I stumbled across another "conversation" between a "Christian" and a "Rational" person today. These usually appear in the Comment Section after an article I have read on line. It was dealing with a social problem I was researching on education and inner city children. The "Christian" person said that things would be better if we practiced a "biblical based morality." The "Rational" person responded that the bible teaches genocide, murdering children for offenses and abuse of women. Well, gosh, who isn't uplifted by this level of in depth discussion????
Let me begin by saying I do appreciate the criticisms of "biblical morality." From earliest times, church leaders have struggled mightily with much of what is in Scripture. St. Augustine wrote about this in 400, for example. Numerous theories on reading the bible have been crafted just because it is not easy to interpret the bible in many places. It is also not so simple to define "THE biblical morality." So serious minded Christians have struggled and debated and prayed over the biblical texts. The early church fathers and teachers dealt with serious criticism from their pagan neighbors for hundreds of years. The "Rational" critic of teh bible would do well to remember that and not be as simplistic as the Christian whom he criticizes.
But in trying to be fair to the "Rational" people, I must admit I am often times frustrated by their approach. For one thing, I rarely hear them apply the same sort of reasoned criticism of their own beliefs. I also notice that when they make fun of the bible they usually engage the most simplistic lilteralist. While picking on the weakest argument may make it easier to win, it rarely helps to find the truth. Lastly, our culture has any number of its own blatant moral defects and the ethical system embraced by a large swath of secular culture includes an embrace of its own easily lampooned morality. Joshua behaved in accordance with the established expectations of his age. We do the same. He could probably point out things we accept that would be shocking to him.
SO what about the hard things in the bible? What is one to think? We can investigate together in the days ahead.