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Joshua’s Unholy War

When most of us hear the word “jihad” or “holy war”, we immediately know that a jihad is not what God wants.  Most of us feel the same when we hear the word “crusade.”  Really, does anyone think God wants people to fight in his name?

In the book of Joshua, Joshua claims to be commanded by God to destroy everyone and everything in what is now the land of Israel.

“And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21

“So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.” Joshua 10:40-41

In an interesting twist, the prophet Jonah wanted God to destroy the city of Nineveh, yet God felt those people were to be spared.  Were the Ninevites really more righteous than the Jericho-ites?  Does God command genocide, yesterday, today, or in the future?

My take is that Joshua is a prophet.  He felt he was inspired.  However, I do not feel that God wanted all the inhabitants killed.  I do not think God ever commands genocide, and I feel that this action was wrong by Joshua.  Comments?

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71 comments on “Joshua’s Unholy War

  1. i question historicity of the account. was joshua a real person and did this really happen?

    it seems to me that this was another case of religion being used to justify terrible atrocities.

  2. Were the Ninevites really more righteous than the Jericho-ites?

    Irrelevant.

    I do not think God ever commands genocide, and I feel that this action was wrong by Joshua. Comments?

    I wouldn’t rule out such a command, but whether Joshua genuinely received it isn’t important enough to me to form an opinion about it.

  3. Narrator, I somewhat appreciate your arguments about whether Joshua is historical, as I know there is some problems of dating the city of Jericho to the time of Joshua. However, in my mind, it seems as if Joshua (or whoever he really represents) is glorifying war. From that point of view, I have no reason to doubt that the Israelites probably used God as a weapon to destroy their enemies. I see this reasoning very similar to the Crusades, and Jihad, and have no reason to doubt whether genocide happened in the time of Joshua. Yes, I agree that it is a way the jews used God to justify atrocities.

    RWW, The Ninevites/Jericho-ites is relevant for this reason. You will often hear that it is better for the wicked to be destroyed than to continue to commit sin. This is a “moral argument” to justify atrocities. I think it is an extremely poor argument. The reason I asked the question was to show how ridiculous the argument is. It is ridiculous to compare Jericho to the infidels of today to the Ninevites. No civilization deserves to die. If God wants to destroy a civilization, I’m more comfortable with God destroying the city (like Sodom and Gomorrah) than man using Jihad/Crusades/genocide to do it. (Though I still hold some reservations on that one too.)

    I think that God will never command genocide. (I guess I will disagree with you here.) I feel Joshua probably misinterpreted the “command”. I can’t think of a single instance where it seems justified. Can you? (Or is it not important enough for you to think about?)

  4. Hi MH! Sorry it has taken me so long to comment, but I’ve been busy this week with getting ready for the kids to go back to school. I apologize in advance for the novel, but I thought there were a lot of good points to make. I have to give credit where credit is due, so most of this information comes from W. Cleon Skousen, in his book “The Third Thousand Years.” It isn’t verbatim, as I paraphrased most of it, but they are his ideas.

    First of all, I don’t buy the fact that a prophet of God can commit genocide against the wishes of God and still be considered a prophet. Secondly, Moses also committed genocide (Numbers 31:1-18), so we would have to believe that God allows prophets to go about committing genocide, a huge atrocity in my estimation, just because they thought it was the right thing to do. I believe there have been fallen prophets guilty of lesser crimes than this. I just don’t believe that you misinterpret genocide, especially in more than one instance. It also seems to me that if it was the case of misinterpretation, the Lord would’ve set them straight. He certainly set the prophets straight in matters of less significance, so no doubt he would’ve done so in these instances.

    Fortunately the scriptures are fairly clear on this, unless they are just all-together wrong about the fact that genocide even took place.

    Moses laid out a set of guiding principles for dealing with the different situations that Israel would face during the conquest of Canaan. The first was a general rule to be applied to all nations. “When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.” (Deuteronomy 20:10-11) In other words, each city or tribe was given the opportunity to submit peacefully and become citizens of Israel with the condition that they would follow the rules and laws set forth by the new central kingdom, including giving up their idolatry and immorality.

    The second principle applied to city-states or nations which resisted. “And if it make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it; and when the Lord shalt deliver it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword. But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself.” (Deuteronomy 20:13-14) In other words, all the fighting forces (read men here) were to be liquidated, while the rest of the population with its possessions was to be absorbed into the various tribes of Israel as bond servants. In all likelihood, over time many of these survivors would’ve adopted the ideals of Israel and be converted. As soon as that happened, they could be treated as “the seed of Abraham” and could be liberated at the next Sabbath Year.

    Israel’s tragic mistake was failing to carry out this program with firmness, and they eventually found themselves tributaries— both politically and morally— to the heathens which they were supposed to subjugate. The Lord anticipated this by laying down a strict rule with reference to the worst of the heathen nations, which leads us to the third principle.

    The Lord specifically warned against six nations which had reached such a level of total depravity that he knew they would (with one exception) resist all efforts to regenerate them or incorporate them into the new order. “But of the cities of these people which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, they Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:” (Deuteronomy 20:16-17) This meant that all of these six nations were to be wiped out or forced to flee from the land.

    Actually, some of Abraham’s own descendants such as the Midianites and the Moabites had been indulging in some of these practices but were not “ripe” in their iniquity and so the Lord held Israel back from totally destroying them (Deuteronomy 2:4-19). Apparently the Lord will not order the “utter destruction” of a nation until it is altogether corrupted. In Genesis 15:16 we find an example from Abraham’s day of one nation which was about to be destroyed and the Lord said, “…for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” But over four centuries later, apparently the iniquity of the Amorites was full. The problem with societies such as this was that human sacrifices and debasing immoral debauchery were not occasional spasms of evil but a continuous frenzy of sub-human depravity. They had institutionalized these abominations and made them a mandatory way of life. The Lord knew that without any significant exception, these people would fight desperately and bitterly rather than abandon these practices. They reveled in them. Therefore the land was to be completely cleansed of them.

    Of course these nations had a choice. They could submit, flee from Canaan and settle in a new land, or they would be destroyed. There was only one city— the Gibeonites f the Hivite nation— who chose this submit. Once that city had capitulated, Israel not only considered it a part of the new order but went to war against the whole Amorite federation to keep the Gibeonites from being destroyed (Joshua 10).

    The decision of the heathens to make war against Israel was particularly contemptuous of the Lord because these nations were fully aware of the great things God had done for Israel. In fact, it was the knowledge of these very things which led the Gibeonites to seek asylum with the Israelites. They said, “Because it was certainly told [to us] thy servants, how that the Lord thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you…And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do.” (Joshua 9:24-25) Elsewhere there is other evidence that the heathen nations were fully aware of all the miraculous events surrounding Israel’s escape from the Egyptians and their subsequent wanderings in the desert.

  5. Tara, thanks for commenting, but I have some real problems with Skousen on this.

    First, let’s go back about 400 years or so before the time of Joshua, to the time of Joseph, Israel, and the 10/12 tribes. Israel and his sons left the “chosen land” of their own free will. They were not forced out of the land by foreign invaders. They were forced out by drought.

    As we know, Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave, and then ended up saving the whole family of Israel. Israel, and his sons freely settled in Goshen, Egypt. They liked the place so much, that they had no desire to leave.

    Probably due to changes in the government, and the Israelites growing numbers, the Israelites were later viewed as a threat, and ended up becoming slaves to the Egyptians, so the nation of Israel (which was formerly just a really big family) longed to return to the “promised land.” Of course, this brings up the whole Exodus story, and wandering for 40 years, etc.

    Ok, so they left the promised land for 400 years, and nobody was supposed to go back to the land? Of course people were going to go back. If the land is empty, are you saying that the 6 nations were supposed to leave the land fallow because Israel was going to return 400 years later? I’d say that if Israel really wanted the land back, they should have returned after the 7 years of drought–they’d have a much stronger claim than waiting 400 years.

    Ok, so now that the land is occupied by these 6 “squatters”, are they are just supposed to get up and leave because Moses/Joshua said so? As far as I can tell, these 6 nations all practiced some form of idolatry, so they didn’t have a prophet to guide them. I think a modern story this compares to would be our current muslims. Of course, with their current Jihad going on, they believe that God wanted people to fly planes into the world trade center. They wonder why the Christians and Jews just don’t understand “God’s will.”

    How did Joshua negotiate? As you said, “each city or tribe was given the opportunity to submit peacefully and become citizens of Israel with the condition that they would follow the rules and laws set forth by the new central kingdom, including giving up their idolatry and immorality.”

    Excuse me? They’ve lived there for at least 300 years, and now Joshua tells them to submit peacefully? What kind of negotiation is that? It sounds suspiciously like Jihad or Crusader “Convert or die” kinds of negotiation.

    As you say, “these nations had a choice. They could submit, flee from Canaan and settle in a new land, or they would be destroyed.”

    That’s not much of a choice. If someone gave me that kind of a choice, I’d probably put up a fight too.

    Ok, so let’s put that aside for a minute, and I’ll go after your next point. Let’s assume that these 6 nations were as you say, “ripe” in their iniquity. What exactly does that mean? Were these nations cannibals, involved in human sacrifice, or something equally heinous? Did they attack Israel first? Not that I can tell. From Deut 7:4, we read what terrible atrocities they were going to do: For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods.

    These 6 nations were going to try to get Israel to convert. But conversion can only be to the God of Israel, not the god of Baal. One form of conversion is obviously more respectable than the other.

    Now, I understand that idolatry was a really touchy subject in the Old Testament, and yes, worshiping false gods was a capital offense in those days, but in the US Constitution, we are guaranteed religious freedom, whether we’re idol worshipers, Jews, Christians, atheists, or whatever. The 11th article of faith states, We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    It seems Joshua violently disagreed with our article of faith. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then either genocide is correct, or the 11th article of faith is correct. I’ll take the 11th article of faith on this one.

    I’ll give you this: Perhaps these 6 nations were also engaged in depraved sexual sins. I’m still not seeing this worthy of a capital offense.

    Yes, I understand that Joshua lived in different times. Yes, idol worship, and sexual sins were capital offenses back then. No, I do not believe they should have been capital offenses, nor do I believe it is appropriate to kill Buddhists (the must current-day example of idol worshippers), or even homosexuals for their sexual sins.

    If Joshua was practicing self-defense, his actions are more understandable. However, they were quite offensive atrocities, and I just don’t agree with them.

  6. You make a lot of points, but before I address them specifically, I would like to get an idea of your take on the scripture I quoted earlier which was given to Moses, and says, “But of the cities of these people which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, they Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:” (Deuteronomy 20:16-17)

    This scripture seems very clear to me that this “genocide” which we are discussing was commanded, not just to Joshua, but also to Moses. Do you doubt that God is the author of this?

  7. Do you doubt that God is the author of this?

    i think it is problematic to say that God is the author of any scriptures. Even the ‘1st person’ Doctrine and Covenants scriptures were not as 1st person as they appear to be.

    The authorship of Deuteronomy is also very suspicious as it is.

  8. Yes, I doubt God is the author of genocide. Moses would be guilty of genocide too.

    Like I said before, if God wants to destroy a city-state by fire and brimstone like he did in Sodom and Gomorrah, then I am more comfortable with that position than for God to command Moses or Joshua to wipe city-states off the map. (I have a problem with the president of Iran when he says he wants to wipe Israel off the map, and I have a problem with Moses and Joshua wiping these city-states off the map.)

  9. This is one of those Bible stories that has made me think as well. I’d like to say that God commanding genocide is one of those thing that has been misinterpreted or added/changed by people throughout time in order to mold the Bible into their own agenda. However, I have absolutely no evidence or authority to make such a claim.

    I have to admit that when people refute the idea that the Old Testament God was a God of anger and wrath, and that the New Testament God was one of love and mercy, I have a hard time accepting that. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then what’s stopping Him from ordering President Monson to commit genocide? I just don’t get it. These are those parts of scriptures that you really really really have to examine to find any sort of valuable lesson that can be applied to our lives today. I’m still searching. Unfortunately, such stories are usually used as justification for being unchristlike in God’s name.

  10. I think our view of prophets needs to be much more complex.

    I have no problem with scriptures like Josh 24:15, choose you this day whom ye will serve; …. as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

    But I do have some other problems with Joshua. I have no problem with Moses giving us the 10 commandments, but I do have problems with Moses commanding entire cities wiped out.

    In referring to latter day prophets, we justify that prophets from Joseph Smith to Thomas Monson are human and make mistakes. I think it is instructive to look at the Bible and understand that even those prophets might have made some major mistakes.

    Can prophets make major mistakes? Most devout Christians/Jews would say “no”, but I think there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

  11. Can prophets make major mistakes?

    Well, think about Brigham Young’s Adam-God doctrine. He proclaimed it to be doctrine and those who didn’t accept it as doctrine were promised a pretty dismal afterlife. But then later prophets decided it was false doctrine and it’s not taught anymore.

    So only one can be right. I just don’t know who.

  12. Narrator keeps making some comments about the authorship of the bible, and I’d like to go there for a minute. I love the “Mysteries of the Bible” series from A&E television, and they were available for download. I was just watching an episode called Mysteries Of The Bible, “Who Wrote the Bible? Part 1 of 3”. It has been available for download, but I’m not sure why Amazon has stopped selling it. I downloaded it a few months ago, but I just checked, and they are not allowing downloads for some reason.

    Anyway, Act 3 discusses authorship of Deutoronomy, as well as the first 5 books of Moses. Deut 34:5 tells that Moses died, and was buried. If so, how can Moses be the author of the book? 1000 years ago, jewish scholars tried to answer this question. Lawrence Shiffman, NYU professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies tells us the early scholars gave 2 possibilities. “One, that Moses did indeed write of his own death while crying as he wrote it. And second of all, that those verses were written by his faithful servant, and his successor, Joshua.”

    The current school of thought refers to the “Documentary Hypothesis”, which basically states that there are several different authors of the first 5 books of Moses (also known as the Pentateuch).

    Some of these early Hebrew texts refer to God with a different name. In the Hebrew texts, sometimes God is referred to as Elohim, which is the usual Hebrew reference to God. But in other versions, the term is Yahweh, or Lord. Joseph Blackinsopp, Notre Dame professor of Biblical Studies says, “People began to come to the conclusion that the Pentateuch was in fact the product of a long, gradual period of formation, a gradual build up of blocks of material. And now days, all critical scholars accept that view.”

    An 11th century Jewish physician named Isaac Evan Yeshosh from Spain discovered that a list of Edomite kings mentioned by Moses in Genesis could not have been written by Moses, because they were born after the time of Moses death. 17th century French priest Richard Simon claimed that “we have to assume a process of formation [regarding the Pentateuch].” In the 19th century, most scholars were convinced the Pentateuch was written by 3 different authors.

    The author of the version which referred to God as Yahweh is known as “J” (Yahweh was often translated as Jehovah.) The author who refers to God as Elohim is known as “E”. “P” is the author who is thought to be a priest, and wrote in a different style from J and E, and this author seems especially concerned with the establishment of the priesthood after Israel left Egypt.

    The differences are obvious in Hebrew, but are not evident in English translations. A passage in Exodus 3:2 refers to God as Yahweh. “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him…” (LORD refers to Yahweh or Jehovah.) When author E discusses the burning bush, God’s name is Elohim as seen in Exodus 3:6 “Moreover, he said, I am the GOD of thy father, the GOD of Abraham, the GOD of Isaac, the GOD of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon GOD.” (GOD refers to Elohim.) The English Bible seems to be a compilation of sources.

    In 1807, a 4th author seems to have discovered by German theologian Wilhem Dewitt who indicated that Deuteronomy was written by a different person than the other 4 books of the Pentateuch. This 4th author is called “D” as in the Deuteronomist.

    All this makes direct attribution to God a problem. Unfortunately, there is not a signed version by Moses.

  13. Narrator,

    It was not my intention to imply that God actually authored the scriptures themselves, but rather that he was the one who gave the command, hence he authored it.

    TFD,

    Regarding the Adam-God doctrine, there is an excellent article on that very subject by Elden Watson at http://eldenwatson.net/7AdamGod.htm . I highly recommend it for a better understanding of what Brigham Young was actually teaching.

    But anyway, I think there is a huge difference between teaching things that are not doctrinal and teaching genocide as commandment, then following through with it. If murder is a sin worthy of death, then it is not something that you do without just provocation or with God’s approval.

    MH,

    I have no problem with prophets being fallible. I know they are human and make mistakes, but they don’t make mistakes of this magnitude and remain prophets. Remember the prophet Balaam (Numbers 22-24, 31)? The spirit left him and he became a fallen prophet simply because of greed. He was soon after killed. Anyway, show me prophets who have made mistakes even remotely close in severity to genocide and were not rebuked or who did not become fallen prophets.

    If genocide is an atrocity at all times when it is committed by men, then Moses and Joshua and any other prophet should be put on notice, or relieved of their office, or killed. But Moses and Joshua both committed genocide on more than one occasion, and apparently they, or at least Moses, remained in good standing with God. David would’ve remained in the Lord’s favor had he not sinned in the case of Uriah. That is murder, though not to the degree of genocide.

    In the case of Balaam the Lord was angry with him at one point and he even sent an angel to try and stop him. Seems like maybe the Lord should’ve tried similarly to stop Moses and Joshua if what they were doing was wrong.

    In Numbers 31, the Israelites go to battle against the Midianites. They killed all the adult males, but they brought the women and children back with them. Moses was ANGRY with them because they didn’t kill them too. So he told them to kill ALL the male children, and every female who was not a virgin. Then, all of the women and female children who were virgins, they could keep for themselves. Please tell me that God couldn’t do something to stop this atrocity, or remove Moses out of his calling if this was indeed an atrocity not authorized by God.

    My point here is that you are making the mistake of imposing your own morality and views on completely different times, cultures, and circumstances. These were completely barbaric, depraved times, which called for extreme measures. You may not like the fact that in many instances, it was men, rather than God himself, who had to carry out such harsh punishments, but that is what the scriptures say. At that point,if you don’t agree with it, you have to start discounting a whole lot of scripture, which I think is a dangerous thing to do.

    The key is not to deny that it happened, but to try to accept it, understand it, and search for the reasons why. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve come a long way. For a long time, when I would read such things, they disturbed me, and I just couldn’t understand how God could allow such awful things. But I have since come to have a better understanding. Yes they are still disturbing to me, but I can accept them now and I can see just a little bit better why those things were necessary.

    Anyway, there really is no debate here if you can just start discounting scripture at your own discretion.

  14. Sorry, this sentence should’ve read, “If murder is a sin worthy of death, then it is not something that you do without just provocation or withOUT God’s approval.”

  15. show me prophets who have made mistakes even remotely close in severity to genocide and were not rebuked

    I just showed Moses and Joshua. I plan a future post on Abraham, but don’t want to spoil the fun just yet. I also plan to talk about biblical polygamy, practiced by multiple prophets, of which I have some great problems, but that’s for another post as well.

    Balaam is an interesting guy. He is both referred to as a prophet, and “the wicked one.” Balaam is one of 7 non-Israelite prophets referred to in the Bible (Job is another.) I have some questions for you regarding Balaam. If Balaam was ever really a prophet, (1) why was he hired, and at least attempted, to curse Israel? Should a prophet be hired to curse a nation? We learn in 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 1:11 that Balaam was basically a mercenary. I doubt a true prophet would be a mercenary. It’s clear that Balaam was normally a prophet for hire. A fallen prophet implies that one was a true prophet at one time. This mercenary status does not seem consistent with a true prophet ever, hence it is hard to call Balaam a true prophet at any point in time.

    (2) Why was he not a jew? This would imply that there was more than one “true” religion at the time, because he would be both a prophet, yet not a jew. Balak meets with Balaam at Kirjat Huzoth, and they go to the high places of Baal, and offer sacrifices on seven altars. Now, I expect that these sacrifices were not Jewish sacrifices, but rather idolatrous sacrifices. Would a prophet participate in a sacrifice to idols? This seems to be a major contradiction here.

    (3) If Balaam was really a prophet, why did he tell the Midianites to induce the nation of Israel to sin? In Rev 2:14 it says the “teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.” Why would a prophet do such a strange thing?

    Be careful of casting stones, about my discounting scripture. It seems if you want to claim Balaam as ever being a prophet, you’re discounting pretty much everything he did, except for the donkey story. That seems to be taking things quite out of context here.

    And since you cast the first stone, please explain this to me. “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) If God and Jesus are one, then this scripture applies to God as well.

    How can God support both the 11th article of faith, and Joshua/Moses religious intolerance? These seem to be polar opposite positions. I know you told me not to impose my “own morality and views on completely different times, cultures, and circumstances”, and while I agree that is the best argument to diffuse this apparent conflict, it just cannot solve the yesterday, today, and forever problem.

  16. tara,

    brigham young did teach the adam-god doctrine. he called it doctrine and said it was revealed to him. young’s counselors woodruff and cannon explicitly defended young’s teaching of it. o. pratt strongly disagreed with young because he felt it went against the scriptures. young thought that didn’t matter because the genesis account was a bed-time story written for babies. young’s view of scripture was much more liberal is some respects than his more literalist colleagues.

    i think much of your argument is based on a quite anachronistic understanding of prophets. today the prophet is usually interchangeable with the president of the church/priesthood (and occasionally with others that are sustained as prophets). however, in the scriptures there is no direct tie between a prophet and the leaders of the priesthood. in fact, those called as propets were usually not a part of the priesthood class or hierarchy and were usually rather unknown characters before their calling. a prophet was usually made known through fulfilled prophecies, perceived mantles of authority, miracles, and just because they said they were one. in fact, often times the prophets in the scriptures are explicitly called to condemn the leaders and high priests of the priesthood – often for collusion with state leaders.

    the book of mormon follows this same pattern. for example lehi was apparently an unknown figure in jerusalem of his day and was largely ignored because he had no known authority. samuel the lamanite is another great example. during his calling, it was actually nephi the son of helamen who was the high priest at the time.

    this of course forces us to beg the question of how do we even know if these people were called to be prophets in the first place?

    but this even begs the question that mh pointed to of textual authorship. the accounts of the old testament (especially those of the pentateuch) were not written until centuries after their narratives had ended. most of these were carried on through oral tradition and were later compiled into a written and collaborated form. in the case of the pentateuch we have possibly three different oral traditions (yahwist, elohist, and priestly?) which eventually took on the form of a single written tradition.

    what complicates this more is that in the spirit of the pseudopigraphic traditon, these written narratives were often put into a first person form and attributed to prophetic authors. the new testament shares this same problem – the four gospels were most likely not written by men named matthew, mark, luke, and john; and many of the nt epistles were not written by their purported authors.

    we can see this in the early latter-day church today. much of the history of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints by joseph smith was not written by joseph smith. it was largely compiled and written after joseph’s death using material and oral traditions (many of them differing). these were then written in a first person perspective that made it appear that joseph had written it himself. this was a very common practice at the time.

    with this in mind, we might seem a little lost. who really is called of god? and how can we know if a text is representative of god’s will?

    this is where our savior comes in. part of the purpose of the revelation of christ by his incarnation is to reveal the nature of the father. christ said on several occasions that we could know and understand god by seeing him. with this as a queue, we need to measure certain scriptural stories by comparing them to the gospel of christ. if they go completely contrary to the message of the messiah, then we can be fairly certain that they do not represent god’s will.

    in the case of joshua, the merciless, cruel, war-hungry, people-hating god of jeremiah’s narrative goes completely agains the merciful, loving, peaceful, children-loving god revealed by jesus.

    jesus had some stern warning about those who would injure a child. by his standard, jeremiah’s god would be one unfortunate being.

  17. Narrator,

    You said, “however, in the scriptures there is no direct tie between a prophet and the leaders of the priesthood. in fact, those called as propets were usually not a part of the priesthood class or hierarchy and were usually rather unknown characters before their calling.”

    How do you know this? Just because we don’t have scriptural evidence documenting priesthood authority, doesn’t mean they didn’t have it, and it doesn’t mean they were illegitimate prophets.

    But even if this is true, if a man is a prophet called of God, does that automatically mean he is to be ignored, or that his words carry less weight? Of course we don’t know if these people were called to be prophets, but if the scriptures say they are/were in one instance, and then repeatedly reference them as such or as having some significance (as is the case with Balaam), then perhaps we should believe that it is very likely that they were.

    You said: “jesus had some stern warning about those who would injure a child.”

    We are also given stern warnings against murder as well, but apparently it is okay in certain circumstances, and is sometimes a commandment as in the case of Nephi slaying Laban.

    MH,

    When I asked you to show me prophets who have made mistakes remotely close to the ones you accuse Joshua of doing, you gave me Joshua and Moses. What I asked you for and what you gave me are two different things. I didn’t ask you to give me an example of what you perceived to be a mistake on the part of prophets, but what we know are mistakes because they were corrected by God and outlined in scripture. Here you are using your opinion to support your opinion. My opinion is that Joshua and Moses did not make a mistake, so should I use that opinion as though it is fact? What I am looking for is precedent to argue the case you are trying to make, but all you’ve given me is opinion.

    I’m not discounting any scripture here. I believe that Balaam was a true prophet, but then everything he did after he tried to get permission the second time to go with the King’s men, after having been told no the first time, was a downward spiral to apostasy for Balaam. Yes he did receive prophecy from God afterward, but this was not because Balaam was still worthy of it, but because the Lord was simply using Balaam to send a warning to the King.

    If you want to argue the legitimacy of Balaam prophethood, that’s fine. But what I want to know is, if unlawful genocide is not a sufficient cause to lose authority and favor with the Lord, then what is?

    I believe that God is the same yesterday, and today, and forever, but I don’t believe that the acts of Moses and Joshua represent religious intolerance. I believe it represents an intolerance of evil, which, last I checked, was where God stood on the matter. Anyway, as I pointed out previously, these people were free to practice their “religion,” they just were not going to be allowed to practice it in the vicinity of Israel. We later learn that it was because Israel refused to cleanse the land that they were led into wickedness and abomination. If it is better that one man die than that a nation dwindle in unbelief, then I believe that similarly, it is better that one, or two, or six nations die, than that one nation dwindle in unbelief, particularly if all six of those nations are utterly consumed with evil.

    Regarding the 11th Article of Faith, do you think we should be tolerant of religions that practice human sacrifice? Should we be tolerant of religions that incorporate rape or child molestation and other sexual perversions by force into their practice? I don’t believe that our country, let alone our church, would be tolerant of such a religion, yet that is what you are asking Moses and Joshua to do.

    And since you believe that it is possible for a prophet to commit such an egregious act as genocide and still maintain the Lord’s favor, then tell me, if President Monson launched an attack on San Fransisco and completely wiped it out because they had reached an intolerable level of wickedness and felt that God commanded it, would you still feel the same? Would you still follow President Monson?

  18. tara,

    the scriptures are often quite explicit that many of the prophets were not part of the priesthood hierarchy and the scriptures are often explicit in those prophets condemning the leaders of the priesthood.

    if you want to believe in a god that intentionally slaughters innocent men, women, and children… then go right ahead. i choose to believe in a god of love that would never command such a thing. because of that believe and the primacy of the gospel of christ in my testimony i choose to deny the divinity of joshua’s brutal massacre.

    tara, if a future president of the church said you were commanded by god to march into missouri and slaughter the innocent men, women, and children living there in order to secure land for the latter-day saints, would you follow?

  19. I, for one, don’t “follow President Monson.”

    By the way, MH, the answer is no, I can’t. (I’ve been following the thread but haven’t had a chance to jump into it…)

  20. narrator,

    I believe that God is a God of love. I believe that all of the actions and commandments by God are borne out of love for all of his children, even when he wipes them out on his own or through others. It isn’t a matter of “I don’t like you anymore, so be gone with you.” It’s like any loving parent who disciplines their children for disobedient behavior. Or sometimes it may just be necessary to protect innocent or obedient children from unrighteous children who will do them great harm. But those men and women destroyed by the Israelites were not innocent. It is likely that the young children were. But even so, when God has chosen to cleanse the earth of wickedness, children are casualties of that as well. Does that mean he is not loving? Of course not.

    Here’s how I see it. Those innocent children of wicked parents would likely grow up to be wicked as well and would probably suffer the worst kinds of abuse. But those children who were killed died innocently, and as such will gain salvation. Now which option to you seems more merciful? 1) Allowing children to grow up abused and raised to become wicked, with some of them being killed anyway through human sacrifice, 2) killing their parents, but not the children, leaving them without parents, allowing those children to grow up with all kinds of emotional scars from likely physical and sexual abuse and no telling what else, or 3) automatic salvation? Perhaps the very small children could’ve been spared, but imagine the burden that would’ve been for the Israelites to take in that many small children to care for. That may not be the reason the reason, and I certainly don’t know the reason–I can only speculate–but it may have been simply that it was necessary to completely cleanse the land of any traces of those cities. The case for this is made stronger by the fact that not only were all people to be destroyed, but also all of the animals. Of course animals don’t sin, and those animals could’ve greatly benefitted Israel if they had been able to claim them. so the only thing that makes sense is that it had to be a symbolic cleansing. Perhaps it was because of Israel’s tendency to easily go astray so they had to understand the severity and consequence of evil.

    Here is what the Old Testament Student Manual says:

    “…the kinds of evil of which the Canaanites were guilty were so infectious, so contaminating, that to have shown mercy and let them survive would have proven to be the spiritual downfall of Israel. Indeed, later history shows that this is exactly what happened when Israel failed to follow these instructions. Moses warned Israel: “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deuteronomy 9:5; see also 1 Nephi 17:32–38).

    “Israel was not commanded to treat all her enemies in this manner. One commentator explained why the Canaanites were different: “The second commandment prohibits graven images in worship; it requires the destruction of all such forms of worship: ‘Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works; but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images’ (Ex. 23:24). In Deuteronomy 12:1–14, the contrast is drawn clearly: obedience means on the one hand destroying all places of idolatrous worship, and, on the other hand, bringing offerings to God in the prescribed manner and to the prescribed place. The commandment to destroy idolatrous places and images is restated in Deuteronomy 7:5; 16:21, 22; Numbers 33:52; and Exodus 34:13, 14. But, in certain instances, the destruction of graven images required also the destruction of the people of the images (Deut. 7:1–5); not only are covenants with the Canaanites forbidden, but inter-marriage also. The Canaanites were ‘devoted’ or set apart, ‘sanctified’ unto death by God’s order. This is an important point and needs careful attention. The law specifically forbad reprisals against Egyptians or any other foreigner; instead of vengeance, they should remember their oppression in Egypt as a means of greater dedication to justice for all under God’s law (Lev. 19:33–37). Having suffered injustice at foreign hands, they should themselves be careful to avoid being like the Egyptians, themselves the instruments of injustice. Egypt sought to exterminate all Hebrews (Ex. 1:15–22), but Israel was required to render justice to all Egyptians in terms of their individual obedience or disobedience to the law. But all Canaanites were devoted to death. The criterion was not enmity to Israel but the law of God. Egypt was an enemy of God as was Canaan, but the iniquity of the Canaanites was ‘full’ or total in God’s sight (Gen. 15:16; Lev. 18:24–28, etc.). Prostitution and homosexuality had become religious practices to the point where the people were entrenched in depravity and proud of it. Their iniquity was ‘full’ or total. Accordingly, God sentenced them to death and made Israel the executioner. . . . The Canaanites as a whole were deserving of death; God’s patience allowed them a few centuries from Abraham’s day to Joshua’s and then His judgment was ordered executed. The failure of Israel to execute it fully became finally their own judgment.” (Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, pp. 92–93.)

    “Nephi said of the Canaanites, “He that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity” (1 Nephi 17:35).”

    It is important to note that Nephi 17 talks about this destruction which came upon the Canaanites by Israel. The Book of Mormon is basically confirming these things.

    In answer to your question, that would be a truly difficult thing to do or even consider, but I would certainly seek an unmistakable confirmation from the Lord. I would not follow blindly. Even then, I don’t know if I could. But if I knew that the prophet was doing the will of God I would still support him.

    Now, since I answered your question, would you kindly answer mine to MH.

  21. tara,

    Now which option to you seems more merciful?

    Option 4. Don’t slaughter them. Be like Jesus and try to change their hearts through peaceful means.

    As far as what the student manual says, CES is fearful or otherwise ignorant of textual criticism and so I just don’t think they acknowledge the alternatives.

    As to your other questions to MH…

    But what I want to know is, if unlawful genocide is not a sufficient cause to lose authority and favor with the Lord, then what is?

    This is all relative. If they Joshua-commanded slaughter actually did occur, then perhaps his mistake needs to be understood in the context of that time where such an idea was not seen as barbaric as it is today.

    Regarding the 11th Article of Faith, do you think we should be tolerant of religions that practice human sacrifice? Should we be tolerant of religions that incorporate rape or child molestation and other sexual perversions by force into their practice?

    No, but there are alternatives besides slaughtering all of their innocent men, women, and children. If you don’t think so, I think you need more faith in God.

    And since you believe that it is possible for a prophet to commit such an egregious act as genocide and still maintain the Lord’s favor, then tell me, if President Monson launched an attack on San Fransisco and completely wiped it out because they had reached an intolerable level of wickedness and felt that God commanded it, would you still feel the same?

    in today’s context i don’t think such a mistake is possible. if it did happen today, i would take that as clear proof that president monson has severe psychological/emotional/spiritual problems and is unfit to lead the church.

    Would you still follow President Monson?

    i don’t follow president monson. ‘president’ is not synonomous with ‘prophet.’ as joseph smith famously said, he is only a prophet when acting as such. a prophet is not a permanent calling. for some a person may be a prophet on just a single occasion. it would not surprise me to learn that some of our president of the church may never have actually been a prophet. brigham young refused to be sustained as a prophet for the first few decades of his presidency.

    the doctrine and covenants tells us that “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;”

    we shouldn’t follow the president of the church. to follow someone just because of their position in the priesthood is a violation of this scripture. we should follow the prophets – meaning we should follow those who we believe are revealing the will of god. the president of the church is not always a prophet. at times he may be, at other he might not. it is important for us to seek out the will of god ourselves for confirmation and utilize that agency and reason god gave us in making our decisions.

    in the war in heaven we fought so that we could have our agency. why is it that on earth so many of us are too eager to dispense with it and instead have somoene else tell us everything that we should do?

  22. “Be like Jesus and try to change their hearts through peaceful means.”

    Are you not aware that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament? Peaceful means were always attempted, even in the case of Moses and Joshua, but since the people refused, they were sentenced to death. God (Jesus) had Noah crying repentance, but since no one listened, they were destroyed in the flood. Jonah preached repentance to the Ninevites, and since they listened, they were spared.

    “perhaps his mistake needs to be understood in the context of that time where such an idea was not seen as barbaric as it is today.”

    Okay, so Moses and Joshua and the Israelites were just a bunch of barbarians with no reverence for human life and thought the wholesale slaughter of humans was justifiable at their own whim. If this is the case, how do you account for the fact that they were reprimanded when they failed to carry out “utter destruction?” If they were barbarians, such acts should come naturally to them and they should have no trouble carrying them out.

    “If you don’t think so, I think you need more faith in God.”

    I have a great deal of faith in God, but not so much in man. I know that God can work miracles, but he doesn’t force anyone to accept him.

    “i would take that as clear proof that president monson has severe psychological/emotional/spiritual problems and is unfit to lead the church.”

    So in other words, prophets can’t make such mistakes and still be prophets, or at the head of the church. Then why wasn’t Moses or Joshua removed from leadership of Israel.

    “i don’t follow president monson.”

    Let’s not play word games here. I think the point I was
    making should’ve been easy enough to understand.

    Anyway, what is the president of the church if not a prophet? Apostles are also prophets. So since everyone except Joseph Smith served as apostles before becoming the president of the church, they would still be prophets after becoming the president of the church. The idea that some of the presidents of the church were not prophets is just ridiculous.

    “why is it that on earth so many of us are too eager to dispense with it and instead have somoene else tell us everything that we should do?”

    I don’t believe we should, but prophets are given to us to lead us. We shouldn’t just take their word for anything, but prayerfully inquire to obtain the will of the Lord regarding the revelations they receive.

  23. Tara,

    I have a lot to say, but a little time. “God of the Old Testament” is different than “god of the NT”. This completely contradicts same, yesterday, forever.

    I would not follow Pres Monson’s army in annhilating San Francisco, or any other city. If such a command was given, I would call Monson a fallen prophet.

    I’ll write more when I have time, as there are many points I want to address.

  24. I think your interpretation of “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever is a bit simplistic.

    The Bible teaches that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Yet the Bible also teaches that “…Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) He also commanded men to perform animal sacrifices and many other aspects of the Law of Moses, but all that was changed later. God’s commandments to men have changed throughout history. And Christ has experienced change, as shown above. Does the Bible contradict itself? No, the apparent contradiction is simply an issue of proper interpretation.

    When the prophets teach that God is eternally the same, they are trying to teach that we can trust the Lord because he never varies his course; he always operates by law; he is no respector of persons and always bestows the same blessings as a reward for the same obedience. The prophets are trying to distinguish the true and living God from the false gods of pagan religions.

    Think of the Gods of greek mythology. The Olympions were portrayed as carnal beings who had the same attibutes as men. They lied, stole, and committed adultery as it pleased them. Compare this to the true God of Heaven who can always be trusted to be righteous and holy.

    If you put all of the scriptures about the unchangeableness of God into context with other scriptures that accompany them, you will find that they deal with four basic things: 1) God does not tell you one thing, and another, something different, when it comes to doctrine, 2) referring to the eternal nature of God. All things will pass away, but God will remain. 3) God keeps the promises and covenants he makes with his children, and 4) the gifts of the spirit, miracles, and revelation will not cease.

    Also, it just makes no sense to me that you can call the actions of Moses and Joshua as simply being mistakes, but then if the current prophet did it, he would be a fallen prophet. Such a position seems very contradictory.

  25. Are you not aware that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament?

    Jesus is the God of the Old Testament times and according to the Book of Mormon, he is the God of the New Testament times as well. However, as I have said before I believe that the Old Testament (and sometimes the NT – as well as other scriptures) can be wrong in how they portray God or with what they attribute to Him.

    Okay, so Moses and Joshua and the Israelites were just a bunch of barbarians with no reverence for human life and thought the wholesale slaughter of humans was justifiable at their own whim. If this is the case, how do you account for the fact that they were reprimanded when they failed to carry out “utter destruction?” If they were barbarians, such acts should come naturally to them and they should have no trouble carrying them out.

    Again, you hold a belief that I totally deny – that the Old Testament accounts are accurate descriptions of historical events. But yes, Moses and Joshua lived in a very different culture that had very different perceptions of death, god, and state. This could lead them to misinterpet God in ways that Monson would not. For example, going around and slaughtering whole peoples was not that crazy of an idea as it is in our ‘enlightened’ culture.

    I have a great deal of faith in God, but not so much in man. I know that God can work miracles, but he doesn’t force anyone to accept him.

    There are plenty of other ways God can influence people and change hearts without forcing them. God doesn’t abide by the Bush Doctrine.

    So in other words, prophets can’t make such mistakes and still be prophets, or at the head of the church. Then why wasn’t Moses or Joshua removed from leadership of Israel.

    You should start trying to read a little better. As I said before, Moses and Monson live in very different cultures. What may seem normal for one culture may be obviously insane in another. If this is too difficult to understand, then our discussion must just end, cuz I’m not going to explain it any further.

    Anyway, what is the president of the church if not a prophet?

    The president of the melchizek priesthood. It means he has authority to lead the church and make official decisions for the church. It does not mean that everything, most things, or even some things he says necessarily comes from God.

    The idea that some of the presidents of the church were not prophets is just ridiculous.

    Again, just because someone is sustained as prophet does not mean that they act as prophets. We can all get together and call me a Carpenter, but until I start working with wood, i’m no carpenter. By scriptural standards a prophet is someone who is prophecying. There is no necessary tie to priesthood authority. If you don’t want to believe the scriptures, that’s fine – I obviously don’t believe that they are 100% correct with everything.

    I don’t believe we should, but prophets are given to us to lead us. We shouldn’t just take their word for anything, but prayerfully inquire to obtain the will of the Lord regarding the revelations they receive.

    I agree. I just have a different view of who those prophets are.

  26. One thing I’ve wondered about: if God wants an entire people wiped out, for whatever reason, why does He need to get a prophet to do it? He can wipe out anyone He wants for whatever reason He sees fit, like He did in Noah’s time. He can bring about plagues, famines, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. So why was it even necessary to bring Joshua into the picture? Isn’t it sort of like passing your dirty work onto someone else?

  27. narrator,

    OT times…NT times. Do you just enjoy nitpicking my words?

    “There are plenty of other ways God can influence people and change hearts without forcing them. God doesn’t abide by the Bush Doctrine.”

    I believe that I agreed that God can influence people and change hearts, without force. But even so, not everyone will receive it is the point I was trying to make.

    It’s so sad that you think that it is horrible for people to destroy the wicked rulers and governments which torture, abuse, and enslave their people. There were many people, many of whom may have been very good and innocent people, and were subject to a brutal regime in Iraq, and you think it is a bad thing to FORCE a corrupt dictatorship out of power and GIVE the people a voice and a chance for freedom? Hmmm. It’s not okay for the righteous to kill the wicked, but it is okay for the wicked to slay and abuse the righteous. Talk about enlightenment.

    “Again, you hold a belief that I totally deny – that the Old Testament accounts are accurate descriptions of historical events…What may seem normal for one culture may be obviously insane in another. If this is too difficult to understand, then our discussion must just end, cuz I’m not going to explain it any further.
    You should start trying to read a little better. As I said before, Moses and Monson live in very different cultures.”

    Then please tell me which version of your story to debate. Will we debate that the event didn’t occur, or will we debate that it did occur but that Moses made a mistake? It is really very difficult to have this discussion when you keep shifting stories.

    I completely get that what may seem normal for one culture may not be normal for another. Believe me, I get that, and I totally believe it. I’ve argued that point many times before myself on the subjects of polygamy and racism. But I do not believe that murder or genocide is something that gets the “ignorant pass.” There are no commandments about the views one holds with regards to the origins of race. There are, however, commandments regarding the treatment of slaves/servants. Similarly, there are commandments regarding the shedding of innocent blood. I can maybe see Moses and Joshua committing genocide once, and then God correcting them, but to allow them to continue on such an erronous course without correcting them is just absurd. Joseph Smith was sternly corrected numerous times for infractions much less significant than genocide, and I’m supposed to believe that God just allowed Moses and Joshua to continue on their merry little genocidal conquest without so much as a nod of disapproval? Moses, who saw God face to face, in all actuality, should’ve been put on notice the first time, but at the very least, should’ve been kindly informed of the error of his ways.

    “Again, just because someone is sustained as prophet does not mean that they act as prophets.”

    “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” is the threefold title applied to all who have received a fulness of the KEYS OF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD associated with the apostleship. –Encycolopedia of Mormonism

    I realize that anyone can be a prophet so long as they have a testimony of Jesus Christ and are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. I also know that every word that THE Prophet (read: Prophet, Seer, and Revelator–just so there’s no confusion) utters is not prophecy, and I know that THE Prophets have weaknesses and are not perfect. But THE Prophet is always THE Prophet, maybe not A prophet (read: ordinary joe who occasionaly prophesies) and he is required to live by God’s law, the same as anyone else, at all times, and in all things, and in all places, that he may be in.

    Moses knew the laws against slaying the innocent. He received them through revelation. Do you not think he might consider that children were innocent? Do you think maybe the Israelites knew it too, which is why they had such a hard time with slaying the women and children? You say that they lived in barbaric times, which is why they may have viewed genocide as normal. If this is the case, why then, did they have such a hard time with it? Could it possibly be that it offended their sensibilities? Barbarism is never a “normal” state of affairs with the righteous, even if it is the norm for the wicked who surround them. Even Brigham Young who taught that the children of Ham were to be the servants of servants, because of the “unenlightened” views of his day, he still advocated just and fair treatment for the slaves, and taught against brutality towards them, even though this went against the norms of society.

    “If you don’t want to believe the scriptures, that’s fine – I obviously don’t believe that they are 100% correct with everything.”

    I don’t believe in the inerrancy of the Bible either, but I believe it is more accurate than you give it credit for. In any event, like I’ve said before, excluding scriptural accounts because they don’t fit your perception of just morality is a dangerous thing. You might find yourself shocked someday to find that God is not who you thought he was. I can live with it just fine if I learn that God really didn’t command Joshua to commit genocide. Chalk it up to human error. I already knew that. But how will you deal with it if you learn that he did?

    TFD,

    You’re right. God could’ve even killed Laban himself instead of having Nephi do it. Why didn’t God just do the do it himself, especially since Nephi was obviously having a difficult time with the thought of taking a life? Why would God make Nephi do something which seemed so obviously wrong to him? That, too, is kind of like passing your dirty work on to someone else, isn’t it?

  28. Tara,

    Sorry for the long post. I was on an airplane without internet access, and had a lot of time to write. Even still, I didn’t cover everything I wanted, but this is wayyyy too long now.

    I think you have a good point about the “increased in wisdom and stature”, and I would say that applies to this whole Joshua situation, but I have a different take on it. This scripture applies to Jesus, and man, but I don’t think this applies to God. God certainly should have mastered all spiritual concepts that we experience on earth. This brings up another topic of whether God is still learning, but if you want to talk about that topic, I think it is better suited towards my previous 2 posts, and I have some interesting links if we want to go there.

    It is problematic to say the genocide is not ok today, but was ok in Joshua’s time. As it says in the scriptures, (I’m in an airport right now, and can’t look up the exact reference) God gives us line upon line, precept upon precept. While God is all-knowing, man is not. Sometimes God gives us only what we are able to bear. We haven’t been able to live higher laws, such as consecration, so we live tithing. In Moses day and beyond, they couldn’t live the law of Christ, so they lived the Law or Moses. I’m willing to admit that Joshua was living under a “lower law” than we are. As such, I’ll give Joshua and Moses the benefit of the doubt here, but I think the higher law says that genocide is wrong. I’ll agree with Narrator here, and say that peaceful means is the preferred way, and I’ll even go farther, and say that in the higher law, genocide should never happen, even if commanded by Pres Monson.

    Let’s look at some other examples. God is not a racist, nor a respecter of persons. Based on this line upon line reasoning, If God says that it is ok for blacks to have the priesthood, then it is ok, and probably should have happened sooner than 1978. Man’s bias stopped blacks from having the priesthood sooner. It came close to happening in 1969, and we know that David O McKay considered it as early as the 1910’s. (See the David O McKay biography.) Additionally Elijah Abel and Green Flake were ordained elders in the Melchizedek Priesthood by Joseph Smith himself. Perhaps if Joseph hadn’t been martyred, blacks would have had an uninterrupted priesthood dating to Joseph Smith’s day. I don’t think God wanted blacks to be barred from the priesthood, but it is evident that Brigham Young and later prophets did. Having southern converts who were slaveholding apostles probably affected the inspiration on this topic. (I have seen documents showing slaves being used as a way to pay tithing. Darius Gray and Margaret Young are experts on this topic.) I am much more comfortable saying that Brigham Young and early leaders were uncomfortable with blacks holding the priesthood, than to say that God specifically thought Joseph’s actions were wrong, and that God instituted this priesthood ban. Here is a great example of personal bias affecting revelation. I expect you agree that personal bias can affect revelation, and I’d be curious if you disagree with me here.

    Your reference to the CES manual seems to me just as dated, and untruthful as Bruce R. McConkie’s reasons for justifying why blacks shouldn’t hold the priesthood. I find these justifications of Joshua/Moses to destroy Baal worshippers flawed. I think we have received further light. Blacks were not less valiant in the pre-earth life, and I defy anyone to show me evidence supporting McConkie’s false claim. Similarly, Baal worshippers probably should not have been subjected to “convert or die” choices. I’m willing to say that Joshua operated under a lower law, but higher laws find these actions unacceptable.

    On a related note, I don’t think God has ever condoned slavery. It is wrong today, and should have been wrong in Joshua’s day. However, it has been culturally acceptable sInce Joshua’s day, and God has allowed it. (Man’s bias has crept into revelation again.) God has allowed all sorts of bad things to go on, like Mountain Meadows Massacre, the Crusades, the Holocaust, Jihad, slavery, Joshua’s genocide, the Haun’s Mill Massacre, etc. God often doesn’t interfere in man’s affairs like we think he should. After all, if we were God, we certainly wouldn’t have allowed the list above to happen. To allow Joshua’s genocide, and discredit the rest of the list seems highly hypocritical to me.

    You’ve asked about some other examples besides Joshua and Moses. I came across 2 interesting websites. One is run by an atheist, called evilbible.org; the other is run by a multi-denominational group, called religioustolerance.org. Both refer to some of the same passages, and represent many religious justifications for atrocities, including rape by so-called religious “chosen” people. Now, I don’t agree completely with either the atheist or multi-faith sites, but I think they do bring up some valid points. I don’t think it is necessary for me to re-list what they have cited— I encourage you to read through these, as I find them unjustifiable for modern Christians, and poor justifications for ancient people. The best link is found here.

    Let’s talk about these so-called “hard passages” of the bible. From religioustolerance.org, we learn that people in Vietnam used scriptures to justify genocide in 1967. We also learn that Orthodox Christians used the same verses to justify ethnic cleansing. Were these appropriate uses of scripture? My gut tells me you would say “no”

    What if someone asked President Monson, “Would you ever command a holy war?” My gut tells me he would find the question offensive. I think the apostles, who are future prophets, would not even consider wiping out San Francisco or Las Vegas. Why? Because it is not justifiable. It would be interesting to hear them talk about Joshua and Moses. I expect that they would say the people in Vietnam and Bosnia were misusing scripture. I doubt they would even say genocide was justifiable in Nazi Berlin, Germany. If they would not consider it justifiable in today’s world, I think it is better to say that we say that Joshua/Moses allowed their cultural biases affect their spiritual understanding. Are you saying you would support genocide to wipe out gambling, prostitution, and homosexuality in SF and LV?

    It is unwise for anyone to defend indefensible atrocities, merely because any religious leader recommends it, or says God commanded them to do it. It is sure easy for people to condemn Hitler, or David Koresh, or Warren Jeffs, or the leaders of MMM or Haun’s Mill. It is easy for Jews and Muslims to criticize Crusades. Easy for Jews and Christians to criticize Jihad, etc etc. What I think is hypocritical, is for anyone to defend killing infants, because God wanted to emphasize a “symbolic act” of absolute obedience. Absolute obedience is a dangerous thing. Jihadists want absolute obedience, Nazi’s want absolute obedience, the perpetrators of both Haun’s Mill, and MMM wanted absolute obedience. “As soon as man gets any authority, as they suppose, they immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

    These examples are all examples of unrighteous dominion. I doubt you would disagree with any of the examples I have just given you. I am curious about your question to me. If Pres Monson suddenly directed a holy war against San Francisco, Baghdad, Amsterdam, Las Vegas, or any other wicked city of anyone’s choosing, and tried to use these scriptures in Joshua to justify it, would you support the killing of infants and absolute obedience to the prophet’s commands? I can tell you that I would rather resign my membership, than participate in such an atrocity. At this point, I would rather be called a traitor than participate. Would you participate? Would you encourage your husband to participate?

    Now, if there is evidence of violence, rape, mayhem, I fully support efforts to stop the horrific acts. But I still will never sanction the killing of non-combatants, or infants, and I would greatly question the destruction of livestock. Even the mormons did not kill the children under 8 in MMM. “We believe men should be punished for their own sins, not Adams transgression”, or any other transgression. I fully support putting criminals on trial, and receiving the death penalty for violent acts. However, worshipping Baal, or other idols should not be a capital offense. Perhaps in the lower law of Moses, a poor case has been justified. But in the Law of Christ, it is absolutely unjustifiable.

    From what I can tell in the Bible, there probably was prostitution, and other sins. However, I don’t see that the worshippers of Baal were advocating rape, or other violence. They were certainly advocating Baal, and probably were engaged in sexual sins. In today’s Christian world, sexual sin is unacceptable, and should be condemned, but I think most Christians prefer to follow Christ’s example. When the woman was caught in adultery, instead of death by stoning, as Moses proposed, he granted clemency, with a promise to stop the practice.

    I do not believe that sexual sins should be punished by death, except in the case of aggravated rape. I am not aware of any biblical or scholarly references which claim Baal worshippers engaged in rape, human sacrifice, or equally heinous acts. I don’t consider Baal worship, even with perverse sexual sins, as worthy of death, and I doubt that these acts are worse than anything seen in San Francisco, or Las Vegas. Do all inhabitants (including women, children, and livestock) of these 2 American cities deserve the same fate of these ancient 6 nations? I doubt you would say “yes” to this question. Would you advocate a position of the prophet telling mormons to abandon the LV Temple before the cleansing of Las Vegas? I doubt it, but am interested to hear what you say.

  29. tara,

    OT times…NT times. Do you just enjoy nitpicking my words?

    i wasn’t nit picking. as i have said before, i do not think the old testament always accurately represents god. joshua ‘divine’ command to slaughter innocent people is on of those instances. so thus, i do not believe that jesus is the god of the old testament. jesus wouldn’t order such a thing.

    There were many people, many of whom may have been very good and innocent people, and were subject to a brutal regime in Iraq, and you think it is a bad thing to FORCE a corrupt dictatorship out of power and GIVE the people a voice and a chance for freedom?

    in the way that it was done? yes. i think it was wrong.

    Hmmm. It’s not okay for the righteous to kill the wicked, but it is okay for the wicked to slay and abuse the righteous.

    never said such a thing, nor implied it.

    Then please tell me which version of your story to debate. Will we debate that the event didn’t occur, or will we debate that it did occur but that Moses made a mistake? It is really very difficult to have this discussion when you keep shifting stories.

    my argument is simply that we don’t have a historically accurate story in the old testament. i don’t know which way it is ahistorical.

    “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” is the threefold title applied to all who have received a fulness of the KEYS OF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD associated with the apostleship. –Encycolopedia of Mormonism

    I realize that anyone can be a prophet so long as they have a testimony of Jesus Christ and are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. I also know that every word that THE Prophet (read: Prophet, Seer, and Revelator–just so there’s no confusion) utters is not prophecy, and I know that THE Prophets have weaknesses and are not perfect. But THE Prophet is always THE Prophet, maybe not A prophet (read: ordinary joe who occasionaly prophesies) and he is required to live by God’s law, the same as anyone else, at all times, and in all things, and in all places, that he may be in.

    joseph smith said that he was only a prophet when he was acting as such. so someone is only a prophet when they are divinely prophesying. if not, they are not a prophet at the time – thought they may believe they are. i don’t care much for titles. they tend to do more harm than good.

    Even Brigham Young who taught that the children of Ham were to be the servants of servants, because of the “unenlightened” views of his day, he still advocated just and fair treatment for the slaves, and taught against brutality towards them, even though this went against the norms of society.

    brigham young was also a racist that started the black priesthood ban and accepted black slaves as tithing.

    In any event, like I’ve said before, excluding scriptural accounts because they don’t fit your perception of just morality is a dangerous thing.

    i think calling something so immoral moral just because it is in the bible is more dangerous.

    You might find yourself shocked someday to find that God is not who you thought he was. I can live with it just fine if I learn that God really didn’t command Joshua to commit genocide. Chalk it up to human error. I already knew that. But how will you deal with it if you learn that he did?

    then i would ask to be sent to hell, as i would rather spend my days there than in this so-called ‘heaven’ with this murderous and ugly god.

  30. Some where I read that “THE” Profit could go astray but it was imposible to lead us astray. It amazes me how some of us can be presumpious enough to speak for God or say we know what God should do.

  31. Can you be more specific about what you mean about “presumpious “?

  32. I’m willing to admit that Joshua was living under a “lower law” than we are. As such, I’ll give Joshua and Moses the benefit of the doubt here, but I think the higher law says that genocide is wrong.

    I appreciate that you say you “think” that the higher law says that genocide is wrong, because there is no proof that God would not command such a thing. Certainly genocide is wrong just as murder is wrong. But murder is not wrong if done lawfully, meaning in defense of one’s life or the lives of others, in a time of war, or when commanded by God (i.e. Nephi slaying Laban). Similarly, if God commanded genocide, then it is not wrong. There are other commandments which we are required to obey, but there are times when it is lawful to break them (i.e. ox in the mire), and there may be times when keeping a commandment may be immoral (i.e. lying to protect Jews from Nazi extermination).

    Man’s bias stopped blacks from having the priesthood sooner.

    I will disagree with that, but would prefer not to change the subject at this point. How about saving this subject for another time?

    I expect you agree that personal bias can affect revelation, and I’d be curious if you disagree with me here.

    If personal bias can affect revelation, then how can it be called revelation? If THE Prophets were concerned about the subject of slavery and blacks holding the priesthood, then it stands to reason that it is a subject that they likely inquired of God about. I believe that if the Lord wanted the priesthood to be given to black people sooner, it would’ve been revealed sooner, as I have little doubt that the subject was taken to the Lord on more than one occasion. I believe that the ban came from God, and even President Hinckley doesn’t believe that the church was wrong for instituting the ban. I don’t necessarily like the fact that there was a ban. I am not a racist person, but I believe that the Lord’s wisdom is greater than mine, and he has the ability to see what is in the best interest of all of his children, even when we disagree or can’t see the wisdom in it.

    Your reference to the CES manual seems to me just as dated, and untruthful as Bruce R. McConkie’s reasons for justifying why blacks shouldn’t hold the priesthood.

    I don’t necessarily believe in the statements given by McConkie for justifying the ban, because God did not give a reason for the ban. So any justifications given were just speculation. But the presidents of the church have specifically stated that the ban was God-given. Likewise, any attempt to give justifications about why God commanded Joshua to commit genocide, even upon infants, is speculation. It may be wrong, but then again, it may not. It doesn’t negate that the event actually occurred, but if such an event happened, it is helpful to the human mind to be able to ascribe logical reasons in order to be able to understand and accept the reasons God may have given the command. To avoid trying to find logical reasons and just accept things at face value can lead one to have serious doubts.

    I find these justifications of Joshua/Moses to destroy Baal worshippers flawed…. Similarly, Baal worshippers probably should not have been subjected to “convert or die” choices. I’m willing to say that Joshua operated under a lower law, but higher laws find these actions unacceptable.

    Actually they had a third option of going elsewhere, thus they wouldn’t have had to convert or die. Anyway, where is there any proof that higher laws find these actions unacceptable when commanded by God? You are making these statements based on opinion when there is much evidence to support the actions of Moses and Joshua in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. And you have yet to challenge the Book of Mormon’s support of this genocide.

    On a related note, I don’t think God has ever condoned slavery. It is wrong today, and should have been wrong in Joshua’s day. However, it has been culturally acceptable sInce Joshua’s day, and God has allowed it.

    Slavery was actually a way for people to pay debts, right wrongs, and allow the less fortunate to receive support. If you read more about it in the Bible, you may find that it was not a bad thing. The slavery instituted by God in the Bible was a righteous practice of servitude and not the cruel barbaric slavery we might be inclined to invision.

    God has allowed all sorts of bad things to go on, like Mountain Meadows Massacre, the Crusades, the Holocaust, Jihad, slavery, Joshua’s genocide, the Haun’s Mill Massacre, etc. God often doesn’t interfere in man’s affairs like we think he should.

    I agree with you here, except, of course, for the case of Joshua.

    After all, if we were God, we certainly wouldn’t have allowed the list above to happen. To allow Joshua’s genocide, and discredit the rest of the list seems highly hypocritical to me.

    I just disagree that a prophet can commit such an atrocity numerous times without rebuke unless it was indeed a commandment of God. Otherwise we are to believe that God allowed genocide to take place because these people were incapable of understanding anything else, but yet they were capable of understanding that murder is a sin. How does genocide get a pass, but murder doesn’t? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Both [websites] refer to some of the same passages, and represent many religious justifications for atrocities, including rape by so-called religious “chosen” people.

    I looked up the scriptures listed on the site you linked to, and I must say that the scriptures which supposedly justify rape, do no such thing. If you look at Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (one of the troublesome passages supposedly justifying rape), it says, “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.” If you look at the 3 preceeding verses, it IS talking about rape, but it is saying that the woman has committed no sin if she is raped. However, when describing rape, it says, “if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.” This is obviously not advocating rape if the punishment is death, and if death was the penalty in one instance, why would it be allowed in another? So going back to verses 28 and 29, we see that there is no evidence that the sex is forced, but what we do see is a case of consensual sex between a man and a woman, the consequences being that if they are going to have sex, then they have to get married.

    Then, regarding Deuteronomy 21:11-14, which talks about female captives of war, supposedly being forced to submit sexually to their male captors and then marry them can be looked at from a different perspective. No where in these verses does it imply that this is done against the will of the woman. It says if the Israelite man sees a beautiful woman among the captives and desires to marry her, he can, once this and this happens. Wasn’t there a point in time when you decided that your wife (before marriage) was beautiful and that you wanted to marry her? Does that imply that she had no part in the decision to actually get married? The scripture then goes on to say that if he has no delight in her, then he must let her go, and may not sell her, meaning if he wants a divorce, which could be mutual as well, that’s fine, but because she became his wife, she is no longer his “property” to sell (remember putting off the raiment of her captivity? She’s no longer a slave at this point).

    This is not to change the subject, but to point out that such troublesome scriptures need to be examined and interpreted properly.

    We also learn that Orthodox Christians used the same verses to justify ethnic cleansing. Were these appropriate uses of scripture? My gut tells me you would say “no”

    You are correct, but let’s not make the mistake of thinking that just because the scriptures were misused in such cases must mean that such things didn’t or couldn’t be commanded by God to do. I just don’t think it is a fair comparison. That’s like comparing God to Satan. Satan advocates lying, but so does God in certain situations. Does that mean that God is no better than Satan, or that just because Satan uses lies for unrighteous purposes, God can’t use lying for righteous purposes?

    What if someone asked President Monson, “Would you ever command a holy war?” My gut tells me he would find the question offensive.

    I don’t believe that he would do such a thing, but my point was that we need to be careful about excusing dead prophets, while at the same time, setting the living prophets up to a higher standard.

    Are you saying you would support genocide to wipe out gambling, prostitution, and homosexuality in SF and LV?

    No I’m not. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but I at the sam time, I am repulsed by the gross wickedness that is allowed to pollute this society. I also don’t think it would happen, primarily because of the separation of church and state, which was not the case with ancient Israel, hence their ability to enforce stricter laws. But if God decides to wipe a city off of the map (which has been prophesied by latter-day prophets), who am I to disagree?

    What I think is hypocritical, is for anyone to defend killing infants, because God wanted to emphasize a “symbolic act” of absolute obedience. Absolute obedience is a dangerous thing. Jihadists want absolute obedience, Nazi’s want absolute obedience, the perpetrators of both Haun’s Mill, and MMM wanted absolute obedience.

    I did not say that the killing of infants was a symbolic act of absolute obedience, that there was no purpose behind it other than to ellicit absolute obedience. But rather that it had to do with destroying the people of the images which wrought so much wickedness upon the earth, and realizing the seriousness of the evils of which these societies were guilty. I don’t understand it all, particularly killing innocent children and infants. It doesn’t make complete sense to me, but if God can kill infants himself with acts such as the flood and the destroying angel which killed all of the firstborn males in Egypt, it is essentially the same as the killing of infants in Canaan.

    Also, please don’t compare the evils of such things as Jihad, Nazi’s, crusades, MMM, or Haun’s Mill to the acts of God. There is no comparison.

    I am curious about your question to me. If Pres Monson suddenly directed a holy war against San Francisco, Baghdad, Amsterdam, Las Vegas, or any other wicked city of anyone’s choosing, and tried to use these scriptures in Joshua to justify it, would you support the killing of infants and absolute obedience to the prophet’s commands?

    I don’t know. But I would hope that I would be able to receive guidance from the Lord in such a case. My heart tells me that I would do whatever the Lord asked of me, and I hope that if I knew unmistakably that something such as this was God’s will, I would be able to understand it and support it. But please don’t think of me as a crazy lunatic who is just waiting in the ready for a call to “Jihad.” Such is the farthest thing from who I am. But I do follow the Lord, and I accept whatever his will may be. I know he knows all and that if I have faith and accept whatever his will may be, that I too will someday understand.

    However, worshipping Baal, or other idols should not be a capital offense. Perhaps in the lower law of Moses, a poor case has been justified. But in the Law of Christ, it is absolutely unjustifiable.

    Where is there evidence of this? In fact, all the evidence points to the contrary. I believe that genocide as a matter of course, was wrong, even during the law of Moses, except in the cases that God made exceptions. You have to understand that, while the wickedness of these peoples justified their extinction, the primary purpose was to protect Israel from their influence. If extinction was the primary goal, then offers of peace or the opportunity to go elsewhere wouldn’t have been extended.

    From what I can tell in the Bible, there probably was prostitution, and other sins. However, I don’t see that the worshippers of Baal were advocating rape, or other violence. They were certainly advocating Baal, and probably were engaged in sexual sins.

    It is amazing to me that you so easily believe that the Bible advocates rape for Israel, but have difficulty imagining that it wasn’t a ritualized part of heathen worship. They committed human sacrifice for sure (see Leviticus 20, Deut. 18:10, and 2 Chronicles 28:3, and look up “Molech” in the Bible Dictionary), as well as some other gross sins such as bestiality and incest, but you find it hard to believe that rape may have been among those sins? Perhaps it wasn’t (maybe there was too much consent going on for rape to even be a consideration), but in any event, human sacrifice–of children….by fire–seems violent enough to me. Perhaps the sexual sins alone were not just cause for the genocide of the people of Canaan, but in the cases of human sacrifice, I say it most certainly would.

    In today’s Christian world, sexual sin is unacceptable, and should be condemned, but I think most Christians prefer to follow Christ’s example. When the woman was caught in adultery, instead of death by stoning, as Moses proposed, he granted clemency, with a promise to stop the practice.

    Who wrote the law of Moses? I believe that Moses said that God was the author of it, and I am aware that if a prophet falsely attributes anything to God, that prophet will die (Deut. 18:20). Part of understanding the law of Moses is realizing that harsh penalties were imposed because Israel was so disobedient as a whole. They came from a culture (Egypt) steeped in idolatry and wickedness, and such things were all around them in the land of Canaan. I agree that the higher law brought greater mercy, but I don’t believe that because of the higher law, that there couldn’t have been a time when it was necessary to execute the extinction of a people because of gross wickedness.

    Would you advocate a position of the prophet telling mormons to abandon the LV Temple before the cleansing of Las Vegas? I doubt it, but am interested to hear what you say.

    I believe I pretty much answered this already.

  33. Tara,

    I’m glad we had some agreement here. I knew there was some.

    I appreciate that you say you “think” that the higher law says that genocide is wrong, because there is no proof that God would not command such a thing.

    Not sure why you said this. There is no proof God commanded anything: all spiritual people much rely on faith about any topic. There is no proof that God commanded genocide, except for Joshua’s claim. That is the subject of the post: you believe it, I don’t. Neither one of us have proof here, just opinions. Your asking me for all these proofs reminds me of Korihor. (jk) 😉

    I don’t have proof and neither do you. I’ve cited plenty of examples (priesthood ban, adulterous woman), and you are choosing to disqualify them. Here’s another one (Matthew 5:21-22):

    21Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    ———-

    Perhaps I will post on the Priesthood ban. I agree that it is tangentially related here, and it sounds like we can go the rounds on that topic too.

    ———–

    If someone gave you the following choices: (1) convert to [pick another religion], (2) die, or (3) leave your state without full compensation, are you calling this a fair choice? Come on. This is not free agency–it is duress. The people of Jericho were given this supposed choice at the point of a sword. That is Satan’s plan, not Christ’s. Satan wanted to force people to convert in the plan in heaven, just as Joshua did. I’m shocked that you think this was a fair choice, as it completely contradicts our article of faith “Let all men worship how, where, or what they may.”

    The mormons were given a similar choice in Missouri–it’s called the Extermination Order. Only this time, the mormons decided to leave rather than die.

    You can never convince me that the Baal worshippers were given a fair choice. Joshua used unrighteous dominion. If you think this is a fair choice, then we can agree to disagree here.

    Oh by the way, what would you choose: (1) leave your state, (2) convert to Islam, or (3) die. Please tell me the difference. I know your answer–one is given by God, and one isn’t. The trick for most is finding out which one, and there are 1 billion muslims who believe they are right, to argue with 2 billions christians (not to mention other religions). The real trick is that neither Muhammed nor Joshua’s genocide commands are/were from God, IMO.

    My challenge to the Bible’s genocide command pertains as well to the Book of Mormon. I have to tell you I am not completely comfortable with the whole Laban situation, but it pales in comparison to what Joshua did. The Lamanites commit genocide against the Nephites. This was wrong. The Nephites at the end were terribly violent, and Mormon refused to be their leader because this was so wrong and depraved. I’m not seeing a support for genocide here.

    ————-

    my point was that we need to be careful about excusing dead prophets, while at the same time, setting the living prophets up to a higher standard.

    You’re the one excusing the dead prophet Joshua, not me. I’m bringing Joshua up to the current standard of modern days.

    ————

    Slavery was actually a way for people to pay debts, right wrongs, and allow the less fortunate to receive support.

    I dare you to say this to a group of black people. Civil War era whites said similar things. Anyone who had truly experienced slavery would find this statement contemptible. Slavery and even indentured servitude will easily and quickly lead to abuse of the slave by most masters. I find this comment far from enlightened. If slavery in the Bible was such a good thing, why did Joseph of Egypt hate it? Why did Moses lead the Israelite slaves out of Egypt? Why did Israel have a Sabbath year releasing slaves? Perhaps some chose to remain, but I’ll bet it was less than 10%, and this small minority probably weren’t the sharpest tool in the shed. I wouldn’t call slavery a wildly popular position, even among Israeli slaves. Are you kidding me?

    How does genocide get a pass, but murder doesn’t?

    It doesn’t pass from me, but it does from you. In war, all kinds of atrocities have been justified long before the time of Joshua, and long after. I find these justifications wrong, which is why I posted on the topic. Please remember that this revelation was received in war-time, and bound to be influenced by personal bias.

    ————–

    Molech is not part of Baal worhip, so you seem to be confusing your ancient religions. Baal worship “…is more explicitly concerned with fertility, specifically cast in terms of human sexuality. Worship of Ba’al involved imitative magic, the performance of rituals, including sacred prostitution, which were understood to bring vitality to Ba’al in his struggle with Mot.” See http://www.cresourcei.org/baal.html

    So, while I agree there was some real sexual depravity, rape does not appear to be a problem, neither does human sacrifice.

    Why is it that the Jews had to have the city of Jericho? Why couldn’t the Jews have picked another plot of land without inhabitants to influence them? Certainly, Brigham Young found a basically uninhabited land, in spite of the fact that Missouri was “the promised land.” We even send missionaries to Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Amsterdam: homes of a great number of sexual sinners.

    ———

    I don’t believe that because of the higher law, that there couldn’t have been a time when it was necessary to execute the extinction of a people because of gross wickedness.

    I believe that Joshua understood God differently than I modern Christians do. I believe he felt it was justifiable. I think Christ would have behaved differently. Of course this is speculation on my part. This whole post is speculation. Your speculations are different than mine.

  34. I don’t have proof and neither do you. I’ve cited plenty of examples (priesthood ban, adulterous woman), and you are choosing to disqualify them.

    I certainly don’t have physical proof. Of course that is the case. What I mean by proof is scriptural proof as well as precedent. I don’t accept the priesthood ban as proof in this situation of personal bias affecting revelation. The adulterous woman is proof that Jesus instituted a higher law, but he also instituted the lower law which allowed for the kinds of harsh tactics used under the law of Moses. But the adulterous woman does not prove that genocide was not commanded by God.

    Here’s another one (Matthew 5:21-22):

    21Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    Who says that Moses and Joshua were angry with the Canaanites? They obviously had great difficulty with utterly destroying them, and most of the time didn’t want to fight them at all. They were strictly commanded to do these things and the Book of Mormon, once again, supports this. Notice though, that simply saying “Thou fool” will endanger you with hell fire. How is that merciful? Anyway, maybe I’m missing your point as to how these scriptures are proof of anything except that the commandments got stricter during Jesus’ ministry. Not only are we not allowed to kill, but we aren’t allowed to get angry and call names either. I guess that makes sexual sins that much worse. 🙂

    If someone gave you the following choices: (1) convert to [pick another religion], (2) die, or (3) leave your state without full compensation, are you calling this a fair choice? Come on. This is not free agency–it is duress.

    You are certainly right. This is duress. But I still have a choice–three in fact. Would I like it? Certainly not. But I would leave rather than die. However, what about Noah preaching to the people to repent or die in the flood? Is this agency or duress? The people did have a choice, though they may not have liked their choices or rather chose not to believe. What about the destroying angel? Did the Egyptians have a choice here or were they under duress? They did have a choice and they were under duress. The Pharaoh could’ve let the people go, but chose not to, so the Egyptians were at the mercy of the Pharoah’s decision, but because he chose wrong, many firstborn males were killed. Even after losing his own son, Pharoah still refused to let the Israelites go. What about the choices we are given here on earth? We either accept Jesus Christ, repent, keep the commandments, or we will at some point suffer the consequences. Is that agency or duress? I call it agency, but some might call it duress since living a Christ-like life is a tall order to fill, and many will not live up to that standard. What about the council in heaven? There was a plan, but the choice was, accept the plan or be cast out. Satan was certainly under duress similar to what the Canaanites faced. He could either submit or leave. But he used his agency, chose not to accept the plan, and was cast out. The point is, many of the choices that we are given are not choices we want to make, and sometimes our pride gets the best of us and we make choices despite the unpleasant consequences. All of the choices we make under the plan of salvation are choices under duress. The only difference is that the consequences are not immediately felt as was the case with the Canaanites and others.

    The people of Jericho were given this supposed choice at the point of a sword. That is Satan’s plan, not Christ’s.

    It is? So you don’t call the above mentioned incidents examples of force?

    Satan wanted to force people to convert in the plan in heaven, just as Joshua did. I’m shocked that you think this was a fair choice, as it completely contradicts our article of faith “Let all men worship how, where, or what they may.”

    No, it actually doesn’t. WE allow all men to worship how, where, or what they may. It isn’t our own personal business how people choose to worship. But it IS God’s business. He allows men to worship how, where, or what they may, but only to a point. When the people are ripe in iniquity, then he lays down the hammer. He will once again in these last days. But even though people are allowed to worship how, where, or what they may, it does not mean that they will not face consequences for their choice of worship. As I’ve said before, I also don’t believe that “let all men worship how, where, or what they may” means that you are allowed to just do anything you want, call it worship, and expect to get away with it.

    Oh by the way, what would you choose: (1) leave your state, (2) convert to Islam, or (3) die. Please tell me the difference. I know your answer–one is given by God, and one isn’t. The trick for most is finding out which one, and there are 1 billion muslims who believe they are right, to argue with 2 billions christians (not to mention other religions).

    There really is no trick. With Moses and Joshua, the Canaanites were fully aware of the miracles that God had done for Israel. In fact, it was the knowledge of these very things which led the Gibeonites (one of the six nations which were marked for utter destruction) to seek assylum with the Israelites. Said they, “Because it was certainly told [to us] thy servants, how that the Lord thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid for our lives because of you….And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do.” (Joshua 9:24-25) Elsewhere, we find that the Amorites knew that “the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel.” (Joshua 5:1) They also knew about the miraculous events in Egypt and Trans-Jordan. Rahab, a resident of Jericho declared: “I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side of Jordan, Sihon, and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath….Save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” (Joshua 2:9-13) Rahab was spared with all her kindred because of her humble petition. It clearly demonstrates that this could have been the lot of every heathen nation in Canaan. The fact that the heathen nations elected to make war with Israel becomes increasingly significant when it is realized that they launched their “fight to the death” fully aware that they were defying God and attacking his people.

    My challenge to the Bible’s genocide command pertains as well to the Book of Mormon. I have to tell you I am not completely comfortable with the whole Laban situation, but it pales in comparison to what Joshua did. The Lamanites commit genocide against the Nephites. This was wrong. The Nephites at the end were terribly violent, and Mormon refused to be their leader because this was so wrong and depraved. I’m not seeing a support for genocide here.

    Well, if you aren’t comfortable with the whole Laban situation, then you are not comfortable with God. You can make the argument that the Bible was corrupted and that it may not accurately portray events, but you can’t make that argument with the Book of Mormon.

    Certainly the violence that the Lamanites and the Nephites committed in their wickedness was wrong, because they were not fighting in the name of the Lord. The Nephites were boasting in their own strength and were full of vengeance. They swore by the heavens and the throne of God that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren. They were in complete defiance of the Lord at this point. But remember the Lord who said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.”

    But when the Nephites were righteous, they were merciful unto their enemies who surrenedered just as the Israelites did unto the Canaanites. But for the enemies of both groups who didn’t surrender, they most certainly killed them.

    The support I am referring to in the Book of Mormon is found in 1 Nephi 17:

    32 And after they had crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction.
    33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
    34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.
    35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.
    36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.
    37 And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.
    38 And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes.

    The support comes from the fact that Nephi gives the Lord credit for the destruction and scattering of the Canaanites by the Israelites. It also supports the fact that the land of Canaan was a promised land for the Israelites. Why? I don’t know. It seems that the Israelites certainly could’ve found some other place to live, but for some reason, the Lord decided to promise the land to Abraham’s posterity. But then who am I to question God?

    I said: “my point was that we need to be careful about excusing dead prophets, while at the same time, setting the living prophets up to a higher standard.”

    Your reply: You’re the one excusing the dead prophet Joshua, not me. I’m bringing Joshua up to the current standard of modern days.

    My point in saying that you are excusing Joshua, is that you believe genocide to be wrong and that God didn’t command it, but that Joshua is excused because he didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong. You believe he did it in ignorance. But you believe that if a modern prophet were to do such a thing, it would be inexcusable because they should know better. I even gave the stipulation that they truly believed that it was revelation from God to commit genocide on a city, but even then it was inexcusable for a modern prophet. Ultimately, if ignorance gets a pass on something so serious as genocide in one era, it should in another if both prophets believe that it was what they were commanded to do. Enlightenment doesn’t cut it when it comes to murder because both ancient and modern prophets knew the seriousness of murder, and genocide is murder.

    If slavery in the Bible was such a good thing, why did Joseph of Egypt hate it? Why did Moses lead the Israelite slaves out of Egypt? Why did Israel have a Sabbath year releasing slaves? Perhaps some chose to remain, but I’ll bet it was less than 10%, and this small minority probably weren’t the sharpest tool in the shed. I wouldn’t call slavery a wildly popular position, even among Israeli slaves. Are you kidding me?

    Did I ever say it was a popular position. I’m just saying that provisions were made for various reasons. 1) It was a way for people to pay their debts. It was preferable to putting someone in prison because it allowed the debtor to be repaid for his losses, whereas if a person went to prison, that would not necessarily be the case. This way, there is no need for a prison system and tax dollars are not thrown away because of it. 2) If a man or woman were unable to provide for themselves, they could become a servant. They had all of their needs taken care of.

    There were rules and regulations regarding servitude, including the fact that no adult Israelite could be forced in to servitude unless he were guilty of a theft and had been compelled to take up servitude in order to make retribution. But whether an Israelite had become a servant voluntarily or under the above circumstances, he could not be compelled to serve longer than six years. Occasionally, a person would become almost like a member of the master’s household and would wish to remain. In this situation he would go with his master before the “judges” of the community and declare his desire. If the judges were confident that the man was making this decision voluntarily and without duress they would then consent, and the man’s earlobe would be pierced as an insignia of permanent servitude. Israelites were required to treat fellow Hebrews as hired servants not as bond servants. Furthermore, the Lord said, “Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shall fear thy God.” Cruel masters would be answerable to God, and there were punishments set in place for cruelty and murder of servants.

    I don’t know much about servitude of other peoples, because the scriptures are not clear, but several scriptures make these clear statements about strangers in Israel. “For the Lord your God…loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10:17-19) “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him.” (Ex. 22:21) “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt lovve him as thyself.” (Lev. 19:34) “One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.” (Num. 15:16) Because of these scriptures, my guess is that the laws governing servitude for strangers or other people were also very similarly applied in same manner to them as it was to Israel.

    Molech is not part of Baal worhip, so you seem to be confusing your ancient religions.

    So you think that they didn’t also worship Molech as well? Molech is right there in the Bible as one of the Gods worshipped by the heathen nations, and no where in the link you provided, was there any implication that they did not worship Molech also. In fact, here is an exerpt from a different page on that same site confirming that Molech was a Canaanite god to whom human sacrifices were made: “Because of the perpetual fires, and also because there had been idols to the Canaanite god Molech erected there to which were offered human sacrifices (2 Kings 23:10), ge hinnom (“valley of Hinnom” in Hebrew) became a symbol for the judgment of God.” http://www.crivoice.org/dead.html. Here also is an interesting page on the same site, also confirming the worship of Molech and human sacrifice: http://www.crivoice.org/sacrifice.html. This page contains additional enlightenment on the part that ritual and animal sacrifice played in Israelite worship against the backdrop of the heathen idea of sacrifice and ritual.

  35. I was hoping you would have a comment for the question I asked, which was, “If personal bias can affect revelation, then how can it be called revelation?” I seriously can’t see how revelation can be called revelation if it is influenced by personal bias, but maybe I’m wrong.

    One point I forgot to make was with regard to the miracles that accompanied Israel during their conquests in Canaan. There are many examples, but the one I find most apropos here is in regard to the walls of Jericho which came tumbling down simply with a shout from the Israelite soldiers. If God was not in favor of the Israelite conquests in Canaan, then why did he help them accomplish them?

    Also, the fact that the Israelites circled the walls of Jericho for six consecutive nights without making any gesture of hostility should’ve sent a message to King of Jericho that an overture of peace could be made to these people. Remember that the people of Jericho were aware of the miracles which accompanied the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt.

  36. joseph smith said that he was only a prophet when he was acting as such. so someone is only a prophet when they are divinely prophesying. if not, they are not a prophet at the time – thought they may believe they are. i don’t care much for titles. they tend to do more harm than good.

    I understand this, but when the prophet says, “Thus saith the Lord,” that seems to me to indicate that he is prophesying. Moses said that God said, “But of the cities of these people which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, they Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:” (Deuteronomy 20:16-17) That sounds like a prophet who is prophesying. I know you doubt the validity of this account, but as I’ve pointed out numerous times, the Book of Mormon supports that God was in full support of the conquest of Canaan.

    then i would ask to be sent to hell, as i would rather spend my days there than in this so-called ‘heaven’ with this murderous and ugly god.

    That is my whole point. You think that a God who could do these things is murderous and ugly. If you think that, then you don’t understand God. I think genocide is a horrible thing in an of itself. But God is a God of justice, and sometimes justice must be executed to protect the righteous and the innocent.

    In addition, physical death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. It is in fact rest to the righteous, and it is not the end of our existence. We certainly don’t want to die and leave our loved ones, nor do we want our loved ones to die and leave us. But death is not to be feared by the righteous or the innocent, but by the wicked. The taking of life by the order of God, whether by his own doing, or through the charge of others is not unmerciful. I’m sure you wouldn’t say that God is unmerciful when a sick or injured child receives a priesthood blessing but is not healed and then dies. It is the same basic principle. It was either the Lord’s will for the child to die, or it was not his will that the child live.

  37. “But God is a God of justice, and sometimes justice must be executed to protect the righteous and the innocent.”

    At what point would you begin to question the divinity behind an action? Is there anything in your eyes that would be going to far? Could there be a possible account that could force you to step back and say, that can’t be right – that must be false? For example, if there was a scriptural account that said Moses was commanded by God to rape a 9 year old girl, would that force you to reject the divinity of that passage?

  38. For example, if there was a scriptural account that said Moses was commanded by God to rape a 9 year old girl, would that force you to reject the divinity of that passage?

    Yes, most definitely! That is an example of something God would not command.

  39. ok Tara, how about pauls revelations about it is better for women to be silent in church, or it is better not to marry, but it is better to marry than to burn. did this come straight from god?

  40. Instead of saying that women should not “speak,” the JST says that it should say that women should not “rule.” I have no problem with that. Women are not supposed to hold priesthood authority or preside over the priesthood.

    Regarding it being better not to marry, that is when Paul is speaking to missionaries. He is saying that it is better for them, if they are not married, to delay marriage until after their missions so that they can devote themselves to serving the Lord rather than become distracted by the demands of marriage.

    It IS better to marry than to burn, if it means that a couple cannot have enough self-control to harness their sexual desires. Otherwise, they might be “burned.”

  41. Yes, most definitely! That is an example of something God would not command.

    How do you know?

  42. How do you know?

    Primarily from scriptural evidence. To my knowledge, God himself has never committed such an act, and if it is something that God would not do, then it is something he would not command his servants to do.

    Also, the act of rape serves the purpose of gratifying the lusts of the attacker, while only causing emotional and physical trauma to the victim. God is not lustful, nor are those who worship him.

    It is also a violation of a sacred union only to be engaged in consensually between a husband and wife. Rape would not only be a violation of commandments, but its commission would serve no practical purpose whatsoever.

  43. Tara,

    I just wanted to let you know that if you put 2 http links (or more) in a post, my spam filter picks it up. I noticed you posted 1 post 4 times, and I thought I would let you know that was the reason. No problem–I was happy to rescue it as it obviously wasn’t spam. I think you can get around that problem if you embed the links, but no worry–I will always rescue your posts! 🙂

    I could go point by point for a rebuttal, but I find that cumbersome to read (and write). Let me hit the highlights. Tara, you have asked me for scriptural precedents, or rebuttals. I must say that you have a way to rationalize any bad behavior, and I am hesitant to offer any more, because you will just excuse the behavior. Your support for biblical slavery is quite perplexing to me. Your trying to tie free agency to duress is as well. I never claimed that free agency was the same as duress, and I don’t believe you think that either. You tying the two together because “some people” make the claim is not part of my claims, and I don’t think you believe free-agency = duress either. You are simply trying to win an argument at this point, and these exaggerated tactics are not winning any points. Any references I give you will be similarly rationalized away.

    Furthermore, Paul wasn’t speaking to 19 year old missionaries in the MTC, and espousing that they be unmarried for a short time. Paul was saying that anyone who wants to have sex is weak. If so, then it is better to marry (in order to have sex) than to burn. Your rationalization of these and other scriptures is troublesome to me, as it seems to show you are willing to twist meanings of scriptures to support your positions. I doubt I could give you anything that will convince you, as you seem more interested in winning the argument at all costs–even the cost of credibility. At this point, we are not discussing scriptures, but arguing positions. Further examples will only deepen each others’ resolve, rather than try to bring each other closer to agreement.

    In answer to your other question about personal bias affecting revelation, let me give two final examples, and I will be curious if you twist these too. We wouldn’t have the Word of Wisdom if Emma hadn’t complained about cleaning up tobacco spit. Emma’s personal problem with tobacco spit, prompted Joseph to inquire of the matter. Hence a revelation was received. Without Emma’s prompting, I highly doubt the WoW would have been received.

    It is pretty well documented that Jonah hated the Ninevites, and wanted the city to be destroyed. “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed” (Jonah 3:4). He even sat on a hill and got sunburned waiting for the city to be destroyed. Yet, God had other plans. The city was not destroyed in 40 days. Yes, Jonah’s personal bias greatly affected the scripture 3:4. (I know you will justify this, but I’m giving it to you anyway.) I suspect that Joshua could have learned from Jonah, but it is too bad that Joshua lived first, and wasn’t aware of Jonah.

    Finally, you have characterized my position as excusing Joshua’s behavior on multiple occasions. This is completely false. I am not excusing his behavior in any way.

  44. I was wondering why my comment wouldn’t post. Thanks for letting me know what happened.

    You said that you believe I have a way of rationalizing any bad behavior, but that is just not the case. I am actually very critical of bad behavior when bad behavior exists. But I also consider myself to be a fair person and I try very hard to see things from all angles before I make a judgement. I just don’t see this as an example of bad behavior because I believe it was a commandment of God. One cannot be accused of bad behavior if they are doing the will of God. I know you do not believe Joshua’s behavior was appropriate, but from my perspective, it seems that you believe that since he thought that what he was doing was the Lord’s will, then he is excused in the sense that he can still be a prophet. That is why I say that you excuse the behavior. You think it is bad behavior and have no problem with calling Joshua a prophet, not a fallen prophet. I don’t consider Joshua’s behavior bad since it was commanded by God, so I am not excusing any bad behavior. In fact, I will go so far as to say that in the cases where the Israelites failed to fully carry out their execution orders, they WERE exhibiting bad behavior, because they were disobeying God. Call me a crazy, whacked-out, racist, Jihadist if you please. I’m sure that’s what you think. Anyway, at this point, I’m not sure I understand what your position is, since it seems that I keep getting it wrong.

    I just don’t believe that prophets can commit atrocities on the order of genocide and not be reprimanded or given divine guidance if they didn’t know they were doing wrong, or if they didn’t know that they were misinterpreting the commandments God gave them. How can anyone be expected to have confidence in prophets if they are prone to such unchecked egregious behavior of their own imaginings? That, to me, is scary. Now I do not believe that prophets are infallible, and I believe that we should not follow blindly, but I don’t believe that their sins or mistakes or weaknesses are on par with genocide or other atrocities (at least not after they are called to leadership). Can a prophet have some racist attitudes and still be a prophet? Certainly. Can a prophet have racist attitudes and decide (rather than actually receive revelation on the matter) that God wants a particular race of people exterminated and still be a prophet if he carries it out? I just can’t fathom that being the case.

    I was not actually tying free agency and duress together in order to say that any free agency is exercised under duress. I just didn’t make my point very well. I don’t believe that the choices we make are made under duress, but there are times when we have to make choices and we may not like any of the choices we are given. Does that mean we don’t have a choice? No. There may be people who don’t want to or have a hard time living the laws of God (I have family in this situation, so it’s not just made up), but maybe they want to gain eternal salvation. They may not like any of the alternatives presented, but then they still have to make a choice. This is agency, not force. When I tell my children, “clean your rooms or there will be no tv,” is that force? No. They still have choices, even if neither alternative is desirable. With Satan’s plan, there would be NO choices to make. It wouldn’t be a matter of two or three different choices, it would be no choices at all. Satan’s plan was to bring us all back to heaven, hell or high water, and we would have no choice in the matter whatsoever. The Canaanites HAD choices, even if none of them were appealing.

    With regard to the words of Paul, I don’t appreciate you saying that I am rationalizing and twisting the meaning of scriptures to merely win the argument, as though I don’t really believe these things but am just interested in winning the debate. I came to this understanding of Paul’s words long before this debate ever began. And I never said nor implied that he was speaking to 19-year-olds in the MTC either. Anyway, the fact that Paul said, “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord,” leads me to the belief that Paul was not preaching that marriage was a less-desirable state, only for the “weak.” Certainly those who cannot control their lustful thoughts and desires can be considered weak, but that was not the only message that Paul was trying to send. He himself, being a Pharisee before his conversion would have, according to Mosaic law, been married. His conversion would’ve caused his devout Jewish wife to be horrified, so he was likely divorced. In verse 5, if you look at the JST, seems to suggest that divorce is possibly what he is referring to. A similar conversation took place between Jesus and his disciples, where he said that those who divorce, for reasons other than infidelity, commit adultery when they remarry (an example of a “higher law” that we are not living). It seems as though Paul is speaking to divorcees as well as widows, as verse 8 points out. Widows are already married and sealed for eternity. So he is just saying that it is better for these people to involve themselves in spiritual work rather than re-marry. Verse 6 makes clear that he isn’t saying that these ideas are commandments, but that he is just giving advice. Prophets do have opinions and not every opinion is inspired, but I would say that his advice was pretty sound in these circumstances.

    Regarding Emma and the Word of Wisdom, I will agree that the complaints of Emma prompted Joseph to inquire of the Lord on the subject. I’m just not sure that he wouldn’t have received the revelation at all had Emma not complained. It is possible, but there is really no way to show that either possibility is more likely. But to say that we wouldn’t have received it otherwise walks a dangerous line towards saying that the revelation was not inspired, and I just can’t go there so easily. The fact that the Word of Wisdom is more applicable for today leads me to believe that it would have been revealed at some point regardless of whether Joseph inquired or not. It is my understanding that some of the revelations Joseph received were as a result of inquiry on his part which was sparked from events, questions, or an unclear understanding of the meaning of some scriptures. I haven’t looked into it at this point, but it may be possible that Joseph also received revelations which were unprompted by him. Either way, I think it is just as possible that Joseph could’ve been reading in the Old Testament about the dietary restrictions in the law of Moses and been inspired to inquire about it. One thought I have is that as a result of Emma’s complaints, Joseph could very well have made a judgement call in the matter and just made spitting tobacco indoors off-limits. I think that something other than Emma’s complaints may have been at work in Joseph’s mind, but I could be wrong.

    As for Jonah, I don’t think it is fair to prophets to assume that just because they may be racist that they don’t listen to and follow God. Jonah had already learned that God was displeased with him for not declaring repentance unto the people of Ninevah, and was swallowed by a fish where he stayed three days and three nights. It was there that he cried unto the Lord in great affliction for forgiveness, and you don’t think that he may have learned his lesson that the Lord cared enough for the people of Ninevah that he would threaten Jonah with death if he didn’t call them to repentance? Is it possible that Jonah learned a lesson on this occasion and overcame his racist attitudes, or do you not think that is possible simply because Jonah made a declaration that, in your opinion, God would never do? Anyway, when you look at what happened after he declared that they would be overthrown, they believed and repented. Perhaps they never would’ve repented if Jonah merely came and told them to repent. Maybe the fact that they were threatened with overthrow caused them to take closer notice to what Jonah said. Now you can disagree with me if you want, and I have little doubt that you will, but please don’t tell me I am twisting scripture just to suit my own purposes.

    I don’t like where this discussion is going, and if you continue to accuse me of basically being disingenuous in my beliefs, then my time here will be over.

  45. Tara,

    I’m sure my “twisted” comments touched a nerve. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, I don’t always choose my words wisely, and for that I apologize. My words were harsher than intended, and I can understand why you are upset, though I had no intention of making this a personal battle. I never meant to imply that you were disingenuous in your beliefs, and am sorry that you feel I implied disingenuity.

    I thought we were pretty good tag-team partners (on the other blog), and I enjoy your perspectives. I have learned many things from you (even on this subject), and I greatly admire your intellect. I think we have much in common, but on this subject, we definitely do not see eye to eye.

    Once again, I apologize for my poor word choice. Instead of accusing you of twisting the scriptures, a more tactful person would have questioned your logic on this matter, and your scriptural interpretation. I should have been more judicious in my word choice. I never intended in any way to call your character into question. I consider you, an excellent scriptorian, scholar, historian, and friend, and I value your opinion, even if I choose to disagree with some of your conclusions. I will endeavor to disagree more tactfully in the future.

    While I think you’re exaggerating here, “Call me a crazy, whacked-out, racist, Jihadist if you please,” I will only call you a friend.

    ———–

    My position on prophets is more nuanced than most. I believe a prophet, such as Jonah can be (as you say) racist, yet remain a prophet. People like King David can write scripture before and after committing adultery. Solomon can even marry a wife outside the faith, (a terrible sin in his and our day), yet still be the author of scripture. I choose to accept that prophets are more human than most people give them credit. I think they can even make mistakes in inspiration, and I would like to quote Bruce R McConkie, when he spoke about his mistaken inspiration regarding blacks and the priesthood. This particular quote is found at http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=11017

    Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

    Not only did he repudiate himself, but he repudiated Brigham Young. He is saying that Brigham didn’t have as much light on the subject of blacks and the priesthood, as we do now. Our current knowledge erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. This is a pretty strong statement. To tie this directly to what I have been saying, it basically says that Brigham operated under a lower law, and that the higher law now stands. Frankly, my personal opinion is that Joseph Smith was on the right track, but Brigham wasn’t on this particular subject.

    Now, the anti-mormons have a heyday quoting Bruce, and Brigham, and others. I don’t have a problem saying that Bruce and Brigham were wrong on this particular subject, because in 1978 we received, a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject. The new revelation supercedes the old. This new revelation gives much greater clarity into the mind of God.

    Now, if I can say that Brigham got it wrong with the priesthood ban, I see nothing wrong applying that to Joshua as well. Please re-read Bruce’s statement above, but this time apply it to Joshua’s situation. I think the quote applies to Joshua perfectly.

    [please pause and read it]

    ————-

    Now, I know you think that my reasoning is “dangerous.” Who am I to call Joshua, or Brigham, or Moses wrong? Some people will argue that “well, if all these prophets are wrong, how can we trust anything they say?”

    I’ll go back to Moroni’s promise. The Holy Ghost testifies of truth. Honestly, did you really feel peace from the Holy Ghost testifying that Joshua’s genocide was true? Did you feel conflict?

    It seems to me you are conflicted about this. On the one hand, I admire your willingness to stand up for the Bible, even if it is an unpopular position, in defense of what you perceive to be truth. On the other hand, I am telling you to Forget everything that [prophets or CES manuals] have said….in days past that is contrary to the present revelation….We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

    Joshua’s genocide is wrong. I feel peace telling people that it is wrong, just as I feel peace telling people that the Crusades were wrong, and Jihad is wrong, and the Holocaust is wrong, and Haun’s Mill and MMM, and every other atrocity perpetrated by men that you can think of. I am completely consistent in my position, and I don’t have to do any sort of scriptural gymnastics to say one is right and the other is wrong.

    Now you have said I am excusing Joshua, and Brigham. Since I said that both these prophets were wrong, I have a real hard time agreeing with your position that I am excusing them. Did they operate under lesser light? Yes. You said earlier that I was saying they were operating in ignorance. I don’t view this as an accurate view of my position. I don’t view it as complete ignorance, but rather partial light. It wasn’t complete darkness, but it wasn’t noon-day sun either. Perhaps they were operating in partial ignorance, but I’m not really comfortable with this statement either. Even still, I don’t think this partial light excuses them, but rather explains how they behaved in their day.

    Jesus was perceived as dangerous in his day because he didn’t fall in line with orthodox thought. He broke the Sabbath, he associated with sinners, he laughed and partied, he was even called a “wine-bibber”. He didn’t help when the ship was sinking, he praised Samaritans, he insulted pharisees. He WAS dangerous, because he told his followers to be better than the Pharisees. Of course, he was challenging the hierarchy. If I can be dangerous like him, then I’ll be following in his footsteps. However, I’ll never come close to Jesus, because I won’t do or say anything which will get me killed, because I’m too big of a wimp.

    Yes, I am unorthodox. So was Jesus. I don’t know that orthodox thought is always correct. I am reminded that Orthodox Jews say that David did nothing wrong when he had Uriah killed in battle. The reason is that David ordered Uriah to sleep with Bath-sheba. Since Uriah disobeyed orders, he was guilty of not following orders in time of war, and therefore subject to the death penalty. Now the prophet Nathan and most others think that position is ludicrous. Yet, Rabbi Lawrence Shiffman says that is still the Orthodox position today.

    Regarding Joshua and Brigham’s orthodox positions on genocide and the priesthood ban, I think that we should follow the prophet Nathan’s example, and repudiate poor justifications for nonsensical positions.

    Regarding the WoW, while I used Emma’s dislike for tobacco spit to illustrate how personal bias affects revelation, I never said the WoW was not inspired. I believe the WoW is inspired. You said, my position “walks a dangerous line towards saying that the revelation was not inspired, and I just can’t go there so easily.” I wouldn’t go there either.

    I hope I’m not too dangerous. In many ways, I’m blandly orthodox, but this is definitely not one of the topics of my orthodoxy. I don’t impose my views on most people; rather just friendly strangers who can handle my unorthodoxy. 🙂 I hope to become a better communicator, and ask for your patience with my foibles.

  46. Thank you for your apology, and I accept it. I’m sorry for my over-reaction.

    I appreciate that you consider me to be “an excellent scriptorian, scholar, [and] historian,” but I honestly don’t consider myself to be any of those things. I really am very ignorant on a lot of things, as future discussions may reveal. Your characterizations are humbling, but I don’t feel comfortable assuming them. But I will be happy to be considered a friend who isn’t completely ignorant.

    Regarding prophets making mistakes in inspiration, first of all, I’m not comfortable calling David and Solomon prophets. They were kings certainly, and they had many good qualities, but I just don’t see evidence that they were prophets. Even the Bible dictionary claims that the Psalms, though attributed to David, were not written by him. And I don’t consider the Song of Solomon to be true scripture. It’s basically just a love song. Maybe you can help me out here, but I just don’t consider them to be prophets or that they apply to this situation.

    I believe that prophets can have a mistaken understanding where there is no revelation, but I don’t consider that to be the same as mistakes in inspiration. What I think that McConkie was referring to when he talked about new light and inspiration, are the teachings which he and earlier prophets had taught about black people not being able to hold the priesthood in mortality. But he in fact confirms that the revelation was received according to the Lord’s timetable. He never claims that the restriction was not as a result of revelation, but he rather affirms that it was when he talks about the way that the gospel goes forth to all nations on a priority basis. It seems that you believe that it was the solely the racist attitudes of Brigham Young which resulted in the priesthood restriction, but McConkie doesn’t seem to take that position and neither did President Hinckley as I’ve stated previously. You could say that Brigham had some racist views, but there is no reason that his views had to be the cause for the restriction. We could possibly assume that because of the restriction itself, in his search for an understanding as to why the need for the ban, he adopted some racist views. I do know, however, that he was very firm in his stance regarding the humane treatment of slaves, and he once stated, speaking of one of his longtime Black employees, in 1861 that “he would confer any blessing to him he could, believing him to deserve it.” He also said, “That time will come when they [black people] will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more.” This does not sound like a racist comment to me. In fact, to say that the privileges of black people would exceed those of white people sounds very contrary to a racist viewpoint. I know I am sort of veering off topic, and I’m almost done, but from all that I’ve read about Brigham Young, I do not believe that he was racist. I know I’ve said or implied that he was, but because many things he’s said sound racist, and that is what most people believe, it’s just easier to say that he had racist attitudes instead of going into details and opening a whole new can of worms. I also believe that there is a great possibility that the priesthood restriction was at least in the works sometime during the last few years of Joseph Smith’s life. We’ll have to save this topic for later. Right now, I understand that we’ve gone this direction in an effort to analyze prophets and their mistakes in the context of Joshua (and Moses).

    Now I have no problem conceding that prophets operated under a lower law, but just because it was a lower law does not mean it was not law and that the law was not God-given. They were still following orders, even if they were mistaken in the reasons for the orders. But I interpret your stance (correct me if I’m wrong) as being that prophets were allowed to operate in partial ignorance (which would be true by definition if they only had partial light) in certain respects, and even mistakenly call them God-given, but I disagree that they have mistakenly believed them to be God-given. I believe they know when what they are saying is personal belief and opinion which is not directly inspired from God, and when they truly are speaking for God. I’m willing to allow a little gray area here, but not to the degree that you are. I hope I am not misinterpreting your position, but I just can’t quite understand how you can say that, Joshua is not excused for his behavior because he operated under a lower law, when we are taught that we are only accountable for our actions according to the degree of light we have received. It seems that the more you try to explain your position in this matter to me, the more confused I become and the more it truly does seem like mental gymnastics in order to get around this issue.

    I can honestly say that I have felt at peace about Joshua’s genocide. The only conflict I felt was in the beginning when I first began to learn about it, when it didn’t make sense for God to give such a commandment. I didn’t doubt that it happened. I just didn’t understand why, and it disturbed me, although I remained open-minded about it. Over time, I came to a better understanding and it enlarged my thinking and gave me greater appreciation for the wisdom of God. Can I say with certainty that my feelings and impressions came from the Holy Ghost? No. But I most certainly can say that I have felt at peace with it, and I hope that I have been influenced by the Spirit, but I am willing to admit that I could be wrong, but I just haven’t been convinced that I am. In short, I am willing to accept the truth, whatever it may be.

    Now about all the talk on Orthodoxy, you could also go back to the early Christian Church and look at the heretics at that time and see it as a dangerous position. They were challenging the teachings established by Jesus and the earliest Apostles. A lot of the New Testament deals with correcting the erroneous teachings which were beginning to creep in and corrupt the church. We know what eventually happened–the church eventually went into apostasy. What we have been taught today by our leaders is to follow the prophet and we won’t be led astray. “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.) President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident which happened to him: “I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'” (Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78.) While I don’t believe in following blindly, I do firmly believe in “following the prophet.” My beliefs may be very orthodox, but I believe there is safety in that position.

    Regarding the WoW and personal bias affecting revelation, it still seems to me that if personal bias can affect revelation, that’s like saying that we can bend the Lord’s will to ours. At that point, it doesn’t seem much like revelation. Of course the case can be made that our will was in harmony with the Lord’s, but then that would either be coincidence or the influence of the Spirit, not bias affecting revelation. Even if bias can affect revelation, I just can’t see it affecting a revelation on genocide. That would be like Moses actually asking God if he should wipe out all the Canaanites, and then God gives him the go-ahead, even though it wasn’t really what he wanted to see happen. That would deny that Moses was unable to be influenced by God to attain to a higher law. Or it would be like, because of Moses’ bias, in that he didn’t like the Canaanites, he had no problem with their utter destruction, he asks God what to do, and it just so happens that God wants them wiped out too. If that were to be the case, I don’t think that could be considered bias affecting revelation. I believe that if any personal biases existed which affected the direction of the church in Moses’ day or today, it is the biases of the people themselves rather than the prophets. There were, for example, teachings which Joseph and other church leaders tried to reveal to the Saints that they rejected because they were not able to receive a “higher law,” just as the higher law in Moses’ day was rejected by the people and they were given the lesser law. What do you think about that?

  47. MH,

    Thanks for bringing up that BRM quote about “limited undestanding” and speaking without “light and knowledge.”

    I’ve often wondered what it really meant and whether it can be applied to other subjects other than the priesthood ban. The subject that always comes to mind is homosexuality. I’m not suggesting that future prophets are going to declare same-sex marriage to be OK. I just feel that the subject of homosexuality and why some people struggle with it has to be way more complex. I often feel like there’s something missing, that we just don’t have all the answers, despite attempts by some to paint is as very black and white, cut and dry. Could it be that years from now, leaders will be saying that those in our time also spoke with “limited understanding?”

  48. Tara,

    I figured you might have a problem with David and Solomon, but I put them in anyway. I want to add that some consider Proverbs and Ecclesiastes to be authored by Solomon. Interestingly, if you include these books, we have much more scripture from them than prophets like Noah, Elijah, Nathan, Amos, and a great many others. But that is a topic for another time.

    I’m glad to see that you agree that the prophets operated under a lower law. In my mind, that is the only “good” explanation, though I’m not sure I would characterize it as a good explanation. It is the best to me.

    It seems you want to keep a narrower scope of Bruce R McConkie’s talk. While I can’t really disagree with the narrowness of your analysis, I think that it can be applied to many other situations as well.

    I’m considering a new blog post to the whole blacks and the priesthood thing. It is related here as pertaining to how revelation is received, but it is slightly off topic. I think I’ll devote a new blog topic on that.

    I can think of at least 3 examples of personal bias affecting revelation. (1) Joseph petitioned the Lord on several occasions to allow Martin Harris to take the transcript. The Lord finally relented. (2) The Parable of the Unjust Judge, telling us to petition the Lord when we really want something. Sometimes he gives it to us, even if it is to our spiritual detriment. (3) Abraham petitioned the Lord not to destroy the city if he could find 50 righteous people, then 40, 30, 20, and finally 10. The Lord relented every time, yet Abraham couldn’t even find 10. The more I think about this, I can come up with even more. Oliver Cowdery wanted to translate. The brother of Jared submitted stones to be lit by the finger of the Lord. There’s countless stories where man interacts with God, and affects a different outcome in the Lord’s revelations. Martin did bend the will of the Lord to his will, and the Lord allowed the manuscript to be lost, despite his previous warnings.

    FD,

    I definitely think this McConkie talk can be applied to other topics. I must say that I feel badly for the mistreatment of gay church members. Perhaps I am speaking with limited knowledge on this subject, but I just don’t see the church fully embracing gay members. It is so against the Family Proclamation. Speaking from a scientific point of view, homosexuality makes no sense to me. If everyone was gay, there would be no propagation of the species, and the entire race would die. I just don’t get it, and I don’t see the church changing course here.

    That doesn’t change the fact that we need to do a better job avoiding discrimination. The suicide rate among gays is terrible, and all of Christianity needs to come up with a better plan to treat gays more humanely. It’s a really tough subject, because it seems quite scriptural that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I believe the church needs to do a better job in handling gays, but I must say I’m at a loss for how this can be implemented without appearing to be less moral. The family is such an integral part of the Plan of Salvation–I just don’t see how gays figure into the plan. Nevertheless, gays shouldn’t be mistreated, and so-called Christians should not feel good about mistreating them.

  49. While I do agree that prophets operated under a lower law, that does not mean that their behavior is wrong unless he goes against God’s commandments.

    Regarding bias, I will give you Martin Harris and the 118 pages of manuscript. That is certainly an example of bending the Lord’s will. However, you might be able to think of that as a controlled learning opportunity for Joseph. But of course, there is no proof of that. I sometimes do that with my children. Sometimes after debating with them, I allow them to make choices that I don’t agree with when I know the outcome may be unpleasant, but not to a degree to which it may do serious harm. It is designed to teach them lessons, the primary one being that they should have more trust in my counsel. The Lord says something similar to this with regard to the loss of the manuscript in D&C 3:7-8, “For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—yet you should have been faithful…” Sounds like a controlled learning opportunity to me. Even if that’s the case, would it still technically be considered bending the Lord’s will? It never really was the Lord’s will and he didn’t change his will, he just allowed Joseph to goof up.

    But I’m not so sure about the parable of the unjust judge. Here is what Talmage says: “Jesus did not indicate that as the wicked judge finally yielded to supplication so would God do; but He pointed out that if even such a being as this judge, who ‘feared not God, neither regarded man,’ would at last hear and grant the widow’s plea, no one should doubt that God, the Just and Merciful, will hear and answer. …The Lord’s pupose is giving the parable is specifically stated; it was ‘to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.'” (Jesus the Christ, p. 436) D&C 101:81-92 also contains this parable. I just don’t see the part about being blessed to one’s spiritual detriment. It seems that would be extrapolating a bit.

    As for Abraham, I see this as a discussion rather than Abraham persuading God to do other than what his intention is. It seems that Abraham was trying to determine at what point God would consider a city wicked enough to destroy it. In any event, the city was destroyed once all the righteous were warned to leave. Alma told the people of Ammonihah that “if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction” (Alma 10:22). He then warned them, “If ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand” (Alma 10:23). Like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of Ammonihah refused to repent or recognize that the few righteous among them were their only protection, so they killed them and cast them out (see Alma 14:9–11; 15:1). Therefore, a short time later the entire city was destroyed (see Alma 16:1–3, 9–10). This is to demonstrate that it wasn’t Abraham bending the will of the Lord, but rather that it is just the way the Lord operates and that is what Abraham learned. Of note with regard to the killing of the righteous among the Ammoniahites is that Amulek wanted to use the power of God to save them as they were watching them be destroyed by fire, but Alma said that he was constrained by the Spirit that he should not try to save them. That, to me is certainly an example of when bias cannot affect revelation.

    The other things you mention don’t seem to me to be clear-cut examples of bending the Lord’s will. There is no reason to believe that it was contrary to the Lord’s will that Oliver should translate or that the Jaredites should have light for their journey across the ocean. That would be more like me asking for a blessing of healing, then the Lord granting it as though he really didn’t want to do it in the first place, but I was just so convincing. These seem to me to be examples of the Lord being willing to bless his children, but we must ask first.

    I will be generous and give you an example of when bias can affect revelation. Nephi, in the Book of Helaman, declares unto the peole that the Lord said, “except ye repent ye shall be smitten, even unto destruction.” After two years of war among the people, Nephi asks the Lord to not let them be destroyed in war, but to send a drought instead.

    But I just don’t see Moses saying to the Lord, “I just really have an extreme dislike for the Canaanites. Would you mind it too much if we just completely wiped them out, seeing as they are just a bunch of depraved heathens?” Then the Lord says, “I’ll do you one better Moses. I not only will allow you to do this thing, but I will command you to do it, and if you fail to carry it out, then will my wrath be kindled against you.”

    I can see the prophets being able to bend the Lord’s will in the direction of mercy, but not towards unmercifulness. It would had to have been the Lord’s will, or else what meaning would the command not to murder have if we can just convince the Lord to allow us to commit murder because of our own ill-conceived biases?

  50. I hope you don’t think I’m being too contrary. I’m sure I probably come across that way, and I hope I don’t annoy you too much. I drive my husband crazy, because I am always looking for alternative explanations rather than just immediately accepting the “easy” ones. I just like to evaluate from all possibilities to be sure that I am making a fair judgement, though sometimes I may take it a bit too far.

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