Anderson asked:

I read in the Old Testament about how God commanded the Israelites to kill the Amorites and the Malachites. It seems that God ordered a holocaust including smashing babies heads on the rocks. How do you justify genocide?

Jimmy Akin replied:

"This is a very complex subject to deal with ... I've been writing a series that addresses subjects like this on the so called dark passages of scripture. If you Google dark passages and my name Jimmy Akin you'll run across that series and it'll have some further thoughts beyond what I can get to on the air. But just to give a few thoughts here on the air...

The first one is that there are different approaches to this type of passage. One is to say the passage is meant literally. In that case the challenge is how do you explain the moral ... lawfulness of God doing this? One way that Christians of the past have explained this is to say well look God is the author of life. And all life is a gift. And it's up to the giver of the gift to determine how much you receive. So if God wants to gift someone with a particular amount of earthly life then that's his perogative. If he chooses to have that person leave this earthly life at a particular time or through a particular way means, that's up to him ...

You can say ... if we're talking about babies or other innocent people how do we deal with that? Well God can compensate the innocent because death is not the final word ... We're everlasting beings. We're going to have an infinite amount of life in the after life. So even if someone suffered innocently in this life ... God can make that up to them ...

Another option is to say that these passages don't mean what we think they mean. There are various passages in scripture that use hyperbole ... exaggeration to make a point ... even smash the babies heads doesn't really mean what it says literally. That's taking a too literalistic understanding of it. And this is meant to illustrate something else, like for example the radical incompatibility of paganism and faith in the true God. So those are a couple broad strategies that have been used in discussing these passages..."

Source material:

Here's a link to Jimmy Akin's "The Dark Passages of Scripture" page.


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum for Non-Catholics" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: August 5, 2013

Name of show: Open Forum for Non-Catholics

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 6:50

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