Is the Bible hate literature?


"Manual for Hate" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Manual for Hate” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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The Bible has inspired incredible feats of love. It’s also fueled unspeakable hatred.

What people do to others in the name of love, in the name of God, in the name of Jesus!

Do you ever wonder where they get their instructions?

Something I often think about: what came first, the bible or the mind? In other words, do I think hateful thoughts and find scriptures to support those? Or, has the scripture help shape those hateful thoughts?

Men wrote the bible. They were immersed in their times and cultures. They imputed their ideologies into the text. We impute our ideologies when we read the text. We can bend anything to fit our agendas. This is the nature of hermeneutics.

Actually, I think it is a cycle. A vicious one.

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24 Replies to “Is the Bible hate literature?”

  1. A few examples:

    Actually, it is the Old Testament that lists the god-approved atrocities:

    •Exodus 32: 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshiping the golden calf.

    •Numbers 31: After killing all men, boys and married women among the Midianites, 32,000 virgins remain as booty for the Israelites. (If unmarried girls are a quarter of the population, then 96,000 people were killed.)

    •Joshua: ◦Joshua 8: 12,000 men and women, all the people of Ai, killed.

    ◦Joshua 10: Joshua completely destroys Gibeon (“larger than Ai”), Makeddah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir. “He left no survivors.”

    ◦Joshua 11: Hazor destroyed. [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987), estimates the population of Hazor at ?> 50,000]

    The New Testament has only one major atrocity, that of god committing filicide assuming you believe in this Christian mumbo jumbo. Said atrocity should be enough to vitiate all of Christianity.

  2. Yes!

    So, it’s about how the bible is interpreted. Then following that, every though reaps an action whether that be hate or love. Sometimes folks doing good and not realising it. Sometimes folks misinterpreting the bible and trying to justify what they are doing as it being the “Word of God” either thought badness or being deceived making out that they are being loving when what they are doing is harmful.

    So exactly, its about being hemeneutically accurate if good is to be done with biblical interpretation.

    So yes we impute our idealogies when we read the text but only if (and it is a big if) we don’t allow the bible to make us feel uncomfortable and not allow ourselves to be transformed on reading it. We all come to scripture with outer own presuppositions and assumptions. It always is uncomfortable to have these (especially core beliefs) challenged but it is how our horizons are broadened.

    So where as you have made the emphasis on the “they” with “unspeakable hatred” and the nature of hermeneutic being what we do to fit our own agendas ending up in a viscous circle, what equally can happen is that love can permeate and mutual thriving – shalom.

    Love doesn’t always mean feeling good. It involves suffering (which haturally we are inclined to avoid) but the suffering is worth it for the consequences of loving and being loved.

    So are we willing to sacrifice feeling good at times, for something greater in love?

  3. So perfectly true, David! Well done!!

    The mental filter we carry within our minds is incredible.

    I believe that ‘God is Love’ and that His mercy overflows in rivers of abundance to everyone. And so, my mental filter laughs, sings, and enjoys the Bible. [When Jesus summed up the most important parts of what we call the Old Testament, he said ‘Mercy’ was #1… quite a mental filter on that man!]

    I am not grieved over people seeking a spiritual journey… instead, I respond with ‘you are not far from the Kingdom of God’ and encourage them to continue. God is so big that there is room for many journeys.

    Recently, a young man that is growing in loving his enemies wrote to me. His mental filter is ‘God demands, and I comply – oh, and you should comply too!’… and it resonated throughout his writing. ‘Out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth spoke.’

    Later, I learned that his heart was broken over an observation (of his). So, I reached out to make sure the wounded broken heart within him was ok.

    ‘Love your enemies’ cuts both ways.

    Our mental filter makes all the difference in understanding the Bible, and in living it.

    Blessings! Another great cartoon!! Caryn

  4. The mind of man has used ‘God’ as approval for an unimaginable number of hideous atrocities. Everything from what Bernardo cites to what happened in Tunisia recently.

    The bigger question in my mind is, even if we were to ‘dispose’ of all ‘God’s Edicts’ would the mind of man find ‘other’ reasons to continue committing atrocities? Unfortunately my resounding answer to that is YES!!

    Ergo it’s in our DNA?!

  5. …..And if my above hypothesis holds any water…..and we are made in ‘HIS’ image then we have one hell of a God character to deal with, eh?

  6. See non-biblical and biblical atrocities reviewed by M. White at ,, probably the best referenced site available in such matters. Some examples from this site:

    Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(/Groups involved)*

    1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and “Shintoists”)

    2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

    3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

    4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

    5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

    6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

    7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

    8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

    9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

    10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

  7. Thx for the reference Bernardo but it’s too gruesome for a hot summers day in the UK. I’ll pass.

  8. I always like to remind folks that “The Bible” is merely an anthology — not a group of essays by one author, not a novel. And so it is not surprising, as you write, that there are very different messages — with many of them being hate, no matter what your hermeneutic.

  9. Purves,
    Made in his image yes but being in his likeness is about choice.

    Yes the mind of man would find atrocities with or without God in the picture. One atrocity being blaming God (or the devil) instead of taking responsibility for choice freely made.

  10. Strong circumstantial evidence that there is no god (or did they all chose to die as martyrs?)

    Number of god’s creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

    1. 300,000,000 approx.

    2. 200,000,000 ?

    3. 100,000,000 approx.
    Black Death

    4. 80,000,000–250,000,000

    5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
    Spanish Flu

    6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Plague of Justinian

    7. 40,000,000–100,000,000

    8. 30,000,000[13]
    AIDS pandemic

    9. 12,000,000 ?
    Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

    10. 5,000,000
    Antonine Plague

    11. 4,000,000
    Asian Flu

    12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

  11. Bernardo,

    It’s possible that the list you provide is evidence of their being no God / god. It’s also possible that what you talk of is evidence of a knock on effect of humankind’s rebellion against God. Either argument is as viable as the other.

    So what is the truth? The truth of the existence or non-existence of an all benevolent loving and powerful deity can’t be established by quoting facts about suffering. The only truth that can be established is that suffering occurs, and that often times that is as a result of man’s hatred.

    So we don’t face choices over whether we suffer or not but we face choices with what we do with suffering.

    I think rather than having an argument over something that is impossible to establish the truth of with human reasoning it’s more helpful to address what we can be aware of and what we can do about it, working together with common aims where possible. At other times, respecting that there will be differences and agreeing to differ.

  12. Ducatihero,

    Rebellion against god? Whose god? A child under seven years old had/has no concept of god yet they died horrible deaths from the diseases listed. And man’s hatred causes diseases? How does that work?

    And then there is the god who sent his son to die for our sins. In the words of Professor JD Crossan:

    “Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us.”

  13. Bernardo,

    Than you for responding. These are great questions that you ask about child dying of disease with having no concept of rebellion and of man’s hatred causing diseases. I question these myself. All I can say with any confidence of accuracy is I don’t know. All we can establish is that suffering happens. We can ponder why but what one of us knows for sure what the cause of it is it in every instance and therefore what to do about it.

    As for Jesus dying for sins for Christians, what you re alluding to is what the apostle Paul talked of ” Christ died for our sins” 1 Cor 15:3. So why did Christ die? Well, he turned over the tables in the temple and drove out the money changers saying it should be a house of prayer. After that those in religious power plotted for his death. He was taken away on a trumped up charge and handed over to secular authority with Pilate seeing on fault in him. Yet a crowd being roused up to call for Jesus’ death which the secular authority did.

    So in the biblical account, Jesus laid down his life, even though he could have called on legions of angels to protect his life. so call it sin, call it man’s hatred it’s that which got him killed. And what did he say on the cross “Father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing”.

    So when a murderer kills people and their family members practice forgiveness and not giving into hate, I find that powerful and moving. I think love drives out hate and fear, I think hate leads to more hate and violence leads to more violence.

    I am OK with the concept of God that forgives in this way. I think that is good for everyone and it is costly to God. Whether one chooses to reject/rebel against this as being true or not see it as relevant in some way or alternatively to adhere to it being true and welcome it is a matter of free choice. Either way, there is no denying that this concept exists.

    Is there any one of us who is without sin. Or put it another way is there any one of us who is not less than perfect? We all have good and bad in us.

  14. Ducatihero,

    From Professors Crossan and Watts’ book, Who is Jesus.

    “That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

    “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus’ followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

    “While the brute fact that of Jesus’ death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. ”

    “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

    I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those “last week” details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered.”

    See also Professor Crossan’s reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

  15. Bernardo,

    From what you quote, Crossan and Woods support Jesus having been crucified under Pilate as historically accurate but then being suspicious about the historical accuracy of whether Pilate was involved in the decision.

    This doesn’t address the point you made about Christ dying for our sins. Why did you bring this up?

  16. Ducatihero,

    Tis Crossan and Watt’s book. As per their analysis, troops under Pilate were given permission to summarily execute any trouble maker. No trial was required by Pilate. The NT passages about the crucifixion (the trial, the meetings along the way to Calvary, the bandits etc.) were all added by the NT authors to add pizzaz to the story. Said passages all fail rigorous historic testing by NT scholars such as Crossan, Ludemann, Borg, Ehrman et al.

    Regarding Christ dying for our sins: It goes back to more circumstantial evidence that there is no god as no real god would send kill his son to save sinners.

  17. Ducatihero, what, in your mind, is the difference between ‘image’ and ‘likeness’, please?

  18. Purvez,

    Thanks for responding to my earlier comment.

    You commented, “The mind of man has used ‘God’ as approval for an unimaginable number of hideous atrocities… would the mind of man find ‘other’ reasons to continue committing atrocities? Unfortunately my resounding answer to that is YES!!… Ergo it’s in our DNA?! ….And if my above hypothesis holds any water…..and we are made in ‘HIS’ image then we have one hell of a God character to deal with, eh?”

    So in that sense I would be agreement with you. Man has used “God” to justify atrocities and would find other reasons to do so. humans like to kill humans and all that getting rid of “God” does is remove one excuse for such.

    The assumption that might appear in you comment is that being made in his image, “God” commits atrocities too. I say yes to that if we make “God” in our image. I would also question whether that be a true image of “God”.

    So I ask dose “God” commit atrocities like us or is “God” good?

    If “God” is good, then humanity carries a distorted image of God. If this is true, then to get back to the likeness of “God”, requires a choosing to do so instead of continuing in this distorted image. . .

    So if “God” commits atrocities then we make a choice to be like that when we could do good by being more humanitarian. Or if “God” is good then choosing to do good is to revert to the likeness of God rather than carry a distorted image of God.

    Either way there are choices to make choice and with choices come responsibility. So linking that back to the opening point “Is the bible hate literature”, my answer would be to say it depends and answer with a question. Is humanity willing to sacrifice what would otherwise happen with committing atrocities, be loving instead and interpret the bible for good or is humanity to use the bible to justify atrocities?

  19. Bernardo,

    OK now we are getting somewhere. So you comment. “Regarding Christ dying for our sins: It goes back to more circumstantial evidence that there is no god as no real god would send kill his son to save sinners.” So, this is a view expressed by you of what a real “god” would not do in sending his son to die for so – called sinners. Although you have presented this as truth, this is not an established fact, so it is open to debate.

    First off – I don’t consider you I or anyone else to be a “sinner”. I see good and bad in everyone. Even Hitler had good in him – he loved his dog. The term “sinner” I think bionically is used in contexts to either look down on someone or for rhetoric or to point out there being a difference between the perceived righteous and perceived sinner by was of storytelling to ironically show the “righteous” as arrogant and the “sinner” as righteous. I see an appropriate understanding us being part righteous, part sinful.

    Your claim is that no “god” would do what the biblical claim is about “God” with Jesus with Jesus dying. Yet you acknowledge Jesus being crucified as historically accurate. So to you Jesus is a human being like any other, he existed and was crucified.

    So off that I would ask a question. Given that you accept that Jesus was crucified, and his death was sought for alleged blasphemy, acting as God, what do you think was happening? Either he was bonkers and thought he was God but then why would that that make sense surely that wouldn’t have gained the following of millions of people throughout history? He could be a charleton and lieing in which case why would he possibly do that knowing it would lead to his death? If he wanted to try that charade, he would be better moving to Greco-Roman society with it’s pagan gods to attempt to be worshiped there rather than in the Jewish Palestine. The third option is that he is God sent by God that loved the world so much he didn’t withhold his own son from it.

    If what you say is true then Jesus has to be bonkers or a charleton and again what you have expressed is an opinion, not proven fact. It is as valid an opinion to have that Jesus was God, sent by God and his death was as a consequence of human sin both religious and secular.

    No human reasoning can provide objective indefatigable proof of either so we are left with what we do with that.

  20. Ducatihero,

    For my final summary:

    The Apostles’/Agnostics’ Creed 2014: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used were previously presented in another thread)

  21. Bernardo,

    “Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven” Yup that’s the bottom line isn’t it? But then on the other side of the coin why should you believe in the non existence of any such being when equally the non existence connote be proven.

    So then it comes down to choice. I know for me in one of the hardest times in my life I turned to praying and it was a kind of if you are there God I don’t know if you are or not cry for help. I experienced the most powerful think I have ever had – as if a thunderbolt was going right through me and the depression I had been experiencing lifted instantaneously. The boss I had at the time asked me what had happened to e the next day as he explained that he had seen a 100% improvement in my work. Sme years later I had everything I wanted in life but was not satisfied, always wanting more and frustrated as to why I was not satisfied. This word “change” cam to e from nowhere and thoughts went back to the previous experience. Another time I was walking in a park feeling angry at an injustice nd a vision of Jesus on the cross cae to me prayfin to God for forgiveness for his tormentors. I prayed to God to forgive the person I was angry with and I was filled with peace. I am more t peace not, content and grateful than I have ever been and have no more always wanting more.

    This are just a few of my experiences. I am OK with calling that being of God and linking that with Jesus off the bible. Existentially these are real to e and I know similar stories from others, so I’m not ready to write of the idea of God or “god” not existing without evidence for non-existence that would outweigh the experiences I have shared.

    I am OK with that.

    The reason I share is because I like to see others experiencing similar peace, love and contentment and if this gives anyone hope for that to happen.

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