1 Samuel 15: “This is what the LORD of hosts has to say: ‘I will punish what Amalek did to Israel when he barred his way as he was coming up from Egypt. Go, now, and attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.”
This is genocide. This is God commanding the Israelites to commit genocide.
The Bible is often portrayed as an antidote to extreme relativism, and, I think, sometimes, if read carefully, with reason, and in the right spirit, it can be.
However, if we think that the Bible is, in fact, the Word of God, in some literal or inerrant sense, or even in some “wholly inspired” sense, then we run the risk of feeling we must somehow justify genocide.
For, after all, if the Bible says God told the Israelites to commit genocide, and if the Bible is inerrant, then genocide must be acceptable, at least in certain circumstances and at certain times (and, presumably, only when God “tells” us to commit it).
However, if we do this, we undermine the very foundation of moral reasoning itself, for if we can justify genocide, we can justify anything at all. All standards of right and wrong become meaningless, and, ironically, the Bible becomes an open door, not to moral guidance, but to the most vicious kind of relativism possible.
And in the vacuum created by that destruction of the foundation of moral reason, the door swings wide open to intellectual and political tyranny i.e. this or that authority is right, just because it says so, and we are bound to obey…no matter what our own conscience may tell us. Even if that authority tells us to commit genocide.
The road to destruction beyond that door may be gradual, and wide, and easy, and the journey down it almost imperceptible, and certainly many people walk that way….but to hell on earth is where that kind of thinking truly leads.
Beyond that door, anything becomes possible….Inquisition, Jihad, Hitler, Stalin….
Anything at all. History has proven this.
Perhaps “The Word” of God can be found “in” and “through”…sometimes even “in spite of”….the words of sacred scripture. But “as” the words of sacred scripture….? Surely not.