14. Clearly, no “total destruction” was in view. Second, the Mosaic law reveals God’s forbearance because of human hard-heartedness. … “Holy warfare” is perhaps the most emotionally charged point raised by the New Atheists. Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Hachette Book Group, 2007), 101,102. (III): Slavery in the New Testament 6, ed. God in the Old Testament is not a moral tyrant. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press P.O. He takes on current New Atheist biblical critics and powerfully addresses virtually every criticism they have raised. 7. Baker Books, 2011. Chapter 17 Indiscriminate Massacre and Ethnic Cleansing? (New York: Basic, 1995), 96. The Killing of the Canaanites (I) Paul Copan's Is God a Moral Monster? I have noted the shift from an ancestral wandering clan to a theocratic nation, then to a monarchy/institutional state/kingdom, an afflicted remnant, and finally a post-exilic community/ assembly of promise. Later in the New Testament (NT), referring to this language that was being used as a pretext for personal vengeance outside the lawcourts, Jesus himself did not take such language literally (Matthew 5:38,39) — no more than He took literally the language of plucking out eyes and cutting off hands if they lead to sin (Matthew 5:29,30). Part 1: Neo-Atheism Are the charges made by the New Atheists a distorted representation of Old Testament ethics or is God a moral monster, as the New Atheists says He is? The Divine Foundation of Goodness verse 15). The New Atheists and the Old Testament God. Slaves in Israel, unlike their ANE contemporaries, were given radical, unprecedented legal/human rights — even if not equaling that of free persons. So if Jericho was a fort, then “all” those killed therein were warriors — Rahab and her family being the exceptional noncombatants dwelling within this militarized camp. is vintage Copan. Paul Copan’s book, Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God, is the best apologia I have read for the disturbing actions and characteristics of the God of the Bible.I had read a lot on this subject and did not expect to find anything new, but I was surprised to find exactly that. 1. What of the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15? My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. In their zealous preoccupation with the negative in OT ethics, New Atheists neglect these warm undertones in the Law of Moses itself, exemplified in Yahweh’s gracious, compassionate character and His saving action. 6. Hebrew (debt) slaves — which we could compare to indentured servanthood during the founding of America — were to be granted eventual release in the seventh year (Leviticus 25:35–43) — a notable improvement over other ANE law codes. Is God a Moral Monster - P. Copan - Free ebook download as PDF File (.pdf) or read book online for free. Jack Isaiah 5:4; 65:2,3; Ezekiel 6:9). Punishments and Other Harsh Realities in Perspective In this book, Copan interacts with the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris in a gracious but firm way, seeking to put the record straight about the God of the Old Testament. Paul Copan is the nation’s leading apologist regarding problems with the biblical text, and Is God a Moral Monster? The same applies throughout the Book of Joshua. This is a false charge. In the first place, God had given Abraham the miracle child Isaac, through whom God promised to make Abraham the father of many. As we will see below, the critics’ assumption that Israel’s holiness code offers an ultimate, universal ethic is misguided. Each example calls for (monetary) compensation, not bodily mutilation. Is God a Moral Monster? Copan is a distinguished evangelical apologist who received his PhD from Marquette University. David Lorton, “The Treatment of Criminals in Ancient Egypt,” in The Treatment of Criminals in the Ancient Near East, ed. Jesus as the Fulfiller of the Old Testament Was His reaction to the sins of the Canaanites and the Amalekites a vicious form of “ethnic cleansing”? The remainder of this article is premium content. Despite their claims, their arguments have been recognized by experts — both Christians and atheists — as being extraordinarily weak. 9. In the tradition of his popular Is God a Moral Monster?, Paul Copan teams up with Matthew Flannagan to tackle some of the most confusing and uncomfortable passages of Scripture. Hebrews 11:19). Polygamy, for instance, is practiced — contrary to God’s ideals in Genesis 2:24 and contrary to the prohibition in Leviticus 18:18 — perhaps in part because its prohibition would have been difficult to enforce, even if the biblical writers hoped for something better (cp. God’s Ways and the Binding of Isaac With the second harsh command regarding the Canaanites, Yahweh has already promised to bring blessing to all the families of the earth without exclusion (Genesis 12:1–3; 22:17,18) and desires to include Israel’s most-hated enemies in this blessing (e.g., Isaiah 19:25). Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com. 11/1 (2009): 73–90. See ch. As the Anchor Bible Dictionary’s essay on “Slavery” observes, “We have in the Bible 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.” By comparison, “the idea of a slave as exclusively the object of rights and as a person outside regular society was apparently alien to the laws of the ANE,” where slaves were forcibly branded or tattooed for identification. The moral issues in the story are complicated by the monster… Not only do we find morally inferior cuneiform legislation, but also its attendant harsh, ruthless punishments. This is my review of Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster?Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011). Box 222, Kulpsville, PA 19443, 7 MEN WHO RULE THE WORLD FROM THE GRAVE, by Dave Breese, Book Notice: A CONCISE GUIDE TO THE QURAN: ANSWERING THIRTY CRITICAL QUESTIONS, by Ayman S. Ibrahim, Mark Coppenger’s Review of PETER AKINOLA: WHO BLINKS FIRST? BIBLICAL FIDELTY AGAINST THE GAY AGENDA IN THE GLOBAL ANGLICAN COMMUNITY, by Gbenga Gbesan, John Frame: Author of SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, David and Jonathan Gibson: Editors of FROM HEAVEN HE CAME AND SOUGHT HER, Kelly M. Kapic: Author of A LITTLE BOOK FOR NEW THEOLOGIANS. 13. This article is taken and abridged from chapter 9 of God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible edited by William Lane Craig and Chad Meister. Despite the significant moral advances at Sinai, the Law is not the final word. Richard Dawkins thinks that Yahweh is a moral monster: “What makes my jaw drop is that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model as Yahweh — and even worse, that they should bossily try to force the same evil monster (whether fact or fiction) on the rest of us.”. While Israel was commanded to offer safe harbor to foreign runaway slaves (Deuteronomy 23:15,16), Hammurabi demanded the death penalty for those helping runaway slaves(Â§16). 3 in John Goldingay, Theological Diversity and the Authority of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987). Part 4: Sharpening the Moral Focus 22. While negative aspects of slavery are retained, slaves achieve astonishing rights in contrast to the rest of the ANE. 2. According to Hebrews, Jesus brings “substance” to the OT’s “shadows,” fully embodying humanity’s and Israel’s story. Published on January 15, 2015 by Steve West, Members click Collections of cuneiform law include the laws of Ur-Nammu (c. 2100 B.C., during the Third Dynasty of Ur); the laws of Lipit-Ishtar (c. 1925 B.C. 10. Fourth, the biblical language of the Canaanite “utter destruction” is identical to that of Judah’s destruction in the Babylonian exile. Introduction Second, as I argue elsewhere,15 we have strong archaeological evidence that the targeted Canaanite cities such as Jericho and Ai were not population centers with women and children, but military forts or garrisons that protected noncombatant civilians in the hill country — namely, soldiers and political/military leaders — although occasionally female tavern keepers (e.g., Rahab) could be found in these citadels. Divine Arrogance or Humility? Paul Copan “Yahweh Wars and the Canaanites,” Philosophia Christi n.s. Chapter 19 Morality without a Lawgiving God? Richard Dawkins, A Devil’s Chaplain (Boston: Houghton and Mifflin, 2003), 34. Used by permission (www.Lockman.org). Behind both of these hard commands, however, is the clear context of Yahweh’s loving intentions and faithful promises. Find many great new & used options and get the best deals for Is God a Moral Monster? Is the God of the Old Testament a “moral monster” who arbitrarily commands genocide against innocent men, women, and children? The biblical text, supported by archaeological discovery, suggests that while Judah’s political and religious structures were ruined and that Judahites died in the conflict, the urban elite were deported to Babylon while many “poor of the land” remained behind to inhabit the towns of Judah. If the edicts of the OT god are not the edicts of a moral monster, then morality has lost all its meaning. Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken from The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version / Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Though OT ethics presents certain challenges, we have seen that the New Atheists often overstate and distort them. He is author and editor of a number of books, including When God Goes to Starbucks, True for You, But Not for Me, That’s Just Your Interpretation, Creation Out of Nothing, and Is God A Moral Monster? Women in Israel Third, the “obliteration language” in Joshua (e.g., “he left no survivor” and “utterly destroyed all who breathed” [Joshua 10:40, NASB]) and in early Judges is clearly hyperbolic — another stock feature of ANE language. First, Israel would not have been justified to attack the Canaanites without Yahweh’s explicit command. In Hittite law (1650–1500 B.C. Chapter 18 The Root of All Evil? ), a city 100 miles north of Babylon; the laws of Hammurabi (1750 B.C. Chapter 11 Bride-Price? Then in chapter 5 he turns to the binding of Isaac. The Mosaic Law is truly a moral improvement on the surrounding ANE cultures — justifiably called “spiritual” and “good” (Romans 7:14,16) and reflective of Yahweh’s wisdom (Deuteronomy 6:5–8). here for audio: Part 2: God: Gracious Master or Moral Monster? This review should be read as a supplement to Copan’s book. John Barton, Ethics and the Old Testament (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1998), 7. (I): Slavery in Israel 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. (I) Sixth, God’s difficult command regarding the Canaanites as a limited, unique salvation-historical situation is in some ways comparable to God’s difficult command to Abraham in Genesis 22. Gordon J. Wenham, Exploring the Old Testament: A Guide to the Pentateuch (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 137. However, the greater stringency of the ensuing laws is the result of three things: (a) Israel’s refusal to approach God at the mountain as a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6), instead sending Moses as their mediator; (b) Aaron’s failure as high priest in the golden calf incident (Exodus 32), resulting in a tightening of priestly restrictions (Exodus 35 through Leviticus 16); (c) the people’s worship of the goat idols (Leviticus 17:1–9), resulting in more severe laws for the community (Leviticus 17:10–26:46).14 Consider how a rebellious child will often need external rules, severe deadlines, and close supervision to hold him over until (hopefully) an internal moral change takes place. Human sacrifice is detestable to God because it falls into the category of murd… Discussion/Study Questions Already have an account? They also refuse to acknowledge that atheism has been responsible for certain global atrocities, while refusing to give Christianity any credit for doing anything good in human history. Not at all. This huge presumption misses the flow of biblical revelation. The Mosaic Law, Human Sin, and Divine Ideals. : Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan (2011, Trade Paperback) at the best online prices at eBay! Chapter 8 The Bible’s Ubiquitous Weirdness? The New Atheists tend to assume that the Mosaic Law is comprehensively normative for the consistent Bible believer. You may purchase Copan’s book here.This review may be freely distributed, reposted on your personal blogs and websites, printed off, emailed to friends and enemies, or completely ignored. Indeed, we see unchangeable biblical ideals highlighted from the very beginning of the Scriptures (Genesis 1:26,27; 2:24), which are reaffirmed throughout. Copyright(c) 2009 by William Lane Craig and Chad Meister. Indeed, the terms “city” (‘ir) and “king” (melek) were typically used in Canaan during this period to refer, respectively, to “fortress/garrison” and “military leader.” In addition, Jericho probably had about 100 or fewer soldiers in this outpost (which is why the Israelites could encircle it seven times in one day and then do battle against it). In chapters 3 and 4 Copan addresses the charge that God in the Old-Testament is both jealous and egocentrically demands worship. Making Sense of the Old Testament God. It is the exact opposite of morality; it's arguing why you don't need to use your own moral compass if God tells you not to, even to the point of murder. Making Sense Of The Old Testament God, High Quality, Excellent Content,Great community, Copyright © Books At a Glance | P.O. Each one of these requires distinct rather than uniform moral responses.6 19. God promised a new covenant that would progress beyond the old (e.g., Jeremiah 31; Ezekiel 36,37). 17. Fifth, the Mosaic Law contains an inherent planned obsolescence, which is to be fulfilled in Christ. John Goldingay, Theological Diversity, 86. “Slavery (Old Testament),” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. Thus, stopping at OT texts without allowing Christ — the second Adam and the new, true Israel — to illuminate them, our reading and interpretation of the OT will be greatly impoverished. Paul Copan is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. Theism is immensely better equipped metaphysically to provide such a context. Many of Israel’s stories involving stubbornness, treachery, and ingratitude are vivid negative role models — ones to be avoided. ), God threatened to “lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there” (Jeremiah 9:11). 3. 70 %. "Paul Copan is the nation's leading apologist regarding problems with the biblical text, and Is God a Moral Monster? The Mosaic Law, Israel’s History, and Varying Ethical Demands. Chapter 10 Misogynistic? Atheism has proven to be a far more destructive force than “religion.” (d) Though Harris correctly defends knowledge of objective moral truths “without reference to scripture,” he misses the greater point of how human value and dignity could emerge given naturalism’s valueless, mindless, materialist origins. Chapter 1 Who Are the New Atheists? Although many writers have provided responses to the New Atheists, there is more work to be done in answering their charges against the morality of God in the Old Testament. Atheists have existed since ancient times, and the percentage of self-proclaimed atheists in the United States has not gone up since the advent of the New Atheists. First, like Narnia’s Aslan, gracious and compassionate Yahweh (Exodus 34:6) is not to be trifled with. 16. Notes, Chapter 2 Consequently, the believer need not justify all aspects of the Sinaitic legal code. 15. The God of the Bible is a good God who demonstrates His love for people by giving His Son for the salvation of those who believe (John 3:16). Shelley portrays the creation of Victor’s monster in a subtle but similar way that God created man. In chapter 6, he argues that the Old Testament law doesn’t represent God’s ‘ideal’ but is rather a step in the ‘redemptive movement’ of Scripture. Fourth, the Mosaic Law contains seeds for moral growth, offering glimmers of light pointing to a higher moral path. In both cases, we have a good, promise-making God who has morally sufficient reasons for issuing these commands. The OT’s descriptions (“is”) do not necessarily amount to prescriptions (“ought”). ), “If a father and son sleep with the same female slave or prostitute, it is not an offence.” (Â¶ 194). attempts a bold apologetic of the Judeo-Christian God's moral status in light of the recent attack on the biblical Old Testament by the so-called new atheists. Although the New Atheists belittle the Mosaic Law for its ruthless strictness, it is an accommodation to a morally undeveloped ANE cultural mindset — with significant ethical improvements — as well as a response to the rebellious, covenant-breaking propensity of the Israelites. As Leviticus 18:28 declares, the land would “spew out” its inhabitants, and Israel itself was subject to the same judgment. When the Monster is driven to crime by frustration and rage, he does not justify himself morally. Chapter 15 Indiscriminate Massacre and Ethnic Cleansing? After the seduction of Israel by Midian, “every male” Midianite was killed (verse 7). Christopher J. Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 310. Paul Davies, Are We Alone? First, we are not to equate Mosaic legislation with the moral. Thus, a proper response calls for greater attention to a range of relevant factors the New Atheists’ crass hermeneutic and left-wing fundamentalism completely ignore. The New Atheists, however, think differently. Muhammad A. Dandamayev, s.v. Such moral blackballing loses him points when he ignores many moral, noble actions of the biblical characters — Abraham’s magnanimity toward Lot; Joseph’s moral integrity; David’s refusal to touch King Saul, despite the opportunities; Nathan’s courage to confront David the adulterer. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 248,242,243,247,241. What’s more, at the end of the book David is fighting an army of Amalekites, and over 400 soldiers escaped (30:17). 3 in Joe M. Sprinkle, Biblical Law and Its Relevance (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2004). Understanding the Covenant-Making God Our focus, though, is on the varying ethical demands on God’s people. Does Religion Cause Violence? (http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201203/201203_034_Good_God.cfm). This release was to be accompanied with generous provisions and a gracious spirit (Deuteronomy 15:9). He is the author or editor of many books on apologetics and philosophy. Yahweh fought on Israel’s behalf while bringing just judgment on an irredeemably Canaanite culture and religion that had sunk hopelessly below any hope of moral return — with the rare exception of Rahab and her family and the Gibeonites at the end of Joshua 9. For one thing, there is scholarly debate on the question of whether or not Onesimus was a slave. Episode 277/278 – Is God a Moral Monster? Israel had not simply “flirted” with rival gods, but cohabited with them, “playing the harlot” (cp. Gary R. Habermas, Distinguished Research Professor, Liberty University and Seminary "Paul Copan has written a most powerful and cogent defense of the character of God in the Old Testament in the face of vicious attacks by the New Atheists claiming that the Old … For certain crimes, Hammurabi mandated that tongue, breast, hand, or ear be cut off (Â§Â§ 192,194,195,205). Is this literal? Together they help the Christian and nonbeliever alike understand the biblical, theological, philosophical, and ethical implications of Old Testament warfare passages. The New Atheists are characterized by passionate zeal and heat in their arguments, even though they claim to be scientific and rational. 12. They question God’s goodness by raising abundant complaints about Old Testament (OT) ethics. See ch. Naturalists still lack the proper metaphysical context for affirming such moral dignity and value. Introduction take for granted the practice of prostitution (e.g., Â¶ 27,30). Instead He is a righteous, patient, merciful, and loving God who waits to execute judgment upon sinners. Consider how, despite such language, the latter part of Joshua itself (along with Judges 1) assumes plenty of Canaanites still inhabit the land (e.g., Joshua 23:12,13). When God created Adam, he collected dirt from the ground. Bruce C. Birch observes that the ANE world — its slavery, polygamy, war, patriarchal structures, kingship, and ethnocentrism — is “totally alien” and “utterly unlike” our own social setting. Matthew 19:8), polygamy was tolerated rather than upheld as an ultimate moral standard. Exodus 34:6) and worldwide salvific purposes. He is good, but not “safe.” The New Atheists resist the notion of Yahweh’s rightful prerogatives over humans; they seem uncomfortable with the idea of judgment or cosmic authority. Even if the poverty could not be eradicated, Deuteronomy 15’s overriding, “revolutionary” goal is that there be no debt slavery in the land at all (verses 4,11).12, Concerning the ANE’s inferior sexual morality, we are familiar with the condemnation of the Canaanite female and male cult prostitutes (cp. Even many Christians struggle to understand some of the Old Testament laws, as … The question is one that cannot be avoided and must be confronted honestly and thoughtfully. Gordon McConville, Grace in the End: A Study in Deuteronomic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 148. 20. Frankenstein's unwillingness to admit to any serious moral fault is one of the things that make him seem less human than his creature. The text is very clear about this.”16. People were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced argued that Christians can readily acknowledge that Midianites. 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