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May 18, 2014

The Case Against God As a Moral Monster

The Case Against God  As a Moral Monster

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: God is NOT Dead!

Category: Christian Apologetics

Keywords: moral monster, god, barberic, old testament


The message looks at some of the New Atheists' charges that the God of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, is a moral monster rather than an awesome and benevolent Father.


The Case Against God As a Moral Monster

May 18, 2014


Intro the morning: We’re in a series called “God is NOT Dead.” What we’re doing for a few weeks is looking at some of the reasons some people have for doubting God’s existence and particularly the existence of the God of the Bible.

The reason we’re doing that is two-fold:

First, you and I live in an increasingly secularized society where our friends and neighbors don’t take it for granted that belief in God is a rational, reasonable and logical thing to do. If we are going to be of any worth to them spiritually, we need to be able to speak intelligently into their doubts. That would be the “evangelistic” side of this Christian apologetic coin.

Secondly, statistically, we’re losing 3 out of 4 Christian young people in American during the critical college years when they are facing an onslaught of hedonism, secularism, naturalism, relativism, liberalism and atheism on the secular as well as “Christian” campuses of America. And college students aren’t the only ones having a “crisis of faith.” If there are lingering or nagging questions in any believer’s mind regarding the reasonableness of faith in God or the kind of God he is, we will be unable to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength.”

In just a moment, you are going to see a clip from a BBC documentary by famous British atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins. He authored a book called The God Delusionin 2008 that has become one of modern skeptics and atheists’ favorite books.

One of the charges he levels against Christianity is that God, the God of the Bible, specifically of the Old Testament, IF he were to exist, would be a sick, immoral, genocidal monster.

So here is what I want you to do. In groups of 3 or 4, come up with as many criticisms as you have heard (or maybe have hiding in the back of your head too) about the God of the Old Testament. Then choose what you think is the strongest one and tell us when we get back together.

So this is what Richard Dawkins says of the God we serve:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” [Quoted by Paul Copan in Is God a Moral Monster?, p. 21.]

That’s a lot of big words, even for an atheist. J So let me try and translate some of them.

  • Misogynist—woman-hating
  • Infanticidal—killing infants
  • Genocidal—killing people because of their ethnicity or race.
  • Filicidal—killing family
  • Pestilential—harmful or destructive to crops or livestock
  • Megalomaniacial—a person obsessed with their own power
  • Sadomasochistic—the deriving of pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting or submitting to physical or emotional abuse
  • capriciously malevolent—impulsive, unpredictable and arbitrary in doing evil.

Well, that’s quite a rap sheet on God, no?

New Atheist Sam Harris similarly chimes in saying that IF the Bible is true, then we should be stoning people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, worshiping graven images and “other imaginary crimes.”

But is that really what God is? And is it really what the Bible says he is?

The tragedy is that is what many uninformed and casual observers of the Bible think He is. And worse yet, too many of those charges are being subtly believed by professing followers of Christ today too. Somewhere in the back of our minds, we may think we need to disassociate our image of our loving and life-giving Jesus Christ from the description of God in the Old Testament.

So many Christ-followers as well as rejectors of Christ are suffering from the same disease—misconception-itus. Ever had anyone hold misconceptions of who you are…and go around telling other people that is who you really are? God knows the experience.

So let’s look at as much of the evidence as we can this morning and figure out where the truth lies. Since these are accusations about the nature of God and his actions, let’s take them one rap-sheet charge at a time.

Charge #1—God is arrogant, obsessed with an unhealthy self-preoccupation. That is evidenced by his need to be superior over rival gods and receive constant sacrifices.

            So the charge is pride and arrogance. Just what IS pride and arrogance.

Pride in human beings is an inflated view of ourselves, it’s an inordinate opinion of one's own importance, merit, or superiority. Arrogance is pride manifested in offensive attitudes of superiority or self-importance.

            So is God guilty of an over-inflated view of himself? And do His commands to praise, exalt, worship and sacrifice to Him prove that?

            First, I find it comical that the very people who deny God and see no being in the universe greater than themselves are accusing God of an over-inflated view of himself. That attitude itself is about the most prideful and arrogant attitude any person can have. Because when you are, in fact, NOT the most intelligent, most wise, most loving, most forgiving, most patient, most holy, most just being in the universe but you claim to be, that is a breath-taking level of arrogance.

            Fact is, for those of us who believe in the God of the Bible, we recognize that there is a Being (God) who is millions of times more loving, compassionate, self-sacrificing, patient, etc. than we are. If God is really who He claims to be as he is revealed in the Bible, then it is impossible for Him to have an inflated, inordinately high view of himself. In fact, for him to think less of himself than he is would be thinking a lie. And to communicate anything but the truth about himself to us would be a fraud. God can’t do that because it is impossible for him to lie.

            But why not just leave it at that? Why call upon people, inferior and sinful beings, to worship, praise, honor, glorify and sacrifice to Him? If He is perfect, then He doesn’t need any of that from us…so why ask for it???

            Well, we have two choices there. Either God “needs” all that from us…in which case He would not be God because he would be needing something outside himself to be complete. OR God invites/commands those things from us because WE need them in order to be who we are created to be…to reach our fullest humanness. I would contend that is precisely why we must engage in acts of worship, praise, sacrifice, love and adoration of God. WE need it, not God. We need all those things in order to fulfill what we were made for, to enjoy the greatest good in life and eternity.

            I like the way C.S. Lewis puts it in his Reflections on the Psalms.

            “The most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their game…I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment ; it is appointed consummation.” [Quoted by Paul Copan in Is God a Moral Monster, p. 31.]

            As dependent beings created to experience life at its best in relationship with God, praise, honor, etc. changes us. It lifts us up to the enjoyment of God and life in a way that selfishness and self-centeredness never can. That is why the church creed (Westminster Shorter Catechism) tells us that “the chief end/[purpose/meaning] of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God doesn’t have any “need” of our worship or our sacrifices. But WE DO! To detach ourselves from God and all the experiences of praise and worship that go along with loving Him is to rob ourselves of the best existence has to offer.

But here is the other side of this charge of divine arrogance and pride—humility. Unfortunately, most dictionary definitions today of humility are deeply flawed. They define humility something like this: A modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.   (Webster)--not thinking of yourself as better than other people.

            That sounds like a mind-game to me. What if you are the best brain surgeon in the world. Is it really humility to say you’re not a very good brain surgeon compared to other brain surgeons?

ILL: Winston Churchill once described a particular person this way: “He’s a humble man—and for good reason!” J

In other words, most people have plenty of faults or shortcomings alone that should make us modest in our estimation of ourselves.

But what if you are God—perfect in every way. Is it possible for God to be humble? Not if humility is “not thinking of yourself as better than other people.” That’s where many definitions fall short.         

Actually, for once I like Wikipedia’s definition best: the act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others, or conversely, having a clear perspective, and therefore respect, for one's place in context.

            This is precisely what God did in the incarnation. He knew he was the only Being in existence who could solve our sin problem and His own need to be both loving, just and holy at the same time. So he “humbled himself” (Phil. 2) and took on human nature and flesh, submitted to all the limitations of humanness, lived the only perfect life without sin and then embraced the horrific cross in order to satisfy God’s just and holy wrath against our sin as well as triumph over death.

God turns out to be actually THE MOST HUMBLE being in the entire universe for willingly lowering himself so that every human being could be lifted up to God as we were initially created to be.

That IS the Gospel—the God who had no need to seek us or sacrifice for us humbling himself the most in order to purchase salvation and reconciliation with Him for us.


  • Have you come to recognize that and accept His divine offer of forgiveness, reconciliation and life with Him now and forever? [Invitation to accept Christ.]
  • Like admiring and commenting on a beautiful sunset, this is why those of us who know Christ need to gather together to praise and worship Him.

On to Charge #2—The Mosaic law is harsh, arbitrary and immoral. (An interesting charge coming from people who deny absolute morality!)

Let me give you an example. Someone posted an “Open letter to Dr. Laura” on the internet several years ago. Dr. Laura Schlessinger was, in case you didn’t know, a Jewish author and radio talk show host. Here’s part of the rather sarcastic letter.

            “Dear Dr. Laura: Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

            I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to follow them:

  • I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
  • I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
  • Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
  • Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19:27. How should they die?
  • I know from Leviticus 11:6-8, that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
  • My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread….

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

[Cited in Copan, pp. 57-58.]

O.K. Lots to tackle here.

The first major misunderstanding here is belief that the Mosaic Law was a.) something for ALL peoples and nations, and b.) is still to be observed by all God-fearing people. That kind of application of the Mosaic Covenant and Law totally misinterprets even the most elementary understanding of the Old Testament.

#1.—The Mosaic Law, the law of God given to Israel through Moses, was for one nation and one nation alone—Israel, NOT the whole world for all time.

The only cases in which it applied to non-Jews was if those Gentiles decided to live in Israel, worship God as He commanded and become effectively Jewish converts and citizens. This Law was given to set Israel apart from all the nations of the world. It was to visibly demonstrate how God’s people were to be holy (separated from sin) as God is.

#2.—Thinking that the Mosaic Law is still binding on anyone totally denies the New Covenant instituted through Jesus Christ. That New Covenant which we celebrate every Sunday with the symbols of Communion did away with the Mosaic Covenant.

Are there some of the declarations of moral absolutes that still apply? Of course—thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery…covet your neighbors house/wife/goods, etc. Any command/moral absolutes repeated/modified in the N.T. are binding for the people of God.


  • Is adultery still wrong? Yes, the entire N.T. repeatedly forbids it (Romans 13:9; Mk. 7:21-23). In fact, Jesus modified the prohibition to include not just the act of adultery but even thoughts of adultery (Mt. 5:26-28). Under the New Covenant, while adultery can be tolerated legally by the state (we don’t jail or execute people for it), the church is to address unrepentant adultery among professed Christ-followers with removal from fellowship (I Cor. 5:1-5).
  • But what about one of “The Big 10,” “honor the Sabbath to keep it holy”? Well, the early church understood that this is not one of the Mosaic Laws that is a moral absolute for God’s people for all times. That is why they started worshipping on Sunday, the day of Christ’s resurrection, rather than Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. They knew they were under a New Covenant. This is how Paul stated it in Romans 14:5 when he is talking about how Christ-followers shouldn’t judge each other about certain things.

5 “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”

So in essence, whether you keep the Sabbath on Saturday and HOW you keep it is a matter of personal choice/conscience now. The same can be said for all the dietary laws about clean and unclean foods and even food offered to idols (c.f. Acts 10:9-43; I Cor. 8).

In addition, the New Covenant applies to the people of God in the church age. Should we demand that non-Christians to observe those moral absolutes that carry over into the New Covenant? I’m not so convinced of that.

On the positive side, yes, it will be to their advantage and blessing. Adultery damages people, marriages and families whether you are a Christ-follower or not. So does gossip, slander, hatred, greed, covetousness and a host of other sins. The more a people or culture avoid those things God still says are sin (moral absolutes), the better it goes for those people and nations.

But without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in someone, we know we will all fall short in many ways. Even with the Holy Spirit, too many of us fail deeply and frequently. Advocating for certain laws that support absolute morality that is grounded in the nature of God is always good for a society. But when people reject the knowledge of God as our culture has today, the only way the direction will reversed is by calling people back to God, not back to a law they no longer respect or desire. When hearts change, laws will change. Without heart-changes with God, no amount of good laws on the books will make people good.

What about the claim that any change in God’s “law” means his Word is not unchanging? When we assert that God’s word is unchanging, we are doing so recognizing full well that a.) not all of his word applies to all people at all times, and b.) the nature of his word is that it is progressive revelation—God’s word is a continue unfolding, a progressive revealing, of His will for people.

God never intended for the whole world to keep the Mosaic Law. I don’t think he even expects that the whole world will try to keep the moral absolutes under the New Covenant. The Mosaic Laws applied to a specific people (Jews), for a specific period of time (from Moses to Jesus), in a specific place in the world (the Promised Land).

First, the purpose of the Mosaic Law was to develop a people who would be “holy”, set apart for Yahweh, separated from the idolatry of the people surrounding them, different. God wanted to show the world and his people that every part of life was to be impacted and dominated by their relationship to him. Thus the Mosaic Laws dealt with everything from sexuality to seafood, clothes to covetousness.

Secondly, God wanted to show his people how much they needed a Savior. As Galatians 3 says, Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (vss. 24-25).

That’s why it was humanly impossible to not be ceremonially “unclean” at numerous times. The law wasn’t meant to make Israel perfect; it was meant to lead them to greater faith in God and dependence upon Him through greater recognition of their sinfulness.

But what about the harsh penalties for breaking some of the laws? Here’s the reality. There were some 16 crimes in the O.T. that called for the death penalty, everything from murder to witchcraft to adultery. Only in the case of premeditated murder did the text say that the officials in Israel were forbidden to take a “ransom” or “substitute.” The implication is that in all the other 15 cases, the judges could commute the crimes deserving of capital punishment by designating a “ransom” or “substitute.”

            That is why Jesus could say in John 8 to the religious judges who brought the woman caught in adultery to him to be stoned, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And they walked away.

Stoning was the maximum sentence but a judge could order a fine or “substitute” in place of the stoning. How beautiful is that story knowing that Jesus himself was choosing to become the substitute for that woman’s adultery as the Judge of all mankind. He simply calls her out of her sin and into life made right with God through belief in himself. “Go now and leave your life of sin” was the only charge he gave her.

The vast majority of the O.T. laws stipulated far less severe punishments and fines. In fact, the O.T. law was a gigantic step forward into protecting both the accused and victims. Most crimes were punishable by fines and reparations. Bodily mutilation which was demanded by so many other ancient law-codes for property crimes (Code of Hammurabi or Eshunna, etc.) was forbidden in the Mosaic Law. If property was stolen, damaged or destroyed, it was to be recompensed with property, not bodily injury.

The priority of human life is a remarkably different and distinctive characteristic of Hebrew law. People were always more important than property. Only in the cases of death of someone or bodily mutilation was any bodily harm to the criminal permitted. Even then, it had to follow a rigorous procedure of trial before impartial judges. And bodily injury could not exceed what the victim had suffered. (See Exodus 21 for example.)

So let’s tackle two of the biggest criticisms of the God of the Old Testament: that God required the annihilation, better yet the genocide, of certain peoples…and that the Bible supports slavery. Easiest first—slavery.

Charge #3—the God of the Bible supports slavery.

First, when you think of slavery, what kind of slavery comes to your mind first?

  • Antebellum (pre Civil War) slavery in the South like that depicted in the recent movie 12 Years a Slave.
  • Islamic slavery in Sudan or Nigeria such as Boko Haram just perpetrated on 220 young girls who are being sold as child-brides for $12 each.
  • The slave trade in Africa during the 18th-19th centuries.

This kind of slavery was NEVER permitted by God.

            Hebrew servanthood should be compared not with these versions of slavery but with the debt servanthood that essentially settled this nation. Paying fares for passage to America was too costly for many individuals to afford. So they’d contract themselves out until they paid back their debts. One-half to 2/3rds of white immigrants to Britain’s colonies were indentured servants like this. [Copan, p. 125.]

            In the same way, Israelites strapped for shekels could indenture themselves to someone to pay off their debt. They were not taken forcibly but through a contractual arrangement. Unlike the slavery we normally think of, servanthood wasn’t imposed by an outsider. It didn’t happen through kidnapping. Neither did it last for life unless the servant chose to voluntarily do so. Seven years was the maximum period of time an Israelite could be required to serve to pay off a debt. Once released from the debt, a former servant was free to pursue his/her own livelihood and return to full participation in Israelite society. (Lev. 25; Deut 23:15-16 & 24:7) One scholar even writes that “Hebrew has no vocabulary of slavery, only of servanthood.” Servanthood only existed because of poverty. And the laws about it were given to protect the poor. In fact, many of the laws about the poor (gleaning) were there to prevent even voluntary debt-servitude.

            In reality, the Bible has the first appeals in world literature to treat slaves as human beings for their own sake and not just in the interests of their masters. Injured servants were to be released (Ex. 21). No bodily abuse of servants was permitted. If a master killed his slave, he was to be killed. (“Punished” in Ex. 21:20 always connotes the death penalty.)

            Lev. 25:42-49 does make a distinction between foreign servants/slaves and Israelite slaves. The backdrop to this text is Lev. 19:33-34 where Israelites were commanded to love the stranger in the land: “When a stranger [ger] resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” (Reinforced in Deut. 10:19.)

            Since the land belonged to Yahweh (Lev. 25:23; Josh. 22:19), foreign settlers couldn’t acquire it. Yet a foreigner (nokri) could become an alien (ger) if he embraced Israel’s ways fully. He would no longer be a permanent outsider and was considered more as an ethnic minority. But they were restricted from having Israelite servants. Israel’s slave laws were remarkably accommodating to foreigners. But “membership does have its privileges!”

[BTW, when the N.T. was being written, 85-90% of Rome’s population consisted of slaves. Rome did consider slaves property but granted them rights to own property, start businesses and earn money to buy their freedom. Jesus clearly stated his opposition to slavery when he quoted Is. 61:1—“…to proclaim release to the captives,…to set free those who are oppressed” (Lk. 4:18).

In Christ, social status/distinction was irrelevant (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). Slaves could be church leaders just like free men. They were called “brother” or “sister” and Chr. masters were commanded to show them compassion, justice and patience. Paul referred to them as “kinsman,” “fellow prisoner,” and “fellow worker” (Rm. 16:7 & 9).

Why didn’t Paul advocate for abolition? What would a slave uprising have done to the Gospel as a direct threat to Rome? Christians undermined slavery by their actions, not policies. It was the same type of incremental strategy taken by President Abraham Lincoln. Though he despised slavery and talked freely about this degrading institution, his first priority was to hold the Union together rather than try to abolish slavery immediately. Doing the latter without the former would have been useless. Yet remember: the slavery of the O.T. and even of Rome was far different from American antebellum slavery.

Now for the last charge: #4.) Was the killing of the Canaanites an act of ethnic cleansing in which “bloodthirsty massacres” were carried out with “xenophobic relish”? Let’s look at the facts.

First, the notion that people can become so evil that they reach a point of no return has no place in an atheistic world view. Man is the measure of all things in that view and no one but humans themselves have the right to judge behavior as irreparably evil. (Even then, the notion of “evil” is ridiculous to their sensibilities since they recognize no absolute truths.) People simply are what they are by nature of biology, genetics and environment.

            But biblical history indicates that there have been several occasions in history when the corporate evil of a nation or city have sunk so low as to demand that God bring judgment and an end to ongoing evil.


  • It happened in Genesis 6 with the flood. Here’s God’s commentary:

5.) “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”

11.) Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12) God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.

I don’t think any of us have lived in a situation like that. Imagine a world where there is no Holy Spirit at work restraining evil, virtually no God-followers to be salt and light, nothing but constant evil. And this were people are living, not 60-80 years but 600-800 years. Evil gets pretty darn set in unrepentant hearts after several decades let alone centuries.

Even then, God had Noah preach for some 100 years that judgment was coming…and no one outside his family of 7 responded. There is a limit to the evil God will allow to go unjudged. The world had reached that limit in Noah’s time, yet God chose to take extraordinary steps to preserve just one righteous man and his family.

  • It happened in Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18-19). Out of these two cities, not even 10 righteous people could be found. These cities had hit moral rock bottom. They had apparently passed the point of no return. The description of the level of their depravity in Gen. 19 is one of the most graphic and perverted descriptions of evil in the Bible. So God judged and brought an end to entire cities.

When it came to similar judgment on a handful of cities in the Promised Land, Yahweh waited 430 years according to the biblical text of Gen.15:16 (& Ex. 12:40, 41). “The sin of the Amorite [had] not yet reached its limit,” the Bible says.

And even then, when God sent his people into Canaan to conquer the land, those cities could have chosen a different path than resistance. Jericho had 7 days plus to repent. All the cities that were destroyed had heard of God’s greatness in delivering Israel from the mighty Egyptians and crossing the Jordan on dry ground. God had been more than patient and more than obvious with his call to repent.

I’ll spare you the descriptions of the incestuous and bloodthirsty gods of the Amorites. Human life was cheap, violence was prized and sexual immorality was present in its basest forms. The Israelites were simply God’s chosen tool for passing judgment on the Canaanites.

            God’s command to exterminate certain cities was not based on race. This was not “genocide.” Ethnic cleansing is fueled by racial hatred. This wasn’t. It was based on God’s command and God’s judgment (not man’s) about the evil nature of a people whose evil had passed the point of no return. This kind of warfare wasn’t the standard for the other stages in Israel’s history either. It wasn’t intended as a permanent fixture in Israel’s story. It was unique to Israel at a particular point in time and was not to be repeated in later history by Israel of by other nations.

            Israel herself would not escape similar judgment when, hundreds of years later, her cities would be judged by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, themselves an evil people. The issue again was not race or nationality; it was evil and sin.

Finally, let me just allude to the biblical language issue here. Certain passages like Joshua 10:40 leave the impression that the Israelites completely whipped out the Canaanites.

“Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded.”

            Yet we know from other passages that the conquest was a mixed picture of success and failure. By the time we get to the book of Judges, we find that quiet a few Canaanites are still living in the land. In fact, they’re oppressing God’s people. (Judges 1:21, 27-28, 2:3).

            While some would claim the Bible is contradicting itself, I think it is more accurate to recognize that Joshua is using hyperbole, a sort of “warfare rhetoric” common in other ancient Near Eastern military accounts.

            God’s concern was with the destruction of false Canaanite religions, not an ethnic group. The salvation of Rahab and her household makes it clear that even this severe judgment had its exceptions and was not absolute. We know that certain, more cooperative Canaanites were subjected to forced labor, not annihilation (Judg. 1:27-36; I Kings 9:20-21; Josh. 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-13). God’s judgment, as always, showed grace even in the midst of great evil.


Hopefully you can see from even this brief, more factual look at the charges leveled against God these days that the history does not support the critics’ case. We may still wonder why God chooses at desperate times in human history to bring such massive judgment. We may still think we are more compassionate than God, that the world or nation or city could never get so evil as to actually warrant divine, catastrophic judgment.

            But the sobering reality is that biblical prophecy predicts just such judgment on a world-wide scale in what could be the not-too-distant future. The judgments of the book of Revelation will be poured out on an even more evil world than we have today. And still evil people will refuse to repent. Instead they will shake their proverbial fists at God, curse Him and die.  

ILL: Yale theologian Miroslav Volf was born in Croatia and lived through the nightmare years of ethnic strife in the former Yugoslavia that included the destruction of churches, the raping of women, and the murdering of innocents. He once thought that wrath and anger were beneath god, but he came to realize that his view of God had been too low. This is his own admission of error about our new generation of atheists’ complaints about divine wrath. He writes,

            “I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn’t God love? Shouldn’t divine love be beyond wrath? God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them.

            My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,0000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry.

            Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where 800,0000 people were hacked to death in 100 days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators’ basic goodness? Wasn’t God fiercely angry with them?

            Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love.   God is wrathful because God is love.” [Quoted Copan, p. 192.]

Truly Paul is right when he exhorts us in Romans 11:22, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God.”