Monthly Archives: May 2009
Show Them No Mercy: Four Views of God and Canaanite Genocide
One Way of Dealing with the Canaanite Conquest
Other Ways of Dealing with the Canaanite Conquest
Personal Reflections on the Canaanite Conquest
Light of the World
Shed abroad this gift throughout the world
by the preaching of the Gospel,
that it may reach to the ends of the earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Mark Galli: “Preach the gospel. Use actions when necessary.”
Scot McKnight offers a way of presenting the gospel that keeps the church front and center.
The difference between constructive criticism and a critical spirit.
John Frame says we should ask these questions of every film we watch.
A podcast with some young Baptist church planters.
Here’s a way to win Russell Moore’s new book, Adopted for Life.
Major layoffs at Christianity Today International. It’s a hard time to be in the print business. Pray for those affected by the changes.
Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Personal Reflections on the Canaanite Conquest
Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide does not quite deliver what it proposes. The introduction by Stan Gundry indicates that all four authors have the same view of the inspiration and authority of Scripture. Furthermore, the title indicates that four different views are offered. After having read this book, I conclude that the book fails at both these counts.
First, it becomes evident very quickly that the authors are not working from the same foundation of biblical inspiration. Cowles minimizes the testimony of the Old Testament and discounts its accuracy by denying that God commanded or commended the Canaanite conquest. How his view lines up with the doctrine of biblical inspiration or inerrancy is beyond me.
Secondly, there are not four views represented here, but only two. It is Cowles over against the other three contributors. The disagreements between the other three scholars are quite minor, so that the latter chapters differ more in emphasis than in the actual proposals set forth. Merrill, Gard, and Longman can, in many ways, be considered in the same camp, even if there are subtle distinctions between their views.
In reflecting on this book, I will point out some points of appreciation and criticism for each of the chapters.
Cowles’ contribution is notably passionate. I enjoyed the spirited rhetoric which he employed to make his case. In the responses to the other authors, Cowles comes across as feisty and passionate, ready to drive home the implications of the authors even if …
The second position put forth in Show Them No Mercy is from Eugene H. Merrill, professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. Merrill uses the term “Yahweh war” when speaking of the Canaanite conquests. “God initiated the process by singling out those destined to destruction, empowering an agent (usually his chosen people Israel) to accomplish it, and guaranteeing its successful conclusion once the proper conditions were met.” (65)
Merrill takes us through the relevant Old Testament passages that describe these battles. He distinguishes between regular battles and those that display the “undeniable traits” of genocide. He then seeks to reexamine the accounts from the standpoint of Christian theology and ethics.
Merrill frames the conquests within the story of God’s choice of a people through whom to bless the world and bring salvation. Seen in this light, Yahweh war is not so much about eliminating the foreign gods from the land, but about elevating Yahweh as the true God in the eyes of his own special people (80).
According to Merrill, the wars described in the Old Testament must be seen through the prism of holiness – both the holiness of God himself and the holiness of his chosen people, Israel. The battles are intended to protect the holiness of Israel (81) and showcase the utter holiness of God. Radical destruction of the enemy is necessary because God’s reputation and sovereignty is at stake. Israel becomes the divine instrument of God’s judgment in the Old Testament, but no Christian can excuse or …
The first contribution to Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide comes from C.S. Cowles, professor of Bible and theology at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.
Cowles makes the case for radical discontinuity between the warfare narratives of the Old Testament and the revelation of Jesus Christ in the New. According to Cowles, if we attribute the command for ethnic cleansing to the intention of God, we create severe problems for Christian theology, ethics, and praxis (15).
Cowles’ essay is marked by passion. His analysis cannot be accused of being expressed from the lofty tower of academia. Instead, he forcefully brings the reader face to face with the horror of mass extermination, describing in gut-wrenching detail how this killing took place, including the killing of women and children.
For Cowles, there is no synthesis between the Testaments on this matter. When it comes to the issue of divinely initiated and divinely sanctioned violence, we should acknowledge a radical discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments.
“The starting point in forming a truly Christian theology is not what the Bible teaches about God in general but what Jesus reveals about God in particular,” Cowles writes. We are to see God, “not like the first Joshua, a warrior, but like the second, the Prince of Peace” (23).
The heart of Cowles’ case against the genocide in the Old Testament is his sharp distinction between the God portrayed in the Old Testament and the God revealed in Jesus Christ.
“The God portrayed …
Whether it was ethnic cleansing in Bosnia or the mass murder of Tutsis at the hands of Hutus in Rwanda, the increase in violence worldwide was clearly evident. After Americans and Europeans only reluctantly became involved in ending these crusades, the horror of such atrocities hit home with us after the turn of the century, when Islamic terrorists attacked the United States in the name of Allah and on a mission of jihad, or “holy war.”
Since September 11, Christians in the West have demonstrated a renewed interest in the idea of “holy war,” especially since the Old Testament clearly recounts certain narratives in which God not only commands, but also commends the absolute destruction of nations, including women and children.
How are we to understand these difficult passages of Scripture?
How can we maintain our trust in a good God when he commands Israel to engage in what appear to be genocidal atrocities?
Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide (Zondervan, 2003) is a book that seeks to provide a response to these difficult questions. Under the editing hand of Stan Gundry, four scholars tackle the issues of Old Testament divinely-sanctioned genocide, seeking to provide a way forward so that we can make sense of the warfare narratives in light of the coming of Jesus Christ. This week, I want to look in detail on this book.
Tomorrow and Wednesday, I will briefly summarize each of the …
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career.
I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.
Sure, never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair,
I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
And helped to nail Him there.
Alas, I knew not what I did,
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain.
A second look He gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou mayst live.”
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief and mournful joy,
My spirit is now filled;
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by him I killed.
– John Newton
At last month’s Gospel Coalition, Mark Driscoll gave some wise counsel on avoiding what he calls “little-world” negatives – people who are so wrapped up in one stream of Christianity that they cannot see the positives outside their little world.
“Little world negatives… There are differences between boundaries. There are city boundaries (your church, your denomination, your network).
“Then there is your state (your theological team). I’m Reformed complementarian. There are certain borders around that, inerrancy and complementary gender roles and things of that nature.
“Then there is your nation. For me, my nation would be evangelicalism. I want to be on good terms with evangelicals. I don’t want to declare war on evangelicals in the same way that Illinois shouldn’t declare war on Iowa…
“People who are ‘little-world’ get scared of anyone outside of their proverbial city. You didn’t go to the same seminary as me? You’re suspect!
“You don’t buy all your books from one publisher? Look at your bookshelf sometime. If you have three or four publishers that constitute the totality of your library, you may have turned your theology into a prison and not a home, a place you’re not allowed to leave to go visit other brothers and sisters.”
Kris Allen wins American Idol and gives the show its heart back. This article explains how the underrated dark horse of the competition made it to first place and why Americans chose heart over hype.
An interview with SBC president, Johnny Hunt, about the Great Commission Resurgence.
Fascinating article from a Jew who gets “jittery” when it comes to Jesus. Do Jews have a Jesus problem?
Billy Graham’s delivery of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” compared with Jonathan Edwards’ original.
Z interviews Kevin DeYoung about his book, Just Do Something.
Speaking of Kevin, here is a post about bloggers who are either too critical or too nice.
Al Mohler analyzes President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame and concludes that Obama is now “talking about talking about abortion.”
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, appears on Fox News, explaining why more people are identifying themselves as pro-life.
Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: The Future of World Magazine – An Interview with Marvin Olasky