I Was Wrong About the Old Testament

But not for the reasons you think.

I’ve realized, now, what my mistake was. In retrospect, it should have been obvious.

There is nothing intrinsically immoral with waging war against the enemy.

There is nothing wrong with the execution of those who have earned this as a just punishment as long as you are a legitimate authority.

To that extent, I fully agree with Chad, Deuce, and the many people they quote. The Old Testament wars could be fully explained as just given the proper context, the context of God giving authority to His people to give just punishment to sinners.

The problem here is the killing of the infants. The infants are innocent. They committed no sins. And we have no mention in the Old Testament of God ordering the killing of infants. Moses? Yes. Joshua? Yes. Both men claiming to speak for God? Yes.

God? No. It’s not there. You won’t find it.

Now, the debate in my combox then turned to whether or not it is just in theory to kill infants on God’s orders. But this doesn’t solve the issue, since we know that the killing of infants is immoral; we would need to be MORE sure that the voice telling us to kill infants is actually God, and not a human lying or a demon in disguise, than we are sure that we should not kill infants. I submit that this is a call that should not be made. If God orders us to do something we know for a fact is definitely immoral, then we have a problem, and the answer is not to do the immoral thing, because if we’re wrong we just listened to a liar or a demon telling us to kill a baby. And we can ALWAYS, always be wrong.

All of the quotes about just war theory as supported by Aquinas and Augustine have nothing to do with this, since the slaughter of innocents is not covered by just war theory. They have no relevance.

I note when going through the comments on my own blog and on Free Northerner’s blog the killing of babies is not addressed in the quotes Chad gave from either Aquinas or Augustine. War with the Canaanites, yes. Baby-killing? Not mentioned. As I look through all of the posts, both from Deuce and Chad, the killing of babies is not addressed by Aquinas or Augstine in any of the quotes given.

And if God can give us the right to take life away from infants that does not solve the problem, because we would have to be convinced that the voice giving us the commandment to do something that is despicably evil in any other circumstance is God, and not a liar or a devil.

I was wrong about the genocides. But I don’t think I’m wrong about the baby-killing.

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42 Responses to I Was Wrong About the Old Testament

  1. Chad says:

    Thank you for the well reasoned response.

    To be clear, I agree with you here:

    “we would need to be MORE sure that the voice telling us to kill infants is actually God, and not a human lying or a demon in disguise, than we are sure that we should not kill infants.”

    I simply do not deny that I could be convinced, should I have lived through the times described in the Old Testament, with a leader so blessed to as directly commune with God on the mountain and leading me out of Egypt, through a sea bed, a desert, and all the rest, that I could not be convinced such an order did, in fact, come from God. Could I in our present day? No, not at all. If I should hear that voice I would call my priest and scurry to the parish as quickly as I was able.

    Anyways, I believe that each of us, at this point, has exhausted each side. While I do not agree with you presently, I will certainly continue to ponder the subject as I strive to become a better beloved of Christ through the rest of the time He gives me on this earth. Between you and I, good sir, I would rather put this subject behind us with those mutual understandings and continue forward with good will towards each other.

    On that note, Zippy apparently has banned me after his last comment directed towards me there. So, should anyone try to address me there, I will be unable to respond and would not in either case after such a request as he had in his comment.

    • I’ll note that I lean towards the option of killing babies being something God can’t do anyway, but even if He could I don’t think that we humans should presume that God is ordering us to do something we know is immoral, because as non-infallible people we are running the extremely real risk that we’re being lied to. But I guess that’s just a re-statement of what I’ve been saying, though perhaps better phrased.

  2. Crude says:

    I note in passing that, from what I know of the OT on this, the goal more than anything was cultural genocide.

    • Getting rid of an evil culture isn’t necessarily intrinsically evil, though; killing innocents is.

      • Crude says:

        I’m up in the air about ‘innocents’, but I’m actually agreeing with you here in a way. Or at least, I think this is a line of response you could potentially go with.

        Even from the OT I think it’s clear that the judgment on Amalek was cultural genocide, and it’s not necessary (though it doesn’t hurt, I suppose) to kill children to do that. Consider it one way to read the OT on this front. There was killing, there was slaughter, but the goal was to blot out *The Amaleks* not *The People part of the Amaleks*.

      • I agree; the problem arises when you see Moses and later Joshua talking about wiping out not only the combatants and those beyond the age of reason but also the little children. It is important to note, however, that God never orders this. Moses does, or Joshua does, but not God directly.

      • Crude says:

        I agree; the problem arises when you see Moses and later Joshua talking about wiping out not only the combatants and those beyond the age of reason but also the little children.

        A dumb question. Can you give me the references in the Bible to this? I want to make sure we’re both literally on the same page here.

      • I hope “literally” was a pun, but if it wasn’t I’m acting like it is. Ha.

        Right. Sure.

        The two big ones – here’s Deuteronomy 7: 1-11

        Deuteronomy 7.1-11

        When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you—the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you— and when the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But this is how you must deal with them: break down their altars, smash their pillars, hew down their sacred poles, and burn their idols with fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession. It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and who repays in their own person those who reject him. He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. Therefore, observe diligently the commandment—the statutes, and the ordinances—that I am commanding you today.

        So, the Lord is giving the nations to Israel and asking Israel to defeat them. Moses, says, without actually even attributing this to the Lord, that the Israelites must utterly destroy them.

        16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

        The “otherwise” is key here. We must “completely destroy them”, BECAUSE they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods. Infants can’t do that.

        I would therefore say that it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that Moses took God’s command to destroy those nations and drew unwarranted conclusions from it – one commenter I can’t recall (if you go onto Zippy’s blog it might have been Mike T) said that it was the rough equivalent of Moses calling an audible, an analogy I think works.

        What is clear is that this is MOSES saying that this is what God has ordered, but it’s not God’s direct order. The specific actions that are ordered by Moses don’t necessarily follow logically from the explanation Moses gives for those actions.

        As for Joshua, his orders just tend to be echoes of Moses’ orders. It is noteworthy that in the destruction of Jericho, one woman (Rahab) is spared for helping Israel in the invasion. This woman ends up becoming one of Jesus’s ancestors. Here we have a direct example of how God treats the people in the cultures that who have not merited the wrath that follows – if the Israelites spare the innocent, or at least the repentant, God rewards them. Rahab could have hardly been more worthy of being spared than infants.

      • Drew says:

        Which other parts of Deuteronomy do you not think are God’s word?

      • Which words of mine are you going to actually respond to, as opposed to putting them in my mouth?

      • Crude says:

        As much as I love a good knock-down, drag-out argument, I see nothing in the quoted passages that say to kill infants and pre-age-of-reason children. I see ‘utterly destroy’, I see admonitions against intermarrying, I see how someone could decide to interpret the text one way. I also see how someone could interpret it another way.

        The goal was to completely wipe out the Amalek culture. Infants carry no risk here, even by OT thinking from what I understand. Children? Greyer area, but plenty of room to say otherwise.

        At the moment, I’m in the ‘no infants/children were slain, and saying this doesn’t challenge inerrancy’ corner unless someone can convince me I’m missing something.

      • Andrew says:

        1 Sam 15:1-3 explicitly declares the charge to be from the LORD, and explicitly includes destroying “man and woman, child and infant”, and livestock.

      • From my understanding of Hebrew things lke quotation marks were not included, and it’s perfectly reasonable to read the verse likes this:

        This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. And Samuel says3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
        But at any rate, this is not God speaking. It is Samuel, who claims to be speaking for God and who, due to Israelite history regarding the massacres, might be reaching conclusions God didn’t intend for him to reach.

        Or I might be wrong. That doesn’t make it okay to kill babies.

      • Crude,

        I might be wrong, but I think you’re the only other Catholic on this thread. If so, as it turns out, the matter is quite definitively settled. From Evangelium vitae (the bolded is done by me:

        Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

        Notice that in the encyclical the Pope specifically draws on his authority as the successor of Peter AND the authority of the Bishops of the Church, making the teaching infallible. Note also that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is ALWAYS – not sometimes, not only when God doesn’t command otherwise, but ALWAYS – immoral.

        For the Catholics in the audience (which may only include you and me, Crude) this definitively settles the matter: Any interpretation of the verses that leads us to believe that God was ordering the Israelites to kill babies is wrong, and to understand the passage correctly we need to come up with a proper interpretation that does not lead to this conclusion,

        Amongst Catholics there is no debate about this.

      • Crude says:

        I can think of some straightforward ways around that interpretation, Malcolm. That said, my position here is that I’m not intellectually invested in the idea that God can’t command the killing of children/babies – for me it’s a live option. On the flipside, I’m not invested in the idea that God would have or ever did that.

        That said, I am curious of one thing. What if God’s command was to kill everyone but the infants/children – but also to leave them, which would mean they would inevitably die to animals/exposure, etc?

      • The idea here seems to stink of “the ends justify the means”. Yes, if you take out the moral options (i.e., adoption), there are only immoral options left. So what?

        I really do think EV pretty much settles the idea definitively for the Catholics.

      • Crude,

        I suggest checking out Zippy Catholic’s posts about the subject. I found them pretty persuasive. I started out with a position similar to yours.

        It’s funny how people perceive me. I’m looked at as this intolerant iron-fisted black and white sort of guy (alternately too liberal or too conservative depending on the issue) when I’ve altered my opinion on this issue from the start of the whole thing I believe like three times until I reached the conclusion that Zippy had the right of it.

        I’ve linked to him before, but just so you know: zippycatholic.wordpress.com

        I like Zippy. He’s a smart guy with interesting views who’s willing to get his hands dirty.

      • Crude says:

        The idea here seems to stink of “the ends justify the means”. Yes, if you take out the moral options (i.e., adoption), there are only immoral options left. So what?

        No, I was seriously asking you if you differentiated between the two, since one is active (killing) and the other is passive. I guess it’s not possible to ask that question without being able to look ahead and see where it could go, of course.

        Either way, I’m not as decided as you are, for the reasons I said. I agree with a good share of what you said (If God commands this, then it’s time to really consider whether God is commanding this, etc – to put it mildly.)

        Let me ask this. What’s the bigger problem for you: God ‘doing’ this at all, or God making humans carry this out?

      • Number two. God is the author of life and death. He can do what He wants. Human beings are a different matter. Even IF it is moral in theory for humans to carry this out (which, as EV confirms, it is not), we still should not follow the order because we are being commanded to do something that would otherwise be immoral every single time.

        Humans are fallible; it is very, very possible we are wrong (granting in theory that this even can be justifiable) and we are either hearing a devil, hearing a liar, or hearing somebody who misinterpreted the command in question. I submit that given the action being ordered and the limits of the human mind to judge things we absolutely should never carry out such an order…because if you’re wrong, you just murdered an infant.

      • Crude says:

        Alright, now I see your view. Gotcha.

      • Res says:

        This is an interesting issue because it relates to similar problems elsewhere in the Bible concerning what was said by God and what it implies in various contexts, as well as what this implies, and in that sense it might be taken for granted that God deserves at least a partial citation in for instance an academic context because despite controversy it remains in everyone’s interests to not divide the unity of the Biblical work.

        That was slightly awkwar. Weir.

  3. Exfernal says:

    Now, we routinely hospitalize people who claim to hear voices calling them to kill anyone, instead of revering them as prophets. This is a progress, I guess.

  4. Andrew says:

    So here’s the missing logic:

    Given that:
    (1*) It’s not impossible for God to order genocide, nor is it immoral for those so ordered to carry it out.
    (2) God brings about the death of infants through natural disaster (and other means, but they introduce additional issues so let’s only consider situations outside human agency)

    Explain from the Scriptures why (3) It’s is / is not impossible for God to order the death of an infant, and is / is not immoral to carry such an order out.

    To put it another way, is there an absolute proscription on human agency in case (3) that puts it in a different category from case (1)? Argue the distinction from Scripture.

    Caveats:
    (1*) Note that the Scriptures clearly do not condone killing of humans as a general activity. The OT sanctions it as punishment for certain crimes, and records a limited number of incidents in the time of the Exodus through King Saul where the Israelites were ordered to completely destroy towns. In the latter situations, the command was complete destruction – severe punishments were meted out for those who tried to loot (thus turning God’s judgement into an opportunity for personal profit).

    • God can do what He wants. The reason it would be immoral for humans to kill the babies is because it’s always immoral to kill babies. Even IF it’s not intrinsically immoral (which does not seem likely to me, but I’ll grant it for the sake of argument), we should always assume that we are being lied to or a demon is speaking to us, because we are humans and fallible and if we’re wrong we just killed an infant – and we can ALWAYS be wrong.

      • Andrew says:

        Can you run that from Scripture? Specifically, that it’s always immoral to kill babies in a way that is distinct from killing non-infants?

        Possible line of reasoning: what is the criterion by which killing another human becomes moral (or even necessary), and how are infants necessarily outside this criterion?

        Issue: given that God occasionally practices judgement on groups or societies for their corporate sin, including infants (e.g. Num 16:27,32), what makes it impossible that God would use human agents in this?

        Tangential issue: your argument seems fundamentally based on the idea that we cannot know the truth of revelation. And yet applied to its logical conclusion that kills the authority of the Scriptures themselves. Now, one might argue that Moses and Samuel (for example) were speaking on their own authority, but given that the text gives no indication of this, nor that God in any way rebuked them for what they spoke, and that the implication was they were speaking in God’s name, and the same texts in several places show divine judgement on those who speak against key prophets or falsely testify in God’s name, that argument appears to me as an a-priori conclusion seeking a justification.

      • Wow, you really are mangling what I’m saying. I’m simply pointing out that when given an order that goes against moral norms we are obligated to disobey since we can’t know for sure if it’s not from a liar or from the devil. That’s it. Your response has nothing to do with this, making it so much window dressing.

      • Andrew says:

        “moral norms” (of Malcolm or whoever) != Scripture. Run the argument from Scripture rather than your own intuitions and then we’re in a position to talk. Thus far, your only clear interaction with Scripture is to hint that OT records of prophets saying “The LORD says …” are unreliable, despite lack of censure from either narrative or narrator.

        Meanwhile, arguing that your moral norms trump apparent Scripture because humans can always be wrong might have some issues with logical closure. 🙂

      • How about you address the things I actually say, and THEN we’ll talk.

      • Andrew says:

        You say: “The reason it would be immoral for humans to kill the babies is because it’s always immoral to kill babies.”
        You don’t say: any Scriptural references justifying this or explaining why it would trump prophetic revelation.

        You say: “The Old Testament wars could be fully explained as just given the proper context, the context of God giving authority to His people to give just punishment to sinners.”
        You say: “God can do what He wants”
        You implicitly say: “God can (and does) punish infants”
        You don’t say: Any Scriptural precedent why it follows from this that God’s punishment via human agents cannot possibly include infants.

        You say: “But at any rate, this is not God speaking. It is Samuel, who claims to be speaking for God and who, due to Israelite history regarding the massacres, might be reaching conclusions God didn’t intend for him to reach.”
        You don’t say: why there is no censure for Samuel, whether narrative or editorial, in presuming to speak evil in God’s name.
        You don’t say: why it is Scripturally inconsistent to take Samuel’s claim of divine revelation at face value.

        You say: “we are humans and fallible … and we can ALWAYS be wrong”
        You don’t say: why our acknowledged fallibility would lead us to trust our moral intuitions over Scripture.

        Does that help? If I’m misrepresenting you at any point, please clarify.

      • Look, I appreciate that you’re trying to communicate with me here politely. Don’t get me wrong. But you’re interpreting Scripture from a radically different framework than I am. When you’re trying to use other parts of Scripture to interpret whether or not a particular interpretation of Scripture is accurate, you’ve gone off the rails. Scripture can’t be interpreted from itself. Language has limits. You need you need to look at it through a framework that isn’t just other parts of Scripture.

      • Andrew says:

        But you’re interpreting Scripture from a radically different framework than I am.

        I can see that, yes.

        When you’re trying to use other parts of Scripture to interpret whether or not a particular interpretation of Scripture is accurate, you’ve gone off the rails. Scripture can’t be interpreted from itself.

        I was about to shrug and let this pass as youthful folly, when I happened across these quotes:

        Irenaeus: “all Scripture, which has been given to us by God, shall be found by us perfectly consistent” (Against Hereresies, II, 28).

        Augustine: “Our thoughts, my dearest brothers and sisters, in reflecting on and discussing the holy scriptures must be guided by the indisputable authority of the same scriptures” (Sermon 363).

        (Augustine’s argument is somewhat tangential, in that he is affirming apostolic interpretation of OT events as reliable)

        In any case, I’ve showed my hand – my interpretive policy is to give Scripture the benefit of the doubt in describing what is or is not moral, unless other Scripture provides further explanation. If Scripture seems to obviously commend what I do not, I assume that the issue is with me, not the Scripture.

        Now, it appears that you think that Scriptural interpretation is to be held to an external standard, but I’ve not seen you describe how that standard is formed, nor link up the logic chain from your basic principles to the topic at hand. “Obvious” doesn’t cut it. I’m talking about a chain that goes from “this is authoritatively true” through several “and it necessarily follows that” until it reaches “and therefore, since we need to interpret this in accordance with that, the following understandings are ruled in or out”.

        Jesus gets to speak with his own authority. The rest of us have to rely on someone else’s. I fear that perhaps your youth is suppressing your wise cynicism. (Also, I’ll grant that this is your site, but perhaps a little more courtesy is in order? 1 Tim 5:1 and all that. Maybe I have gone off the rails, but for you to assert that on your own authority against someone over twice your age is juvenile arrogance.)

      • Hold on. The exact thing under discussion was “Can men kill babies if [they believe] God commands it. I made the same mistake here I made originally, and I’m not going to let myself get trapped there again.

        Also, I’ll grant that this is your site, but perhaps a little more courtesy is in order? 1 Tim 5:1 and all that. Maybe I have gone off the rails, but for you to assert that on your own authority against someone over twice your age is juvenile arrogance.

        I don’t ask and don’t want excuses made for me, but here’s my perspective here: You’ve now stretched the topic of discussion beyond its original bounds, again, misinterpreted several times over, held me to positions I’ve never held, and now finally presume to say that it’s “juvenile arrogance” for me to believe that it’s morally wrong to kill infants!

        My original argument: Humans can’t kill infants even if they think God ordered it, because humans can be wrong.about what they think God ordered. If something s wrong every time *except when God orders it to us directly*, that doesn’t make a difference practically to us since it’s impossible for us to know that it’s not a liar, a demon, or somebody simply mistaken talking to us.

        Augustine and Aquinas spill a ton of ink writing about why the Canaanite wars fall under the province of Just War Theory. This is extremely important to them, because if the answer was as easy as “God told them to”, there would be no point to the exercise. And yet that is the best Aquinas can come up with when it comes killing innocents, which doesn’t really help us.

        Not to mention, if you want to talk about authority, Evangelium Vitae pretty much squashed the debate for the Catholics (me included).

        So Andrew, here’s what I think, and you can chalk this up to what you want to: You came in here with an agenda to push, put words into my mouth, kept trying to shift the discussion topic, and then asked ME for courtesy for calling you out on it. I’m tired of this game, and you haven’t impressed me.

        Here’s the most frank thing I’ll say to you: If you were really concerned about authority you would join the Catholic Church, the Church of Christ led by the successors of the Apostles and headed over by the successor of Peter himself, the rock on which Christ built the Church.

        If I’ve read you wrong and you are a part of the Church, great. Then you know that killing innocents is always and everywhere wrong, as per Evangelium Vitae. If you are not a part of the Church then your claims of asserting authority ring hollow, or of relying on somebody else’s authority, ring hollow.

        And finally, you speak as if this opinion is my own and my own only. It is not – I was convinced by Zippy of zippycatholic.wordpress.com to change my original opinion on the matter, which was fairly close to your original opinion on the matter. Zippy is much older than me and much wiser, for whatever that’s worth to you, which is probably nothing. Ah well.

  5. vishmehr24 says:

    malcolm,
    it would be hardly merciful for the infants to be spared immediate killing but leave them to die lingering deaths, given the killing of their parents and other care-takers. After all, do we expect the Hebrews to have adopted them?

    there is a scene in the Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto where the slavers take all the adults with them, leaving the children unmolested. It was not much merciful of them.

    I feel the lingering distortions caused by the modern individualism leading to ignore the real existence of “nations”- a important biblical category. The Last judgment is not only individual but also of nations.

    • vishmehr,

      Wow, you’re really going there? Do you advocate euthanasia then too?

      Your argument really is that the Israelites shouldn’t kill infants because their only alternative is letting them starve?

      Come on now. This is one of the weaker attempts I’ve heard when people try and make the ends justify the means, but just this once.

    • If you take out the moral options, there are only immoral options left, yes.

  6. Chad says:

    Malcom,
    I am not entering the debate again, but do want to point out that your use of Evangelium vitae doesn’t solve the problem as neatly as you’d desire. First is that the Pope was speaking on abortion and Euthanasia; so to twist that as to pertain to those involved in Just Wars (while not necessarily wrong) is a stretch. The Church has always held that killing an innocent is murder, and it is not something that one even as adamant on his understanding of Just Wars disagrees with.

    Second is that the term innocents still does make presumptions about who is innocent and who is not. Why did God kill the first born sons of Egypt if he did not consider them not-innocent of the sins of the society for their treatment of the Israelites? Or the children of Sodom and Gomorrah? I state this because, if we are pursuing sainthood, we should be doing our best to see, understand, and love the world as God does. If He holds that some sins cry out so to heaven for justice that even children can die, how does it follow that a Just War founded upon those wrongs declares those same souls innocent?

    We’ve gone over this before, and I am still struggling with it myself (having purchased a complete works of St Augustine, kindle version, for $2 and going to look through it for some answers), but you haven’t given an answer to that question beyond “They’re innocent because they’re innocent.”

    • Chad,

      What does the killing of innocents have to do with just war?

      • Chad says:

        Malcom:
        Specifically, as pertains to the topic at hand, of whether the children of the Canaanites were innocent when we’re given in scripture examples of sins of nations resulting in the deaths of children. If they are not innocent, they can be killed within war if the war is a Just War. To be clear, a Just War must have specific ends which vary from war to war as determined by the objective factors making the war Just. More ‘minor’ causes for Just War call for less use of force because they need to only result in slight corrections. More serious calls for war need larger uses of force because they are intended to solve greater societal ills and are battling against a more militarized force as a general rule (usually such larger evils require more militarized police forces to allow such unjust rulers to hold power while sitting over such an evil).

        What I have said before, though maybe not clearly, is that I am unsure that the babies of the Canaanites are innocent and outside of those able to be killed within a Just War. As said, it is something I am pursuing within the writings of the Saints and Fathers of the Church. So far, while I have not seen explicit approval by any on the killing of babies; I have seen nothing but praise for the wars from Augustine.

        While that is not to say that he did not have private reserves, never put to pen, for specific actions, right now such reserves do not fall in line with anything of his that I’ve read.

    • Any anyway, they’re innocent in the relevant sense here because they’ve done nothing wrong. What are they guilty of, these infants, that we should execute them?

      I don’t see how your response addresses Evangelium Vitae at all, actually, except that now you’re arguing babies aren’t innocent, and somehow this connects to just war theory.

      • Chad says:

        No. That’s not what I’m arguing.

        I’m arguing that we have explicit examples of how societies sins weigh upon the society until their iniquity is so great that God exacts justice upon them. I’m arguing that, in such examples, God does not deem children innocent but punishes them right alongside the rest of the society, or, as in the case of the Egyptians, he punishes the children solely while given those that actually committed the sin the chance to repent.

        I am saying that Aquinas and Augustine specifically say that the sins and evils of society are a necessity for a war to be Just. That such evils being corrected is the objective goal of the Just War, without which it would not be Just, that it would be injust to break off war before such ends were accomplished should the nation still have the power to continue, and that to go beyond correcting such evils would be similarly unjust.

        So, for a child to be innocent, it must be free from those societal sins that caused the war to be Just and outside of what is needed to correct the evils of the society.

        As such, my response is to your declaration that Evangelium Vitae wins the debate, because the children have not been found to be innocent in the case of the Wars of Moses. I never said that such children were innocent, and my whole argument from the start has been based on them, in fact, not being innocent.

      • See, this is where you completely go off of the rails to me. You’re making an argument that seriously seems to make no sense. When did Aquinas and Augustine ever say that in a just war sometimes children are held accountable for the sins of their parents, somehow making them not innocent? This concept makes absolutely no sense.

  7. Chad says:

    “The Church has always held that killing an innocent is murder, and it is not something that one even -as I- adamant on his understanding of Just Wars disagrees with.”

    Just to be clear that I was speaking on myself. I should also be clear that, while I don’t consider myself outside of the Church’s teachings at this time, I am still going to the work to understand the teachings on this specific subject. Should I be proven wrong, I will instantly make an act of the will to put them in line with Church teachings and expect the rest of myself to fall in line

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