Thursday, October 27, 2016

Could Christians Speak To Their Dead Relatives? Could the Living Speak To The Dead?

            The alleged practice of communicating with the dead is termed Necromancy.

            If someone you loved truly and immensely, were to die, it is not absolutely unreasonable for you to want to talk to them. It really does not matter as to what you would want to speak to your dead relative. You may not want to speak to the dead necessarily to learn about your future. You may merely want to speak to your dead relative because you loved them dearly. This desire is legitimate. But then the reality needs to be ascertained. Could the living speak to the dead?

            Of course the living could speak to the dead via a linear model (one way) communication! Very minimally, the living could communicate with the dead as how anyone may try to communicate with a person who is blind and deaf. A person who is both blind and deaf would not recognize any communication from anyone unless the person who tries to communicate deploys methods to attract the attention of the blind and deaf person. The linear model of communication serves no purpose to the sender of the message.

Can The Dead Speak To The Living?

            If the linear model of communication does not serve the purpose of communicating with the dead, then it is futile to think whether the living can speak to the dead. Instead, let us consider if the dead can communicate to the living. Unless we are persuaded about the ability of the dead to communicate with the living, it would be vain to even think of speaking to the dead.

            There is an important detail to remember while speaking of the dead. The dead are presently in a disembodied state (a state where their souls are alive but without their body). (The souls of the dead will receive their resurrection body during the Lord’s second coming.) However their existence in a disembodied state would not, I reckon, disable them from speaking to the living.

            So can the dead speak to the living?

            The only account of the dead speaking to the living is found in 1 Samuel 28 wherein Saul seeks to consult the dead prophet Samuel through a medium, “Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at Endor.” So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments, and went, he and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit, and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.”…Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” …And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me…Moreover the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.” Then Saul fell at once full length upon the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel…” (1 Samuel 28:7-20, RSV, Emphasis Mine).

            Saul not only consulted with the dead Prophet Samuel, but the dead prophet Samuel prophesied the death of Saul (verse 19; compare the prophecy with 1 Samuel 31 & 2 Samuel 1). So it is indeed possible that the dead could speak to the living.

            As a side note, if the souls of the dead are in a disembodied state, how did the medium see Samuel with a body (verse 13-14)? God alone has the power to bring back the dead to life (1 Samuel 2: 6). So it would be plausible to state that God brought back the dead Samuel to speak to Saul. God would have given the medium a vision of Samuel in a robe, although Samuel was and is still in a disembodied state.  

Could The Living Speak To The Dead?

            Although the conversation between the living Saul and dead Samuel is the only instance of the living communicating with the dead, could we reasonably conclude that the living could speak to the dead?

            If the Bible does not prohibit the communication between the living and dead, we could confidently assert that the living could indeed speak to the dead. So, what does the Bible say about the living communicating with the dead?

            The Bible does speak about the presence of mediums or spiritists who communicate with the dead. Do the mediums really communicate with the dead?

            God alone has the power to allow the living disembodied soul of the dead people to communicate with the living. But the Bible unequivocally condemns mediums and spiritists. When God condemns mediums and spiritists, it is quite reasonable to posit that God would not allow the mediums and spiritists to communicate with the dead. Who then would the mediums and spiritists communicate with? It’s quite plausible that they communicate with the evil angels.  

            The Bible prohibits the living to communicate with the dead (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18: 9-12; Isaiah 8: 19). God hates those who practice occultism. God killed Saul for disobeying him, for Saul had also disobeyed God by consulting with the dead Samuel, “So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord and did not obey the Lord’s instructions; he even tried to conjure up underworld spirits. He did not seek the Lord’s guidance, so the Lord killed him and transferred the kingdom to David son of Jesse.” (1 Chronicles 10: 13-14, NET). Hence, we should not communicate with the dead for any reason whatsoever.

Why Does The Bible Prevent The Living To Speak With The Dead?

            Could the living speak with the dead so that those who live may repent and come to Christ when they hear their dead friend / relative speaking from their place of bliss or torment? It is not possible, says the Lord Jesus Christ, “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16: 31, NIV).

            Other than the instance of the living Saul speaking to the dead Samuel, the Bible does not provide us with any reason whatsoever to think that God would allow the dead people to communicate with the living. So God will prevent the dead from communicating with the living and HE also mandates (through HIS edicts in the Bible) that the living should not strive to communicate with the dead.

            Furthermore, it is impossible for the living to speak to the dead without a medium. But the mediums could only communicate with evil angels and not the dead people. Since evil angels would lead us away from God, the Bible forbids us to communicate with the dead. So we should not strive to communicate with the dead.

            The emptiness in the lives of the living because of the death of a loved one would only be satisfied by the Triune God. Hence we who are living, who may be depressed by the death of a loved one, should strive to get nearer to God, and then the shepherd of our souls will satisfy our souls.

Shepherd of my soul I give you full control,
Wherever You may lead I will follow.
I have made the choice to listen for Your voice,
Wherever You may lead I will go.

Be it in a quiet pasture or by a gentle stream,
The Shepherd of my soul is by my side.
Should I face a mighty mountain or a valley dark and deep,
The Shepherd of my soul will be my guide.

Shepherd of my soul Oh You have made me whole,
Where’er I hear You call how my tears flow.
How I feel your love how I want to serve
I gladly give my heart to You O – Lord.

Be it in the flowing river or in the quiet night,
The Shepherd of my soul is by my side.
Should I face the stormy weather or the dangers of this world.
The Shepherd of my soul will be my guide.

"Shepherd of My Soul" is a song by Marty Nystrom.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Should The NIV Bibles Be Burnt?

            Erica Campbell, the Christian musician who won the Grammy award for “Best Gospel Album” in 2015, created confusion in the minds of certain Christians. Her Facebook post implied the untrustworthiness or the fallibility of the NIV translation of the Bible.1 Erica Campbell alleged that 45 complete verses were removed from the NIV translation indicating that NIV is not a reliable translation anymore. Is her allegation true? If so, should we discard the NIV Bible?

            The Bible has been translated more than any other book. One such translation of the Bible is the NIV or the New International Version. The NIV was first published in 1978, and further updated in 1984 and 2011. In 2005, the TNIV (Today’s New International Version) was published. The TNIV was a gender-inclusive translation and went out of print in 2009. The 1984 version of NIV is also out of print. The 2011 version of NIV is the only version that remains in print.

Background To The Allegation

            While examining this theme, we should be cognizant of the KJV-Only group, who may have been behind the Erica Campbell allegation. Apologetics Index describes this movement as, “King James Only-ism is an aberrant teaching that considers the King James Version – specifically the ‘1611 Authorized Version’ – to be the only legitimate English-language Bible version.

            Some KJV-onlyists go so far as to insist that people who do not use the King James Version (or even a specific edition of the King James Version) are not saved. In doing so they believe and teach a heresy — one that violates the Biblical doctrine of salvation by adding conditions not taught in Scripture. [See: Essential doctrines of the Christian faith] Those KJV-Onlyists who teach this in so doing place themselves outside the boundaries of the Christian faith, and should be considered heretics.”2

            It is quite possible that the social media campaign against the NIV could have been orchestrated by the KJV-Only movement to discredit the NIV translation.

Understanding The Methods Of Biblical Translation

            There are two broad methods used to translate the language of the source text into another language such as English. In the case of the Bible the source text of the Old Testament is in Hebrew and the source text of the New Testament is in Greek. While translating the Hebrew and Greek text into English, the translators could adopt either of the following methods of translations:  

            Formal Equivalence: Translations such as the ASV (American Standard Version), KJV (King James Version) and the NASB (New American Standard Bible) rigidly adhere to the form of the original language. In other words, Formal equivalence is informally known as a “word for word” translation. This translation style utilizes a formal technique that attempts to preserve the exactness of the translation. 

            Dynamic Equivalence: This is the “thought for thought” translation. This translational style disregards the form of the source language but not the message. The New English Bible (NEB), The Good News Bible or Today’s English Version (TEV), New International Version (NIV) are good examples of dynamic equivalence.

            Although NIV is not a wooden or a literal “word for word” translation, the New Testament scholars affirm that it has accurately translated the message of the source text.

Scholars Affirm NIV’s Credibility

            Was Erica Campbell’s accusation against NIV translation valid?

            Not by any stretch of imagination! New Testament scholar Dr. Daniel Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary heaps high praise upon the NIV translators, “The scholarship behind the NIV 2011 is probably as good as it gets. And the textual basis is both bold and exceptionally accurate.”3 He goes on to affirm the scholarly credibility of NIV, “…the scholarship that produced this version is excellent, both in text and translation decisions. The textual basis and rendering of difficult expressions in the original are bold features that warrant our gratitude. This is no fly-by-night operation. Unspeakable effort has gone into the production of this version of the Bible, with thousands of decisions being made by individuals and committees, all under the purview of the prime mandate of the CBT. For this, believers everywhere can and should thank God for the NIV, because it is what it purports to be: the eternal word of God in the language of English-speaking people today.”4

            Dr. William Lane Craig, when asked to recommend a Bible translation, was suspicious of the distortions in TNIV (Today’s New International Version) but affirmative of NIV’s credibility, “I do not have a recommendation. I myself use the Revised Standard Version. I think that has the literary beauty of the King James Bible but with better manuscripts and more modern translation. But there are others as well. The ESV and NIV are two others. I think it is good to have a number of modern translations. Basically all of these will be responsible translations. They are done by modern committees of linguists who are experts.1

            Followup: I have heard that the NIV is really too much of a paraphrase and in fact it changes the truth just by leaving out certain pronouns or words that we’d think are unimportant but in the Greek could change the meaning.

            Answer: That is true about the TNIV – those who are interested in inclusivist language have changed much of that to eliminate male references and pronouns. I think there you do have some definite distortion. But as for the NIV, I don’t think it will seriously mislead.”5

Response To Erica Campbell’s Allegation

            Both Biblica - The International Bible Society that’s responsible for NIV translation and Zondervan - the publishing house, have always maintained that NIV is reliable, “Biblica denies that HarperCollins, or any other group, has editorial control over the translation: The text of the NIV is entrusted to the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), a self-governing body of 15 evangelical Bible scholars. No outside group — no publisher or commercial entity — can decide how the NIV is translated.

            In keeping with the original NIV charter, the CBT meets every year to monitor developments in biblical scholarship, as well as changes in English usage. Every year, they solicit (and receive) input from scholars, pastors, missionaries, and laypeople.

            Also, Zondervan (the division of HarperCollins Christian that publishes the NIV Bible) disputes that there are any missing verses at all: Often times, readers will come across what they feel are “missing verses” in their NIV Bible. These verses, however, are not really missing. They are included in the footnotes on the same page of the Bible where the “missing” passage is located. During the exacting translation process for the NIV Bible, some verses were found not to be included in the oldest or most reliable manuscripts that the NIV translators had available to use. Most of these manuscripts were discovered after the King James Version was first translated, some 400 years ago. When those verses could not be verified by the more reliable or older manuscripts, the NIV translators moved them to a footnote to reflect greater accuracy.

            Please be assured that your NIV Bible is extremely accurate, trustworthy and reliable. Additional information on the translation process and use of footnotes is located in the Preface of your NIV Bible…”6 (Emphasis Mine).

            By omitting verses that are not found in the older and more reliable manuscripts, the NIV translators exhibit scholarly integrity and a penchant for utmost honesty to the effort of translation. In fact, the omitted verses should offer the readers a greater confidence that the NIV translation is highly accurate. Therefore, we can confidently ignore the allegations against NIV. The NIV translation of the Bible is indeed reliable.

Which Translation Of The Bible Should We Use?

            Christians should use multiple translations, says Dr. Dan Wallace, “My own recommendation to English-speaking Christians is to own more than one Bible. In fact, I usually recommend the KJV (for historic and literary reasons), the NET (for accuracy especially, but also for elegance and readability), and a Bible of their choice (which could be either for reading [NIV, TNIV] or memorizing [RSV, ESV]).7


Websites cited were last accessed on 20th October 2016.








Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What Happens When We Die?

            Do dead people go to heaven or hell immediately after their death? What do the dead people do? Do they reunite with their loved ones upon death? Do the dead know what the living are doing? These questions are of practical importance. 

            The doctrine of intermediate state seeks to understand the state or condition of the individual between their death and resurrection. The Bible offers us essential information but does not go into detail upon the intermediate state; probably because it is non-salvific in nature (this doctrine is not essential to one’s salvation). Hence the examination of intermediate state becomes all the more difficult and controversial in certain situations.

            The Christian belief in “afterlife” is indeed a sound proposition that has been validated by science as well (for more information into this theme, click here). (Christian beliefs are not essentially required to be validated by science, for science cannot validate the metaphysical aspects of life. But if science validates certain biblical notions then we will mention them.)

What Is Death?

            Soul is the principle of life that animates the body. Hence, the body is considered dead when the soul departs from the body.

Doctrines To Reject

            Certain denominations (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists etc.) believe that our soul goes to sleep or becomes unconscious after our death. But the Bible describes soul’s consciousness in the case of rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31). Moreover, the Lord Jesus told the prisoner on the cross, “And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”” (Luke 23: 43, NASB, Emphasis Mine). So the view of soul sleep is flawed.

            Roman Catholics claim that the soul becomes aware of God’s judgment upon death and passes on to heaven, hell or purgatory. Very minimally, purgatory is assumed to be the state of temporary punishment of those who are in a state of grace, but not yet spiritually perfect (not fully free from sins). When the soul arrives at a state of perfection because of “Mass, prayers and good works,” the soul is believed to be released from purgatory and passes into heaven.

            The concept of purgatory implies salvation by works. This contradicts the clear teachings of salvation by grace alone (Galatians 3: 1-4, Ephesians 2: 8-9). Hence we cannot accept the doctrine of purgatory.

            Some believe that unbelievers would be annihilated or destroyed after the final judgment. The annihilationists argue that while unbelievers cannot enjoy the everlasting bliss with the righteous, they do not deserve the eternal torment in hell. This doctrine is flawed because the Bible teaches eternality for the unbelievers, “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might (2 Thessalonians 1: 7-9). 

            Some believe that the dead are resurrected with the resurrection body instantaneously after death (Extreme Preterism). This view is based on a loose interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5. There are number of passages in the Scripture that teaches the concept of future resurrection of the dead that is accompanied by the Lord’s second coming (Philippians 3: 20-21, 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17). Second coming of our Lord is the occasion for our glorification (1 Corinthians 4:5, 2 Timothy 4:8). The Lord Jesus also referred to a future time when the dead - both the believers and the unbelievers - will be raised (John 5: 25-29). Based on these passages we can reject the notion that the dead receive their resurrection bodies immediately after death.

Further Scriptural Considerations

            1. The New Testament distinguishes between Gehenna and Hades. Hades receives the unrighteous for the period between death and resurrection. Gehenna is the place of eternal torment (Mark 9: 43-48) where both the body and soul are united after the dead receive their resurrection body at the resurrection. 

            2. The righteous dead do not descend to the Hades (Matthew 16: 18-19, Acts 2: 31).

            3. The souls of the righteous dead are received into paradise (Luke 16: 19-31; 23: 43).

            4. The Bible equates being absent from the body with being present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5: 1-10, Philippians 1: 19-26).

What Happens When We Die?

            1. Upon death, believers of Christ go immediately into a place and condition of blessedness; the unbelievers go into a place of misery, torment and punishment. The souls would remain in existence, but in a disembodied state.

            2. Human beings can exist in either a bodily existence or immaterialized condition.w The immaterialized condition is one in which the soul or the spirit exists independent of a body (disembodied existence).

            The Bible teaches that soul could exist in a disembodied state. For instance, consider the verse Matthew 22: 31-32, “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Emphasis Mine). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead but haven’t yet resurrected to their glorified bodies. Nevertheless Christ termed them as living, which implies that their soul is living without their body.

            3. During the Lord’s second coming (when Christ returns for the second time) the believers will be raised from dead, they will receive their glorified bodies, and then to ascend to be with Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 21-26, 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17).

            4. The believer’s resurrected body will be like Christ’s resurrected body (cf. Philippians 3:21). Our resurrected body will be…

            …a physical body with flesh and bones (John 20: 27, Luke 24: 39-40).

            …capable of eating food (Luke 24: 42), not for nourishment but for pleasure and celebration (cf. Matthew 26: 29).

            …a tangible body, “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” (Emphasis Mine).

            …an immortal body (1 Corinthians 15: 53)

            …a glorious body (Philippians 3: 21).

            …a supernatural body that can move through space (Acts 1: 10-11) and can move through material things (cf. John 20:19).

            5. Like the believer, the unbeliever will also be resurrected. The resurrected body will be a never-dying physical body.

            For questions of practical significance such as “What do the dead people do? Do they reunite with their loved ones upon death? Do the dead know what we are doing?” please click here 

wHuman beings can exist in an immaterialized condition or disembodied state.

Dr. Gary Habermas says, “...After death, the spirit lives separately from the body, until it is given a new, resurrected body.
No, the brain does not die with the body. What is the evidence for these things? One of my primary responses comes from my 30 year study of near-death cases. I have found almost 100 cases that are accompanied by evidence--some so impressive that it has been written up in secular medical journals. For example, some cases involve people reporting verifiable things that happened a distance away, but after they were pronounced dead and lying where they couldn't see these things physically. Others have correctly described a variety of things even while they had no heart beat, no brain waves, etc. This tells me that people seem to live even while their bodies are "dead" and that sometimes they are capable of observing things even while their bodies are incapacitated."


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Does The Bible Promote Violence Than The Quran?

            A recent textual analytics of the Bible and the Quran revealed that the Old Testament and the New Testament contain more references to killing and destruction than the Quran, “Killing and destruction are referenced slightly more often in the New Testament than in the Quran (2.8% vs. 2.1%), but the Old Testament clearly leads—more than twice that of the Quran—in mentions of destruction and killing (5.3%).”1 This may surprise many, for the Bible may not have been considered as the more violent religious text.

            If the Bible contains more references to killing and destruction, does it mean that the Bible promotes violence? Alternatively, how do we reconcile the biblical notion that God loves us so much so that Christ died for our sins, but the exact same God has mandated a gory killing of many in the past?  

            When people question our total love and commitment to a seemingly bloodthirsty God of the Bible, we, who call ourselves as professing Christians, ought to offer reasonable answers (1 Peter 3:15). Why do we love our God, who appears as bloodthirsty and violent in the verses of the Bible?

            Although the text analytics has compared the Quran with the Bible, this article will only endeavor to represent the Bible in its truthful light.

            Let’s think this through from two vantage points.

            First, I ask myself this question. Why did I not think of God as violent and bloodthirsty, when I read the Bible? As a professing Christian I study the Bible diligently. However, when I encountered the violent verses in the Bible, I did not honestly think of God as horrendously bloodthirsty.

            Here is an excellent instance of violence in the Bible, “Samaria will be held guilty, For she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, Their little ones will be dashed in pieces, And their pregnant women will be ripped open” (Hosea 13: 16, NASB, Emphasis Mine). Wow this is indeed gory!

            But I honestly did not think of God as gory and bloodthirsty when I read this verse. Why?

            As I was reading the Bible, the first unbiased understanding that I had of God was HIS holiness. God, by virtue of HIS holiness, cannot tolerate sins. Sins are, in essence, an assault on God. The Bible also teaches that the consequence of sin is death. I had no problems whatsoever in comprehending this truth.

            When I read the 13th chapter of Hosea, the first few verses revealed God’s love for Israel, the rebellion of Israel, and the judgment of God upon Israel. God loved Israel so much so that HE delivered them and cared for them greatly.

            But Israel, after having enjoyed God’s blessings, chose to rebel against HIM. Hence God announced HIS judgment upon Israel by using the most gory and gruesome similes (a figure of speech), “Yet I have been the Lord your God Since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no savior besides Me. I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me. So I will be like a lion to them; Like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside. I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, And I will tear open their chests; There I will also devour them like a lioness, As a wild beast would tear them.” (Hosea 13: 4-8, NASB, Emphasis Mine).”

            Against the backdrop of God’s great love, HIS people’s mindless rebellion against HIM, and HIS judgment of rebellion, the gory details of God’s judgment, as an entailment of sin, did not consume me. All I cared about then and now is to earnestly understand God’s love for me and to love God more and more. I endeavor to be thankful for all that HE has done for me and not rebel against HIM.

            The Bible is replete with this truth – God’s holiness and HIS love for HIS people demands the utmost voluntary reciprocation of love and faithfulness of HIS people towards HIM. After having received and enjoyed God’s love, if God’s people rebel against HIM, then there is a blatant warning of an impending judgment, which is extremely brutal. Whether we like it or not, this is the equation. 

            Why should God judge? Judgment of God is unsympathetically portrayed in the Bible. Judgment cannot be sugarcoated, for God’s judgment is extremely painful. This pain ought to be portrayed truthfully in its goriest sense; else man will not understand God and HIS judgment.

            Let me merely scratch the surface of this predicament. If God does not judge, then God cannot be holy. If God is not holy, then HE ought to be evil. But God cannot be evil, HE is holy, so judgment is mandatory.

            The consequence of rebelling against God is brutal and painful both from a temporal and an eternal sense. Hence, the Bible emphasizes the gory nature of God’s judgment in no uncertain terms.

            Second, does God mandate HIS followers to kill and murder now? For instance, are we to follow the law in Exodus 22: 20, “He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the Lord alone, shall be utterly destroyed”?

            No, those laws do not apply to us now. Israel was a theocratic nation (ruled by God) when these laws were instituted. None of the nations of this world are directly ruled by God, so these laws do not apply to us today.

            The New Testament describes the purpose of the Old Testament laws. These laws were intended to lead us to Christ, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3: 24, NASB).

            The laws could be categorized into: Civil, Ceremonial and Moral laws. Civil laws do not apply to us today, since the church is not a nation. Ceremonial laws do not apply to us, since these have been fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection. The moral laws have been summarized by Christ into loving God and our neighbors, ““Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 36-40, NASB).

            How then do we understand the laws that promote killing? Christian apologist Greg Koukl’s words are simple enough to understand this complicated aspect, “Does that mean we can go around murdering people because we’re not under the Mosaic Law? No. The obligation not to murder is universal and should be in any law. Just as our law does, the Mosaic Law included universal moral principles. So we are obligated to follow those moral rules, not in virtue of them being in the Mosaic law, but because they are universal for all people. The Mosaic law included universal moral rules and rules that were limited to the nation who lived under that contract. We have to distinguish between these as we consider how we relate to the Mosaic covenant now.

            Universal moral obligations from the Mosaic Law are repeated in the New Testament. The things that no longer apply to us are not repeated in the New Testament....Virtually every one of the Ten Commandments, save the Sabbath, is also expressed in some way or another in the New Testament as morally obligatory. Other things, like homosexuality are forbidden in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.”2

            In conclusion, the Bible does not promote violence; rather it portrays violence for the greater good i.e. for the edification and the salvation of mankind. The Old Testament largely portrays violence from two major perspectives: God’s judgment and God’s laws.

            The gory portrayal of God’s judgment is necessary for man to understand God. God’s love for man and the consequence of man’s disregard of God’s love and his rebellion against God should be sincerely understood by man.

            To reiterate, God’s laws were meant to lead us to Christ. Moreover, much of the Mosaic law in the Old Testament do not apply to Christians for the reasons stated. It would serve us well if the violence portrayed in the laws were read literarily, taking the genre of the text and the context into account, and not literally.

            If you desire to dig deep into this theme, then please read the following:

1. Paul Copan and Matt Flanagan, Did God Really Command Genocide? Coming to Terms with the Justice of God

2. David T. Lamb, God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Bible Angry, Sexist, and Racist?