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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, essential reading
Every Christian needs to read this book which confronts us with the inescapable gory nature of our history. We believe in a God who is loving and merciful, but who is also holy and cannot abide evil.

We rightly focus on the New Testament and its message of love and forgiveness for sins: this book reminds us that our salvation has a bloody history, not only in...
Published on 9 May 2005 by Gontroppo

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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Christians United For Genocide speak out
"Show them no mercy" is a book published by the mainstream Christian publisher Zondervan. But are the ideas contained in the book mainstream among evangelical Christians? If they are, I suddenly became more sympathetic to the wackos that are waging war on Christmas. I found the book to be both disturbing and revealing.

The book deals with the perhaps most...
Published on 23 Aug 2008 by Ashtar Command


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, essential reading, 9 May 2005
Every Christian needs to read this book which confronts us with the inescapable gory nature of our history. We believe in a God who is loving and merciful, but who is also holy and cannot abide evil.

We rightly focus on the New Testament and its message of love and forgiveness for sins: this book reminds us that our salvation has a bloody history, not only in the torture and crucifixion of Christ, but also in the death of many hundreds of thousands of people, by leaders who believed they were ordered to do this by God himself.

Three of the book's contributors understand that Moses, Joshua and David were led by God to wipe out Canaanites, Amalekites, Philistines and others, but Nazarene pacifist C S Cowles believes that the New Testament shows that they were misled.

It is worth reading the articles from the different points of view, but also intriguing to read each author's critique of the others' views.

I felt that each article was worth having been included in the book, but I would have liked to read what an evangelical pacifist with a high view of the bible would have written, too.

Highly recommended
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Christians United For Genocide speak out, 23 Aug 2008
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"Show them no mercy" is a book published by the mainstream Christian publisher Zondervan. But are the ideas contained in the book mainstream among evangelical Christians? If they are, I suddenly became more sympathetic to the wackos that are waging war on Christmas. I found the book to be both disturbing and revealing.

The book deals with the perhaps most shocking part of the Bible, the Book of Joshua, included in both Jewish and Christian Bibles. Joshua and the Israelites conquer the land of Canaan (Palestine) and exterminate the entire civilian population of several towns, most notably Jericho. This genocidal butchering is commanded by God himself, who is also portrayed as the leader of the war effort. In plain English, God commands genocide against civilian men, women and children. They are all evil, and every one must die, lest they pollute the Israelites with their wicked heathen cults. Indeed, "Show them no mercy" is actually a quote from the Bible.

By modern standards, Joshua was a war criminal. There is also an obvious difference between the message of the Book of Joshua, and the message of Jesus, for instance as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet, Christians are supposed to believe that the God of Joshua was the same as Jesus Christ. Does this mean that genocide is justified from a Christian perspective?

Disturbingly, only one of the four contributors to this volume reject genocide. The exception is C.S. Cowles. Judging by his contributions, he is some kind of Methodist. He argues for a radical downplaying of the Old Testament in favor of the New. Cowles articles are very spirited and emotional, indeed the only contributions that are. He's getting it.

The three other writers are all pro-genocide. I couldn't decipher their exact denominational affiliations, but I guess one of them is a Baptist and the two others Calvinists. Their texts, by contrast to that of Cowles, are dispassionate, scholarly, even boring. Given the subject, this give them a truly bizarre appearence. All three of them argue that genocide is not allowed today, neither for Christians or anyone else. It was allowed "only" in the past, "only" for God's chosen nation Israel, and "only" at God's express command.

So that makes it alright, then?

It's very difficult to interact with these kinds of ideas in a dispassionate way. However, I will make my best. But first, a hot coffee....

OK, I'm back.

First, the practical problem. The fact that Merrill, Gard and Longman limits genocide to the distant past (but also to the future, in the form of the apocalypse) may convince their own followers, but the real world is more complicated than that. And more evil. A prophet or churchman may claim that it's the will of God that a certain people, say the Tutsi, should be exterminated. He may claim that the apocalypse draws near, and that his people are simply doing Gods work. The prophet may even claim to have recieved a direct communication from God himself as to that effect. It's unclear what Merrill, Gard or Longman would say in such a situation. "You are right, God does occasionally command genocide, but not in the present dispensation. You have to wait until the apocalypse for the next chance". Oh my...

Indeed, every argument used by the three writers defending Joshua is used to justify genocide still today. The Jews are not the only people who claim to be chosen. For all I know, the Hutu claimed to be God's chosen people. One of the writers even argues that not even the children of the Canaanites were innocent, since they were part of an inherently wicked culture. They too must therefore die. The same line of reasoning was used by White settlers to kill Indian babies, and (I imagine) by Nazis to kill Jewish children. Nits, after all, make lice. Its pretty chilling to see every genocidal argument on record in a Christian book!

But what about the theological arguments? According to Merrill, Gard and Longman, God isn't simply loving, good and forgiving. He is also holy. The holiness of God means that he cannot suffer sin, but must exterminate it completely. That is what happened at Jericho and Ai. But what exactly is holiness? The contributors seem to regard it as something existing in and of itself, without any attributes. God is altogether different from everything human and created, and this Wholly Otherness is his holiness. Logically, this means that God stands apart from our modern human morality, according to which genocide is always wrong and its perpetrators should be brought to justice for crimes against humanity. Should we simply say "Amen" to such a God? It's indeed absurd that our gut reflex when reading the Book of Joshua, one of shock and horror, is brushed aside by arguments about the unfathomable workings of God, his holiness, how we puny humans cannot judge him, and so on.

Let's grant for the sake of the argument that God exists. How do Merrill, Gard and Longman know that his holiness is a separate quality? Perhaps Gods holiness, his perfect nature, means that he is loving, good, forgiving and long-suffering. After all, perfect goodness would also set God apart from fallen humanity and creation.

If God is unfathomable, how do Calvinists and Southern Baptists know that the entity they are worshipping is really God? For all we know, it could be the Devil. Indeed, if holiness lacks any qualifying attributes, the result can only be nominalism: what God does is right by definition. But a God whose raw power and will isn't coupled with moral goodness, is not much different from Satan. I'm not being demagogical. I'm trying to make a serious point.

For what is power without morality if not the very definition of evil?
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