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8 thoughts on “Podcast: What about the invasion of Canaan? Biblical Genocide?

  1. Cal

    Romans 13 talks about how states are ordered and shuffled about by God. That they're tools in his hand. However that's hardly a justification to join up. Assyria too was a tool to chastise Israel, but it was wicked. No Israelite had the right to join up and say "Look I'm doing God's will". I'm being extreme but Romans 13 must be balanced with Revelation 13, not as modes of existence, but twin realities. Rome is, providentially, God's minister, but it is also a ravenous beast seeking to kill, maim and devour.

    This is my drum that I beat, but the Early Church, while a variety of opinions on the Roman State (from Tertullian who hated it to Lactantius who revered it), none ever justified joining the military. Not only for idolatry, but also restrictions on killing. Even the famed Thundering Legion of legend is recorded to not have even fought. They put their swords away and prayed, and a storm came upon the barbarians.

    Just War is an arbitrary doctrine that has never been adequately met (as it has been traditionally articulated). I'd say also that in the modern world with professional armies, how could Jesus people join, swearing an oath to parliament or to the president or to the founding document, when they would be willing to violate that oath based upon their own conscience. You're not allowed that, you have to hope that your superior officer doesn't contradict whatever standard of just war you're following.

    I speak as someone who had his paper signed to join my country's marine corps, and it fell through for multiple reasons. I know there are many professed Jesus people in the army and, in the supposed words of Maximillian of Tebessa, "They know what they do, but I am a Christian, I can not do wrong".

    Passionately signed,

  2. Cal


    Good points on Canaanite Wars. While it is a judgement, I also conceived that it was a foreshadowing of Jesus' victory on the cross over the real, non-flesh and blood enemies, behind the wickedness of Canaan: sin, death, powers & principalities. Instead of bronze swords, our weapon is forgiveness. And the love march around the dark fortress around Jericho makes its walls tumble.


  3. Glen

    Thanks Cal, I wasn't ready at all for the question about Christians in the military. I gave a quick answer on the fly that tried hold things open for people. I'm very attracted to the pacifist position myself and you make some very good points.

    How do you answer the question about Luke 3? John tells soldiers to be fair and content (not to quit). Is that just a salvation-historical thing? Jesus would answer differently?

  4. Cal

    Well I guess I would start off by asking who were these soldiers? They were most probably Jews, who did they serve? Israel or Rome? I've heard it posited that they were probably guards for the Temple. On top of that John has to be put in his context as the one making the way: the Messiah has not stepped out yet.

    Another note is that these soldiers are pinned up right next to the Tax Collectors who asked what to do, who were clearly working for Rome. All that considered:

    I'd say the safest course of action is to not become moralistic, but calmly ask: can I be faithful in doing "x-y-z"? Jesus doesn't take the moralistic that road. He never says prostitution is evil, but exposes the wickedness of lust. He never condemns soldiering, he tells peter to put away his sword.

    Instead of trying to formulate legalities, better to let the obvious play out. I must ask myself, as one who was very keen on being infantry, can I kill a man for my country, or any country, and be obedient to the perfect law of Christ? I try to abandon philosophical wranglings of obligatory/permissible and rather let the truth be the truth.

    To stir the pot a little, here's Cyprian: "If murder is committed privately it is a crime but if it happens with state authority, courage is the name for it".


  5. Howard

    Interesting issue. I be interested in hearing your thoughts on the life of someone like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who came to the conclusion that action was required against evil, hence his involvement with those who sought to kill Hitler. Clearly, there was a process involved here. Bonhoeffer wrote about the folly of seeking to resist evil from running its course, but clearly believed that no free and true person could ignore Hitler's hatred of the Jews, and must act against this when and where possible.
    Whilst noting that such circumstances may mean a man dying "for his country", C S Lewis notes that "no man must, in any exclusive sense, live for his country. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself". Just action, then, becomes something determined by our seeking to truly love God and neighbor, and acting in accordance with this.

  6. Cal


    Two things on Bonhoeffer:

    1) It's not clear that he is the attempted assassin that he is portrayed. He was not arrested for connection to the bomb plot, he was arrested and executed for his part in helping Jews escape out of Germany. Check out this (

    2) Even if he had a part in it, does not mean one ought to glorify it. Gestapo shows up and asks if there are Jews in the attic. They are there: do you lie or hand them over to death. Its inescapable, but there no glory in telling lies, even if the situation puts you there. There was nothing just in Rahab lying about the Israelite spies, but there was justice in she held her own culture and status in contempt for YHWH and his people.


  7. Howard

    Cal - thanks for the reply. A couple of quick answers....
    1. A read of the new biography on Bonehoeffer by Eric Mataxas will confirm, yes, that the issues were complex, but he clearly did make a choice to support those who were taking action to remove Hitler by killing him (he was, I understand, one of the 'hidden' participants in operation Valkerie, but the material that truly incriminated him in this context only came to light after the SS infiltrated the Abwher in regards to this in September 1944.

    2. Corrie Ten-Boom, Brother Andrew and others dealing with such situations see the imperative to follow is truly loving our neighbor, so the error is 'bearing false witness' (agreeing with actions and intentions of those who deemed others as sub-human, etc) which would then lead to their demise. A similar approach was used, I believe, by Oscar Schindler, when rescuing children taken to Autzwich (they could not be executed, he argued, as he needed their small hands for precision work on munitions, even though the mutinous they were producing were deliberately faulty, as he required).

    Any ideology or culture which seeks to define or classify a person as less than what they are intended to be is at war the Lord and His anointed (it is in Him we truly live and move and have our being), thus, when many of the Old Testament laws require death for particular acts, it is because they diminish or refute the value God has placed upon us.

    The Nazi re-definition of humanity is clearly anti-christian in essence and intent, so surely, the response should be to reject such lies by earnestly contending for the truth, to death if required. Isn't that what Bonehoeffer did?

  8. Cal

    1) The Metaxas biography isn't so new anymore! Anyway, the link I posted is another scholar contending against the Metaxas reading of Bonhoeffer's pacifism and his return to Germany. He is releasing a book soon, but he gives a lecture on some of the content of his work.

    2) I was confused at your argument, and re-read my comment. I realized it sounded as if I was saying that to lie to protect Jews in the attic was the wrong choice. Sorry about that. My point is that the lie is not "good" but really a lesser of two evils, but when done in hope, a revelation of a cry for justice.

    I know you're not saying this, but justifying these things brings to my mind both Islamic and Christian justifications for lying when it concerns an infidel or heretic. They have wrong conceived the world, god, etc. and thus any seemingly criminal acts against them are justified for the greater good. Obviously, in all this, Wisdom vindicates her children. But one ought not to sin "boldly" (ala Luther) but rather tremble at how corrupted this world of ours is.

    Thankfully ethics is not our savior, but wisdom personified, who justifies the ungodly.


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