I originally dealt with this question on my blog in a discussion with a CAIR associate named Nadir Ahmed, who claimed in a debate with Sam Shamoun that Jesus (because he is God) advocated the killing of babies so on. I wrote the response to a Christian audience. Nadir later claimed that I never answered his charges, but I’ll let my audience judge. I’ve partially reprinted it here to deal with the comparisons between jihad and the violence mandated in the Old Testament:
In order to avoid re-inventing the wheel, I’ll allow this apology of the conquest of Canaan to do the heavy lifting in this discussion:
In order to fill in a few things Gonzales left out in the above article, I’ll add this by further way of justification for God’s divinely sanctioned herem (holy war) against the Canaanites:
[quote]"As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. [b]And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.[/b]" Genesis 15:12-16[/quote]
Later on in redemptive history*:
What were these detestable practices? Mostly child sacrifice and rampant homosexuality. The Canaanite god Molech is mentioned numerous times in Scripture as being a god that required human sacrifice. (Sounds kind of like the American god “Choice”, doesn’t it?) Other gods, such as Baal and Ashtoreth, are also mentioned in Scripture, including Baal and Asherah worship by Israelite men. Baal and Asherah also demanded, in addition to child sacrifice, fornication and homosexuality as the gods of fertility:
So we can clearly see that the Canaanites were engaged in the same detestable practices as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, whom the Lord destroyed by fire. The Israelites were to kill every Canaanite man, woman, and child as tools of God’s divine judgment.
Divine judgment is a recurrent them throughout Scripture, evidenced by the Flood, Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the conquest of Canaan, and the various conquests of the Israelites by heathen peoples as a sanction against Israel’s wickedness. These Old Testament judgments serve a typological purpose, to wit, they point ahead to the coming day of judgment. Jesus gave various warnings about this during his time on earth and in John’s Apocalypse (Revelation). Christians today don’t engage in herem because Jesus fulfilled the redemptive purpose of Israel as THE true Israel:
[quote] As Bob Strimple (the former president of Westminster Seminary California, and now professor emeritus of systematic theology) points out in a lecture he often gives on this very topic, there are a number of reasons why Israel’s role in the Old Testament was preparatory to the coming Christ, and can therefore cannot serve as the hermeneutical center of Scripture. The fact is that Christ comes to fulfill (literally) all of the Old Testament promises, not to temporarily put them aside, only to return to them in a future millennium. Strimple bases his view that Christ is the true Israel on the following biblical arguments:
1). Isaiah's servant songs have a double referent that has long baffled Jewish commentators. On the one hand, they refer to Israel, God's chosen one and servant (41:8-9; 44:1-2, 21; 45:4; 49:3). On the other, they seem also to refer to some individual (42:1-4). These prophesies are interpreted by the New Testament as referring to Christ (Matthew 8:17 and Acts 8:30-35) 2). Matthew sees a double referent in Hosea 11:1, ("Out of Egypt I called my son") 3). Paul identifies Christ, not physical Israel, as Abraham's seed (Galatians 3:16). Galatians 3:7 and Romans 4:11, 16, moreover, identify the church as Abraham's offspring. 4). Henceforth, we are in Christ the true Israel: Galatians 3:26-29, Romans 2:28-29, and Philippians 3:3. 5). The Old Covenant is obsolete, having been superseded by the New: Hebrews 8:8-12 identifies the new covenant with Israel (Jeremiah 31:33-34) with the covenant instituted by Christ with the church. Most importantly, Hebrews 8:13 declares the old covenant obsolete and passing away. This makes impossible the dispensational view of Ezekiel 40-48 as a reinstitution of temple sacrifice. 6). The upshot is that the Old Testament did not see how its own prophesies were to be fulfilled - indeed, it could not prior to Christ. The New Testament authors were able to interpret the Old Testament in the light of His coming of the new covenant that He instituted. So should we.
So the redemptive purpose of Israel has been fulfilled in Christ, whereby people of all nations have been brought into God’s covenant through Jesus. The purpose of Israel has now expired, as have the commands to engage in herem. Ultimately, the herem waged by Israel in the Old Testament will find its fulfillment in the day of judgment, where Christ will return to “judge the living and the dead.”
The Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues afflicting the Egyptians, and the invasion of Canaan, and the later invasions of Israel by various other peoples serve the purpose of foreshadowing Christ’s second coming and the day of judgment, which is why Christians no longer take the commands to wipe out the Canaanites literally.
- Redemptive history refers to the progressive way in which God intervened in time to redeem man from sin and death. Redemptive history is viewed as complete because of the coming of Christ, and his death and resurrection for our justification. Redemptive history will be consummated at the day of judgment.