Books Like This Should be a Warning Signal to Inerrantists
I just saw an announcement of a new book by Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan. Copan and Flannagan are good guys, but some of the positions they have to defend (because of their commitment to Biblical inerrancy) are not. I’m embarrassed for inerrantists. Just look at the publisher’s description (presumably written by one or both of the authors).
Reconciling a violent Old Testament God with a loving Jesus
Would a good, kind, and loving deity ever command the wholesale slaughter of nations? We often avoid reading difficult Old Testament passages that make us squeamish and quickly jump to the enemy-loving, forgiving Jesus of the New Testament. And yet, the question remains.
In the tradition of his popular Is God a Moral Monster?, Paul Copan teams up with Matthew Flannagan to tackle some of the most confusing and uncomfortable passages of Scripture. Together they help the Christian and nonbeliever alike understand the biblical, theological, philosophical, and ethical implications of Old Testament warfare passages.
So they admit that the relevant passages are among “the most confusing and uncomfortable passages of Scripture,” passages which make even hardened inerrantists like Copan and Flannagan “squeamish.” But, being the faithful believers that they are, Copan and Flannagan will argue that, yes, a “good, kind, and loving deity” would command (and, in fact, has commanded) “the wholesale slaughter of nations.” How will they reconcile God’s goodness, kindness, and love with genocide? The book’s subtitle suggests that they will argue that “justice” is the answer.
The fundamental problem with books like this is that they fly in the face of what seems obvious to everyone else who doesn’t already hold the a priori belief that everything the Bible says must be true, just because the Bible says it. To paraphrase something Nick Trakakis wrote in another context, “Defenses of genocidal behavior by the OT god turn a blind eye to what seem clear and obvious to everyone else — that such behavior makes a mockery out of what any person would consider morally justifiable behavior.”
 N.N. Trakakis, “Antitheodicy,” The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil, 364. Trakakis was talking about theodicies in general, not disturbing passages in the OT.