DR. MICHAEL BROWN on 16 December, 2015 at 06:30
When Christians point to the violent verses in the Quran, Muslims reply, “But what about the violent verses in the Bible?”
How should we respond to this fair challenge from Muslims?
1. The violent verses in the Bible were for a specific time and place; the violent verses in the Quran are spoken in general terms.
In the Bible, God commanded Joshua to annihilate the Canaanites, meaning to kill men, women, and children, since the Canaanites were considered guilty sinners. Centuries later, during the time of King Saul, the prophet Samuel said that it was God’s will to annihilate the Amalekites because of the sins they had committed.
While these commands seem monstrous to many readers today, they cannot possibly be applied to contemporary situations and they have never been considered normative for all times in either Judaism or Christianity.
In contrast, the Quranic injunctions to smite at the necks of unbelievers and to kill and punish them in various ways have been applied to contemporary situations since the days of Muhammad, right up until today.
(For Christian reflections on the command to kill the Canaanites, see Paul Copan and Matt Flanagan, Did God Really Command Genocide? Coming to Terms with the Justice of God, and David T. Lamb, God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Bible Angry, Sexist, and Racist?)