Sunday, March 10, 2024

Is God in the Old Testament a Moral Monster?


                                                                    (Monroe, MI)

In 1 Samuel 15:3 we read: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

In Deuteronomy 20:16 ff. we read: "in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God."

Joshua 6:21 says: They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

These verses, and several others, talk about "herem," a Hebrew word that can be translated as "devote to destruction.

The idea of herem has led some to say the God of the Bible is a "moral monster."

Here are some resources from Paul Copan that have helped me understand these troubling verses.


Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God

Copan, Did God Really Command Genocide: Coming to Terms With the Justice of God

Copan, Is God a Vindictive Bully?: Reconciling Portrayals of God In the Old and New Testaments

Copan (ed.), War, Peace, and Violence: Four Christian Views


Copan (Interview with Preston Sprinkle),  Is God a Moral Monster? Dr. Paul Copan (

Copan (Interview with Sean McDowell), Is God a Moral Monster? Dr. Paul Copan (


John Piippo: Is God a Moral Monster?: #5

John Piippo: Is God a Moral Monster?: #4a