Skeptic: Hi. I’m Tracy’s alter ego, but you can call me Laura. Quick recap: In 2 Kings 9 &10, Jehu, the man God chose to be the next King of Israel assassinated the Kings of Israel and Judah, along with a good portion of their families – no less than seventy-three people. Did God punish Jehu for this? No. He commended him. Now, normally, such an act would be considered murder. But Tracy says otherwise.
Tracy: Well, let’s start by finding out why you consider it murder. Do you think those men were innocent?
Laura: Ah, that’s a trick question, isn’t it? Joram and Ahaziah were evidently bad men, as was Jezebel. But what about the seventy sons of Ahab that Jehu killed? Don’t claim that God is not responsible for it. Jehu killed those men because God swore to kill every male descendant of Ahab. Some of them might even have been children and it wouldn’t have mattered. Yes, yes, I know God can take whatever life he wishes. But he didn’t do this: Jehu did. Does God get to commend murder because he didn’t like the victim?
Tracy: So, is there a charge against God here? We both agree that Jehu did the killing.
Laura: Jehu did the killing. God commended it.
Tracy: So, assuming Jehu’s actions were wrong, God commended murder, in which case he isn’t God.
Laura: Spot on.
Tracy: That is a powerful point you have there. I’ve never seen God’s goodness tied so neatly to one man’s actions before.
Laura: So, are you going to try to wiggle out of this one by claiming a copying error.
Tracy: Just be quiet and let me think.
Laura: Alright. Make up an excuse.
Tracy: Hmm… I think you’re right. If Jehu’s action was wrong and God commended it, then God’s action was wrong.
Tracy: Quit interrupting me. I’m trying to think and talk at the same time. That’s a deductive argument.
1. If God commends a wrong action, God is wrong.
2. Jehu’s action was wrong.
3. God commended Jehu’s action.
4. Therefore, God commended a wrong action (from 2 & 3)
5. Therefore God is wrong (from 1 & 4)
Which, of course, translates to the God of the Bible being a false God. Premise 1 is common sense. I see no reason to deny it. Premise 3 is also pretty solid. God’s words to Jehu were: “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” That’s obviously a commendation. I can only take issue with premise 2; that Jehu’s action was wrong.
Laura: I’d like to see how you do that. So far you’re taking this very well. You haven’t even commented on the fact that we’re only having this conversation on the specious assumption that some of those killed were children and therefore innocent.
Tracy: You called Jehu’s action murder because he killed (presumably) innocent people and unlike the conquest of Canaan, he wasn’t commanded by God. But God commended Jehu’s action because the death of Ahab’s line was what God wanted. If by doing what God wanted Jehu sinned, then is God guilty?
Laura: *furrows brow in confusion* I don’t know. He’s your God, not mine.
Tracy: Yes, but think with me here. We’re having a conversation, not a debate.
Laura: I would guess that some things are allowed for God, but not for us. He is God, after all. He can’t be guilty of murder, so wanting someone’s death isn’t wrong for him. But killing an innocent person is definitely wrong for Jehu – whether or not it was what God wanted.
Tracy: See, I’m not so sure. I can’t imagine how something God wanted could be wrong. Oh, wait, I have it! God wanted Ahab’s line dead, but he never said anything about wanting Jehu to do it.
Laura: That’s a tight spot to crawl into. We don’t know if he wanted it. He could have.
Tracy: And we don’t know if there were any children killed. That just cleared up an issue for me.
1. It is wrong to desire an evil thing
2. Jehu’s action in killing innocents was evil.
3. God desired Jehu’s action
4. Therefore, God desired an evil thing. (from 2 & 3)
5. Therefore, God did something wrong.
If that argument works, then it would be airtight.
Laura: Regardless, you would find a way to wiggle out of it. Never underestimate the power of determination.
Tracy: Perhaps. But if Premise 3 is false, God desired those people dead, but not necessarily that Jehu kill them.
Laura: Yes, yes. But God commended the action, remember? And it was wrong.
Tracy: No, we’re still debating its morality. Dang it! I lost my train of thought. Why do you have to keep interrupting me?
Laura: So, I’m guessing I won this round.
Tracy: Don’t get too comfortable. I’m going to go to sleep and think of something.
Laura: Whooooppeeee!!! I won! I won!
Tracy: Jesus still rose from the dead, so I Christianity isn’t false. It’s too early to celebrate.