This entry is wrong, but typical. What is painful is that it is so stupid from a man reputed to know something and to have integrity. Only one of those could possibly be true for the author of such a piece. It is simply false and obviously false to anyone who reads the text of the OT that the Jewish treatment of the Samaritans was pleasing to God.
Much of what we find in the OT is, to use an NA phrase, “Iron Age tribalism”: our god is better than your god, and he told us to take your land, kill all of you, and keep the booty. When Christians respond that the OT also carries the injunction to “love your neighbor,” NA responds that one’s ”neighbor” in the OT is fellow Israelites. God is not telling the Israelites to walk on over to the Canaanites and “love them.” Rather, he is telling them to wipe them out and take their land.
Enns actually sides with this libel. I suppose he will insist these were redacted insertions for a later time: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19.34).
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear (Deuteronomy 10.12-20).
What anti-intellectual morons are our new sophisticates. They notice that God ordered the extermination of the Canaanites that remained in the Land and that is all they need to hear. God preaches hate of all non-Israelites until Jesus comes to correct him. There couldn’t possibly be any depth or complexity in the OT record. We already know that it is Iron Age primitivism.
So Jesus is the answer to this? Eternal conscious torture? Yes, that will win the New Atheists over. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matthew 10.28). Glad we’ve got Jesus to protect us from the Iron Age god of the Old Testament.
What reeks about all this is that it refuses to face up to the real offense of the OT ethics and face up to the real problem of God. The New Atheists will face it, but not neo-whatever professors.
God kills children. And in the case of the Canaanites and the Amalekits he made a special provision to do so by human agency. It was always exceptional. It climaxed in the book of Esther where those who allied with Haman the Agagite (from King Agag of the Amalekites) were destroyed (though many actually converted and became Jews–strange form of tribalism that would allow for that–but I’ll bet Enn’s thinks Esther is all fiction anyway). It was never a standard practice in war or any other time. On the contrary, Isrealites were to show love to non-Israelites. When Saul killed Gibeanites (descendants of Canaanites who, due to their faith in the true God, tricked Joshua into a perpetual covenant with them), God cursed the land in retaliation.
But why are we engaged in the fantasy that there is any possible God who does not kill the innocent? I just attended the burial of a baby God killed within days of her deliverance from the womb. We see people being struck with decrepitude all around us, though we try to keep them out of site to be tormented by low-wage “health care workers.” God kills every single human being to whom he gives life. There are a few people who have resisted His inexorable attack for over a century but they will soon be gone.
The extermination of the Canaanites is a drop in the ocean of blood. If it doesn’t detract from the general OT ethic that one should love the stranger as well as the native born as oneself, then the only thing left, is “the problem of evil.” And in that context, it barely merits comment.
New Atheists are probably aware of cancer wards for children. If we can preach an ethic of love in such circumstances, we can show the basic courtesy of the OT to not lie about its ethic of love.
The fact is, the United States own policy toward strangers (“illegal” aliens) is precisely a barbarous monstrosity that violates every principle of the civilized ethic found in the OT.
I have tried to stay away from the Enns mess because I can’t stand giving any credit to the machine that railed against him. But there was no way I could read this and not comment. And I resent that he makes such bad guides look more credible by his own wandering from the path in such obvious and unjustifiable ways. He’s not the only one to do this and he won’t be the last. Pharisees and Saducees and all that.
PostScript: An awesome providence in blogging.
PostPostScript: Notice that Jesus’ reasoning about loving others is directly from the Deutoronomy 10, quoted above. In Deuteronomy, Moses points out that God feeds and clothes the sojourners. Jesus says:
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.