Hello, friends! While I was planning on covering three chapters in my last post, I became a little long-winded in my thoughts on why the multitude of Christian denominations reflect poorly on Christianity's objective truth claims. Sorry about that! We'll now move into an area that I think is far more incriminating towards Christianity, atrocities committed in its name. Natasha Crain, author of Keeping Your Kids on God's Side, broaches this topic in Chapter 15, titled "Is Christianity responsible for millions of deaths in history?" She notes, "We should only fault Christianity for the alleged millions of deaths if support for the actions leading to those deaths is found in Scripture." Agreed. Let's dive right in.
While Natasha covers the Crusades, Inquisition, and Witch Hunt in this chapter and offers brief descriptions of each, I just want to evaluate her assertion that, thankfully, the teachings of Christianity are not to blame. Starting with the Crusades, Natasha explains that there is no biblical support for the actions of the Crusaders. "There are no instructions for us to fight other religious groups for land, to massacre innocent people, to force conversions to Christianity, to rape, or to plunder." Really?
1 Samuel 15:3 (ESV) Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
I'm pretty sure the infants and children were innocent.
Numbers 31:17-18 (ESV) Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.
Admittedly, the second verse listed is not a direct command from God. However, in my perspective, if God is willing to intervene in a man picking up sticks on the Sabbath and order the congregation to stone him to death, then why not stop these men from taking the virgin girls as the plunder of war? I guess my priorities are out of line.
Moving on to the Inquisition, Natasha admits that there is biblical support for the Inquisition in Deuteronomy 17:2-5. However, "These laws were given to the nation of Israel when it was a theocracy—the one and only time when a country legally and politically came under the direct authority of God. The strict laws of this period were designed to keep the community as theologically pure as possible in order to fulfill its unique role of pointing other nations to the one true God." So, the best way to point other nations to God was through the stoning of heretics? Hmm. By the way, speaking of theocracies, is anyone watching Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale? Holy cow.
Lastly, Natasha covers the Witch Hunts. While verses like Exodus 22:18, in which a sorceress should not be permitted to live, provided the impetus for the execution of "witches" during the 16th and 17th centuries, it's all about context. Natasha points out that, again, these biblical laws were given when Israel was a theocracy. I really don't understand why Natasha thinks this makes a difference.
Honestly, no one should care when or under what circumstances these verses were considered acceptable, theocracy or not. The problem is that Christianity's source material has allowed potentially well-intentioned people who truly thought they were doing God's work, who were following in God's example through his word, and listening to the Holy Spirit, to commit utterly misguided and horrific atrocities. That is unacceptable. These were not all depraved human beings. Natasha encourages Christians to demonstrate "that the Bible (when properly interpreted) in no way permitted those evils..." Who has the proper interpretations? Which denomination? God? Then why didn't he care to intervene? Oh, yeah, he didn't want to step on anyone's free will.
In Chapter 16, Natasha asks, "Are Christians less intelligent than atheists?" My answer? A resounding NO. I'm taking my time to review this book because I find Natasha extremely intelligent, and I'm committed to doing something that I rarely did as a Christian--constantly challenging and questioning my thought processes and beliefs. I peruse the websites and listen to the podcasts of several female apologists. The truth is, I admire these women for their intellect and their ability to break into a male-dominated profession, even though I disagree with them. I credit these women for not abiding by the teaching of 1 Timothy 2:12, which states, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet."
I guess that's not a true review, though. In this chapter, Natasha points out that some studies have shown a positive correlation between a higher than average national intelligence and the percentage of atheists in a given country. However, she recognizes that intelligence studies are extremely controversial due to cultural factors which can thereby render questionable results. I totally agree. According to Natasha, atheists will often bring up these dubious studies to "show that religion is for ignorant people who don't know better." I truly hope that's not the case; and if I felt that way, I would only be pointing a finger back at myself.