Two writers disagree on whether the Bible teaches barbarity:
1 Biblical Barbarity
2 "Barbarity" is Unbiblical
Van Robison (age70)
(Investigator 151, 2013 July)
I happened upon your website when I keyed in the words "biblical barbarity" as a search.
The world is full of bible defenders and likewise bible critics. After a lifetime of reading the bible from cover to cover, and as an ex-church goer, I have come to conclude that the bible is a stumbling block, source of mass confusion, doubt and obvious blunders, while at the same time having some measure of truth. I have always believed in Jesus Christ, but still have questions that never seem to have valid answers.
It surely makes no sense that Jesus could come teaching "love your neighbor as you love yourself", "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", "blessed are the merciful", "blessed are the peacemakers", "blessed are the meek", "love your enemies", "turn the other cheek" and "follow Me" and at the same time believe that Jesus Christ was God of the Old Testament in at least all those parts that attribute mass-murder, genocide and horrors to God, that defy all conscience, or in the fictional book of "Revelation."
Apologists for the Bible state that because God is sovereign He passes judgment on the "wicked" (even "Christians" have human nature) and so He destroys as He pleases. Of course that makes no sense, because if Jesus Christ is indeed the same yesterday, today and forever, then His teachings about LOVE, COMPASSION, MERCY, EMPATHY and HUMILITY prove that the violence attributed to God cannot be true. Either God lives by the same standard that He teaches through Jesus Christ, or He is a very poor role-model to human beings.
"Christians" seem to frequently relish judgment and punishment on others who do not have their views. What parent would sacrifice their own life (as in shedding their blood) for their own children to have their sins forgiven and to have a personal relationship with them? Of course it makes no sense and such is not the way life works. But we are led to believe that the sacrifice of Jesus was "necessary" in order for humans to encounter God the Father, without which there could be no relationship. Well, maybe so, but what if the only time God ever made an appearance to human beings was in the manner of the person of Jesus Christ, and He came to teach men to stop the wars, the killings and the cruelty and the man-made religion and love one another?
No human being alive on earth today has ever had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, in the form of a personal visitation, in person and been taught by Jesus what truth really is. It then becomes obvious that what we all believe about God/Jesus Christ is totally based upon ink on paper and hearsay. It is based upon faith and nothing more. It is not based upon a personal eyewitness encounter with God in the lives of living human beings.
Until God Himself speaks to each person individually and in person, the expectation that all men should automatically believe ink on paper represents the truth about God is really far-fetched. Lying scribes can make any kind of claim they wish, by saying words like "thus saith the Lord" or "God commanded" or "God anointed" or "all scripture is given by inspiration of God", but such words in fact do not prove that God the Creator of the universe is the author and source.
A major problem with the Bible is that we read that Jesus made references to Old Testament characters such as Lot, Noah, Abraham, Moses and others and gives cause to think the O.T. is true.
But it still leaves us in a quandary because much of the Old Testament is an ocean of bloodshed and defiance of the teachings of Jesus. I would suggest that the "holy" books of the three major religions of the world, are the cause of massive human problems, divisions and never ending quarrels over what is and what is not truth.
Biblical barbarity is probably a major reason why many turn to atheism.
"BARBARITY" IS UNBIBLICAL
Reply to Van Robison
(Investigator 153, 2013 November)
Should children be punished for their parents' crimes?
India has a program in which children who attend school get a free meal every day. At one school 23 children died in 2013 from poisoning with the school principal accused of doing it. On a television report I viewed, parents of the deceased children declared that the principal's children should be killed as part of her punishment.
Such reasoning — that children of perpetrators should be punished along with the parents — has been common throughout history, including the 20th century. The organized famines and other mass killings by Nazis and Communists included children. The Nazis also had their "Sippenhaft" principle by which families of deserters and so-called traitors could be sent to concentration camps.
Fortunate for billions of children is that the Bible teaches a better notion of justice and modern legal systems have accepted it:
"A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own." (Ezekiel 18)
Castle (1961) writes:
"Hebrew law recognized the right of the child to his own life centuries before such a right was recognized by the rulers of the Roman Empire, where infanticide was not made a capital crime until the sixth century of our era, largely owing to the consistent pressure of Christians… It was this Hebrew view of the sanctity of human life, passing through the medium of Christianity into the Roman world that finally destroyed the monstrous evil of infanticide."
The Bible book of Genesis foretold that God would bless "all the nations of the earth" through the offspring of Abraham. (Genesis 18:18)
"Blessing" includes happiness from prosperity, fair laws, health, long life, peace and security. The most important offspring of Abraham and most important contributor to bringing "blessing" is Jesus. (Acts 3:25-26)
Christian influence based on the Bible ended or reduced slaughter in Roman amphitheatres, sacred prostitution (where girls did stints as prostitutes in temples as part of growing up), child prostitution, homosexual prostitution, slavery, human sacrifice, mutilating of children for careers as beggars, widow-burning, trial by torture, killing of the sick, racism, etc.
Christian input was vital in the origin of universities (Haskins 1957), modern science (Hooykaas 1972), modern medicine, and many social benefits including pensions for the aged. "Blessing" is also when thousands of charities teach, heal and meet human needs; when individuals live Christian lives; and when organized effort changes evil laws and hurtful social structures.
Genesis 19 reports that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and "burning stone" from the sky. II Peter 2:6 states this is "an example of what is coming…" but Genesis 11:6 states that for humans "nothing will be impossible". The implication is that humans can even stop the end of the world — and today nations are spending $billions on "spacewatch" schemes to do just that!
And it began 4000 years ago with the announcement of a program to "bring blessing to all the nations of the earth". In the longer run "blessing" includes salvation, eternal life, and human rule of Space and time.
Australia's most famous soldier is Sir John Monash (1865-1936). When successive German offensives in 1918 almost overwhelmed the Western Front, Australian divisions commanded by Monash were in the thick of it: "The A.I.F. was indeed given pride of place in shoring up the dangerous gap on the Somme; at several places it blunted German attacks and counter-attacked brilliantly and its presence rallied the British on their flanks." (Geoffrey Searle 1982, p. 316)
Monash's parents were Jews who migrated from Prussia to Australia in 1864. Monash, therefore, read the Bible and by 1886 his view was:
The God depicted in the Bible was ‘no more than a terrible being in human shape, and activated by purely human feelings, and guilty of the meanest of motives, revengeful, deceitful, cunning and cruel, and sanctioning every crime under the sun.' (Searle1982, p. 56)
Stopping those German offensives in 1918 and ending the War in November meant 2 million German casualties including 1 million horribly injured and 500,000 killed. Truly an "ocean of bloodshed"!
If we ignore the context and the oppression that German victory would have entailed we can accuse Monash himself and the Western governments of "the meanest of motives, revengeful, deceitful, cunning and cruel, and sanctioning every crime".
And that's the case when denigrating God and the Old Testament — the accusers ignore the context AND the long-range program to benefit all humankind.
The ancient context included empire-building nations and vicious tribes who thought nothing of child sacrifice, buggery and mutilation of captives, torture, kidnapping for slavery, and other horrors most people today don't want. Life in today's poorest nations such as Somalia beats conditions in the richest ancient nations.
In the wars between Israel and Canaanites the latter were in part "judged as they judge" and in part shown mercy. Israel's survival, rather than Canaanite survival, was vital for the world. (See the Canaanite Apocalypse debate #131-#138)
Biblical barbarity is a myth, since what applies and what the Bible teaches God wants, are standards such as:
• "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…"
• "Always seek to do good to one another and to all…"
• "Love your neighbour as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbour."
Robison's other point that the Bible is "hearsay" by "lying scribes" is objectively answered by "testing what is testable" which I've done for decades. Hundreds of Bible points are confirmed by modern discoveries, tests and observations. Much of this is on the Investigator website.
Castle, E.B. 1961 Ancient Education And Today, Penguin Books, pp 168 - 169
Haskins, C.H. 1957 The Rise of Universities, Cornell University
Hooykaas, R. 1972 Religion And The Rise Of Modern Science, Eerdmans
Searle, G. 1982 John Monash A Biography, Melbourne University Press.