The image above was shared by a friend on Facebook yesterday. I thought it was too good not to comment on, at least briefly.
Which of you if, while listening to the news, hears of an episode of large-scale ethnic cleansing, will not rush to condemn it as utterly barbaric and ungodly? (And let’s face it, there’s been no shortage of examples in the last decade or two, from the former Yugoslavia to West Africa, not forgetting ISIS’s atrocious actions in Iraq and Syria.)
And yet, when Christians read of Israel’s slaughter of indigenous Canaanite populations in the Old Testament, any remotely similar response often seems to be lacking.
If you are one who believes that Joshua’s slaughter of indigenous populations in the Old Testament was justified “because the Bible says so and the Bible is God’s word”, let me ask you this: if you heard about Joshua’s and Israel’s slaughter of the Canaanites from some other source and it wasn’t in the Bible, what would your reaction be? (Hint: if your answer is “I’d be cool with it”, I’m going to take some convincing.)
Here’s the bottom line: for many people, the unswerving belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God bypasses any normal semblance of moral judgement. In other words, things that would otherwise horrify and appall you are given a free pass just because the Bible says it, so that settles it.
Friends, if your understanding of the Bible causes you to do anything less than recoil at acts of unquestionable barbarism, I humbly suggest that you need to seriously question and review that understanding. If God is love, and if Jesus truly is the express image of the Father, then there is simply no way such things can be true. (You might ask, “So if it isn’t true, why is it in the Bible?” To which I’d answer “That’s a great question. Shall we sit down and talk about it?”)
It comes down to a simple choice: either biblical literalism/inerrancy has to go, or belief in Jesus as the very likeness of God has to go. The two cannot coexist. It’s as simple as that.