Just Killing the Canaanites?
If you've been doing the Cultural Detox readings in Judges and Deuteronomy, or listening to the sermons, or even making your way through the Old Testament on your own pace, you will come across some disturbing features like those found in Deuteronomy 7:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Deuteronomy 7:1-2
What are we supposed to do with such passages? Even more, what are we supposed to do with a God that would command such actions?
Below are four different resources to help you think through these questions biblically with an eye to our sin, God's justice, God's mercy, and God's plan worked out through the cross.
Thinking Through Old Testament Violence by Andrew Judd
"It’s a matter of national security, but also the worldwide mission: if Israel is contaminated at this stage by false worship and idolatry then they cannot do their job as God’s spiritual lifeboat for the world."
God's Justice in the Land of Canaan by Kyle Dillon
"This is why it is so important for us to get our doctrine of humanity right. If we see humans as being basically good or innocent, then of course we will react with indignation to the Bible’s ḥerem laws."
The Canaanites: Genocide or Judgment? by Greg Koukl
"This was not carte blanche for genocide or ethnic cleansing, but rather a directive limited in time to the conquest, limited in scope to the Canaanites, and limited in location to the Promised Land."
Did God Commission Terrorism in the Bible? by John Piper
"Therefore, it is wrong, it is sinful today, to use violence and force and coercion to try to spread the faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is the mark: Faith is the mark of God’s people and it cannot be coerced by sword or bullet or bomb."