Per Caritatem

Below is the first guest post in Per Caritatem’s new series, “Violence and Christian Holy Writ.” Each post will remain live for approximately one week in order to create a space for fruitful dialogue to occur.  Many thanks to Kyle for his contribution to this series.

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Kyle R. Cupp is a freelance writer living in Texas. He has an MA in Philosophy and a BA in English, both of which he received from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He writes at Journeys in Alterity and the group Catholic blog Vox Nova.

My thanks to Cynthia R. Nielsen for the opportunity to contribute to this series. I intend here to consider the narrative meaning of a God who ordered genocide and its significance for the Christian story and for the narratives of those who seek to justify violence today. I have in mind the apparently divine order delivered by Samuel to Saul regarding the Amel’ekites: “utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them; but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling” (1 Samuel 15). My hope is to show that the idea of a genocide-commanding God does not cohere with the conception of God proclaimed by traditional Christianity, that the narratives that arise from each are incompatible.Battle of Joshua with Amalekites Nicolas Poussin

According to one reading of this Old Testament depiction of divinely-commanded genocide, God needed to order mass death for the preservation of his chosen people (Deuteronomy 20:18), who could not survive the foreign influences of others, so that the way would be made for the coming of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom. The eternal salvation of everyone in every time and every place depended on the Israelites maintaining their purity as the chosen people. God’s response to those who threatened to pervert and corrupt his chosen people was to order their annihilation: God commanded the killing of men and women, infants, newborns, and livestock. To speak in postmodern terms, the other had to be obliterated to preserve the same. It was a horrid but necessary order, one that is, according to a further reading, no longer necessary, but rather obsolete. Christ made the world anew, and so God has no need to give such orders again.

What significance does this conception of God have for the Christian story? It elevates the role of violence in the grand narrative. Salvation is now not merely dependent on God’s suffering of violence, violence freely and sinfully chosen by human beings, but on humankind’s obedience to the role of annihilator, a role that purifies the way for Mary’s “Yes” and the Incarnation, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It grants the infliction of violence a salvific role—a necessary divinely-intended part to play in salvation history. Purifying violence becomes a prerequisite for redemptive suffering.

The consequences of this elevation of violence extend beyond the specific boundaries of the Christian myth: it is not only violence within the narrative leading to the Christ-event that takes on a salvific role. The idea of violence itself has become united with the idea of salvation: salvific violence is a legitimate kind of violence, even if the particular violence amounts to genocide. Conceiving God as one who commands genocide gives rise to new thought about violence and salvation. We have before us an instance of genocide being morally legitimate, countering all condemnations of genocide as intrinsically evil. Indeed, the morality of genocide in this instance isn’t a question of right and wrong, but of power and necessity. God, the all-powerful, orders genocide because it is necessary. Genocide has been and therefore can be morally licit.

Scourging at the PillarThe idea that Christ made the world anew may be used to close the door on the acceptability of genocide today, but the line of thought outlined above creeps through the cracks. The idea of genocidal violence has become united with the idea of salvation. This union gives rise to new thinking. Indeed, we hear today the infliction of mass death proposed as a necessary means of salvation. We uphold military might as a solution to the problem of evil. Presidential candidates promise to seek out and defeat evil in the world by destroying those said to be evil. We fight wars to bring “an end to evil” and justify the killing of infants and newborns when such mass killing is necessary. Those today calling for the annihilation of evildoers may or may not believe that God once ordered genocide, but the idea that God once did so gives a theological backing for their call and enhances the appeal of salvific genocidal violence to the ears of Christians. The argument that Christ made the world anew, thus making mass violence an obsolete means toward salvation, might appeal on an abstract, theoretical level if one assumes a particular understanding of “made anew,” but on the practical level of concrete action and justification, it has little force.


35 Responses so far

[…] Per Caritatem called “Violence and Christian Holy Writ.”  A guest post by yours truly starts the series.  I write about how interpreting God as actually having commanded genocide elevates the role of […]


Actually you then have to explain why the Jews did not do these dooms thoroughly if it was not God’s will but theirs  (the Amalekites were also fought by David so Agag could not have been the last one)…and God later notes this through David in psalm 106 and shows that A. the Jews did not obey and B. they then sacrificed their own children to idols and C. God therefore sends them into exile:
Psalm 106 
They did not destroy the peoples as the LORD had commanded them,
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But mingled with the nations and imitated their ways.
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They worshiped their idols and were ensnared by them.
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4 They sacrificed to the gods their own sons and daughters,
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Shedding innocent blood, the blood of their own sons and daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, desecrating the land with bloodshed.
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They defiled themselves by their actions, became adulterers by their conduct.
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So the LORD grew angry with his people, abhorred his own heritage.
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He handed them over to the nations, and their adversaries ruled them.
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Wisdom 12 in the Catholic Bible gives data that you did not mention: there God reveals that He had punished all those people “bit by bit that they might have space for repentance”…..the dooms whereby God used the Jews came onle after God approached all these people through patience. The infants detail was to remind the Jews that God is Lord of when eachnperson dies.
Haiti’s earthquake e.g. was a recent example of people of all ages dying all at once by God’s permissive will. Was God a murderer for permitting Haiti’s earthquake.


Thank you for the comment, Bill. As I am not developing an interpretation of the passage, but am rather explaining why a particular interpretation of the violence in the passage changes the significance of violence in the Christian story, I’m not sure I have to explain the events you mention. I haven’t ruled out all literal interpretations of the passage, or even ruled out the one. All I’ve attempted to do is show that one particular interpretation of it has consequences for how one understands the meaning of violence in the Christ event and the meaning of violence in general.

Regarding your last question, I wouldn’t label God a murder because his permissive will allowed an earthquake. Besides, I don’t tend to think of God as a cosmic engineer preventing some catastrophes while allowing or causing others. Not that I believe God merely watches us from a distance, but that I find his primary involvement in the world has more to do with the spiritual than the material.


For anyone to justify present genocide through the Bible in these passages, they must ignore some of the relevant passages and Wisdom 12 in particular which gives the datum that God first was patient with these tribes and then after they failed to respond to His patience, He made a judgement and used the Jews as His arm…but they were loathe to carry it out perfectly.

So to use the passage sinfully requires that the user leaves out especially Wisdom 12…..which is the datum that this genocide can only happen not based on a group being evil simply but in addition that they are approached first by God with patience. A modern military has no way of judging that A. such a season of light punishment first…has happened between the group and God and that B. God has decided that that season’s duration is over.

In short it is impossible for moderns to claim they are following the Bible in a genocide because it is impossible for them to read the mind of God regarding the Prelude of what God does first with the offending group in patience and how long that period of patience lasts.


I don’t follow the reasoning, Kyle. God ordered genocide, therefore we may.

Furthermore, you overlook the horror of the abomination of the Canaanites. We tend to have an oversensitivity to the punishments of God, too little sensitive of gravity of our offenses. But I’ve stated this before. That and that the Gibeonites did find a way out of the ban. That is to say that God’s ban like the sign of Jonah was not the final word of God but the last chance for repetence.

To me the intriguing question is why God had the Israelites carry out this punishment when He might have done it by other means. Is it like God’s demand of the Israelites in Egypt that they sacrifice those animals sacred to the Egyptians?


“but that I find his primary involvement in the world has more to do with the spiritual than the material”

Why? That seems to be the opposite of the majority of most religion’s take on God’s involvement in the world, not to mention in opposition to Judaism and Christianity. Also, how can one draw such a hard and fast line between the spiritual and material? God can be credited for all of our nice feelings of piety, but we can’t hold him responsible for shoah. I’d like to see this more rigorously developed.


John R,

Which reasoning of mine do you not follow? My position is not that God ordered genocide, therefore we may.


Jeremy,

How is my statement at odds with Christianity? I’m not denying that God is involved in the material, only that the spiritual is where we discern most of his involvement.


Christ talking of sparrows…. “not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s leave.”

The consequent (Aquinas) or permissive (Chrysostom) will of God is active at every death….even when they are brought about by fallen angels who e.g. killed Job’s relatives with a wind storm. Ergo….Haiti could not have happened
without the Father’s leave. I think infants in such horrors satisfy instantly for original sin and pass to Heaven….based on Tobias…” you are just o Lord and all your judgements are just and all your ways are mercy and truth and judgement.”

Hence mercy is hidden within every apparently horrible occurence like an infant dying in pain.


Clarification: I’m not denying that God is involved in the material, but rather saying that the spiritual is where we discern most of his involvement.


A good start to the series, Cynthia. I haven’t forgotten about my own promised contribution, but have struggled with time issues.

My question is not whether Christianity must reject a god that could order genocides as being the God we’ve met in Jesus Christ. My question is, given that, how do we avoid being Marcionites?

These texts are in our canon–and not always in marginal places because the theme of Yahweh as Divine Warrior is large in both testaments. What do we do with these texts? How do we handle them? How do we hear them AS SCRIPTURE–given that we must reject the view of God they depict if we are to believe, as we must, that Jesus is the full and true revelation of God?


I’m not denying that God is involved in the material, only that the spiritual is where we discern most of his involvement.

Still not sure why this would be the case. The incarnation seems to me to suggest that the material things were Jesus’ primary way of interacting and helping others. His ministry was primarily focused on healing the sick, casting out demons, and eating with the down and out. Jesus didn’t only focus on the spiritual. Furthermore, God’s relation with Israel was also focused on very material things like providing food and leading them to the promised land.

Perhaps, I could understand better if you would define what you mean by the spiritual.

I just worry that making that claim is a move to take away God’s responsibility for the happenings in the material world. Seems like an apologetic move that isn’t borne out by a faithful reading of scripture.


Basically, I feel as if this “God is more involved in the spiritual than the material” is simply an ass-covering move to exonerate God of any responsibility for what happens in the world.

And when you say we “discern his involvement mostly in the spiritual”, I suppose my only response is: since when? Is it only now that we men come of age have recognized that many of the physical processes of the universe no longer required God as a working hypothesis (Bonhoeffer)? Is now God merely releagted to the realm of the spiritual and pietistic?

I also want to stress the importance of Michael’s question. If Jesus is God’s absolute self-revelation then how do we not fall prey to Marcionism? To me this is the crucial question in this dialogue


Excellent post. I have spent all my time grappling with these “terror texts” asking the question: do they provide a genuine revelation of the God we encounter in Jesus Christ? I have not read many books/articles that really seek to draw out some of the theological conclusions one may arrive wathen interpreting these texts as genuine expressions of the will of God.

Many conservatives try to downplay this point (God delivered these commands to these specific people in a specific time hence we can’t apply these passages to us to justify wars and violence carried out in the name of God).

But I have to confess Kyle, that your conclusions are horrifying and causes more doubt in me then any other theological/philosophical problem. It keeps me awake at night. For I want nothing to do with a religion that teaches my salvation is dependent upon the slaughtering of babies (Exodus story plus these genocidal texts) and divinely initiated genocide. I want nothing to do with a savior who can only approach me through the narrative of a redemptive history soaked in blood (that is that a lot of people have to be killed in order that Christ may approach in salvation history).

Yet as Michael noted, I wish not to be a Marcionite. Somebody want to help restore my faith now? I am in fear and trembling; these questions are a thorn in soul.


Jeremy,

Well, yes, Jesus’ primary way of interacting with the world was and is incarnational, if the stories are to be believed. Indeed, while I’ve distinguished between the material and the spiritual, I wouldn’t separate them in a dualistic fashion. Jesus healed the sick and otherwise tended to people’s material health, and he calls on us to live the corporal works of mercy. When I say that God’s involvement in the world today is more spiritual than material, I mean that it more involves grace and the path to holiness, in a word, love, than it does shielding one person from physical harm while allowing another to suffer untimely death or injury. I see God more as a humble lover than as a cosmic guardian of our physical well-being. I see God less as saving us from suffering and grief and more as suffering and grieving with us. My view is a matter of emphasis. It’s not an either/or binary.


To recognize multiple, competing, and even contradictory voices within the biblical texts need not fall into Marcionism. Walter Brueggemann, I think, makes this point repeatedly in his various engagements with the OT (further, any Pauline scholar does the same thing with the NT by prioritizing the non-contested letters of Paul over the disputed letters and the pastorals).

In fact, I think it is very good that the bible shows us various ways not to think of God. For, by doing so, it demonstrates to us how easily God is made into the image of something else, or slotted into already existing ideologies.

The Conquest narratives in the OT are one example of that perversion of God. Here, God is incorporated into the ideology of the victors. Here, YHWH becomes to Israel what Marduk was to Babylon, what Jupiter (or Apollo) was to imperial Rome, and what Jesus became to Christendom. Here, we see the Hebrews telling themselves the sort of lies that ease the consciences of war criminals so that they can sleep at night. “It’s not our fault, God commanded it…” and so on and so forth.

I don’t buy it. I treat such voices with as much suspicion as I treat American or Canadian voices that claim a divine basis for their wars of terror.

Of course, what is beautiful about so much of the bible is the way in which it rejects great traditions and the god(s) of the triumphant in order to sustain a little tradition which posits a god who is for and with the oppressed, the poor, and those in need of liberation and life. This, in fact, is the dominant voice we find in Scripture — from the Exodus narrative, through the Deuteronomic Law, the Prophets, Jesus and Paul. Thus, although we find countering images of God that arise when the Hebrews (very briefly) achieved some local power (reflected especially in the Psalms, the Proverbs, and certain historical narratives), we know that these images of God are false and are but one of the symptoms of Israel losing her way and buying into other ideologies of Power.

This, I believe, is a far better way of negotiating the conquest narratives. Saying “God changed God’s mind with Jesus so, um, even though God commanded genocide then, we shouldn’t act that way now” doesn’t get us far enough (as Kyle admits in his post).


First of all, I want to thank everyone who has commented on Kyle’s post, and by all means, please continue the dialogue. I simply have a few very minor comments to add, and then will recede into the background as a “listener.” Michael raises some very, very important questions to which Dan’s response offers some, in my opinion, a possible way, though not the only way, forward. Rowan Williams also speaks a great deal about the tensions in Scripture, multiple and often conflicting voices that have something theological to teach us. I especially like what Dan emphasizes regarding God being the God of the oppressed, the poor, the downtrodden.

I also believe there is much to take from Dan’s suggestion that the Bible reveals not only how we ought to think of God but how we ought not think of God (i.e. his comment about the conquest narratives–excellent thoughts here). I am also quite open to the idea that there are multiple levels of reading the OT, including the Catholic emphasis on allegorical interpretations of various texts.

Lastly, I don’t think that one has to read what Kyle has said about God and the spiritual in a dichotomous way, as his last clarification in the comment section indicates–I take him as wanting to make room for the mystery of suffering to which believers are often called.

Thanks again to everyone for such thoughtful dialogue!

Cynthia


Dan,

I agree with what a lot of what you said. And I want to agree with all of what you said. I am coming from a highly conservative evangelical background so while I may have cracked the egg of my fundamentalism, I don’t think I’ve broken completely out yet. That is, it is very hard for me to associate commands that come explicitly from the mouth of God as recorded in Scripture with a command actually of the No-God.

But more importantly, and one of the more troubling things in my eyes, is that it is not as if we are dealing with an obscure text here or there in the Old Testament. Rather the most important story in the whole Old Testament narrative-the Exodus-is tied up in knots with the concept of divine violence. And a whole tradition and theology-passover-is based off of this great act where God takes the lives of small Egyptian children. Yes, I understand the main thrust of the story is that God is with the poor, he suffers in solidarity with the oppressed, he is a God of liberation-leading his people out of bondage…but for all this light, there seems to be a very dark shadow cast over the story.

How do we disperse of such shadows? Hm, I guess in short, I’m just trying to make the point that even if we do accept the view that there is a perplexing cacophony of voices found in Scripture-I still find it disturbing that the voice of Scripture which declares God to be a mighty and violent (if need be) warrior to be such a loud voice. This is not one small bit of Scripture we are discrediting, but one rather large chunk.

-Willie


Firstly, Kyle. I guess I see little connection between God’s ban and modern genocide or the ludicrous war on “terror.” I am squarely on the side of the Crusaders (even if they were inept and fell far short of their intention). I love Joan of Arc and her nearly bloodless campaign to restore France and see in that too that God is a God of gentes, not a God of the global village. He is the true multiculturalist and lover of diversity, and sees beauty in multiplicity. The battle of Lepanto was a glorious victory. Modern warfare and violence is meaningless, not all. We exaggerate the old “atrocities” and downplay the contemporary insanities, or rather see all warfare in the same perspective as contemporary events.

Again I iterate the real inquiry: why would God command the killing of babies? Perhaps, it is so simple as to say: because of the hardness of their hearts. I think of Beowulf, and how despite his attempt to be a good king, when he died his people were no more; or again of the Iliad and the dark and utter destruction that hangs over the whole story which can be summed up in the single image of Hector’s son dashed to the earth and his wife dragged off. Those were dark days and the world was cut off from God indeed though some did long for him. Christ is the light come into a dark world, and had he not come surely Hobbes’ assessment would be correct.

Finally, the final plague of Egypt plagues me little; for again, it was the final plague after many others and it was again the death of the body only.

Fear not those who can kill the body but those who kill the soul.


Willie,

You wrote:

“For I want nothing to do with a religion that teaches my salvation is dependent upon the slaughtering of babies (Exodus story plus these genocidal texts) and divinely initiated genocide.”

Nor do I. In a conversation some months ago, I remarked that if the only way to interpret the text is to say that, according to the text, God really did command people to commit genocide, then color me an atheist. I have no faith in such a deity. Even if we make a case that God’s commanding genocide wasn’t immoral, per se, I’m still left with asking what kind of god orders human beings to slaughter infants? Not one I believe in, in any case.

On the other hand, I don’t really have a problem with the “large chunk” of scripture that depicts an almighty, violent warrior God. That understanding of God makes sense given the culture of those who conceptualized him thus. The symbols, metaphors, images, and myths about God have developed over time. Some of theirs were figures of violence and war. As they are a part of a text I believe to be God’s Word, I don’t think they should be dismissed or discredited, but understood both within their proper context and in light of the teachings of Christ. Like any image of God, the warrior God both reveals and conceals.

A final point: that God revealed himself as “Father” shows that he reveals himself through partially erroneous figures. The biological understand of fatherhood at the time of the New Testament’s writing wasn’t entirely accurate, to put it mildly. The father was the source of life; the mother just a vessel. Yet if we want to understand the meaning of God the Father, we have to take a detour through that flawed understanding of fatherhood. I suspect a similar detour is necessary to understand God through the figure of the warrior deity. It’s a flawed image, yet it reveals something about God that God wanted revealed.


John R,

You write:

“Again I iterate the real inquiry: why would God command the killing of babies? Perhaps, it is so simple as to say: because of the hardness of their hearts.”

Well, I don’t think God did, but, putting that aside, I fail to see how the hardness of anyone’s heart or the darkness of any age could warrant such an order. Seems to me that genocide is always and everywhere evil. If such subjective conditions can justify genocide, then I fear we’re lost in moral relativism.


John R,

Really? Mass infanticide does not bother you? Am I way out in left field on this one or something?


Another thought.

First, a confession — what kind you might ask ;) I have difficulty following narrative speak (though I do follow most of what’s here written). I shun the historical critical method and reject Marcionism. Thus, I have stuck to the study of old letters wrought by men who yet thought words meant. I find them less unlettered and naive than most moderns, and I can trust them more.

I too find the slaughter of children difficult. However, the awareness that we have taken up the old worship of Moloch makes me tremble. (The question therein is for what do we sacrifice.) How can we, raising hands or fists steeped in the blood of so many innocents, cry out to God, “J’ accuse”?

Do we underappreciate the depravity of the Israelites? Moreover, do we downplay the abomination of the Canaanites to hide our own sins?

(Is that skipping the literal for the moral sense?)


Kyle,

“That understanding of God makes sense given the culture of those who conceptualized him thus. The symbols, metaphors, images, and myths about God have developed over time. Some of theirs were figures of violence and war. As they are a part of a text I believe to be God’s Word, I don’t think they should be dismissed or discredited, but understood both within their proper context and in light of the teachings of Christ.”

King of getting away from the main point of your essay now, but how do you think we should understand these images of the violent warrior God depicted in the OT given Christ’s teachings concerning non-violent enemy love? How does Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount not in some way “discredit” some of these passages as genuine revelations/images/conceptualizations of God?

Would you go as far as Dan and say the Bible sometimes shows us what not to believe?


It may help some to accept the point that “the Bible sometimes shows us what not to believe” if we think of all the texts within the bible as narratives. That is to say, each text is a snapshot into a larger story (as a book like Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead reminds us, sometimes a narrative can simply consist of a collection of letters).

This is important to grasp. Consider how we read the more explicitly narrative-based elements of the bible — say the Gospels or the Deuteronomistic History. When we read these texts, we are cautious not to take everything every character says at face value. Some characters make statements about God that are true, some make statements about God that are false, and so on. We allow the context of the story (and the guidance of the narrator, not to mention the overall narrative trajectories found within the canon) to guide us so that we can discern this sort of moral depth in the story.

Thus, for example, most of us approve of David’s faith in God when he goes out to bang with Goliath… but most of us disapprove of what David says and does around the rape(?) of Bathsheba. Further, the narrator helps us to see that as a turning point (the beginning of a decline) in David’s life so that what he says about God before and after that event is markedly different. As responsible readers, we then take all these things into consideration when we try to think of God (or David) outside the text.

However, I would argue that a further duty of the responsible reader is to do the same with other texts — Wisdom literature, Psalms, Epistles, and so on. All these texts are glimpses into a broader story — like the letters in Gilead — and so we must recognize that some voices may be better than others, some voices may be confused, some may be unduly influenced by other contextual factors, and so on.

In this way, we can reject the voices that speak of a genocidal God. Such voices — like all the voices in Scripture — arise from characters embedded in particular stories, and there is no need to treat them as the very voice of God. In fact, treating them as such would be to read irresponsibly and treat Scripture in a low and disrespectful way.


Kyle– I really like your last few responses explaining your position and stressing how revelation is given within the conceptual and cultural constraints of various historical epochs and employing the then-current myths, symbols, metaphors and so on, some of which of course are incompatible with the myths, metaphors, symbols etc not only of the present epoch but incompatible with various portions of the canon itself. Yet, appealing to Dan’s hermeneutical approach, there is no need to despair over this situation, as not all the voices of Scripture carry as it were the same weight. The premoderns, for example someone like Augustine, would, I think, be open to something along these lines, so long as the interpretative promotes the love of God and the love of others (i.e. his famous principle of charity as articulated in the Confessions and De Doctrina). Though of course Augustine appealed to allegorical interpretations whenever texts seemed to depict God as a murderer etc., the motivation for such a hermeneutical move seems consonant with Dan’s–and I find both positions quite appealing.


I haven’t ignored any questions posed and have been rereading and thinking about your posts.

If it seems I’m ignoring, it’s not true. I am either taking seriously the arguments though first trying to understand or am grappling with finding common common ground or pointing out underlying assumptions. I also realize that my familiarity with the OT is not good enough (to put it kindly to myself) and I have not read the best commentaries, and so I am, as a result of the discussion, at least more hesitant to spout my less meditated and thought-through opinions.

Thanks, all.

JR


Willie,

Good question. The OT image of God as a warrior and destroyer of sinners and the NT image of God as a lover and savior of sinners do seem quite incompatible. I don’t see this so much as a problem as a consequence of the nature of figurative language being used in two different and yet, from the Christian standpoint, converging faith traditions. Even within one faith tradition, the accepted, orthodox figures will have a degree of incompatibility due to all figurative language having creative and productive aspects. For example, the conception of evil as a stain or blemish that the cleansing waters of baptism remove envisions evil as some kind of thing, and yet, at least in the Catholic tradition of which I’m a part, evil has most often been considered as a privation, as a lack of a good that ought to be there, as not a thing at all. These two symbols of evil aren’t entirely compatible, and yet both are very much at home in the same faith tradition. So, going back to the initial incompatibility, I think we can say that there is a place for both the image of the warrior God and the image of the savior God within the Christian faith tradition, or at least that their incompatibility doesn’t preclude them both from having a place. I moreover would say that savior image is primary and should move us to re-interpret the warrior image.


Cynthia,

Thank you. I do not despair, but, with Paul Ricoeur, find hope in the symbols of the sacred.


Dan,

I’ve enjoyed and benefited from your comments. You’ve given me much to ponder and reflect upon. Thank you for contributing.

John R,

No worries. There’s a lot to digest here, not so much from me but what others have said. I haven’t been able to respond to everything meriting a response.


Anybody want to tackle Jehovah Nissi, what the Name means, and if it is a false god or the Living and True G-d?


Kyle, Dan, Cynthia,

Thank you all for your input. You have provided me much to think about.


[…] commenter on my guest post at Per Caritatem questions whether the Old Testament imagining of God as a “mighty and violent warrior” can be […]


As a late reader here, can I recommend Gil Baillie’s “Violence Unveiled” as a way of negotiating and reading the scriptures as texts in travail within a process whose fulfilment is the self-donation of Jesus into the violence of the world.


[…] I’ve argued here and elsewhere, the religious narrative that interprets God as actually having ordered genocide and infanticide […]