God, the Bible, and Genocide: Answering the Objection

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A common argument against the Bible is that God is immoral because He commanded the Israelites to commit genocide.

This is a summary of Michael J. Kruger’s excellent article, “Is the God of the Bible a Genocidal Maniac?”

Deuteronomy chapter 20, verses 16-17 says this:

“But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded.”

So, the question is, “Is God’s command here immoral? Is it in the same category as the genocides that occurred in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur?” We would argue, “No,” and here’s why:

First, we need to identify what moral standard is being used to judge God as immoral. We would argue that secular moral standards are not rationally valid moral standards that can be used to judge the Bible. You can check out the argument for this in our other videos. Since we would argue that the Christian, biblical worldview is the only rationally valid worldview that can account for knowledge and meaningful, objective morality, the question we’ll be asking here will be, “According to the Bible’s own standard of morality, was God immoral to command the complete destruction of entire nations?” Again, we would answer, “No,” because of the next few points.

Second, the Bible teaches that every human being is sinful and guilty before God, and therefore deserving of death and God’s judgment (for example, see Romans 5:12 and Romans 6:23), including the Israelites, and including all the nations in Deuteronomy 20:16-17.

What this means is that, at any moment, it would be completely just for God to end the life of any human as judgment for their sins. Instead of being shocked that God decided to judge those nations for their sins, the shock should be that God hasn’t already judged them. That any of us are alive and breathing right now actually demonstrates God’s patience and grace.

And third, the key difference between God commanding the destruction of those nations and modern-day genocides is this: God commanding the destruction of those nations was an act of righteous judgment, whereas modern-day genocides are acts of unjustified, unrighteous murder. You may not like or agree with this justification for God commanding the destruction of nations, but there is simply nothing rationally wrong with it.

Note: This video is merely planned, and has not been created yet.

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