Monday, July 28, 2008

Show Them No Mercy

by C. S. Cowles, Eugene Merrill, Daniel Gard and Tremper Longman III

Jesus loves me,
This I know
For the Bible
Tells me so...

Ah, if only theology were so easy. The problem is, if you actually read the Bible, you might get confused. You read of a God who loved humanity so much that He would let His Son be killed to pay for their sins. But you also read of a God who rains down fire and brimstone on a defenseless city; who apparently sanctions the genocide of certain peoples. What's up with that? Are we talking about two different gods here? Was God just off his meds that day? Is there some part of the story we're not getting? Well, this issue has puzzled folks for centuries, and back in 2001, the terrorist attacks on September 11th made the issue of "holy war" a bit more interesting to Americans. Show Them No Mercy takes a look at the issue of how a loving God could allow His people to kill, especially as told in the Biblical book of Joshua. The book contains essays (and rebuttals) from four theologians trying to reconcile the issue. Simply put, Professor Cowles takes the stand that ol' Moses and Joshua had things wrong; that the conquest of the land of Canaan was quite against God's will. Professor Merrill takes the dispensationalist view, that the ancient Israelites were following the rules in effect at that time, but nowadays we have a different standard to follow. Professor Gard sees that past violence as events which point to the final Day of Judgement. Finally, Professor Longman sees the death and destruction of the Canaanites as part of the ongoing battle against evil--a battle that has currently progressed from the physical to the spiritual realm. (I should point out that none of these gentlemen advocate or excuse the concept of "holy war" in this day and age. So for those of you who were thinking about it, put away your sword and keep turning the other cheek.) All in all I enjoyed this book and it's style of presenting differing viewpoints on this particular issue. It was good to read some well thought out, biblical arguments from each writer and to challenge my own beliefs on the topic.

'Tis well worth checking out.
LibraryThing link


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