Questions and Answers > Bible > Righteousness

Does the Bible promote violence?

1. Introduction

Some Muslims claim that the message of the Bible contains violence and that the Bible is not less violent than the Qur’an. First impression of the Bible as a non-Christian is that it does promote violence and also promotes peace. Omission of Bible content is a method that Muslim apologists are using to manipulate Bible verses. But the Bible needs interpretation by the Spirit of God. People often take verses out of place in the Bible. Therefore it is hard for a non-Christian to see the correct interpretation. However it is possible to explain in a rational way that the Bible doesn’t promote violence.

2. Muslim claims about violence in the Bible

Muslim apologists quote some Bible passages with violence. All verses are from the Old Testament. The New Testament doesn’t contain violence. Some Muslims tried to find violence in the New Testament, but all claims have been refuted, because of miscommunication, see references below. A favorite Muslim claim about Deuteronomy 20:10-17 tells the story of the entrance of the People of Israel to the Promised Land, where the men of the enemy had to be killed. Although this is similar to Quran 17:16, in the Bible at least women and children were saved and the Biblical command is only for a short time, while the Qur’anic verses about violence are without an end. The Bible passages are focused on commands for the People of Israel in ancient times and are not directed to Jews and Christians today. Therefore, the Biblical violence is only local and for a short time, while the violence in Islam is a permanent attribute of the religion [1].

3. Christian perspective of the Old Testament is without violence

It is true that there is violence in the Bible. But most Muslim claims about violence are from the Old Testament, a record published many centuries before Jesus Christ was on earth. Because Jesus Christ preached the moral guidelines of the God’s law (Torah) how they should be in his sermon on the Mount , including loving the enemy and to win them for God’s Kingdom (Matthew 5:9-11). But Jesus is not only the preacher against violence, he is also the example of peace. Therefore the moral guidelines of the Torah can only be applied in combination with the teachings of Jesus Christ, like he said: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:21-22).

4. Christian perspective of violence is connected with judgment

One of ways to understand the Bible in relation to violence, ethics, peace and justice, and human wholeness is how to understand the Biblical view on judgment. After the idol worship of the People of Israel, God told Moses:
“Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them” (Exodus 32:10). However this was in combination with the following sentence in the same verse: “Then I will make you into a great nation” (Exodus 32:10). The details came later: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7). Although incorrect behavior will not be cleaned, God shows a character of goodness and truth. However this goodness and truth became clear with the arrival of Jesus Christ to our world: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).

5. Conclusion

It cannot be denied that there is violence in the Bible, but there is a difference between God’s judgment on sin and the free will of mankind and the consequences of our errors and mistakes, including violence. The difference with the Qur’an is that Biblical violence is only focused on a local area and a short time, while the violence in the Qur’an is not local and forever.


Notes:

1. Bill Warner, The Political Violence of the Bible and the Koran, 2010, http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2010/09/the_political_violence_of_the.html

Is Islam a violent religion?