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Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide (Counterpoints) [Paperback]

By Stanley N. Gundry (Editor), Daniel L. Gard (Contribution by) & Eugene H. Merrill (Contribution by)
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Item description for Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide (Counterpoints) by Stanley N. Gundry, Daniel L. Gard & Eugene H. Merrill...

A Counterpoints book that discusses various contemporary views held by evangelicals on God?s command to the Israelites to destroy utterly the Canaanites and how each view sees the relationship between this God of the Israelites and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has commanded us to love our enemies.

Publishers Description
A discussion of various contemporary evangelical views of genocide in the Old Testament. Christians are often shocked to read that Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, commanded the total destruction---all men, women, and children---of the ethnic group know as the Canaanites. This seems to contradict Jesus command in the New Testament to love your enemies and do good to all people. How can Yahweh be the same God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? What does genocide in the Bible have to do with the politics of the 21st century? This book explores, in typical Counterpoints format, the Old Testament command of God to exterminate the Canaanite population and what that implies about continuity between the Old and New Testaments. The four points of view presented on the continuity of the Testaments are: * Strong Discontinuity --- C . S. Cowles * Moderate Discontinuity --- Eugene H. Merrill * piritual Continuity --- Tremper Longman III * Eschatological Continuity --- Daniel L. Gard The Counterpoints series provides a forum for comparison and critique of different views on issues important to Christians. Counterpoints books address two categories: Church Life and Bible and Theology. Complete your library with other books in the Counterpoints series."

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Zondervan
Pages   218
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.02" Width: 5.36" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 17, 2003
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
Series  Counterpoints  
ISBN  0310245680  
ISBN13  9780310245681  
UPC  025986245689  

Availability  67 units.
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More About Stanley N. Gundry, Daniel L. Gard & Eugene H. Merrill

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stanley N. Gundry is executive vice president and editor-in-chief for the Zondervan Corporation. He has been an influential figure in the Evangelical Theological Society, serving as president of ETS and on its executive committee, and is adjunct professor of Historical Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He is the author of seven books and has written many articles appearing in popular and academic periodicals.

Stanley N. Gundry currently resides in Grand Rapids, in the state of Michigan.

Stanley N. Gundry has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Counterpoints
  2. Counterpoints (Zondervan)
  3. Counterpoints: Bible & Theology
  4. Counterpoints: Bible and Theology
  5. Counterpoints: Church Life Counterpoints: Church Life
  6. Counterpoints: Exploring Theology

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > Doctrines

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Reviews - What do customers think about Show Them No Mercy?

Intriguing topic tempered by author preconceptions  Oct 24, 2006
This book deals with one of the more difficult questions arising out of the OT narratives: How could a God of love, as he is described in the NT, order the wholesale slaughter of the Canaanites in the OT? The answers and analyses in this book are certainly thought-provoking. I wasn't sure I appreciated the book's frequent use of the term "genocide" to describe the Israelite's warfare, as this word tends to produce a very emotional reaction in people and is often assumed to describe an inherently evil act which has no regard for the value of human life. (And all the contributors deny that God ever does evil or that he lacks respect for human life.) The word "genocide" seems more like an attempt to appeal to sensationalism and capitalize on the events of Sept.11, than a completely accurate term for what happened to the Canaanites.

Also, each of the authors' chapters is heavily based on unproven presuppositions which he simply assumes to be true. Specifically:

--C.S. Cowles assumes that parts of the OT (namely, those ordering the warfare) either are not inspired by God, or that they completely misconstrue God's true intent (Cowles doesn't specify which of these options he prefers), to the extent that they are of little if any value to modern readers.

--Eugene Merrill assumes that a dispensational interpretation of the Bible is accurate. (While I understand that many people today are dispensationalits, Merrill simply assumes this scheme without proving it).

--Daniel Gard assumes that an eschatological theme exists in 1-2 Chronicles (spending more time commenting on implications of this theme, and tracing it through the rest of the Bible, than establishing whether it even exists in the first place).

--Tremper Longman assumes that some of God's ways are inherently mysterious and impossible for finite humans to understand completely. (This allows him a very convenient excuse to what otherwise would be a major hole in his argumentation -- namely, why God orders the destruction of the Canaanites but protects the Israelites, when both groups were guilty of sin.)

Personally I was most convinced by Longman -- partly because I reject the presuppositions of Cowles and Merrill and agree with Longman's, and partly because of Longman's appeal to "intrusion ethics" (p.185 if you buy the book) as a way of linking God's OT savagery against the Canaanites w/ his future Final Judgment over all mankind. I find this a fascinating concept in explaining God's warfare-commands to Israel. Other readers are certainly free to side with other contributors of the book, but anyone who reads this will get 4 intelligent, well-argued, yet markedly different approaches toward making sense of a problem for which no easy answers exist.

Christians United For Genocide speaks out   Oct 19, 2006
"Show them no mercy" is a book published by the mainstream Christian publisher Zondervan. But are the ideas contained in the book mainstream among evangelical Christians? If they are, I suddenly became more sympathetic to the wackos that are waging war on Christmas. I found the book to be both disturbing and revealing.

The book deals with the perhaps most shocking part of the Bible, the Book of Joshua, included in both Jewish and Christian Bibles. Joshua and the Israelites conquer the land of Canaan (Palestine) and exterminate the entire civilian population of several towns, most notably Jericho. This genocidal butchering is commanded by God himself, who is also portrayed as the leader of the war effort. In plain English, God commands genocide against civilian men, women and children. They are all evil, and every one must die, lest they pollute the Israelites with their wicked heathen cults. Indeed, "Show them no mercy" is actually a quote from the Bible.

By modern standards, Joshua was a war criminal. There is also an obvious difference between the message of the Book of Joshua, and the message of Jesus, for instance as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet, Christians are supposed to believe that the God of Joshua was the same as Jesus Christ. Does this mean that genocide is justified from a Christian perspective?

Disturbingly, only one of the four contributors to this volume reject genocide. The exception is C.S. Cowles. Judging by his contributions, he is some kind of Methodist. He argues for a radical downplaying of the Old Testament in favor of the New. Cowles articles are very spirited and emotional, indeed the only contributions that are. Hes getting it.

The three other writers are all pro-genocide. I couldnt decipher their exact denominational affiliations, but I guess one of them is a Baptist and the two others Calvinists. Their texts, by contrast to that of Cowles, are dispassionate, scholarly, even boring. Given the subject, this give them a truly bizarre appearence. All three of them argue that genocide is not allowed today, neither for Christians or anyone else. It was allowed "only" in the past, "only" for Gods chosen nation Israel, and "only" at Gods express command.

So that makes it alright, then?

Its very difficult to interact with these kinds of ideas in a dispassionate way. However, I will make my best. But first, a hot coffee....

OK, Im back.

First, the practical problem. The fact that Merrill, Gard and Longman limits genocide to the distant past (but also to the future, in the form of the apocalypse) may convince their own followers, but the real world is more complicated than that. And more evil. A prophet or churchman may claim that its the will of God that a certain people, say the Tutsi, should be exterminated. He may claim that the apocalypse draws near, and that his people are simply doing Gods work. The prophet may even claim to have recieved a direct communication from God himself as to that effect. Its unclear what Merrill, Gard or Longman would say in such a situation. "You are right, God does occasionally command genocide, but not in the present dispensation. You have to wait until the apocalypse for the next chance". Oh my...

Indeed, every argument used by the three writers defending Joshua is used to justify genocide still today. The Jews are not the only people who claim to be chosen. For all I know, the Hutu claimed to be Gods chosen people. One of the writers even argues that not even the children of the Canaanites were innocent, since they were part of an inherently wicked culture. They too must therefore die. The same line of reasoning was used by White settlers to kill Indian babies, and (I imagine) by Nazis to kill Jewish children. Nits, after all, make lice. Its pretty chilling to see every genocidal argument on record in a Christian book!

But what about the theological arguments? According to Merrill, Gard and Longman, God isnt simply loving, good and forgiving. He is also holy. The holyness of God means that he cannot suffer sin, but must exterminate it completely. That is what happened at Jericho and Ai. But what exactly is holyness? The contributors seem to regard it as something existing in and of itself, without any attributes. God is altogether different from everything human and created, and this Wholly Otherness is his holyness. Logically, this means that God stands apart from our modern human morality, according to which genocide is always wrong and its perpetrators should be brought to justice for crimes against humanity. Should we simply say "Amen" to such a God? Its indeed absurd that our gut reflex when reading the Book of Joshua, one of shock and horror, is brushed aside by arguments about the unfathomable workings of God, his holyness, how we puny humans cannot judge him, and so on.

Lets grant for the sake of the argument that God exists. How do Merrill, Gard and Longman know that his holyness is a separate quality? Perhaps Gods holyness, his perfect nature, means that he is loving, good, forgiving and long-suffering. After all, perfect goodness would also set God apart from fallen humanity and creation.

If God is unfathomable, how do Calvinists and Southern Baptists know that the entity they are worshipping is really God? For all we know, it could be the Devil. Indeed, if holyness lacks any qualifying attributes, the result can only be nominalism: what God does is right by definition. But a God whose raw power and will isnt coupled with moral goodness, is not much different from Satan. Im not being demagogical. Im trying to make a serious point.

For what is power without morality if not the very definition of evil?
Challenging, essential reading   May 9, 2005
Every Christian needs to read this book which confronts us with the inescapable gory nature of our history. We believe in a God who is loving and merciful, but who is also holy and cannot abide evil.

We rightly focus on the New Testament and its message of love and forgiveness for sins: this book reminds us that our salvation has a bloody history, not only in the torture and crucifixion of Christ, but also in the death of many hundreds of thousands of people, by leaders who believed they were ordered to do this by God himself.

Three of the book's contributors understand that Moses, Joshua and David were led by God to wipe out Canaanites, Amalekites, Philistines and others, but Nazarene pacifist C S Cowles believes that the New Testament shows that they were misled.

It is worth reading the articles from the different points of view, but also intriguing to read each author's critique of the others' views.

I felt that each article was worth having been included in the book, but I would have liked to read what an evangelical pacifist with a high view of the bible would have written, too.

Highly recommended
With a very close eye on events of Biblical history  Jul 16, 2003
Compiled by series editor Stanley N. Gundry, Show Them No Mercy brings together four disparate views by C. S. Cowles (Professor of Bible and theology, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, California), Eugene H. Merrill (Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary), Daniel L. Gard (Associate Professor of Exegetical Theology, concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana), and Tremper Longman III (Professor of Old Testament, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California), on God and the genocide of the Canaanites, with a very close eye on both events of Biblical history and their relevance to modern-day crises such as the September 11th attacks. A diverse, scholarly, thoughtful and thought-provoking addressing of issues that do not, on the surface, seem to reconcile with the teaching of Jesus Christ that commanded love for thy neighbor, Show Them No Mercy is very highly recommended reading, especially for those who are having difficulty reconciling the Yahweh of the Old Testament with the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Good on the biblical material; better apologetic needed.  Jun 17, 2003
I'd give it 3 1/2 stars actually, if that were one of the options. This book, in a format of similar volumes, consists of contributions from four scholars who each give their point of view, followed by responses from the other three. Three of the authors more or less agree with one other in the reasons God commanded what the title dubs the "genocide" of the Canaanites (the reasons being those generally advanced by evangelical authors and given in the biblical text: to preserve Israel from idolatry, to judge the sins of the inhabitants of Canaan, etc.). Where they differ is in the meaning and application of "holy war" or "Yahweh war" for today. None believes we should engage in physical holy war, but for example, one author sees it as a model for spiritual warfare in the church.

C. S. Cowles provides a lively counterpoint to the other three, as his position is essentially that God never did command the destruction of the Canaanites, nor would he; he was misconstrued or believed to have commanded it, but God is love and would never condone such a massacre. Unfortunately, his responses to each of the other authors, is simply along the same lines: God is love as revealed in Christ, and is not someone who commands the massacre of whole peoples. He chastises Eugene Merrill for a "clinical" analysis of the situation, as though there were no place for exegesis or philosophical analysis of ethics. He appears to believe in the reality of hell, and the same arguments he marshalls against "Yahweh war" could be extended to an all-embracing universalism.

Recently I read the book "The Pianist," on which the recent movie was based. At the end, they include excerpts from the diary of a German soldier who had helped the author, Wladyslaw Szpilman, to hide and to survive. In his diary, maybe 4 or 5 times the German solider says that the Germans did such horrible things to the Jews and to others, they will have to suffer, innocent and guilty alike, one and all. It was amazing to me that someone who lived through the Holocaust and participated in its machinery, could state that even innocent people will have to die as a result of Germany's wickedness -- whereas Cowles, who I take it has a fairly comfortable life (like many of us in this country) as an American professor, was quick to say, how dare anyone say that God would order the killing of "innocent" Canaanites.

The book did a better job at answer the question, why can't we destroy people today, in the church age, than at answering, how can we justify the destruction of the Canaanites in the Old Testament? I felt a stronger apologetic was needed in light of current events (Israelis/Palestinians; Tutsis/Hutus; Bosnia).

As a totally different evangelical point of view, Glenn Miller in his web site "Christian Think-Tank" argues that deportation and people movements are a better description of what took place; only a small portion of the people, those who did not re-locate, were put to death. ....

In any event, if one thinks that God justly commanded the killing of the Canaanites, I am not sure that "genocide" is a helpful word, as useful as it is in grabbing attention. The word carries overtones of injustice and inhumanity -- precisely what three of the authors believe was NOT involved, since it came at God's command.

The book excels at laying out the pattern and identifying marks of "Yahweh war" vs. other kinds of war.


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