How will the Christians know when to commence the killing?

Posted on 11/09/12 58 Comments

A few months back in my essay “Might God call Christians to participate in a future genocide?” I pointed out that Christians who believe that God commanded genocides in the past are forced to consider the possibility that he might command a genocide in the future. I pointed to Revelation 19:11-18 which describe a cataclysmic future battle and noted that for those who begin with a commitment to the possiblity of divinely commanded genocidal slaughter, this could be a future instance of it, and one into which they are called to participate.

My colleague Jerry Shepherd accepts this possibility. While he believes the church is presently called to pacifism, this is a temporary command which may be rescinded in the future as the church is called to annihilate all apostates. This raises a rather glaring question: if you believe God might call you at any point to drop your call to pacifism and begin slaughtering the civilian population, then how will you know when that call has been made? This is how I put the question:

“Jerry, since you believe God commanded the wholesale slaughter of children and infants in the past you are open to God commanding it in the f [sic] future (as in Revelation). So how will you know when that day has arrived? What criteria will you use to judge whether you should participate in a future slaughter?”

I hope we can all appreciate the gravity of this question. If a person believes that they could in principle be called by God to participate in genocidal slaughter of non-Christians then it would seem to be a matter of rather pressing concern for them to explain how they will know when to take up their weapon.

With all that riding on the question this was Jerry’s response:

“When I see Christ himself riding the white horse.”

Given the gravity of the question, I can only describe an answer like this to be inexcusably flip. As Jerry knows, Revelation is one of the most difficult books to interpret. Controversies about it rage. Such are the difficulties that even intrepid commentators like John Calvin have decided not even to wade into the interpretive quagmire. So to answer the question “How will you know when to begin killing non-Christians?” by simply referring to one of the highly controverted statements in the book is to provide no answer at all.

Jeff made a similar point in his response to Jerry:

“How will you know that it is indeed Christ himself who you see riding the white horse? Is there any reason in principle why you couldn’t be mistaken about such a sight? Perhaps you’re hallucinating, or perhaps it’s actually Satan in disguise (he is the Great Deceiver after all, right?)”

Of course all this assumes that Jesus will literally be riding a white horse. But since this is a book of symbols one could readily interpret the image non-literally and that opens up all sorts of interpretive possibilities for when to begin the killing.

History is a sober teacher in this regard. In 1533 the radical Anabaptists under Bernard Rothmann gained control of the city of Munster in the German state of Westphalia. Over the next months the Anabaptists gradually became persuaded that they were living in the end times culminating in this chilling public declaration from Rothmann:

“Dear brethren, arm yourselves for the battle, not only with the humble weapons of the apostles for suffering, but also with the glorious armour of David for vengeance… in God’s strength, and help to annihilate the ungodly.” (Cited in Owen Chadwick, The Reformation, 190, emphasis added)

Many people were butchered in the city as a result until the bishop’s army finally entered the city on June 25, 1535, thereby ending the brief apocalyptic rule of blood.

Jerry’s position is that he will remain pacifistic to neighbor until he believes Christ has arrived on the white horse to signal the start of the killing. What does this kind of position do for the Christian witness to the peaceable kingdom? The answer was perhaps best stated by one of the critics of the Anabaptists following Munster: “At the moment they are peaceful, law-abiding lambs, but soon they may be wolves….”

 

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  • Stephen Maitzen

    Randal: TAM alerted me to this post. You’ve pointed to a morally troubling perspective, a perspective endorsed by none other than the recently re-elected U.S. president. In his widely praised 2006 speech on church/state separation, Obama took up the story of the binding of Isaac. He explained that today we would regard Abraham as an unfit parent “because we don’t hear what Abraham hears, we don’t see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be.” Obama’s explanation implies that there’s a kind of experience you could have that would make it rational, or morally acceptable, to intend to kill your innocent, healthy child. Obama should have been called on that. I know it would have been politically crippling for him to badmouth Abraham, but he missed a chance to say something courageous and said something outrageous instead. See 1:42-3:08 at this link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOwzy-vKaFI

    • Kerk

      Isn’t it peculiar, though, how he is praised by many militant atheists?

      • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

        Not when you consider the conservative options. Can you imagine what the secularist community would have done if Rick Santorum became president?

        • Trotsky Fan

          Secular does not equal “atheist”.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      From the glass is half full perspective, he mentioned the importance of religiously motivated public policy proposals being brought into the public square by way of reason and argument…

    • Jerry Shepherd

      HI Stephen,

      Excellent! Whatever else he may have gotten right or wrong in his career, at least here, he got the whole Abraham/Isaac thing right!

      Blessings,
      Jerry

  • Jeff

    Can’t seem to get out of my head Eugene Levy’s line from Father of the Bride Part 2 as he’s about to have his crew take a wrecking ball to the Banks’ house:

    “Commence to start!”

    Man, wish I could find a clip of that on youtube.

  • Jerry Shepherd

    Hi Randal,

    First, keep in mind that you are the one setting up the scenario. You are the one who is suggesting that those who believe that God commanded genocides in the past are “forced to consider the possibility” that he might do so in the future, giving Rev 19:11-18 as an example. Any answer I might have given falls within the parameters of your question. So, it is, for sure, unfair for you to later emphasize the “highly controverted” nature of this statement, when you are the one who is arguing that the possibility of this literal interpretation must be considered. You can’t set up the rules, and then complain when they are followed.

    Second, you said my response, “When I see Christ himself riding the white horse,” was, “given the gravity of the question,” was “inexcusably flip.” Yes, my response was flip, and purposely so. But it was not “inexcusably flip,” for several reasons. First, the question doesn’t really contain any gravity. Part of the flipness of my answer was to show that. We don’t have to worry about the question at all in this life. And in the next life, if indeed Christians are to follow Christ Jesus in making war on the enemies of Christ, that will be unmistakably clear. It will be when they see Christ riding on the white horse. There is no gravity in the question whatsoever. Second, I was flip, but I also mean it. That really is my answer. I do not know how the book of Revelation will really play out, or how layered the symbolism in the book really is. But if it does have some kind of literal play-out, there may indeed be some kind of violent confrontation in the end between the children of light and the children of darkness. Where to line up will be clear: Behind the Rider on the white horse, the one whom all the armies of heaven are following.

    Third, I wish people wouldn’t do this — “even intrepid commentators like John Calvin have decided not even to wade into the interpretive quagmire.” He also “decided” not to write commentaries on 2 John, 3 John, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. And when he died, he “decided” not to finish the commentary he was writing on Ezekiel.

    Fourth, you make reference to the Munster Rebellion, and then remark, “Jerry’s position is that he will remain pacifistic to his neighbor until he believes Christ has arrived on the white horse to signal the start of the killing. What does this kind of position do for the Christian witness to the peacable kingdom? The anwwer was best stated by one of the critics of the Anabaptists following Munster: ‘At the moment they are peaceful, law-abiding lambs, but soon they may be wolves . . . ‘”

    My reply is two-fold. First, the fear expressed by this critic sounds very much like the fear in the book of Revelation itself: “hide us . . . from the wrath of the Lamb.” We worship a Lamb who may become a wolf, or better, a Lion. Second, the Munster Rebellion actually proves my point. They forgot to wait for the Rider on the white horse.

    Blessings,
    Jerry

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      Thanks for your response Jerry. I’ll respond to your first two points which are the important ones.

      On the first point you write: “keep in mind that you are the one setting up the scenario.” “Any answer I might have given falls within the parameters of your question.”

      Not sure what your complaint is here. Your answer is presumably based on your theology, even if it is prompted by my question.

      On your second point you write: “We don’t have to worry about the question at all in this life. And in the next life, if indeed Christians are to follow Christ Jesus in making war on the enemies of Christ, that will be unmistakably clear.”

      Can you clarify what you mean by this claim? What do you mean that the war will occur in “the next life”? Do you mean that you believe it will occur after the resurrection?

      • Jerry Shepherd

        Hi Randal,

        On the first point, let me reiterate that I don’t know how multi-layered the symbolism in the book of Revelation is. Nor do I know what mixture of literal and symbolic might occur within any one layer. For example, I don’t think there is a literal sword dangling out of Christ’s mouth. I don’t know about the white horse, or the robe dipped in blood, or the inscription on his thigh, etc. But I do believe, at the very least, that the passage is representative of some kind of violent confrontation between Christ and his enemies at the end of this age. I believe that the reference to the “armies of heaven” indicates that in some way or other, either the angels, or the saints who have died and gone to be with Christ, or a combination of the two, are involved in this confrontation, in whatever role that might be. I believe that there will be, as this age draws to its close, an intense and worldwide persecution of the church, and that the events of Revelation 19 are describing that event in which Christ comes, rescues his persecuted saints, and puts down all opposition to his authority. In spite of the sensationalism which has attached itself to the interpretation of 1 Thess 4:13-18, I do believe that there is a rapture taught in that passage, and that the raptured and resurrected saints may become part of the armies of heaven. Or, in other words, the second coming of Christ = Revelation 19-20 =1 Thessalonians 4. So when I answered your question, I answered it within the parameters you provided. But, of course, the sorting out of the interpretive issues is more complicated than that.

        On your second point, I think the best approach to the book of Revelation is an eclectic blend of futurist and idealist. So I believe there is a futurity to Revelation 19, and the event is located in that intersection between the end of this age and the beginning of eternity, that complex of events which consists of the second coming, the rapture, the deliverance of the church from her persecutors, the resurrection, and the entrance into the finally and completely realized kingdom of heaven. That time will be unmistakable, and it will not occur at simply “any point.”

        Hope this explains things from my end.

        Blessings,

        Jerry

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          Jerry,

          Thanks for clarifying. I really appreciate it. Let me again focus on the most salient point which, in this case, is the second.

          It now becomes clear that you do not, in fact, necessarily locate the genocidal slaughter of the non-elect in the “next life”. Instead, you remain open to it occurring in this life. However, you attempt to allay the concerns of those who fear you may slaughter incorrectly by saying that “That time will be unmistakeable”. That, of course, would have been the response of Bernard Rothmann as well. So you remain open to God calling you to slaughter non-Christians and you have no filter to screen out false conclusions. I hope you can appreciate why this will strike those who do not share your views as an unsettling state of affairs.

          • Jerry Shepherd

            Hi Randal,

            Thank you as well. You’ll need to fill me in on who Bernard Rothmann is.

            By unmistakeable, I mean,

            (1) following an intense period of worldwide persecution of the entire church,

            (2) coinciding with the rapture of the saints, which includes the bodily resurrection of all the saints as well,

            (3) at the same time as the very visible, glorious, triumphant return of Christ.

            Or, in other words, unmistakable.

            Blessings,
            Jerry

            • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

              The article to which you’re responding fills you in on who Bernard Rothmann is. As for your attempt to enumerate objective criteria as controls for the genocidal command, it rings hollow since there is such a thing as an interpreter (surely you, as a teacher of hermeneutics, are aware of the interpreter) who must decide in history whether those conditions have been fulfilled.

              • Jerry Shepherd

                Hi Randal,

                Thanks, and sorry about the Rothmann name. I hadn’t really paid much attention to that name in the article.

                As for the hermeneutical issue — Let’s say that I am a Christian, who like every other Christian, has been suffering under intense persecution released by demoniacal powers against the church worldwide. I and a number of other Christians are hiding in a barn. In fact, in the barn where we are hiding, there are several dead bodies, the decaying corpses of our brothers and sisters who have finally succumbed to wounds they have received in the persecution, and whom he have not yet had the opportunity to bury. All of a sudden, before our very eyes, the corpses come back to life. Then, almost instantaneously, both we and our newly-restored-to-life brothers and sisters are raptured and meet, in the air, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, coming down to the earth in great glory and followed by all the armies of heaven. And it isn’t just us from the barn, it’s myriads and myriads of believers from all over the world. And then, as we return with Christ to the earth, we hear the cries of our persecutors, “Hide us from the wrath of the Lamb.” The hermeneutical options at this point are just not all that numerous.

                Blessings,

                Jerry

                • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                  What makes you think that something like the scenario you describe is the only possible scenario in which a person who begins with the belief “God could call me to slaughter non-Christians” would conclude “God is calling me to slaughter non-Christians”?

                  (And please pay attention to the lessons of history in your answer, including the lamentable history of Munster.)

                  • Jerry Shepherd

                    Hi Randal,

                    First, keep in mind that this wasn’t the hermeneutical question you asked me; rather that question had to do with the interpretation of the listed objective criteria. So what you’re asking now is a different question.

                    Now for this new question. The answer, fairly simply, is that I don’t think that. There is no doctrine or teaching that cannot be perverted into wrong teaching and correspondingly reprehensible action. The crusades, the Munster rebelliion, the Inquisition, militant Christian factions in Africa — true Christian doctrine cannot be held accountable for its perversions. As Peter says of Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” There is no teaching so holy that it cannot be perverted.

                    Blessings,
                    Jerry

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      Jerry, you began by saying that this slaughter would be in the next life. Then you conceded that it might be in this life but that certain extraordinary phenomena would precede it. However, you can provide no control as to which phenomena in history will necessarily occur before the slaughter and you are not likely to given the endless disputes over the interpretation of Revelation. Consequently, you are left with the position that you may be called to slaughter all non-Christians in the future and uncertain as to the nature of the phenomena that will signal the initiation of the slaughter. Once you adopt a plausibility structure that affirms the possibility of genocide its very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle and that’s what we’re seeing here.

                    • Jerry Shepherd

                      Hi Randal,

                      Actually, I never conceded that it might be in this life. I said it was in that transition from this life to the next. And one of those extraordinary phenomena was the resurrection of the saints — which does put it in the next life!

                      I have in fact provided the controls. Whether there are endless disputes over the intepretation of Revelation is, frankly, irrelevant. There are endless disputes over any number of doctrines which must nevertheless still be taught.

                      No, I am not left with the position of being uncertain as to the phenomena. Those are the criteria for me.

                      Blessings,
                      Jerry

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      “I never conceded that it might be in this life.”

                      That’s simply incorrect. You provided an illustration in which you are hiding out in a barn and then whisked into the air at which point you return to earth to slaughter people. You do not die in that scenario. To sum up, based on everything you’ve said an individual could experience certain phenomena in this life and mistakenly come to the conclusion that they’re called to slaughter the non-Christians in their midst. And they could be wrong. History demonstrates as much.

                    • Jerry Shepherd

                      Hi Randal,

                      You didn’t read carefully enough. I am whisked into the air only after the dead are raised. That is the resurrection and the rapture. That is the transition to the next life. I do not have to die in that scenario. I have been “changed, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”

                      Blessings,
                      Jerry

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      You’re not reading what you’re writing carefully enough. Being changed in a flash is not dying. Thus, according to the position you’ve articulated certain phenomena could occur to you in this life that will persuade you it is time to begin slaughtering non-Christians.

                    • Jerry Shepherd

                      Hi Randal,

                      You’re not reading carefully enough. Being changed in a flash IS the next life.

                      Blessings,
                      Jerry

                • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                  Let me add an illustration. Imagine that Fred is considering whether to hire Jan to babysit his infant. There is only one problem. Jan has said that God could possibly call her to sacrifice an infant as a sign of faithfulness. Fred obviously wants to know more so he presses her. “What would that look like?” he asks. Jan replies “Imagine that there was a trumpet blast from heaven and a thousand angels descended to earth singing praises to God and commanding me to sacrifice the child. And all the people on earth joined in the chorus. Then I’d sacrifice the infant.”

                  There are two problems here. The first (obvious) problem is that Jan could possibly have a psychotic episode which could explain the experience. But there is another problem as well. Fred would have to ask “Is that the only possible scenario under which you’d sacrifice an infant?” If it is not and thus there are a range of other, less “spectacular” possible scenarios which might be sufficient to convince Jan to sacrifice an infant, then it is quite irrelevant that she provides as a token example a more spectacular case.

                  • Jerry Shepherd

                    Hi Randal,

                    First problem: There is no doctrine that cannot be misunderstood and misapplied by a psychotic. The doctrine is not the problem. Psychosis is.

                    Second problem: Correct teaching should communicate that there are no less spectacular scenarios. Incorrect teaching is of course a possibility. However, again, correct doctrines are not responsible for incorrect communications of that doctrine.

                    Example: Jesus should never have said anything about people gouging out their eyes or cutting off their hands. He should have realized that people might misunderstand him and actually do it.

                    Example: Jesus should never have cleansed the temple. He should have realized that people would burn down churches during the iconoclasm that accompanied the Reformation.

                    Example: The author of Hebrews [and now, evidently, President Obama himself!] should never have pronounced Abraham as a man of faith for obeying God and sacrificing Isaac. He should have realized that psychotics might do the wrong thing with it.

                    Blessings,

                    Jerry

  • epicurus

    If the command were given, but some Christians disagreed that it was actually a command from God, would they be lumped in with the non believers for extermination?
    I wish God would just do the killing himself or get an angel to to it. Why drag us humans into it.

  • Jeff

    Jerry, I hate to scold you after the cordial chats we’ve had recently, but after witnessing this latest exchange between you and Randal I’ve gotta say that I’m pretty damned stunned at your lack of discernment. But I take comfort in the fact that you don’t really believe this vile nonsense that you say you do.

    I would actually have much more respect for your position if you would simply say, “You know what, logical consistency be damned. Slaughtering people is necessarily immoral, and so I’m not exactly sure how to make sense of all the violent motifs in the Bible, but I still believe that Jesus is Lord.”

    • Jerry Shepherd

      Hi Jeff,

      No problem. Scold away — I’m a big guy; I can take it!. But your comfort is ill-taken. I do believe this “vile nonsense.” Feel free to be more specific about my lack of discernment. I promise not to conduct herem warfare against you. :)

      For the second part of your post, there’s a measure of that in my position, but I don’t throw up the white flag and throw logical consistency out the window.

      Blessings,
      Jerry

      • Jeff

        Jerry, as to your lack of discernment here:

        You’ve made your own very narrow brand of Christianity into such an unassailable object of worship that apparently the only thing standing between you taking up arms right now to slaughter those with whom you disagree is a little bit of exegesis.

        • Jeff

          After all, there is a community of hard-core theonomists, and if their stated position is to be believed, the only thing preventing them from stoning all manner of people in the streets is that they lack the power to effectively do so. Apparently there’s no principled difference between their position and yours, other than that you assess the exegetical issues a bit differently.

          • Jerry Shepherd

            Hi Jeff,

            Or, rather, a whole lot differently.

            Blessings,
            Jerry

            • Jeff

              Hi Jerry,

              So your only reaction to Gary North’s advocacy of mass stonings is a cool, “Dude’s a bit off on his exegesis”?

              That’s absolutely surreal–I don’t believe you. You know every bit as well as I do that North’s problems here run much deeper than some flawed exegesis.

              • Jerry Shepherd

                Hi Jeff,

                No, I’m saying “Dude’s way off on his exegesis.
                |
                Blessings,
                Jerry

                • Jeff

                  No, I’m saying “Dude’s way off on his exegesis.

                  Oh, well when you put it that way…

                  • Jerry Shepherd

                    Hi Jeff,

                    Excellent. I knew that would persuade you. :)

                    Blessings,
                    Jerry

                    • Jeff

                      Jerry, I’m not sure whether to laugh or to weep. Gotta admit that cracked me up though.

                    • Jerry Shepherd

                      Hi Jeff,

                      Good deal! No, seriously, the problem with the exegesis in this case is that the whole orientation is off. I actually have some sympathy with theonomic concerns; but there is simply too much emphasis on continuities, and not nearly enough on legitimate continuities. And, of course, as is the case with almost any movement, there both extermist and moderate elements. Some of the more moderate theonomists still have legitimate contributions they can make to the discussion.

                      Blessings,
                      Jerry

                    • Jeff

                      Jerry, you’re speaking to deaf ears at this point. I don’t give a $#!+ about the exegetical issues here.

        • Jerry Shepherd

          Hi Jeff,

          Ah, I see. Actually, there is a whole lot of exegesis, not to mention the second coming, the rapture, the resurrection of all believers, and of course, Armaggedon!

          Blessings,
          Jerry

          • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

            Um, Jerry pointing out that you currently refrain from genocide based not on a few highly contested passages in Revelation but rather on several highly contested passages is not much of a rebuttal.

            • Jerry Shepherd

              Hi Randal,

              Um, Randal, pointing out that these passages are highly contested is no rebuttal at all.

              And I don’t refrain from genocide because of my exegesis of these highly contested passages. I refrain because of my desire to obey the commands of Christ, as well as the fact that I never think about it at all.

              And while we’re at it. It wouldn’t be genocide. It’s warfare.
              Blessings,
              Jerry

              • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                Yes you are advocating genocide. Read the definition of the concept in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which was adopted by the UN in 1948. That’s the standard definition.

                • Jerry Shepherd

                  Hi Randal,

                  First of all, I am not advocating genocide. Second, the definition does not cover warfare, per se. When two countries declare on one another, and they engage in combat, those are acts of war, not genocide.

                  Blessings,
                  Jerry

                  • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                    The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as

                    “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group as such;

                    (a) killing members of the group;
                    (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
                    (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
                    (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
                    (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

                    There is no dispute that by definition what you are advocating for — the complete annihilation of all non-Christians — is by definition genocide. I must say your resistance to this basic matter of definition is surprising given that you already embrace the genocide of ancient peoples by the Israelites. Why not simply accept the obvious that you believe God will command a future genocide?

                    What most disturbs me about all this is not simply your position but that I see not a modicum of epistemic fallibilism in your description of it. Nowhere do you recognize that you could be mistaken in carrying out the slaughter of civilians as so many Christians (like the Munster Anabaptists) have been in the past. You’d be far better off to concede that you could conceivably make a mistake in carrying out the divine command as you perceive it.

                    • Jerry Shepherd

                      Hi Randal,

                      First of all, again, I’m not advocating genocide.

                      Second, I am not advocating the complete annihilation of all-non Christians. The only way I have described what happens in Revelation 19 is “war” — Christ leading the armies of heaven against the persecutors of the saints. And I can’t “simply accept the obvious that [I] believe that God will command a future genocide,” because I don’t think it is obvious. As far as the “complete annihilation of all non-Christians,” I think you and I both agree that God is described as the one who does that.

                      As far as the second part of your post is concerned. Again, I am not talking about civilians; I am talking about combatants. And again, I’m talking about the second coming, the resurrection, the rapture, Armageddon — unmistakable.

                      Blessings,
                      Jerry

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      The fact that you label everyone in the to-be-killed group a combatant is irrelevant to the legal definition of genocide.

                    • Jerry Shepherd

                      Hi Randal,

                      It is not irrelevant at all. The legal definition of genocide does not cover legitimate acts of warfare.

                      Blessings,
                      Jerry

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      The definition of genocide makes no exception for “legitimate acts of warfare”. The slaughter of a population based on the religious views held by that population constitutes genocide by legal definition, whether you call it legitimate warfare or not and whether you label every person slaughtered a combatant or not.

                    • Jerry Shepherd

                      Hi Randal,

                      You’re begging the question. I’m not talking about exceptions for legitimate acts of warfare. I’m saying that the definition does not relate to acts of warfare at all. Furthermore, I am not talking about the slaughter of a population. I am talking about warfare conducted against persecutors of the church. The Geneva Conventions do not outlaw war; they outlaw genocide. These are two very different things.

                      Blessings,
                      Jerry

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      Jerry, don’t seek a second career in international law. As I already explained, so long as killing of a group is undertaken based at least in part on the religious convictions of the group it constitutes a genocide, even if it occurs within a “combat” situation.

                      By the way, on your view how young might the combatants be that you target for slaughter?

                    • Jerry Shepherd

                      Hi Randal,

                      As I already explained, the killing of the group is an act of war. The warfare is not against a group for its religious convictions, but for its persecution of another people group. The statements on genocide do not apply.

                      Blessings,
                      Jerry

  • Trotsky Fan

    Obviously, if the world was comprised of atheists, you would not have this problem.
    Because, as we all know, atheists don’t participate in genocide.

  • http://www.mandm.org.nz Matt

    When you talk about people being forced to accept the possibility, is this epistemic possibility or metaphysical possibility?

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      It means that it is a live option in the Jamesian sense.

  • http://www.mandm.org.nz Matt

    “so long as killing of a group is undertaken based at least in part on the religious convictions of the group it constitutes a genocide, even if it occurs within a “combat” situation. So killing a unit of Taliban soldiers is Genocide? Regardless of wether it occurs in a just war and all the criteria for just war are met? I think that’s a reductio of the international definition. If your objection is based on that definition so much the worse for your objection.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      Hi Matt, Hope to see you in Milwaukee.
      Your objection trades off of the inherent vagueness of the concept of genocide. Is it possible to have a genocide when only one or two people were killed for their ethnic identity or religious belief? Clearly not. Just like two pebbles aren’t yet sufficient to make a heap. But we can still spot bald people and heaps even when those concepts are vague. Likewise we can spot genocides. And any battle that targets every single living human being who does not assent to a particular religion is as clear a definition as one could imagine.

      • Jerry Shepherd

        Hi Randal,

        In a single post, you both go too far and not far enough. You ask, “Is it possible to have a genocide when only one or two people were killed for their ethnic identity or religious belief?” Then you answer, “Clearly not.” But the convention does not allow for this restriction: “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” When the KKK lynches two black people because they are black, it is a genocidal act.
        But when you attempt to apply the definition of genocide to Revelation 19 (whether the text is literal or symbolic) you go too far. The text does not describe genocide. It describes an act of war carried out against those who have been engaged in unjust persecution of others. The convention does not outaw war; it outlaws genocide.
        Blessings,
        Jerry

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          As I explained, the concept of genocide, like the concept of a “heap”, a “crowd” or “baldness”, is vague. Life is full of important concepts which have an inherent vagueness on the borders of their application. Do you seriously think two pebbles constitute a heap?

          • Jerry Shepherd

            Hi Randal,

            “In whole or in part.” Earlier in our discussion, you were far less concerned about considering the possibility of vagueness.

            Blessings,
            Jerry