054: Understanding Extreme Violence in the Bible

by Matthew Leonard
by Matthew Leonard
The Art of Catholic with Matthew Leonard

catholic_FINAL_150It’s not a pretty topic. But it has to be addressed.

The extreme violence in Sacred Scripture (particularly the Old Testament) understandably causes a lot of people problems. After all, how are we supposed to reconcile this kind of bloodshed with a loving, merciful God?

Why did He command it? How could He command it? Didn’t Jesus say to love your neighbor and pray for your enemies?

Sometimes what we read just doesn’t seem to square with who we know Him to be.

And you can’t, as some do, simply gloss over or ignore this material. We’re not. In fact, we’re going to tackle it head on with my guest, Curtis Mitch. Among his other illustrious achievements, Curtis is the main guy behind the commentary in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. He’s been living, eating, and breathing Scripture for the last 18 years on that project. It’s his full-time job.

In other words, he knows the Bible like few others.joshua-255x300

So in this episode of the Art of Catholic, Curtis and I will discuss:

  • The historical context of perhaps the darkest passage of Scripture
  • Why God commanded the killing of the Canaanites…all the Canaanites in the land
  • The insidious role of idolatry (both then and now)
  • Why you can’t call the Conquest of Canaan genocide (it’s anything but)
  • The beauty and logic of what scholars call “divine accommodation”
  • The hidden mercy of God in all of this (it’s there…trust me!)

This episode will transform the way you understand God’s dealing with people in ancient times, and how He deals with us today.

God bless!


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10 Responses

  1. Matthew– great show, thank you. It is indeed a troubling passage of scripture. But I can’t help but think radical Islam could use the same kind of justification to ‘cleanse’ the west– slaughtering all (except those who ‘convert’ to the will of God) at the point of the sword. How would you distinguish this from the topic of your show? Is it simply by stating that Muslims are not the people of God, like the people of Israel were? Thank you,


    1. Thanks, John. I think the big distinguishing point is that all of the violence you see in Scripture that was permitted by God is part of a lower law. (Deuteronomic literally means secondary law.) All the violence was never part of God’s plan. It is the result of sin. God is simply allowing things through his permissive will because he knows the Israelites are not yet ready to live according to a higher standard, which can only happen through the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

  2. On the program about the conquest of Canaan, as laid out in the book of Joshua: there are so many ways to say “thank you” in words that are most strikingly moving. Yet, the deeper reality is that no words are more strikingly moving than the words “thank you” themselves. Imagine Lazarus whispering them into the ears of Jesus after being raised. So, for what you two wonderful folks did in that program: “thank you.”

  3. Let’s evangelize the Holy WORD-JESUS,being led by the Holy Spirit w/out fear and the TRUTH -JESUS,will set them FREE.Amen!

    1. Not right now, Annette, but that is a FANTASTIC idea for Curtis Mitch to tackle in the new little segment he’s going to be doing for the Art of Catholic. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, listen to the podcast I just posted today…Episode 69 – Answering Luther: Finding (Catholic) Faith in Sacred Scripture.) I’m sure a lot of others have the same question. Thanks again!

  4. I cannot get over how much Curtis’ vocal delivery is reminiscent to Scott Hahn. Idolatry and Detachment. The gifts of this world and our fallen natures…. Thanks for the great Podcasts. I am hoping for something on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary if you are looking for show requests.

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