This week I had to write something in the form of a response, like a Letter to the Editor or some such, to a challenge against Christianity. I was not surprised to run a search on it and finding someone’s attempt to do exactly that, going so far as to call it “unbeatable.” The challenge
was more than a little insulting, basically stating that all Fundamentalist Christians believe the verses given to be commands from God to dash children upon rocks and slice open pregnant women. You can read it for yourself if you like, but I highly recommend not doing it unless you are strong of both stomach and patience. I was briefly enflamed. Then I realized where this man was coming from. He was not angry about the so-called “commands,” but that God seems to do nothing to relieve his suffering.
The following is my apologetic response:
RE: Your challenge posted at http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/DebunkingChristians/Page21.htm
You are right to bring this up. Unfortunately, you also bring up verses that do not challenge God’s “command” of to “dash children upon rocks.” This is the problem with any verse or passage taken out of context. So, let us look at your primary arguments up close before I show you the passages that, just maybe, you meant to post instead of these and why those might be taken out of context as well.
You start your argument with Psalm 137:9, “How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.” This is not a command from God but the final line of a lament song by the captive Israel under Babylonian rule. This last line is in anticipation of what the prophets have said about being released, verbatim, yet also refers to a verse before others you quoted, Isaiah 13:14, “And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep with none to gather them, they will each turn to his own people, and each one flee to his own land.” Again, this is not a command by God nor is it even referring to the Israelites against Babylon, but is a prophecy, a prediction, of what is to come, seen in the verses following as the Medes coming against the Babylonians.
Likewise, there are two ways to take the verse from Hosea (13:16). If taken figuratively, it speaks of the “dashing” of a fertility cult in the Holy Land, using a metaphor to make “clear” that this is what was being spoken of. More likely, however, is it is speaking prophetically of one of a few atrocities another country would commit against Samaria, namely Assyria as seen in 2 Kings 8:10. In fact, the only verse you have offered that remotely comes close to the assertion that it was “God’s command” is 2 Kings 15:16, and even then it is referring to the actions of a shameless king of the increasingly fallen Israel, continuing to rebel against both God and man.
Thus, I must ask at this point, are you questioning “God’s command” or with God’s lack of doing anything about these atrocities? Among other verses that answer this question in Psalm 78 is this one, “How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert!” God grieves the sins of us all. Psalm 103 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” God is compassionate and yet, “He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.” Each of the verses you give are, at best, God allowing things to happen yet notice that these are warnings given to people to turn themselves back to Him. He could have forced them, but then what would be the point of free will?
I did promise that I would point to verses that more directly tie in with your written complaint. They are all in Genesis and Exodus and each one has to do with God’s judgment. I noticed this long ago and would like to point these out to you because they go along with those verses from Psalm 103 I quoted. Adam and Eve, the only humans in the Garden of Eden, were forced from the garden for their sin, their disobedience to God, and yet were also given a prophecy of what was to come. “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” God took away the garden, His garden, leaving only the untamed wilderness for humanity to attempt to tame, suffering. In one move, humanity relegated itself to a life of suffering instead of an eternity with God. Twice after this, with Noah and the flood and with Lot and Sodom (and Gamorrah), God passed judgment on lands “full of sin” while saving those who are found to be “righteous.” Abraham was later promised the “Promised Land” of Canaan for his family yet was not given it within his lifetime because it was not yet time. It did not become time until generations later, after the land had become fully corrupt, and, yes, God then commanded the Israelites to go in and slaughter all, leaving nothing of the old cultures left. This is, perhaps, what you were thinking of when you posted those other verses as a challenge.
Keep this in mind, that God waited generations in hopes that humanity would return to Him before doing anything. As Psalm 103 stated, God is patient and slow to anger. To put it more bluntly, read Job. God gave him the best response about why bad things happen, that Job could not possibly understand God’s wisdom in letting these things happen nor could any of us. Despite your challenge to Christians, your challenge to God, God still loves you. Challenge Him if you will. His love never fails. Just read the end of the book.
Monte “Longhaul Preacher” Pescador