In light of recent terrorists’ attacks in Brussels and Paris in the name of God, we must determine if there is a difference between the God of the Bible and the God of the terrorists. We all know in our heart that killing others simply because of their personal, religious beliefs is immoral. If there was no Bible or Koran, the radicals would have no supposed justification for their evil behavior. Since interpretations of past writings are always possibly fallible, human reasoning is important in determining Truth. Can one though claim God is loving when reading about God’s warrior mentality during OT times? Are holy wars today the same as wars God was involved in?
Religious wars today are initiated for the sole purpose to convert others to their beliefs and traditions to prove allegiance to their God. The God of the Israelites never approved of wars with the intent to make everyone believe in Yahweh, the God of the Jewish nation. It is difficult to prove God requires belief in God against one’s will. Freedom of choice has been part of God’s DNA from the beginning of creation. If God possesses the power the OT writers claims, war wasn’t necessary to require conversion as God could simply destroy individuals who refused to believe. History during these times strongly suggests that nations did not have a treaty mentality. The God of the Bible desired to live in peace with neighbors.
Several passages use language of total destruction of the nations in the land of Canaan: “and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally” (Deut. 7:2). But, in the same breathe God speaks of driving out the nations (7:1) and advising against intermarriage with the enemies (7:3). Why advise against intermarriage with dead people? Other passages specify the destruction of men, woman and children, but then survivors of these lands are mentioned later. It seems reasonable to understand extermination passages within the context of initially trying to drive out the enemy. It is common in warfare rhetoric to speak in global terms – we must utterly and completely destroy the enemy. It isn’t always possible in war but sometimes women and children are able to survive.
God didn’t suddenly become the aggressor. God promised to allow Abraham to return to a land previously occupied (Gen. 13:14-15), after the Israelites were judged morally the hands of the Egyptians (Gen. 15:13-16). Holy warriors today don’t seek justice for themselves or their conquests. The only morality involved in holy wars today is imposing one’s personal beliefs on others. God often kept the Jews separate for moral protection, as the Canaanites evil practices included burning their children as sacrifices to their gods. Many people today are vulnerable to be radicalized if allowed among people who believe in forced conversion in the name of God.
God never violates the rights of others when it comes to personal beliefs. God’s anger wasn’t about not believing in God but participating in evil practices at the expenses of others. Good people don’t always stand by when the rights of others are being violated. There is no such thing as a Christian nation as God doesn’t demand others believe or trust in God. Jesus didn’t kill or blow others up to spread the gospel. Jesus sacrificed His own life in hopes one may choose to trust in a God who always has individual and national best interests in mind.