How can anyone believe God authorized genocide?

by Robert Riggs
(San Diego CA)

Rick Brentlinger Answers -

Thanks for such an interesting question. My answer is that God did not authorize genocide. Genocide is a recent word coined to describe the horrors of Nazi policy mainly against Jews but also against Christians, gays and gypsies during World War II. Genocide describes human conduct, not God's righteous judgment on sin.

To accuse God of genocide, we must ignore clear statements of scripture where God declares His love for the human beings He created. Bible verses alleged to speak of God committing genocide in reality record God's judgment on sin, not genocide.

According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia:

"The term "genocide" did not exist before 1944. It is a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group. Human rights, as laid out in the U.S. Bill of Rights or the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, concern the rights of individuals.

In 1944, a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) sought to describe Nazi policies of systematic murder, including the destruction of the European Jews. He formed the word "genocide" by combining geno-, from the Greek word for race or tribe, with -cide, from the Latin word for killing.

God gets no pleasure
when lost people die

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” -Ezekiel 18:32, 23

God is good to everyone
including the unsaved

“The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:8-9

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Deu 32:4

God wants everyone to
hear the gospel and be saved

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:22. This includes the heathen everywhere.

“The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:10

“Ge ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:19

“And he said unto them, Ge ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

Here is a longer answer to
the question of God and genocide.

Here is a helpful answer about how God deals with folks who've never heard the gospel, sometimes called the heathen.

Comments for How can anyone believe God authorized genocide?

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Jun 13, 2010
Here's the Question asked, "genocide" is not mentioned
by: Robert Riggs

The overall storyline in Joshua and Judges,
of God leading the Hebrews into the Promised Land, conquering the land by God-ordained pre-emptive warfare; ignited severe intellectual doubt about Biblical inerrancy and a major spiritual earthquake.

I shuddered to realize this pre-emptive war had set an awesome evil precedent that has been followed and followed and followed, and very recently followed again in Iraq. This shudder was augmented by the incredibly chilling thought
that God might even be angry at me (anyone) who truly believes that God has ever condoned pre-emptive war. It might even be bad enough to get sent to HELL! Yet, questioning the Bible at all might lead to HELL also!

Jun 14, 2010
My apologies if I misunderstood
by: Rick Brentlinger

Your original question was long and rambling and I do not recall that you mentioned pre-emptive war. You did mention something to the effect that your faith was shaken by the Old Testament record of people being killed at God's command and you cited Joshua. You also alluded to an article you wrote.

Because your question was long and because I do not generally permit links to anything I consider off-topic, I did not include your question. My apologies if I misunderstood what you were asking.

Oct 16, 2013
Also Troubled
by: Terry

I also am very troubled by a few Old Testament instances of God sanctioned mass slaughter. Of course, the first instance is the flood narrative, followed by Jerico and a few others. I understand that the socities that were annihilated were totally sinful and in a spiritual sence dead already, but these Biblical accounts cause me distress because I understand our God as a God of love above all. I have never been able to reconcile the love of God with mass slaughter.

Rick's comment: I hope you will click on the text links in the article. They provide a lot more information. God is holy and His holiness regulates His love. Yes God loves us but He will not ignore sin and human rebellion against Him.

Jan 24, 2021
Bad answer
by: Gordon

You moved the goalposts, saying that genocide must be a human affair.

Genocide is the killing of a race, not human-acted killing of a race. If God directs a war againstba specific race it's still then a racially-based attack unless proven otherwise.

Nobody is ignoring all the fluffy bits of scripture you quoted; they are asking why God himself ignores them. If God has no pleasure in death, he wouldn't execute 'justice' with using it on women and infants.

He certainly wouldn't have given people over to depravity so he could have more reason to kill them when their 'sin is complete.' Unless you can prove otherwise, those verses only rub it in: God is a hypocrite.

He says he's merciful while striking people dead; says he doesn't like killing while deliberately encouraging that which justifies it, 'giving them over to a reprobate mind.'

Rick's comment: Hi Gordon- This link provides a more in depth look at the topic of genocide. I hope it's helpful to you.

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