Biblical atrocities

So to share a bit regarding Kevin (@Trippy_Elixir) and Randy (@Randy) on their earlier discussion to which i was recently made aware…

If helpful, this is where i begin, I tend to start elsewhere and thus why i bring probably a different perspective… Take the things Jesus threatened, the eternal judgment against the “goats”…

However one interprets his words, however one lightens them, allegorizes, understands them as hyperbole… they remain terribly harsh… the rich man being tormented in flames, the angels bringing the damned into the fiery furnaces, the enemies being slaughtered in front of the king, the goats being sent into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, etc.

Bottom line, I can’t see Jesus being “offended” by the judgments that were given in the Old Testament in various contexts, in the same way that us moderns tend to be… given his own use of language, his own promise of judgments… If anything, the judgments he promised were worse… and even if someone wants to interpret them in a most metaphorical way, his metaphors were still worse than what is described in the OT. If we are going to be offended at what we read there, then we have to be offended at Christ’s words as unjust as well. I can’t go there myself, hence my overall position.

Another thing that gives me pause is simply remembering that God has determined that all men die, and not one of us will fall to the ground at any time apart from the will of our Father in heaven. Many people for instance point to how unjust God was in the Genesis 6 flood… but, and i hope this doesn’t sound crass, or as if i am discounting real pain of destruction, natural disasters, and suffering… but at the same time, all those people who died in the flood were going to die anyway. none of them would be here today in any case. So to use Uzzah’s example… If God decides to bring about someone’s death through a miraculous judgment for touching the ark when he was (say) 40 years old, is that somehow inherently more “unjust” than if Uzzah had died of dysentery when he was 35, a heart attack at 45, or cancer at 55?

My bottom line, God has the right to take the life of any one of us at any time he wishes for any reason he deems fit. Some cause us more grief, some are more striking, some make the news and some dont, but all of us die, and all of us die by the hand of God at the time and in the manner he sees fit.

And when some of those deaths take place in a more obvious, striking, or attention-getting manner, like that of Uzzah, in order to highlight how important it is that we honor him as God… I don’t see what basis I have to complain.

My $.02, if interesting.


Interesting for sure. I’d like to like it for itself, as a historical-grammatical view, but as I don’t agree with that at all, I can’t : )

I’ll give yuh tuppence for it later.

'ere yuh go.

They was 'ard times. Everyone was inured to violence from authority. Who were the targets of His appallingly violent imagery? Or rather, what [melodramatic] behaviour was condemned? Worse. Much worse than the theatrically horrible punishments. Dives was punished for looking right through, stepping over, a man starving to death outside his front door. Does evil get much worse than that? So what’s to be offended at at all? The evil attributed to God by the writers of the OT was done so in ignorance. Innocently. The evil actually done in the name of God, if there was any, whether by mythic characters like Moses, Joshua, Samuel, was also done in ignorant innocence. The offense, the blasphemy is by modern, educated people attributing the horrors to God and declaring such evil good.

I did that more than anyone here.

I’ve been far more crass than you Daniel. Justified God the Killer and worse. Through the lens of Jesus.

It’s all creating God in our own image. And there’s nothing of His in us. Yet He became one of us, in solidarity with us, and lifts us all up on the Cross.


He was offended by the penalty for women caught in adultery.

Was He? He endorsed the penalty.

Do you think that was the point of the story? Or was it that we are quick to judge others without reference to our own misdoings?

The net result was a condemnation of both the judgment and the those who would put it upon themselves to judge.

There seems to be a distinct flavour of Judging God here. Perhaps a reading of Job might clarify this.


He didn’t endorse it. What do you think of the revolting treatment of women who are merely suspected of adultery in Numbers 5? Do you find it just?

What’s what I think got to do with anything? Jesus authorized the woman caught in adultery’s stoning. How could He not?

@Daniel_Fisher , it’s always good to hear from you–because of your courteous interaction.

This is a good question. I won’t be able to address it adequately till Thursday, most likely, because my week is gearing up.

Can you give me some “for instances”? That may help.

However, I think that a fundamental concern I would have is whether the rule God uses is consistent and fair.

Punishing children for their fathers’ sins is not only contradicted by Ezekiel, but not considered fair in today’s culture.

There are other passages that indicate God visits the sins of fathers on their children’s generation, but that is considered to perhaps allude to an observation of effects, not so much punishment.

Also, even in the OT, there is a significant difference seen between natural death and that given by punishment.

We can accept death by natural, seemingly random causes; but death by punishment for something we didn’t deserve, would seem to ascribe evil to God.

It does not seem to me clear that might makes right. Rather, God is good because of a law He has written on our hearts.

In fact, in general, the point of punishment is to correct.

To quote from “The Last Battle,” by our mutual favorite author, C S Lewis:

“Ah, that’s bad, isn’t it?” said the second Mouse. “It would have been better if we’d died before all this began. But there’s no doubt about it. Everyone says it is Aslan’s orders. And we’ve seen him. We didn’t think Aslan would be like that. Why, we - we wanted him to come back to Narnia.”

“He seems to have come back very angry this time,” said the first Mouse. “We must all have done something dreadfully wrong without knowing it. He must be punishing us for something. But I do think we might be told what it was!”

Another aspect is explaining God to another faith. We are horrified by what we see in other faiths of seeming judgmentalism and cruelty of their god or gods. Yet, we seem to be engaging in a form of special pleading if we refuse to engage in the same self questioning.

Thanks again for your discussion.

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Some things i struggle with when reading the bible are verses like these:

Of course i haven’t read every single one of these but i have a feeling when i do they are not gonna be any easier to deal with.

P.s. the third one is more geared towards bashing the bible but i thought the verses provided were decent as to what i am showing i have trouble with and as for the comments as to what people have to say in relation to the post on patheos, it’s really just a mess but you can see their frustrations, the ones who don’t beleive and i can’t blame them.

P.s.s. would love to know how some of y’all go about interpreting verses like the above listed, thanks.


Will get back to you later, but I can address this briefly…

Inflicting the actual legal or penal punishments of justice on the children because of the sins of the Fathers is contradicted and unfair in today’s culture, sure.

However, the fact that children suffer the consequences of their Father’s sins is completely inescapable… either then or now.

If a father squanders finances in a sinful manner, the children will grow up impoverished and without any inheritance or financial security. If a father is unfaithful or abusive to his wife, the children may grow up in a broken home without both parents. If a father commits a major felony and finds himself in prison, the children will suffer various consequences of that. If fathers in ancient or medieval times rebelled against their king and found themselves in a city under siege, the children would also find themselves starving.

And to the point, when God explicitly judged the fathers in a city because of their spiritual rebellion and sin, such as Jerusalem by sending the Babylonians to siege and destroy it, then the children would also suffer the starvation, death, destitution and destruction.

This part is inescapable, and thus for God to give judgments to entire families, people groups, or nations consistent with this same pattern, i don’t see that we can take issue with it. What we do, how we live, and how we honor God (or refuse to) simply will affect our children as well, there is no escaping this.


If a small business owner commits some kind of fraud and the business is forced to shut down, the innocent employees suffer. We are dealt with in and as all kinds of groups and associations, small and large.

Thanks for your reply.
I’m afraid I didn’t explain myself well. Natural effects are not atrocities; I meant to refer to punishment of the children for the fathers’ sake, I meant to point out is different from natural effects.

So, punishing Kenaan for Ham’s sake, the Midianites and other Canaanites for their ancestors’ sake in Numbers, the first born sons of the Egyptians for their parents’ disobedience, the family of Achan and Korah would be more in the vein of what we would consider inappropriate.


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Why do you struggle with what weak, ignorant men project on God? It’s perfectly natural.

Are you saying that it’s perfectly natural to struggle with what men project on God ir something else? You might need to elaborate for my sake if i am getting it wrong.

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Read the story. James McGrath has some good material on it in his book, “What Jesus Learned from Women”

Natural maybe, but if you read Job you would realise that we have no right to do it in the first place. God, by definition, must be beyond our judgment or our understanding, so any projection must be false.
God is not ruled or defined by humanity. It is humanity’s job to try and understand God not project our ideas onto Him or ever think that we have somehow contained or boxed Him in.


? I know the story at least as well as you do. Quote from it where Jesus said He was offended by The Law.

Nice ambiguity. I saw it myself. I’m saying that what weak, ignorant men project on God is perfectly natural. But that does tacitly include the iterations of believing those men and the next of having trouble maintaining such beliefs. That all comes from the historical-grammatical method that all evangelicals, without exception, are trapped in.

He didn’t have to spell it out.

Er, but He did. In the dirt with a stick : ) We can infer what we will, and I fully agree with you on the obscene patriarchy of ancient Judaism along with that of most cultures and subcultures to this day. Jesus transcended all of it. The Pericope Adulterae is my favourite passage in the Bible. Added centuries after the canon closed. I desperately want it to be so nonetheless. It had the imprimatur of divine intelligence until I realised its provenance.

Thank you for clarifying.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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