Moral Argument from Atrocities Part 3: The Crusades and the Old Testament

The one question I have not addressed in our comparison of consistent versus inconsistent monsters is the question of the Old Testament. Historically, atheists have extensively cited commands from God to destroy certain heathen groups.

The Christian position indicates these are relatively unique circumstances. In the first place, as a dispensational Baptist, I would argue that the Church is not Israel. At best, atheists have arguments against certain subsets of Christian thought, not against Christianity as a whole. Israel was a theocratic state, with a government that had governmental powers, including the ability to wage war. The Church does not have this prerogative.

Secondarily, while atheists will dismiss this notation, the conquest was based on special revelation through a prophet, this was not true of the crusades. It must also be remembered that the Old Testament required that prophets meet certain credentials (Deut 12).

The text also makes it plain that these were issues of God’s judgment on specific groups, within specific territories; not a general commandment to wipe out anyone Israel so desired. In these cases, God’s judgment in using Israel is no different than His use of Babylon and Assyria, or for that matter, His use of natural disasters, like the flood. The Christian assumes God’s right to judge, but without a properly credentialed prophet and with the Church lacking proper government authority, these passages are not justification to consider the crusaders or any other modern case to be a consistent monsters.

The atheist may very well argue that this is special pleading. Yet, they cannot make a case on the point because the consistency or inconsistency of the matter comes from the presuppositions and beliefs of the system of thought held by those committing said atrocities. Since these commands relate to unique circumstances, it cannot be properly applied to discuss the consistency of other incidents, unless those instances can reasonably be determined to have occurred under the auspices of Old Testament Israel and under the direction of a properly credentialed prophet.   The atheist cannot argue that these circumstances apply to the crusades.

The atheist might attempt to resort to focusing on the atrocities of the conquest itself to prove their point, yet they cannot do so without violating their own presuppositions. Per their presuppositions, the Old Testament is neither inspired nor is it history. They have no basis to uncritically seize these portions of the Old Testament as being true, and declaring other portions false. Either they admit that the conquest was God’s judgment declared supernaturally through prophets as recorded in the Old Testament or they have no evidence that the conquest had a religious component, if they admit it happened at all.

On this basis, the discussion of the Old Testament is a non-data point for the discussion of the consistency of monsters. The principles involved are unique, and Christians do not consider this doctrine Germaine to the Church age.

One thought on “Moral Argument from Atrocities Part 3: The Crusades and the Old Testament

  1. Pingback: President Obama’s Dilemma: Isis, the Crusades and Politicians | Truth in the Trenches

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