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?







Kolkata Joshua said...

Bible Promotes Violence???? Impossible. Vivid Bible Readers clearly understand that God of Bible is God of Justice as well as God of Love. Thank you dear Brother Raj for throwing light on a big lie, which says "Bible Promotes Violence than the Quran".

Christopher Pandian said...

//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.//

I like this ... Nice article Raj, to stand on what we are and How we believe
Keep going Raj

Raj Richard said...

Thank you brother Joshua. As you know, we live in a world that propagates lies disguised as truth, so it is our responsibility to disseminate the truth as it is, which I am striving to do. Thank you very much for your encouragement.

Raj Richard said...

Thank you Christy. Remain blessed brother.