Why Is God So Homicidal In The Old Testament?

by J.S. Park

atenleaguecanvas asked:

Hey Pastor Park! I want to thank-you for the grace you show in your answers. I really appreciate your example of presenting your views in a gentle and humble manner. I also have a question, I struggle with reconciling God, as he is depicted in the Old Testament, with how he is depicted in the New Testament. Did He really order the deaths of men, women, and children belong to nations that opposed Israel? I know He is ultimately just, but I keep getting hung up on this.

Hey dear friend, I appreciate your very kind words.

This is a really tough question that has disturbed me when I was an atheist and disturbs me even more as a Christian. It will always be a point of tension that might not be entirely resolved until our time on earth is done. I’d like to graciously present several different views about the wars in the Old Testament, from most brutal to most reasonable, and then let you decide. I’ll tell you what I personally believe in the end.

Please note: I’m not soft about the Bible. It does say a few hard things that I’m going to question all the way to Heaven. Jesus said hard things too. I don’t want to accommodate Scripture to fit a Westernized, watered down, sugarcoated, therapeutic pick-me-up. But I also don’t want to capitulate to my own Easternized, patriarchal, wrathful, vengeful picture of God. I believe the Bible has way more nuance than that. I know we won’t all see eye to eye on this either, and that’s totally okay. I truly welcome disagreement and I want to know where I’m wrong.

So here are some views to consider…

View 1 – God really did order the wholesale slaughter of entire nations.

This is the most popular view with both hardcore Christians and hardcore atheists. It gives certain Christians a bloodthirsty, fear-mongering view of God to control others, while it gives more ammo to those who hate the Bible.

This view appears to be the most correct one when you first read the Old Testament. It seems no women, child, or livestock is spared whenever Israel goes to war. It also seems God “relished” these genocides as some kind of pleasing gesture. So I can definitely see why the OT looks problematic at first glance…

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Why Is God So Homicidal In The Old Testament? – J.S. Park