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Thread: God Commanding People to Kill

  1. #21
    tWebber Rushing Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    I was talking with one of my non-Christian friends and he asked me these questions and I would like to know how you would answer them.

    God commanded the Israelites to make war against and kill the Canaanites. Suppose that God speaks to people today. If God were to tell you to kill someone or group of people in order to execute judgment for their sin, would you do it?

    When God commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites, was He commanding them to commit murder?
    When other ancient texts contain statements that deity X commanded person Y to do Z, such texts are not understood as factual assertions that a deity actually told a person to do something. Instead, they are understood as - for example - oracle-texts, understood by a person as a divine communication, that command or prohibit a stated action.

    I think this is how several OT passages should be understood.

    Or there is another theory: The Assyrian kings, when making war, claim that their gods encouraged or helped them to do so. When modern scholars read these texts, and treat them seriously, they do not treat them as stating that deity X or Y personally told king Z to go and make war. Instead, such passages are seen as theological justifications for military action by the ruler in question. Assyrian expansionism is given a justification based on Assyrian theology of kingship, with all that this implies for the notion that the king is the deputy of the national god Asshur.

    A third possibility: the troublesome passages may not be historically accurate - they may be composed hundreds of years after the events they tell of, not in order to deceive or anything like that, but in order to fill in the gaps in Israel’s history. So the violent events that are made so much of, may be as fictional as the exact details of the Trojan War.

    Whatever theory may be correct, the theological question of the inspiration of the OT is untouched. Historical, history-like, non-historical or whatever they may be, they are God-breathed Scripture. The OT documents were composed with their own ideas in mind. Not with the ideas of later ages in mind. What later Jewish or Christian theological tradition thought they “must” mean, does not matter. What does matter, is that the texts should as far as possible be understood from their own POV.

    2. No. That is not “the spirit [we] are of”. God has spoken to us by His Son, and this Son shows what God is truly like, and what He requires of us, and in what Spirit. Whether an action of man is also a Divine judgement, cannot be told from the action, and it cannot be presumed. So such action, for Christians, is excluded.

  2. #22
    tWebber Rushing Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    God does not arbitrarily decide what is right or wrong. God's law is a reflection of His nature. What He commands is a reflection of His nature. God would not command anyone to sin.
    Agreed.
    I think God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in order to test his faith. God had the right to take Isaac's life and God had the right to command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Is this correct?
    I don’t believe God would do that. IMO, the story is made of a tradition about Abraham and Isaac, perhaps influenced by Greek mythology. There is no attention to the moral implications of the matter, but only to the action of Abraham, considered as evidence of his readiness to obey God. The emphasis is on that, because Isaac is the promised heir to Abraham, and by having Isaac no longer available to him Abraham would be as he was when he set out from Ur. So God tests him, to see if he is prepared to go without the heir he was waiting for. Abraham is being tested to see if his love of God is unreserved, as per Deut. 6 - and it is. Since he is the founder-figure of the Chosen People, that is rather important.

  3. #23
    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rushing Jaws View Post
    Agreed.
    I don’t believe God would do that. IMO, the story is made of a tradition about Abraham and Isaac, perhaps influenced by Greek mythology. There is no attention to the moral implications of the matter, but only to the action of Abraham, considered as evidence of his readiness to obey God.
    But the author of Hebrews treats the account as historical:

    "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type." (Heb. 11:17-19)

    As does James:

    "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God." (James 2:21-23)

    And both these accounts give a moral implication of Abraham's action, as indeed, you point out:

    Abraham is being tested to see if his love of God is unreserved, as per Deut. 6 - and it is.
    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

  4. Amen Cow Poke, DesertBerean, Cerebrum123, 37818 amen'd this post.

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