the dependable historical evidence for Jesus the Messiah and his resurrection, the drastically changed lives of his disciples, and their willingness to die for their belief that he is God. Their martyrdom is inconceivable if they knew, and they would have, that he did not actually rise from the dead as he had foretold.

    How they would know it’s the Judeo-Christian god is never explained, nor could someone deduce it solely off creation.

    The way I understand it is as I said above…creation gives evidence of a good and powerful God and our consciences instruct us as to right and wrong. God knows our hearts and when our hearts are inclined to know and submit to and obey him, he reveals enough of himself to put our trust in, and when we do that he “adopts” us as his own and seals us for eternity.

    Those who worship(ed) other gods reject what their senses tell them because they want to be their own gods, their own masters. Yet they can’t deny the reality of the supernatural, so they create ideas and images of gods that suit their tastes better. Or if they do deny the supernatural, they create ideas and theories that ultimately must deny reality.

    …why don’t we consider the very real possibility that the Jewish god is no more real than unicorns?

    I have considered it, and it does not make sense to me.

    • Nate says:

      Hi Caroline,

      I can understand why you would believe in God, given the reasons you’ve outlined. But have you ever considered the possibility that God and the god of the Bible are not the same being? The reasons you gave for belief in the resurrection of Jesus are not nearly so certain as you think. The gospels (which were written anonymously) conflict one another in many different places, and we have no other contemporary information about Jesus. Even your point that the disciples died for their belief in him is based on unsubstantiated stories. There are 4 or 5 different versions of Matthew’s death, for instance. And I don’t mean different in minor details, but completely divergent accounts that are obviously based on legend.

      The way I understand it is as I said above…creation gives evidence of a good and powerful God and our consciences instruct us as to right and wrong. God knows our hearts and when our hearts are inclined to know and submit to and obey him, he reveals enough of himself to put our trust in, and when we do that he “adopts” us as his own and seals us for eternity.

      Those who worship(ed) other gods reject what their senses tell them because they want to be their own gods, their own masters. Yet they can’t deny the reality of the supernatural, so they create ideas and images of gods that suit their tastes better. Or if they do deny the supernatural, they create ideas and theories that ultimately must deny reality.

      How does he “reveal enough of himself to put our trust in”? Does this mean that people will somehow know he’s the Christian god, even if they’ve never heard of Christianity? There’s never been any evidence that anything like that happens anywhere. And to say that everyone else who’s ever worshiped any other kind of god only wants to serve themselves is very egocentric. Do you really think suicide-bombers are serving themselves, or do they firmly believe that they’re going their god’s will?

  7. Josh says:

    If God is who he says he is (our Creator, Redeemer, and Final Judge), and we are who he says we are (fallen, depraved creatures, undeserving of the blessings we receive), then no further defense of God’s dealing with the Canaanites, or anyone else, is needed. By engaging in this argument we permit the assumption that God needs defense for enacting judgment. He does not. Paul makes this clear in Romans:

    “For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.

    Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”

    No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.”
    -Romans 9:17-24

    • Josh says:

      Conversely, of course, if God does not exist he could not have enacted this, and the story is made up. Either way, no defense is needed.

    • Nate says:

      Are we really questioning God when we question the Bible, or are we questioning the claims of people? How do you know which it is?

      • Josh says:

        Scripture is clear that faith is a gift given by God, not something that we can develop on our own, lest we boast:

        “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
        “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” – Romans 12:3
        “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this [faith] is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

        I am convinced the answer to your question is ‘I know because God has granted me the faith to know’. And, alternatively, you do not know because God has not granted you the faith to know. Paul teaches that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). It is the responsibility of the Christian to share the gospel of salvation through Christ. It does seem that you are aware of the gospel. If not, I’d be happy to do my best to go into detail with you. Beyond this, it is God’s prerogative to work (or not, truthfully) in the heart of the unbeliever to move them toward faith.

      • Nate says:

        What does it say about God when he never gives faith to someone? Many Christians make sense of the world and the gospel by believing that we have free will — that seems to go against what you’re proposing.

        • Josh says:

          I’ll again caution that I don’t think there are answers to your questions that will make sense if you do not already trust that God is who he says he is. The reality is, if you start from a place where God does not have ultimate authority balanced with perfect judgment, then these answers will not satisfy.

          God is not obligated to give faith to someone any more than I am obligated to pay someone else’s debt. It would be merciful for me to do so, but I am in no way obligated to do so. And, it says nothing negative about me if I do not. In this case, God allows just judgment to take place. So, in answer to your question, it says he is just.

          Scripture is clear we do not have the free will to choose God, or to obtain faith of our own volition. See the verses quoted earlier:

          “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
          “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” – Romans 12:3
          “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this [faith] is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

        • Nate says:

          Josh, thanks for the reply.

          If God does not give faith to someone, then allowing them to be punished for a lack of faith is not just at all — it’s the equivalent of a kangaroo court. You believe in a God that claims he wants everyone to be saved (2 Pet 3:9), and he has the power to save everyone if he would only give them faith… but he doesn’t. Such a god would actually come closer to the definition of a devil, and worst of all, you worship this god and defend his actions. If your claims about Christianity are true, then it is quite a despicable religion.

          • Josh says:

            Absolutely, Nate. I really do love talking these things through.

            “allowing them to be punished for a lack of faith is not just at all”
            God does not punish us for a lack of faith. He punishes us for sinful disobedience, which we have freely chosen. The punishment is just. The mercy that he offers to some is actually what is unjust, if you want to be technical.

            2 Pet 3:9
            “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

            So, above is quoted the entire verse you referenced. It’s important to take this in context. You’ll notice referenced is a “promise”, which leads you to ask, “What promise?”. This harkens back to the promise God gave Abraham: that, through Abraham’s line, would come an anointed one who would be salvation. And, that Abraham’s “descendants” (the remnant spoken of by the prophets, and the chosen spoken of by Paul and other NT writers) would be saved through the anointed one. So, generally, Peter is talking to the Children of the Promise, or Abraham’s descendants, or those who would be granted salvation through Christ. More specifically, however, in the second sentence Peter speaks directly to “you”. This, clearly, is Peter’s intended audience. So, when Peter writes that God wants “everyone to come to repentance”, it could actually be read as “every one OF YOU to come to repentance”.

            Finally, you write, “Such a god would actually come closer to the definition of a devil, and worst of all, you worship this god and defend his actions. If your claims about Christianity are true, then it is quite a despicable religion.”

            I can see how you would take this stance, absolutely. However, I don’t see it this way, and here’s why. IF God exists, and IF he is represented accurately in scripture, and IF scripture represents humanity accurately, then God’s punishment is perfectly reasonable justice. We are, according to scripture, guilty of cosmic treason by turning our backs on our true creator and worshipping other things. This is ALL of us, not just some. Any judgment enacted by him is just. Mercy is the unjust piece of this equation, not judgment.

            I’d like to a few more thoughts here. We seem to also be operating under the assumption that physical torture and death is the worst kind of punishment. This is inconsistent with what scripture teaches. So, if we’re discussing under the premise that God exists and actually did command these things, then we can’t use that assumption. Physical death is nothing compared to spiritual death and ultimate separation from God. This is evidenced by Jesus’ silent acceptance while being tortured, insulted, and spat upon, and then screaming “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” when he was separated from the Father at the moment his death. We also don’t have any indication that every single death commanded by God results in a person being eternally separated from him (“going to hell”). Physical death is the consequence for our treason, not the ultimate punishment. So, it is entirely possible that some of these people suffered and died physically along with their people, but then came into the presence of God away from those who received ultimate punishment.

            This is a lot of rambling. Sorry. I just think there is so much more to be considered than just pieces of verses here and there. Scripture is made up of 66 books, over 1100 chapters, and written by 40 authors. However, if we’re going to discuss it, we have to discuss it as it is intended: one whole revelation from God spread over centuries. Taking one book, chapter, verse, piece of a verse, out and challenging it is intellectually dishonest.

          • Josh says:

            Questions for you, Nate:
            1) Is God allowed to do anything that goes against your personal or cultural sensitivities?
            2)If he is not allowed to go against your sensitivities, then is he allowed to go against the sensitivities of people in other cultures (whose sensitivities may very well be the exact opposite of yours)?
            3) If he is not allowed to do either, then how can this possibly be reconciled in one being, since cultural sensitivities vary widely?

            My point is this: If God is truly God, then he must conflict with everyone’s personal and cultural sensitivities on at least one point or another. If God cannot contradict you, make you angry, or fly in the face of your assumptions, then he is not God. That being is one of your own invention, and, actually, is just a representation of you and your understanding. We assume our cultural and personal understanding of the world is the best one because it is ours. This is an assumption each of us must challenge.

          • Nate says:

            Sorry, I’ve been away for a few days.

            Even if we apply 2 Pet 3:9 to only those who are already saved to some degree, God is still purposely excluding certain people from ever being saved if he withholds faith from them. I just don’t see a good way around that problem.

            1) Is God allowed to do anything that goes against your personal or cultural sensitivities?

            If he’s real, absolutely. But when we say that God is the embodiment of goodness, love, morality, etc, then there are certain things that he can’t do without contradicting those qualities. That’s where portions of the OT and the doctrine of Hell become problematic. But I realize those are issues we’ll disagree about.

            Thanks

  8. Hello again, Nate. I’m finally getting around to responding to your last comment to me. And may I just say that I appreciate your respectful responses to all of us who are defending the faith. It demonstrates a level of integrity that is sometimes lacking from others who challenge us.

    Continuing our dialogue then: I believe the God who is revealed in the Bible paints the most coherent picture of or explanation for the world I see around me and sense within me. I have investigated other faiths, and nothing else comes close.

    As for the validity of the Bible, there’s certainly no shortage these days of naysayers, and scholars over the centuries have disputed the traditionally accepted authorship of various books within it. But the traditional authorship has withstood the test of time because we have good reasons for accepting them as authentic. The supposed “conflicts” between the gospels are easily reconciled when you take the time to investigate the times, customs, manners of speech, etc.

    We do have extra-biblical records of Jesus, several from the first century and more from the second. The Roman historian Tacitus, writing in the 2nd half of the 1st century, wrote, ““Christus … suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.” And the Jewish historian Josephus from the first century wrote, ““At this time (the time of Pilate) there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples…They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.” There are at least ten non-Christians that mention Jesus within 150 years of his life. Contrast that with only 9 known non-Christian sources that mention Tiberius Caesar, who was the emperor over the same 150 year period.

    About the martyrdom of the apostles, we have very good evidence that Peter, James and Paul were martyred at least. The evidence for the others is not as strong, thought that doesn’t mean it should be discarded. But even if it were just these three major players in early Christianity, it would be enough. They had absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose if they refused to recant a claim that they knew was false. It just wouldn’t happen.

    How does God “reveal enough of himself to put our trust in”? God reveals himself in a variety of ways. He might put a person in your life, a booklet in your hands, or a program on the TV that brings the truth to you. He can put a Bible in your possession and prompt you to read it, illuminating your mind as you do. Missionaries – many, not just a few – tell stories of people having visions and dreams that lead them to God. There’s plenty of evidence – you just have to look for it.

    Because I believe the evidence for the validity of the Bible, and in it God says that “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) and repeatedly promises to be found if we seek him, like in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” I believe that he reveals himself to every individual who sincerely wants to know the true God, and his/her desire is acted on in some way, i.e. prayer, reading the Bible or Christian literature, talking to a Christian, etc.

    The Bible also says that we are all born with a “sin nature” (I don’t believe we are born “in sin”). So our default attitude is one of wanting to go our own way, be our own “god.” But God’s revelation of himself in creation is enough to demonstrate that we are not God, and is designed to draw us to seek him. Acts 17:26-27 says this, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

    So, I believe Muslim suicide-bombers are men who like Islam because it is a religion begun and maintained by conquest. They have not humbly sought to know the true God but are content “surrendering” to a false one that promises them 70 virgins in paradise if they die killing “infidels” for him.

    • Nate says:

      Hi Caroline,

      Thanks for the compliment, and may I say that I appreciate your kind and considerate tone as well. These are complicated issues that we all feel strongly about — it’s not always easy to discuss them cordially. :)

      The supposed “conflicts” between the gospels are easily reconciled when you take the time to investigate the times, customs, manners of speech, etc.

      This is something I strongly disagree with. The contradictions and failed prophecies of the Bible were the primary catalyst for me losing my faith. I’ve studied them very thoroughly, and I’m aware of the supposed explanations — I just find them very inadequate.

      However, when I was a Christian, I often had nonbelievers tell me the Bible was filled with problems, but they didn’t explain what the problems were. So to avoid that kind of problem, let me mention just a few. And if you’d like to discuss them in detail, the About section of my blog has links to the articles I’ve written about them.

      John disagrees with the synoptic gospels on the day and time of Jesus’ death. If it were an actual event, and they were divinely inspired, there should be no disagreement on such an important event. Luke and Matthew disagree on the details surrounding Jesus’ birth. They disagree on where Joseph and Mary were living at the time, whether they took Jesus to Jerusalem or fled from it, and whether they were originally from Nazareth or were forced to settle there when they found Judea too dangerous to return to. The genealogies attributed to Jesus are wildly contradictory — and neither Matthew nor Luke agree with the genealogy in 1 Chron 1-3. The “virgin birth” prophecy in Isaiah 7 was not actually about a virgin birth, and it was fulfilled in Isaiah 8. It actually had nothing to do with Jesus — Matthew just reappropriated it to make a point. And Ezekiel prophesied that Tyre would be utterly destroyed and never rebuilt. Yet Tyre is still a large city today.

      I appreciate you providing more detail on the early references to Jesus and Christians. To me though, this only shows that there were some Christians in the first and second centuries. The Josephus quote is a known gloss, by the way. Even most apologists agree that Josephus did not author all of that quote.

      I do agree that some early Christians were likely killed for their beliefs, but that does not necessarily mean their beliefs were correct. There are people from every faith that were killed for their beliefs, but we wouldn’t say that makes their beliefs correct — just means they were sincere.

      Thanks again for your comment, and sorry it took me so long to respond. I was out of pocket for a few days.

      Take care

      • Thank you for your response, Nate. I would like to take up the challenge of offering my understanding of the issues you list on your site that proved to be too much to allow you to continue to believe. It may take awhile, but it will be a good exercise for me, and perhaps (one can hope :-)) may result in you crossing at least one or two off.

        Regarding the historicity of Jesus, to dismiss the references as only showing “that there were some Christians in the first and second centuries” seems to me a very extreme position, in light of the totality of the evidence for his existence. And I’m aware of the dispute over the Josephus quote, but to say it’s a “known gloss” is misleading. Josephus also mentions Jesus in his record of the stoning of his brother James: “….and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James…”

        In addition, you have the multiple Christian references, which cannot be tossed out simply because they were believers. You would then have to disregard every paper on Darwinism written by a Darwinist.

        The very existence of the early church and all that is recorded about it makes no sense unless Jesus actually walked the earth and his followers believed he was God. And the martyrdom of the apostles is unlike any other, and their faith borne of direct knowledge is so much more than sincerity. As you may have heard it said, people may die for what they believe to be true, but they will not die for what they know to be false.

        Going now to begin preparing my defense…

        • Nate says:

          Hi Caroline,

          Sorry, I didn’t mean for it to sound like I was completely dismissing the historical references we have to Jesus. I just meant that the only ones of real value are the ones we have in the Bible. Josephus mentions Jesus — and I do believe he actually mentioned him — I just think that all the details he wrote about were added later. If Josephus had actually believed those things, he would have been a Christian, yet we know he wasn’t.

          The other early references to Christ or Christians give no details about them — they’re just references. That means that our best information comes from the gospels and Paul’s letters. Personally, I don’t buy the miraculous portions of those narratives for the same reasons that I don’t believe the miracles attributed Caesar or Achilles, or anyone else from history. But my reasons for that aren’t really about the historical sources — they’re more about the quality of the Bible. I do believe miracles would be possible if God exists, but I also believe we would need unassailable evidence (or even divine intervention) if we’re expected to believe those miracles actually happened.

          Anyway, thanks again for the discussion, and I appreciate your willingness to look further into the problems with the Bible that I’ve written about.

  9. portal001 says:

    Josh you wrote,

    “God is not obligated to give faith to someone any more than I am obligated to pay someone else’s debt. It would be merciful for me to do so, but I am in no way obligated to do so. And, it says nothing negative about me if I do not.”

    Actually, if it was in your power to pay off someones debt, and you had infinite resources to do so. Not only that, but you also could percieve when that person was suffering, how then would that reflect on you? You may not be obligated, but if you are able to do anything then it sure does make you a puzzle

    • Josh says:

      portal001:
      You’re making a few assumptions.

      1) all suffering is undeserved
      2) no suffering can serve a good or corrective purpose
      3) God cannot differentiate between suffering that is deserved and purposeful vs suffering that is undeserved and without purpose

      These assumptions are all false. We, as humans, can see that the first two are false. There are undoubtedly times when suffering comes upon a person of their own doing and they need to suffer the consequences. If we can see the first two are false, then, if God does exist, it would follow that the third is false.

  10. portal001 says:

    Josh, ok fair enough

    I think I understand your perspective to an extent. And yes, I do believe certain suffering can serve a productive and beneficial purpose,

  11. Bob Vance says:

    Either A or B can be true, but not both. It doesn’t matter if it’s Old or New Covenant or even if “Free Will” is involved:

    A. The killing of innocents is evil and can never be justified. It is an absolute truth.
    Or
    B. Sometimes, the killing of innocents is necessary. Why else would God have commanded genocide in the Bible? (Even pregnant women and children)

    If you believe in a Biblical God, then A cannot be true, and everything is part of God’s plan. There can be exceptions to any of God’s rules. Who is to say that abortion is not part of God’s plan? Like slavery, which was justified then but not today, who can say that homosexuality (which once was seen as unacceptable behavior) is now acceptable? Perhaps, God thinks we have evolved enough now to be ready for gay marriage. Until God appears before us and tells us otherwise, how is your opinion any better than mine?

    If you believe A is true, then how can you truly believe in a Biblical God?

    • humblesmith says:

      First, from a Biblical perspective, which is what we’re dealing with here, there are no innocents, as your comment assumes. We have lost our ability to distinguish holiness from righteousness, which is what your comment is based upon. So we can hold A and maintain God’s acts are moral. See here: http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/holiness-and-the-justice-of-god/

      Second, this ignores the point of the post. Perhaps it is relevant on another post, but regarding this one, it bypasses the point being made. So far, the point stands.

      Third, I find it interesting that the moral code used to make your A/B contrast is a code that comes from the very book that you are criticizing with the comment. The ground you stand on to make the comment comes from the very book you are criticizing.

      Fourth, related to the third, is that however distasteful we hold the Biblcial position, the atheist position is far worse, for the atheist must either be inconsistent with his worldview, or hold that nothing is evil. Richard Dawkins has said exactly that, saying “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” So the most egregious act you can think of, according to Dawkins and many atheists, is neither good nor evil, but just indifferent. By contrast, Christians hold that some acts are indeed good and evil. See here:
      http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/richard-dawkins-god-and-blind-indifference/

      For more on the atheist problem, which is especially morally objectionable, see here:
      http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/atheists-morality-again/
      http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/does-the-existence-of-moral-evil-prove-or-disprove-god/

      Fifth, I can hold to A and still believe in a Biblical God because since God has the right to give life, He has the right to take it back again.

      Sixth, perhaps there is someone out there who has dealt with Paul Copan’s position that God did not command genocide, but if there is, I’ve not seen them yet. You can see Copan’s book “Is God a Moral Monster?” or find links to the short version here: http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/god-and-canaan-another-perspective/

      Further, I have written many posts on this topic that you can see by hitting the “morality” category on the right of the main page. So far, I’ve only seen the critics repeat the same old criticisms, and not deal with either the feeble posts I have made or dealt with the inherent problems involved with atheist grounds for morality, such as the is / ought problem, and the fact that if we hold to any position of absolute moral standards, as stated in A, we have granted the major premise in the moral argument for God. See here: http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/atheists-and-morality/

  12. Hi, Bob. The others can probably give a more convincing answer to your challenge, but I’d like to take a crack at it.

    You of course are correct that both A and B can’t be true. They contradict each other. But I believe your conclusion that “everything is part of God’s plan” if A is false doesn’t necessarily follow. And I assume your next sentence was meant to be the negative – “There can be (no?) exceptions to any of God’s rules.” The way I understand it, though God is completely sovereign and in control, that doesn’t mean that everything that happens is part of his plan. His plan was for peace and joy for his image-bearers (us) in an intimate, loving relationship with himself with no end and no death. But because true love needs to be given freely, as a choice, he gave us free will and we chose to go our own way. Our free will has reaped for us untold suffering, which he allows for a variety of purposes.

    I would affirm B if “necessary” were changed to “justified” and/or “a genuinely moral choice.” God has the right, as our creator, to take away the life that he gives, innocent or not. But even in our human experience we can conceive of a situation where killing an innocent is a moral choice. If, for instance, a young person was convicted of murder and sentenced to die, and his or her father offered his life as payment in exchange for his child, it might not be allowed by our laws but if it were, it would be moral.

    As for the other social/human rights issues you raised, God HAS told us otherwise. Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being, which is murder. Homosexuality is labeled as abhorrent and a perversion in several passages in the Bible. And slavery in Old Testament times was different than our experience of it in the Western world in the last few centuries and still today in many countries. Yet though God gave directions regarding it, because it was such an ingrained component of the times, he created everyone equal (see Galatians 3:28), and shows no partiality (Romans. 2:11).

  13. Bob Vance says:

    If you think A is false, then there are no absolute truths. God can do as he pleases at any time that he pleases. Free will doesn’t matter. Even if it existed, God could chose to take free will away at any moment. A Biblical morality would have no meaning in our daily life.

    A more thorough wording may have been “If you believe in a Biblical God, then A cannot be true [so therefore B must be true]…”. I should have made that clearer.

    I would like to get into your “And slavery in Old Testament times was different than our experience of it in the Western world in the last few centuries…” statement:

    Slavery, no matter how you spin it, is wrong – evil. I am sure there were slaves in our South that were treated quite well. They were still slaves. If you are implying that slaves back then were merely indentured servants, neither history nor the Bible support that. They did differentiate between Hebrew slaves and “foreigner” slaves, and it is true that Hebrew males were to be freed after six years.

    “However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)”

    You as a Hebrew could even sell your own daughter. Women slaves, whether Hebrew or not, were not freed after six years. They could be sold back to the original owner is they didn’t perform well. Imagine a man who sells his daughter as a slave – not quite father of the year. Good moral stuff. I can only assume that if your father sold you to another for whatever he “desired from you”, you would not think so lightly of slavery or very highly of your father.

    ” 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)”

    Regarding your moral example:
    “If, for instance, a young person was convicted of murder and sentenced to die, and his or her father offered his life as payment in exchange for his child, it might not be allowed by our laws but if it were, it would be moral.” I disagree that would be moral at all. It may prove noble of the father, but it would not remove his son’s guilt. If the son committed the crime, then he alone must face the consequences.

    If a man gives his three year old a loaded pistol and the child kills himself with it, can the father simply state he was giving his son “free will”? No. He is guilty. Unlike the man, God is by definition perfect. If he gives people free will knowing that innocents will die and he has the power to stop it, then isn’t he ultimately causing their deaths?

    We as a civilized people have evolved considerably in the last 4000 years. The Bible reflects the morality back then, whether OT or NT. Either murder of innocents is evil and has always has been or it is not. If God cannot live within his own rules, then everything as we know it becomes questionable and changeable by a God we clearly don’t understand.

    • Josh says:

      Hi Bob-
      You’re asking very deep questions, to which I’m convinced we will not have all the answers this side of eternity. I think both you and humblesmith are presuming that we can understand and explain God’s actions in any given situation. We really have no basis for which to claim that we should be able to understand all of God’s actions. This may be unhelpful, but I suggest you go to the recording of Jesus’ life and ministry in the Gospels, and challenge Jesus to reveal whether he is “the one who was promised, or should we expect someone else?”. Jesus is the clearest picture we have of God, and it is my humble belief that we must start with him. If we don’t come to a conclusion on whether or not we believe Jesus is who he said he was, we cannot hope to understand scripture. If we believe he is who he says he is, then we have reason to trust that God is the loving God Jesus reveals. If we don’t believe, then we don’t have to bother with these texts at all.
      -Josh

    • humblesmith says:

      It is not a fair comparison to hold slavery to a modern definition, which is what is commonly done. If one takes a complete picture of the Biblical view of slavery, one gets a very different picture than what is commonly presented by critics. For example, the Jewish encyclopedia says the following concerning foreign born slaves, which it says in English are “bondsmen”:

      The Israelite is permitted by Lev. xxv. 44-46 to buy bondmen and bondwomen (in the true sense of the word) from among the surrounding nations, or from the strangers dwelling in his land, and from the descendants of these born in the land; the “indwelling” stranger being distinguished from the stranger who lives under the same law as the Israelite. Such bondmen or bondwomen become a possession, and are inherited by children like other property. But the law limits the absolute power of the master. If he strikes his bondman or bondwoman so as to cause the loss of an eye or a tooth, he or she goes free. If he smites him or her so as to cause death on the same day, the deed is avenged as a murder; but not when death ensues on a subsequent day (Ex. xxi. 20, 21, 26, 27). Another alleviation of bondage is the law (Deut. xxiii. 16, 17) forbidding the return of a fugitive slave to his master by those among whom he seeks shelter. The religious status of bondmen owned by Israelites is well defined by the Scriptures, which make them an integral part of the community. The males, though of foreign blood, whether bought for money, or “born in the house,” are to be circumcised (Gen. xvii. 27; Ex. xii. 44), and when circumcised are to be admitted to eat of the Passover meal (ib.). Likewise the bondmen or bondwomen of a priest may eat of his holy meats (Lev. xxii. 11). Neither bondmen nor bondwomen are to be required to work on the Sabbath (Ex. xx. 10); indeed, the opportunity for the “son of thy handmaid” to have a “breathing-space” (A. V. “may be refreshed”) is mentioned as one of the great motives for the institution of the Sabbath (Ex. xxiii. 12).

      This sounds very different than the inferences made about slavery. If one takes it in context, this is more of an indentured servant than a slave of the american context. For more of an explanation, see the rest of the article here: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13799-slaves-and-slavery

      An honest view is to condemn slavery, but present the biblical picture accurately in what it presents.

      It also seems interesting that the points of the post and the comments I posted to correct the false rabbit trail are all ignored. I maintain they all stand.

      • Bob Vance says:

        I agree completely we should strive to be accurate. Whether debating politics or religion, I think it unfair to embellish and I do try to admit when I am wrong which proves a hard task. My goal here is not to push you away from religion, but to make you think why you believe what you believe, especially when your beliefs effect others around you in a negative way.

        Regarding your thorough listing of Bible passages that support your view that “God spoke to the people of Canaan”, I would say that would be geared to an audience of Christians. For me, being an atheist of the Biblical God, the details don’t matter if you don’t believe in the initial premise. I do think God would have gotten his message across better if he would have appeared before the Canaanites instead of sending others. I guarantee if God appeared before me today, I would be a believer. If a homeless man on the street told you God wants you to sell everything and donate it to the Republican Party, would you do it?

        Regarding your justification of the genocide, in today’s society, if a man is convicted of being a serial killer, would anyone even consider executing his wife, his children, or his unborn child as punishment? At any time God could have stopped them from doing any sacrifice.

        Something you may find interesting:
        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2010/01/child-sacrifice-a-traditional-religious-practice-in-ancient-israel/

        • humblesmith says:

          Thank you for being calm and seeking the truth. I always enjoy learning from people who can calmly discuss issues in a manner aimed at finding the truth. I, too, try to admit when I’m wrong. I appreciate your respectful tone.

          As for God appearing to the Canaanites, He appeared to Israel multiple times, and they disobeyed as much as anyone. So it didn’t work for them, and I doubt it would work for us or anyone.

          As to your link, thanks. I found it interesting….it’s always good to see someone who quotes sources and calmly discusses in a scholarly tone. It’s a little off topic from this post, so I responded in a new post, here: http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/did-israel-practice-child-sacrifice/

          In short, some of it is OK, but there are some major problems in that view, some of which I pointed out in the link above.

          Peace.

  14. Bob Vance says:

    I think people try real hard to presume that we can understand God in a logical way, which is why people go to great lengths to justify a loving God who commits genocide and punishes people in a lake of fire for all eternity. And then to proclaim that all morality comes from the Bible or that their faith over-rides all logic and reason, and even other’s faith, seems quite arrogant.

    There is a reason why many conservative Christians don’t want their children exposed to children of gay parents. It would be hard to tell your five year old that he can’t play with Billy because his moms are lesbians and they are going to burn in hell for eternity for their sins. Eventually the kid will see that Billy is like any other kid who loves his parents as they love him – which may make him question why a loving God could throw Billy’s parents (perhaps even Billy) into a lake of fire for eternity.

    • Josh says:

      Jesus ate with, healed, forgave, and granted salvation to numerous people who the religious of the time considered unclean and bound for hell. Ours is to love as Jesus loved.
      Understanding, explaining and defending God is often far beyond our capabilities. We end up making God, and ourselves, out to be uncaring and cruel when we allow the conversation to focus on defending every action attributed to God, and turn the focus from Jesus. Just my 2 cents.

  15. Pingback: God, Job, and Little Johnny: A Lesson on Our Heavenly Father | Thomistic Bent

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