Quick Shot: “The Bible condones genocide”

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Our “Quick Shot” series offers brief answers to common objections to the Christian worldview. Each response is limited to one paragraph. These responses are designed to (1) answer the objection as concisely as possible, (2) challenge the objector to think more deeply about his or her claim, and (3) facilitate a “gospel” conversation. In this article, we’re offering “Quick Shot” responses to the objection, Quick Shot: “The Bible condones genocide.”

Response #1:
“What do you mean by ‘genocide’? Are you saying that the God of the Bible condones the killing of entire people groups for some impulsive, capricious reason? That isn’t true at all. Look at just one of the groups that God destroyed in the Old Testament: the Canaanites. These people practiced child sacrifice worshipping false gods. For example, when a new house was built, they sacrificed a child and built the dead body into the walls of the house to bring good luck to the family. They sacrificed their firstborn babies to Molech by placing them in the red-hot hands of the idol. If one of the parents even so much as expressed any grief, the sacrifice was invalidated. God warned these people to stop this behavior for several centuries, but they didn’t listen. In fact, they began to influence the nation of Israel, some of whom copied these practices in a valley near Jerusalem called Gehenna. On the one hand, skeptics complain that God doesn’t do anything to stop evil, and on the other hand they complain when God does stop evil. Why wouldn’t a good God want to stop and punish this form of child murder?”

On the one hand, skeptics complain that God doesn’t do anything to stop evil, and on the other hand they complain when God does stop evil. Click To Tweet

OR

Response #2:
“Genocide is the utter and complete destruction of an entire ethnic people group. The God of the Bible never commanded such a thing. The language of the Bible might have confused you. The ancient Bible authors use ancient, near eastern expressions that sound like ‘utter destruction,’ when they don’t actually mean that. For example, Joshua ‘utterly destroyed all who breathed’ in Canaan (Joshua 10:40), yet later in the same Old Testament book, we find that the Canaanites still remained in the land. How can this be? The ancient expressions used in these texts are similar to modern metaphors such as, ‘Last night the Lakers killed the Pistons.’ In many cases, commands to ‘utterly destroy’ a group of people are more akin to ‘render them unable to harm or influence you.’ Can you see how word usage might lead you to a false conclusion?”

The ancient Bible authors use ancient, near eastern expressions that sound like ‘utter destruction,’ when they don’t actually mean that. Click To Tweet

Our “Quick Shot” series was written specifically for the Cold-Case Christianity App (you can download it on Apple and Android platforms – be sure to register once you download the App). When confronted with an objection in casual conversation, App users can quickly find an answer without having to scroll beyond the first screen in the category. Use the App “Quick Shots” along with the “Rapid Responses” and Case Making “Cheat Sheets” to become a better Christian Case Maker.

For more information about the scientific and philosophical evidence pointing to a Divine Creator, please read God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. This book employs a simple crime scene strategy to investigate eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine the most reasonable explanation. The book is accompanied by an eight-session God’s Crime Scene DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

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