What do we say when skeptics use the Bible and complain about God killing children?

Monday Musings for November 18, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

It’s always awkward to talk about God doing things that shake up our human sensibilities... like killing children. But that’s today’s job. A questioner ran into an online skeptic who equated God with Hitler... but he also equated those of us who support God with those who supported Hitler while he was committing those atrocities.

That’s strong language... to be sure... but is it warranted? The Bible reveals that God did kill children — and more than once! So, here’s my question for all you Bible-believing Christians out there. Did God have warrant for these killings?

That’s a trick question, of course. God doesn’t need warrant. God is warrant. His nature is such that what he does is right — this, by definition.

It should come as no surprise that skeptics dismiss this reasoning on the grounds that a loving God would not act like that under any circumstances... and it should come as no surprise that believers are not standing in line to talk about this. But we who have brought our sins to the cross understand that it was our natures — and not God’s nature — that made those uncomfortable moments necessary.

We also understand that God is immutable. What this means is that his nature does not change. But it is within his nature to assess situations on-the-fly and respond to the problems caused by the free will of human beings.

This type of knowledge — the type that depends on what we do — is sometimes called God’s middle knowledge. What’s important to know about it is, that under the call-and-response of sin, God is free to act in whatever ways that will not violate his character... and that he does so in a manner that brings optimum benefit to his kingdom — and children notwithstanding, it doesn’t matter how we feel about this!

Noah’s flood is a great example. Humankind couldn’t get out of its own way because of sin. So, it was for the benefit of countless people that God killed many people at the flood. But make no mistake: a large number of people were killed in the flood, and that number certainly included children.

Although I understand the necessity of the flood practically and theologically, and although I support God in his decision, I do so academically. I readily admit that I can’t get my head around it emotionally — and especially when I visualize children drowning... and I think that even rock-ribbed Calvinists secretly weep over this treatment of children by their sovereign God. But today’s point is that these deaths weren’t God’s fault... so he shouldn’t be blamed.

Now, I understand that everything is ultimately the Prime Mover’s “fault.” After all, God gave us dominion over the earth — and free will to boot! But do you remember that God commanded us to fill the earth... and how we responded? We overloaded the system with sin — and it crashed. So God rebooted humankind using a flood — and tada! We have now filled the earth with both adults and children.

Again... the flood was not on God. It was on us. But skeptics tend not to have sympathy with God’s view on sin. As such, they are not likely to understand the appropriateness of its price. This is not a place for emotions, and no sane person is rooting for death. This is a place for reason... and reason is as tough as it comes.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, AV)

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