Genocide in the Bible and the Hypocrisy of Christian Critique

What kind of calls for violence are found in the New Testament?[1]

Philip Jenkins, author of ‘Jesus Wars’, notes:

“Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.”

Much to my own surprise as a Muslim, I have understood and realized the great deception on display. For many years already, I have read books, articles, and journals from Christians and Jews all spewing the same message, the message that Islam is a religion that promotes senseless violence, bloodshed, killing, and genocide.

However, are Christians and Jews in any position to critique Islam when their own scriptures are replete with calls to, not just violence, but actual genocide?

Consider what Jenkins says:

“By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane,” he says. “Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide.”

It is called herem, and it means total annihilation. Consider the Book of 1 Samuel, when God instructs King Saul to attack the Amalekites: “And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them,” God says through the prophet Samuel. “But kill man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

When Saul failed to do that, God took away his kingdom.

“In other words,” Jenkins says, “Saul has committed a dreadful sin by failing to complete genocide. And that passage echoes through Christian [and Jewish] history. It is often used, for example, in American stories of the confrontation with Indians — not just is it legitimate to kill Indians, but you are violating God’s law if you do not.”

Jenkins notes that the history of Christianity is strewn with herem. During the Crusades in the Middle Ages, the Catholic popes declared the Muslims Amalekites. In the great religious wars in the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries, Protestants and Catholics each believed the other side were the Amalekites and should be utterly destroyed.[2]

Well, it seems that genocide has some roots in the scriptural tradition of Christianity. Christians might complain that the Bible verses commanding genocide are from the Old Testament and therefore have been superseded (or abrogated) by the New Testament and are thus not relevant to Christianity. This is wrong for two reasons:

First, as Jenkins notes, the genocidal passages have been referenced by Christian religious authorities throughout Christian history. If Christian religious authorities cited those Old Testament passages, they must have believed them to be religiously significant and applicable to Christian action.

Second, most Christians today believe that the God of the Old Testament is the Trinity and Jesus Christ is one with the Trinity. Therefore, when God commands genocide in the Old Testament, it is Jesus commanding genocide, according to the Trinitarian logic.

RELATED: Is Islam More Violent Than Christianity?

So whilst the common Christian might argue that Christianity is a religion of peace and love, what we witness throughout history tells quite a different story.

But the calls to violence are not limited to the Old Testament.

Others Examples of Violence

Psalm 139:19

O that You would slay the wicked, O God;

Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed[3]

Matthew 10:34

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

1st Samuel 6:19

God himself will kill tens of thousands if it pleases him: “And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men (50,070)”.

Apologetic Christians in modern times have spilt a great deal of ink trying to re-interpret these passages as being completely pacifist. Are they embarrassed by their scriptures? Ultimately, however, their interpretations are at odds with centuries of Biblical interpretation. Only by suppressing such interpretations can the majority of modern-day liberalized Christendom maintain its blind faith in scripture.

Notes

  1. The collection of the books of the Bible that were produced by the early Christian church, comprising the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Revelation of St. John the Divine.New Testament Authors:Source: http://godisforus.com/information/bible/ntdocs/authors.htm
  2. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124494788
  3. Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Violence

 

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