Economics and Social Justice: A Type-Token Consideration

Originally this paper was presented at the UC Davis Philosophy Undergraduate Conference in the Spring of 2016 (here). The compliment which remains with me today is from the keynote speaker, Dr. Weijers, who recommended that I expand this consideration to form the groundwork for a book as a counter-response to the prevailing theory that abstract subjects have little to no application in our practical, real-world experiences – especially metaphysics. However, this paper, if it were ever to be expanded into a book, would make two radical conclusions. First, that our purely abstracted concepts stand in much closer relation to our purely pragmatic experiences than we are willing to acknowledge. And second, if we follow the conceptual principles and criteria advocated by the modern Social Justice Warrior, they will lead us to intellectual suicide. Of which, in part, my comfort of our return to sanity is to be found in my magnum-opus-hopeful Concept, Number, and God.


Economics and Social Justice: A Type-Token Consideration [1]

“The whole situation has arisen, as we have seen, from the endeavor to describe an external world ‘explanatory’ of our various individual sensations and emotions, but a world, also not essentially dependent upon any particular sensations or upon any particular individual.” – Alfred Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics

One of the great misfortunes of studying multiple subjects is not, contrary to the popular beliefs of those within each subject, the internal consistency of each subject, but the greater difficulty in seeing how these subjects work inconsistently alongside each other. The thesis of my paper is that there exists a singular problem –namely, the type/token relationship problem – which not only shadows Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Language, but also kicked under the rug, and at the expense of great reward, in Economics, that happens to resurface as a climactic modern social problem in how we are currently conceiving the notion of Social Justice.

I will be presenting this paper in five major points: First, I’ll provide an explanation of the common skeptical hypotheses found in Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Language as the Skepticism concerning Causality, Skepticism concerning Induction, and the Kripkenstein argument from the impossibility of Private Language. Second, I’ll provide a brief argument why I believe each of these skeptical hypotheses could simply be reduced to a problem with establishing a type in relation to some set of finite instances of tokens. These tokens being the unique subject matter of each circumstance. Third, I’ll briefly explain that Economics, as perhaps is so with all natural and social sciences, takes full advantage of creating models and scientific hypotheses rooted in simply sweeping under the rug these philosophical problems. Fourth, I will briefly explain that one of the large problems facing our modern society, namely, racial social justice, is a resurfacing, or discontinuity, of this problem coming back out from under the rug of our economic benefits, and perhaps even all natural and social sciences. And fifth, I leave my project open-ended with a simple question, “Do our solutions concerning these problems in Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Language have practical, moral, and social repercussions which we are failing to take into consideration?”

Part 1 – The Skeptical Hypotheses

Metaphysical Skepticism of Cause and Effect:

Hume’s skepticism concerning Cause and Effect can only be understood in light of his strong Empiricism. This empiricistic assumption is guide for Hume in his central question of how do we bridge causes with effects. What impressions do we receive of this connection, if any, and how may we respond?


First, Hume begins by delineating two sorts of categories of knowledge: Relations of Ideas and Matters of Fact. Relations of Ideas are truths such as Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic. These are truths which are derived exclusively by the relationship between numbers, and, as such, they will always retain their certainty and evidence. Matters of Fact, on the other hand, are not only known in a different sort of way, but their truths, and contingency of truth, are extraordinarily different from Relations of Ideas. For example, in Matters of Fact, contraries are possible to whatever is being stated because the contrary will never imply a contradiction. Furthermore, the falsity of some proposition concerning a matter of fact, cannot be determined by an act of the mind, but only by demonstration.


This latter category of knowledge is the sort of knowledge which Hume intends to question and disrupt its securities. Matters of fact appear to depend upon the relation between cause and effect. We should then inquire to the nature, and how we obtain knowledge of cause and effect.


As a first step, Hume asserts that Cause and effect are not a priori truths for two reasons. First, a priori reasons, if they can contribute anything to illuminate the principle of Cause and Effect, are only insofar as highlighting possibility and not preference of certain cause and effect relationships. And second, experience, via sense impressions, are the only source of determinative knowledge concerning which preference an object will take in any cause and effect pair. Therefore, Hume’s quest could be highlighted by three questions:


  • What is the nature of all our reasonings concerning matter of fact?
  • What is the foundation of all our reasonings and conclusions concerning that relation?
  • What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience?

To the above, Hume will provide a negative answer: our conclusions concerning cause and effect are not based upon reason, or any process of the understanding. Past Experience can be allowed to give direct and certain information of those precise objects only, and that precise period of time, which fell under its cognizance. “But why this experience to future times, and to other objects?” (2) Does it necessarily follow that because one thing possess something that others would as well? To answer this, Hume constructs a two-part response which, in his articulation, forms our basic intuition of cause and effect:


  1. I have found that such an object has always been attended with such an effect
  2. I foresee that other objects, which are, in appearance, similar, will be attended with similar effects.


But what connects A to B or vice versa? We need some statement C to provide the “inferential glue” to the above.


The answer is through a series of negative arguments. Again, as above, Hume provides us with two sorts of reasoning: Demonstrative and Moral. Demonstrative Reasoning (ie. Relations of Ideas) is obviously not this sort of reasoning which Hume believes will provide us with statement C. The other is Moral Reasoning (ie. Matters of Fact and Existence), and, quite literally for Hume, this is the pudding where the proof lies. Whatever is our connection between two Matters of Fact, we must begin by investigating our modes of reasoning concerning Matters of Fact.


However, Hume points out a tautological similarity:


a’. “I have found, in all past instances, such sensible qualities conjoined with such secret powers.”[2]

b’. “Similar sensible qualities will always be conjoined with similar secret powers.”[2]


Hume then concludes that if we are to reason out cause and effect, then we must come to it by some other means – a means worth investigating. This principle Hume calls “Custom or Habit”, but not reasoning. Memories and Senses record pairs of events, customary conjunction is then an implied property of repetition. And this implication isn’t reasoning, it’s a sub-species of instinct. Hume’s conclusion is that what bridges two events as cause and effect is simply an instinctual bond.

Epistemological Skepticism of Induction:

First – A General Framework of Induction


In our day-to-day living, all things being equal, we collect information about the outside world, we store it in our memory, and retrieve it for later events. This could be such knowledge as “the rules of poker” or “tomorrow, your train leaves at 9am from the Oxford station,” or “it was sunny yesterday.” And, quite frankly, if this was the only task for which we use knowledge and memory, the problem of induction would never arise. The reason is because the problem of induction is the problem of taking old knowledge and attempting to extend it to other events: it is the problem of justifying our inferred, new knowledge from old knowledge.

This perhaps could be better illustrated by explaining the difference between the nature of deductive and inductive logic. In Deductive Logic, the conclusion not only necessarily follows from premises but also follow logical forms. And these logical forms, be it syllogisms or the four forms (AEIO), are not so much as concerned with the contents but concerned with the relationships between each variable. On the other hand, in Inductive Logic, we fail to have such forms or syllogisms because Inductive Logic isn’t only concerned with the relationships between propositions, but also the contents of those propositions. The reasons are two-fold. First, in Inductive Logic, the conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from the premises (ie. The premises can be true and the conclusion false). And, second, as an extension of the first, Inductive Logic is required to justify those terms which we say make a premise more or less “probable”, or “relatively probable”, and justify how those probabilities allow us to infer from one event A to another event B.
However, to put to use an exceedingly overused example, we could ask the question, “Will the sun rise tomorrow?” Obviously, we believe the sun will rise tomorrow, but, like Descartes’ Methodological Doubt, what criteria, or reason or method, may we be said to be justified in inferring from the past to the future, or from one thing to the existence of some other thing? We are inclined to say that we “infer it from past experiences,” but, the follow-up question would be,” But are we justified in asserting past experiences as evidence in that way?”


To answer this, we need to make an important distinction. When we say past experiences of repetitions is the cause for us to believe that the future will “keep the ball rolling”, so to say, down the same grooves, it appears that there are two types of statements we can make. First, we can make the psychological statement which says, “Past circumstances, habit, and instinct give rise to our expectations.” And second, we can ask the more pressing, and philosophical, question, “Do we have any rational basis for this expectation or, as Russell pointed out, are we simply the chicken about to get is neck wrung?”


And it is in the search to answer this question, therefore justifying induction, which has led so many philosophers to posit a large range of answers.


Second – The Problem of Induction
According to Hume, the rational man was the man who could make proper use of reason. This would imply that knowledge of the strength and weaknesses of evidence was taken into consideration. But if this is to be the definition of a rational man, then it would follow that one would also be required to know the relationship between one proposition and another.


Deduction, simply enough, allows us to necessarily entail our conclusion from true premises. However, to do the same for Induction, we would be required to provide some sort of justification for probability. What sort of inferences and what sort of justification? Hume assumed that:


“[W]e can have reason to believe in the truth of any proposition concerning an empirical
matter of fact only insofar as we are able to connect the state of affairs which it describes with something that we now perceive to remember.” [3]


Hume’s argument is that one may only believe, or have reason to believe, in the existence of any thing outside the datum of our experiences, if the unobserved thing is connected to that datum in a law-like fashion. In other words, given some experience y, we can only rationally expect z if there is some law-like connection x between y and z. He believes those “reasons” of law-like fashion are cause and effect. And, therefore, that is why Hume’s project was so concerned, and ended with, his view that we have no rational basis for induction because we have no rational basis for cause and effect.


Here are the nine stages of his argument, according to A.J. Ayer:

First, “Knowledge of the relation of cause and effect is not, in any instance, attained by reasoning a priori, but arises entirely from experience.” [3]


In other words, one could deny any cause and effect instance without a contradiction. The event A, “The sun rose yesterday”, has nothing in of itself which would guarantee event B, “The sun will rise tomorrow”. There is nothing in event A that entails any other event, B or otherwise. Furthermore, experience of cause and effect are only known by a posteriori reasoning.


Second, there is no such thing as synthetic necessary connections between events.
This is simply saying that in experience there is nothing in event A which would require that event B must follow.

Third, the only ground we have to believe that event A causes event B is due to a repetition of past experiences and their conjunction via a habit of the mind.

Fourth, therefore, given the above, inference from the premise, “All hitherto observed A’s bear relation R to B’s,”[3] to the conclusion, “This A will have the relation R to some B,”[3] is not formally valid.

Fifth, to ensure the above is a valid argument, some premise p must be added, such as the following:
“that instances of which we have had no experience, must resemble those of which we have had experience, and that the course of nature continues always uniformly the same.”[3]


Sixth, but we would be required to justify this principle. We can’t appeal to the reliability of the matters of fact, for that is what we are trying to prove. And we cannot appeal to the truths of the forms of deductive logic because for each inference we can imagine it not being the case without contradiction.
Seventh, perhaps one could argue that the principle isn’t demonstrable, but probable, again, arises, “How?” (We would have to then repeat the above steps). One could appeal to the Principle of Uniformity of Nature, but that, itself, is rooted upon the principle of induction – which we are attempting to justify.
Eighth, we could attempt to by-pass the Principle of Uniformity of Nature, but, then we fall back into the same problem of induction.
Ninth, because our inferences are not formally valid, and any attempts to justify results in circularity, we ought to be logically skeptical of induction while recognizing it as something we all believe in. In other words, while we cannot justify the principle of inductive logic, we can assert the psychological necessity for us to posit such inferences.

Philosophy of Language Skepticism of Private Language

Kripkenstein, a fictional reference to Kripke’s interpretation of Wittgenstein’s problem of language, makes a particularly complicated argument which I will shorten down to the central point. Say you are asked to answer the question, “What is 55 + 10?” You may be led to provide the answer “65”. The question, of course, is “How do you know?” The obvious response would be, “By the rules of addition which governs the ‘+’, or addition, function symbol.” While this may seem like a perfectly reasonable answer, one could further ask the question, “How do you know that you didn’t use the (+) (quus) operator?” The quus operator would be defined as, “If x<70, then 55+10 is 65. If x>70 then x is 5.” The question would then be asked again, “How do you know that in calculating 55+10 you are not using the quus operator instead of the plus operator?”

Perhaps it would be best to argue by analogy via James Ross’s work in his essay entitled Immaterial Aspects of Thought.

We can begin by asking the question, “Can judgments be definite pure forms?” It would appear that they are, if we desire to make judgments about validity, inconsistency, and truth. (And any formal thinking: Conjunction, disjunction, modus ponens, etc.).
However, what, exactly, is formal thinking? Formal thinking, and likewise formal thoughts, is any “form” which can be demonstrated in a single case, though all possibilities cannot be realized by any number of components, or length of each component, or understanding of the component itself. These are all contents of the form, a formal thought is “a form of understanding”[4].

This distinction between formal thoughts and the contents of those thoughts are made quite well when Ross writes, “The fact that I cannot process every case of modus ponens, because most of them have premises too long for me to remember, sentences too long to say, or words I do not understand, is adventitious, like my not being able to do modus ponens in Portuguese. Those are features of the functors, not of the function. The function that has to be realized in every case is the one wholly realized in the single case.”[4]


The important point to make note of in this argument is that formal functions, and functions of any type for that matter, are NOT the arrays, or sets, of inputs and outputs. Formal functions are the form by which inputs become outputs. That is why Ross argues that physical processes are not the same as thinking. Why? Because no matter how many physical inputs we may observe and no matter how many physical outputs we may observe, we will never be able to derive a formal function from it.

But why can’t we derive pure functions from some set of physical inputs and outputs? It is because any physical process is impotent in determining among incompossible abstract functions. But this point appears to simply be taken at face-value because of the work already complete in Analytic Philosophy when Ross writes, “Goodman’s “grue” considerations and the plus-quus adaptations by Kripke suggest the form of my argument to show that.”[4] “That”, being the physical indeterminacy of formal functions.

However, Ross is able to open a part of Kripke’s project concerning the plus-quus problem when he writes, “Whatever the discriminable features of a physical process may be, there will always be a pair of incompatible predicates, each as empirically adequate as the other, to name a function the exhibited data or process “satisfies”. That condition holds for any finite actual “outputs,” no matter how many.”[4] This point could be easily noted in the history of physics when describing the function of a pendulum (As Thomas Kuhn points out in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) in Aristotelian, Newtonian, and Einsteinian physics. Each theory is incompossible with each other theory, but they all explain the same physical process. What Ross is arguing is that there is nothing about the swinging pendulum that would tell us whether or not Aristotle, Newton, or Einstein was correct.

The problem becomes worse when we consider that pure functions cannot be exhausted and, therefore, “’All the additions’ is as incoherent as ‘all the sets.’ So ‘what’ addition is cannot be explained by ‘all the outcomes’: rather, each and every outcome is determined by what addition is. It is impossible that all cases of addition be actual, even if infinities are performed because, even if we used up all the suitable numbers, the function itself would still be repeatable, say, for the same additions, but now done in a different order. The action cannot be exhausted by its cases, however many there are.”[4]

Part II – The Type/Token Relationship Problem

I believe all three of the previous skeptical problems could be reduced, at least formally and without regard to the nuances of each particular subject, to simply a problem between abstracting some type from some set of tokens. In the skepticism of causality, the problem appears to be abstracting some form of cause/effect type from some set of cause/effect tokens. In the skepticism of induction, it appears that we are attempting to posit some future state of affairs type from some set of tokens of past events. In the Skepticism of Private Language, it appears that we are attempting to justify some abstract function type from some collection of mental state tokens or, in Ross’s case, some physical state tokens.

If we are able to abstract out the nuances of each particular subject, in much the same way we can abstract out the content of number in axiomatic systems, I believe it is perfectly reasonable to argue that the isomorphic argument could be made that the problem in each form of skepticism is the skepticism of justifying some type from some collection of tokens.

Part III – The Economic Advantages of Induction

While it is well known that these type/token problems exist in philosophy, it appears that nothing of it is heard, or it is rarely spoken of, in economics.

If we can call an Economist anything, it is that they are data-miner in the highest degree of social analysis: human market order. Lots of data comes in, large models go out, projections are made, and courses of action are proposed. But a question seems to be looming over all of this labor. If there are so many problems facing these type-token relationships, then how is economics getting off the ground?

I believe the general response, or at least the popular response, has been simply to ignore the philosophical problems just mentioned. Lots of data comes in, large models go out, projections are made, and courses of action are proposed. But these philosophical problems haven’t been swept under the rug at, generally speaking, great consequences to the economist.

Given theories of economics such as Behavioral, NeoClassical, Keynesian, Austrian Economics, or Chicago School, have given us great insight into the sociological, economical, and psychological properties of society. While arguments such as the Black Swan Theory, an economic theory advancing the argument for the unpredictability of market change, have been advocated, I would assume that such have done very little in forcing economists to take these deeper philosophical problems into consideration. But, again, why should they? It has come at very little expense to their field.

This advantage could also be expanded to include any, or all, of the natural or social sciences. One could perhaps even argue that the knowledge ‘about’ anything in natural or social science is really to a seek knowledge ‘about’ a kind of thing – which is not a range of only ‘one’ but always of ‘many’.

Part IV – The Social Problems from Type/Token Inferences

However, I don’t believe these problems are unfelt, they are simply felt in another, but related, area. It is as if we have attempted to straighten the carpet by pressing down the crease only to find the crease has simply moved to another part of the carpet.

I think the most pressing problem of type/token relationship is found hidden under the social problem of stereotypes versus individuals. On the one hand, there is something oddly wrong with arguing that some person is expected, or anticipated, to act a certain way given some social stereotype (ie. racial, sexual, religious, organizational, political, etc.). In our conception of personal responsibility, we tend to argue that it is the individual, not the expected stereotype of the individual, which is bearer of moral judgments, values, and duties. However, on the other hand, it seems pragmatically advantageous, if not perceptively or scientifically necessary, to classify our relations in stereotypes.

Or, perhaps, put another way, on the one hand we have an intuitive understanding of the problem of the type/token relationship while, on the other hand, an intuitive understanding of the advantages of establishing such relationships. But I believe the singular difference between the philosophical and economic considerations of the type/token relationship problem and the social considerations of the type/token relationship problem is that the latter seems to be pressed with moral problems which the former hasn’t been taken into much consideration because of the lack of initial moral cost.

Part V – Concluding Remarks

The thesis of my paper was that there exists a singular problem –namely, the type/token relationship problem – which shadows Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Language, which is kicked under the rug, and at the expense of great reward, in Economics, that happens to resurface, as a climactic modern social problem, in how we are currently conceiving the notion of Social Justice.

While I do not believe there is a simple solution, I do believe we can reasonably conclude with two questions:

First, “Do our solutions concerning these problems in Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Language have practical, moral, and social repercussions which we are failing to take into consideration?”

And second, “Would it be the moral philosopher’s duty to attempt to propose social solutions that incorporate proposals from metaphysicians, epistemologists, or, for lack of a better term, meta-linguists?”


[1] Inspiration of this essay goes to my tutor, Dr. Christofidou, of Worcester College, Oxford University.
[2] Causation by E. Sosa and M. Tooley
[3] Probability and Evidence by A.J. Ayer
[4] Immaterial Aspects of Thought by James Ross
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When Heaven Invades Earth – Part 2

“There is a danger of forgetting what one has to say while working out a clever way to say it. (103)” ~ St. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine)


Infomercials have always struck me as odd. You’re watching a movie or T.V. show, and it breaks for commercials. An infomercial appears. “Aren’t you dissatisfied with that irritating shave?” it says,”What about those pesky stains you can’t get out of your shirt? Have you broken one too many dishes?” You can feel the suspense building as you recall any one of those horrors in your life – especially as you hear another glass dish shatter as it hits the tile. “But wait,” the infomercial says, “your pesky sad-sack filled life isn’t all there is. We have invented this widget to solve exactly that problem.” And then they continue to build value, savings, immediacy. The process is simple: Problem. Solution. Purchase.

When we arrive to church, the pastor asks, “Are you feeling depressed with your life?” or “Are you not feeling God’s work in your life?” The pastor, for all I know, could be right, Biblically sound, and offering advice for an audience who needs that message. But the type of transaction happening in our church is the same sort of transaction happening in an infomercial: Problem. Solution. Purchase. In the face of a modern church that has strayed from teaching the core principles of reading scripture, knowing not only to test all things but how to test all things, and meditating upon God’s word, we often fall victim to theological infomercials. And this book takes full advantage of a population susceptible, no, desiring, the theological infomercial.

We begin to cherry-pick verses to support our messages instead of cherry-picking our “messages” to fit the verses. Our will for “something more” turns the Bible into “something else”. As the late Pastor Chuck Smith once said, “If you torture the Bible long enough, it’ll tell you anything you want to hear.” We must assess a theology not on what it says it gives or upon the promises of scriptural support, nor can we accept a doctrine because it claims to come in the name of God or an Angel of light, but must do as it is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, to test all and to hold on to what is good. That is my first, second, third, fourth, middle, last, and the continual point I will make throughout this entire series. We cannot, as this book would surely have us do, throw out “the problem between our ears” and forfeit our God-given abilities to test what is true.

Side Point: A Treatise?

I remember sitting with in my Metaphysics tutorial at Oxford University presenting my weekly assignment when my professor interrupted me and said, “You said ‘God’ and then continued to say, ‘the concept of God’? My concept of God may or may not be what God is, so surely you do not believe they are the same thing? What are you trying to say?” There are few people in the world who are as sharp as a metaphysician (or metaphysicist, if you will) or will understand the problem in conflating the two terms, and so I will try to refrain from making responses concerning conceptual fitness in this review (Though the author does, at a later time, make a convoluted case for “realism” which will be the only coming exception).

However, there is one term right in the beginning of this book, at the end of the second paragraph of the first forward, which must be addressed. Though Pres. Jack Taylor insists on calling it one, this book is by no means a treatise. This book lacks the exhaustion, systematic presentation, or formal analysis such as found in Locke’s An Essay  Concerning Human Understanding (An 800+ page essay, I might add) would bring to the table. I’m making this point now because referring to this book as a treatise at the beginning would invite a level of scrutiny (one well beyond my current theological capabilities) who’s burden would break the spine of this book.

With that, allow us to continue.

“I love…” – Forward from Jack R. Taylor, President of Dimensions Ministries (Melbourne Florida)

There are two points I would like to touch on concerning this forward: Criteria and the relationship between Primary and Secondary Reality.

I. Criteria.

After one of my friend’s Lincoln-Douglass debate round, she came up to me and said, “You were making some weird faces during the debate. Why?” And I responded, “Well, after listening to your debate, and considering your claim that your moral criteria is human flourishing, I don’t actually believe what you provided was a moral criteria. It was merely a description.” She quickly responded, “Yes it is a value.” And I replied, “How?” She said, “Because I value it.” I began to laugh so hard that I began to cry. No, it wasn’t at her, I found the equivocation of one use of the word value and another use of the word value to be a keystone of political humor.

A criteria isn’t a description, it is a metric to allow us to know when something satisfies some condition. For example, the end-zone at each end of a football field is 12 yards deep by 50 yards wide. When the football crosses over the line of the end-zone, within the 12×50 dimension, it is considered a touchdown and 6 points are scored. Likewise, a criteria is like a football end-zone but instead used for measuring the worth and relevance of arguments, or concepts, or policies. If an argument can cross the minimum line of the criteria, but also stay within it’s domain, it is considered a possibly good and relevant argument. The problem with my friend’s criteria was that while it claimed to be a criteria of sorts, it failed to provide the “ougthness”, or normative or prescriptive, dimensions that are necessary for a  moral debate.(ie. The purpose of a Lincoln-Douglass debate).

Jack Taylor provides two criteria for evaluating the worthiness of a book, and there are as follows:

1) Is the life of the author consistent with the message of the book?
2) Is his (or her) ministry supportive of the declarations of the book?

I hope someone reading these two criteria would experience some intuitive “emptiness”. This feeling that while it is obviously true that these two criteria are important, there must be something more. And for those people, I would agree.

First the criteria is too vast. Mormon doctrine could be just as recommended as Buddhist or Islamic doctrine. It would be like having a football end-zone spanning half the length of the football field and that as long as a football, or soccer ball, or tennis ball, or any sort of object lands in the area, six points will be offered to that team. As long as the author lives by the precepts of the book and has some ministry (In America we often conceive of ministries as inherently religious – that’s not the case for many governments around the world) to support his or her claims, we’re golden. The criteria must be more restrictive.

And second, the criteria is inconsistent with the aims of the genre. A book that is written for advancing the Kingdom of God, helping Christians come to understand the Biblical message, should have built into its criteria something concerning scriptural support. There are none provided nor advocated. And I would even go as far as to say that none could be provided nor advocated because the orientation of this book is seemingly hostile to theological analysis. The problem, says the authors of the forwards and Bill Johnson, is “between the ears” – and that which is between the ears is the source of our theological understanding and primary way to “test what is true”.

II. Primary v. Secondary Reality (2 Cor. 4:18):

He writes:

“I love this book because it points us toward primary reality in a world almost totally preoccupied with secondary reality. The reader of Scripture is aware that it ultimately defines primary reality as “unseen and eternal” while secondary reality is temporal, that is, it doesn’t last (see 2 Cor. 4:18). Bill Johnson’s beliefs, teachings, and ministry center on primary or Kingdom reality and finds that realty sufficient to change the face of “that which is seen”.”(pg.18)

Allow us to quickly unpack this paragraph into three points:

First point – there are two sorts of realities: primary and secondary. Primary reality is something that is unseen and eternal, secondary reality is something that is seen and transient.

Second point – whatever is the relationship between primary and secondary reality, we know that secondary reality can be changed by primary reality.

Third point – He makes a citation to 2 Corinthians 4:18, which reads, “as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” But, alas, read the prior verse and the verses following just after in Chapter 5. This has nothing to do with “Kingdom power” (a word which appears to be dependent upon the aims of this book) or the “life of miracles” or even, in the context that the Jack Taylor appears to be asserting (ie. a source which changes secondary reality). The verses prior are the famous, well-quoted, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed,” and followed by the often referenced 2 Corinthians 5:8, “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Paul is speaking to the present sufferings in light of our heavenly dwelling.

But all else aside, his point boils down to a perplexing conclusion. If we were to accept the author’s distinction, and ignore any potential problems they may infer – that primary reality is that which is eternal and secondary reality as that which is transient – then what do we make of Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 12 lists them)? Are they things of primary reality or things of secondary reality? Allow us to read 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, when Paul writes,

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

The spiritual gifts are transient. So are they categorically things that are a part of secondary reality and thus not our focus? Or are they primary reality because they are spiritual? According to Jack Taylor’s definition they must be of secondary reality in virtue of their transient nature, but that goes directly against the grain of this book. This book is arguing that our focus should be upon primary reality and the power we have to change secondary reality through the spiritual gifts. A perplexing problem which never gets sorted.

[Soon I’ll be posting on the question, “Are the Spiritual Gifts Gone?” which will link from this article to that one because there appears to be, at least at a Theological level, a massive problem with maintaining both that the scripture is closed (ie. cannot be added to) and the acceptance that the Spiritual Gifts of Prophecy and Speaking in Tongues are still available.]

III. Problematic Premonitions

This point is getting a bit ahead of ourselves, but I would include it here for the sole purpose of allowing ourselves to see the things to come.  Jack Taylor writes, “We do not seek such things but are promised that signs and wonders will follow those who believe.”[emphasis mine] or that “Kingdom prayer as the gateway to power” [emphasis mine]. These claims, as with others who have followed in the footsteps of similar teachings, provide this as a foundations to the doctrine of, “You lack healing because you lack faith.” Or, put more poignantly by a teacher from Bill Johnson’s Bethel church, “The reason you were not healed is because you allowed Satan to snatch it from you.”  This is a particularly dangerous doctrine that even Christ, on several occasions, rebuked the disciples for. I’ll address these points in more detail as we continue through this review.

“Little ole me’s” – Forward by Randy Clark, Global Awakening Ministries

Randy Clark’s forward, in opposition to Jack Taylor, has less constructive argumentation but provides much room for cliche packed content. And so, I think it’s best to pull a few of those cliches and simply respond to each in turn.

I. Pie-in-the-sky theology

“The stories of healings and miracles done through the “little ole me’s” in this local church are truly amazing. This book is not about some theoretical possibility, nor some pie-in-the-sky theology, nor some rationale for the lack of power in the Church. No, instead it offers practical, tried-and-proven strategies for pushing back the kingdom of darkness and advancing the kingdom of light.” (pg. 20)

While I may not be too concerned with the stories of miracles and healings, nor even the odd assumption that calling Theology pie-in-the-sky is some form of argument against it, but his view that we need “tried-and-proven strategies for pushing back the kingdom of darkness.” Why? Where in the Bible do we receive the command to “push back the kingdom of darkness”? It is not in the Great Commission, it is not upon the lips of Christ who said both, “My kingdom is not of this world or else my followers would fight” and “you are fishers of men.” One of the big topics of this book is to introduce what is called, “Kingdom Theology” which prima facie has no biblical foundation. This lack of foundation requires them to create a comprehensive reinterpretation of Genesis, The Lord’s Prayer, and The Great Commission.

However, what’s so perplexing is that to get their doctrine off the ground they must engage in pie-in-the-sky theology. The only unfortunate consequence from their great aversion to the disciplines of theology is that they themselves end up landing in a pie-in-the-sky interpretation of Genesis, The Lord’s Prayer, and The Great Commission – running against the grain of Christ’s own words. It shifts from the orthodox position that the gospel of Christ is the salvation of mankind to the unorthodox position that the gospel of Christ is our power to confront the Kingdom of Darkness. It shifts our focus from being fishers of men to being conquers against Satan; It ultimately shifts our attention from why we are here on earth to why we are not on earth. The Gospel is the Good News and that news is for man, it is not for Satan and his kingdom.

However, quick point. Some will have read what I have just written to mean something to the effect that, “So we should not care what Hitler would be doing?” Obviously not! The difference is that we are not fighting against Hitler because of the Gospel of Christ. The Salvation of man has little to do with our response to Hitler; our response to Hitler is grounded in our moral responsibilities deriving from God’s Moral Law.

II. Key is hearing…

“Unbelief is anchored in what is visible or reasonable apart from God. It honors the natural realm as superior to the invisible…. Unbelief is faith in the inferior”; and “Faith comes by hearing… It does not say that it comes from having heard. It is the listening heart, in the present tense, that is ready for heaven’s deposit of faith…. Hearing now is a key to faith.” (pg. 20-21)

I would like to point out this passage because it is a prime example of poor argumentation. It is a series of well stated sentences, rhetorically awesome, concluding with something totally vacuous. It is this sort of reasoning, not to be too poignant, which would have made this book a quarter of it’s size. Allow me to ask a very simple question, “After reading the above paragraph, what, exactly, are we supposed to be hearing?” Better yet, allow me to ask, “What is it that you have heard?” Nothing is mentioned to answer either of those questions, but many will leave feeling as though something profound has been articulated. Don’t allow me to be the only critic, answer the questions yourselves if you may.

Note: Randy Clark may be referencing Romans 10:17, but read verse 16 and 18.Paul is speaking in the context of Isaiah and Moses. So ‘the now’ must be influenced in some ways by ‘what has already been said’. This paragraph appears to make the assertion that we must be hearing now and that now must be something different from what has already been.

III. Thoughts of the devil.

We are so entrenched in unbelief that anything contrary to this world view (the dispensationalist’s view of a weak end-time Church) is thought to be of the devil.” (pg. 20)

Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minster of the United Kingdom, once said, “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” We must be thorough in the arguments presented in any book we read. Whether or not you agree with Dispensationalism, the fact remains that we must still ask the much more difficult question, “Is it correct?”, and therefore devote our time to the much more difficult process of “trying to understand what the Scriptures actually say on this topic.” Simply throwing out provocative statements cannot be a basis for what we believe concerning Jesus Christ, the nature of Divine Covenants, or what the End-Times may in fact hold for us.

IV. Theological Blinders

“He forces us to see what the Scriptures actually say, instead of only seeing what our theologically correct blinders allow us to see.” (pg. 21)

St. Anslem, in his Proslogion, defined Theology as, “Fides quaerens Intellectum,” or, put another way, “Faith seeking Understanding.” If we are really to take Randy Clark’s remarks seriously, we must seek either seek theologically incorrect ways or atheological ways of interpreting scripture while possessing a faith devoid of understanding. But, as Chesterton once eloquently wrote, “For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind,” and so we must ask, “To what doctrine does the book ascribe?”

I would argue that the rest of my review will seek to understand how to answer that question in the terms that the book provides for itself – I’m simply afraid that we may not like the answers we receive.


When Heaven Invades Earth – Part 1

Desperation is not the virtue of the righteous. Often we have heard in songs and in sermons, “It is when we have nothing left, in our moment of greatest need, in greatest desperation, we reach out and touch God.” Does it sound familiar? It’s a play on Luke 8:45 when Jesus was walking among the crowd and he suddenly asks, “Who touched me?” The Disciples, not understanding the question, responded, “We’re in a crowd, people are obviously going to be touching you.” Soon after, a women comes forward and claims it was her. In her twelve years of discharging blood, despite the physicians being unable to heal her, she reached out, touched the robe of Christ, and was When-Heaven-Invades-Earthhealed. But we are forgetting something terribly important. It was not her desperation that healed her, it was her faith in who Christ was. It was a response to the truth of Christ. Often times we say her desperation drove her to stretched out her hand and touched Jesus’s robe, it was not desperation. Desperation was what drove Saul to stretched out his hand and comfort a Seer (1 Samuel 28:10).

This book was recommended to me by a friend with the greatest of intentions, and I intend to respond with the greatest of motives, for the subject is tender. The book When Heaven Invades Earth is written by Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church, and has served to comfort many of my friends who have suffered greatly – death of family members, great trials in family cohesion, crumbling of dear relationships – and have sought out comfort with the most noble intentions. Even the forward is written by a man who had lost his dearly loved wife of more than 47 years. But upon reading this book, I felt deeply concerned with its content and its message. It seeks isolation by pitting doctrines and corrections of theology against the communion of Christ, it seeks to divide man’s head from man’s heart, it seeks meaning without understanding. It is, in short, to break God’s creation at the core.

I was forced to ponder many questions as I read through each chapter. Among these were,

“How far can a theology diverge from Christian Orthodoxy before it becomes dangerous?”


“At what point does bad theology become an impeachable offense concerning those who seek the office, or hold the office, of a teacher of God’s word?”

In other words, I had to ask, “Is this book encouraging a response in faith or encouraging a response in desperation?” This review is going to be difficult to write, but it is with the enduring hope that truth will be found that I will tend to my case as carefully as I must.


But, as I know how “way leads unto way”, to quote Robert Frost, and so I won’t know when the semester will permit me another evening to lay out my thoughts with any order, allow me to say something important concerning the nature of the path before me.

My younger brother once played youth football for the local elementary school. The linemen needed help learning techniques, and so I was asked to help out.

The drill was simple, as were the consequences. I placed a hitting back before a single line and told them, “I will give you one of two types of numbers. Even numbers, you hit the bag with your head on the right side. Odd numbers, you hit the bag with your head on the left side. If you hit the back with your head on the wrong side, you will run to the fence and back (roughly 250 yards round trip).” I gave a momentary pause, “Any questions?” No response. “Does everyone know their odd and even numbers?” No response. “There is no such thing as a dumb question. You may ask them now, but in the drill you will run for doing it wrong.” Still no response.

I began the drill and, sure enough, a child would hit the back on the wrong side. They would look at me and I would simply ask, “What number did I call?” They would reply, “Two.” I would continue, “Was that even or odd?”
“What side was your head on?”
“The left.”
“Go to the fence.”

And off they would go, one by one. But there was one particular child who kept messing up again and again and again. The first time, he ran without being told. The second time, I asked him what he did wrong, and then he ran without responding. The third time, you could see his frustration as he jerked himself from the bag and took off running to the fence. On the fourth time, facing a total of 1,000 yards of running in a span of 15 minutes, he ran over to me, began crying, and mumbling inaudibly something about not being able to do it.

I bent over and firmly grabbed his face-mask, just as my coaches had once done to me, and calmly said, “Stop.” Tears were in his eyes, and he bent slightly backwards as he took in a deep breath. I then asked, “What did you do wrong?” He replied that his head was on the wrong side but he couldn’t do it right. Ignoring his response I calmly asked, “Can you do this for me, right now?” He stood there for a moment, and quietly replied, “Yes.”

I let go of his face-mask, he ran back to the line, and did the drill correctly… Again, and again, and again.

Pain is a cruel teacher, frustration a despot, but, grasping out in desperation, crying out that you cannot do it, is not the mother of growth or the father we are to reflect. I believe we have much to learn from the exchange between Elijah and God in 1 Kings 19:11-12:

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

I can imagine the fear and frustration of Elijah as he recounts the destruction of the alters, the deaths of the prophets, the forsaking of the covenant, the realization that he is all that is left. But we cannot forget that God did not respond in-turn. He responded with a still small voice.

If I could, for a moment be extraordinarily ambitious, allow me to say that God’s response is a model of how we should respond during these times. I hope that my book review will be as though a still small voice for those who have grasped upon this theology in their time of destruction, of death, of being forsaken, and believing they are alone.

There will be strong winds, there will be earthquakes, and there will be fire, but that is not where I hope my voice will be found.

Did God Really Command Genocide?

Did God Really Command Genocide? By Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan
A hyphenated presentation

I. The Big Picture

What I have found to be the mosthelpful in opening a discussion, especially one on an unfamiliar subject, is to begin by asking the big picture questions: “Why is this discussion taking place?”, “What are the problems that made this discussion necessary?”,or, to paraphrase Aristotle, “What are we aiming at and why are we trying to hit it?” So in the spirit of generality, I would like to begin by glossing over the general landscape which has necessitated Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan coming together and addressing the question, “Did God Really Command Genocide?” and then briefly outline their response.

DidGodReallyCommandGenocideTheir book is written to address the Atheistic philosopher Raymond Bradley’s argument that the Bible’s command to “slaughter virtually every living inhabitant of Canaan,”(pg. 17) is morally unacceptable because it violates our most basic moral intuitions of the Crucial Moral Principle – which could be stated as,

“It is morally wrong to deliberately and mercilessly slaughter men, women, and children who are innocent of any wrong doing.”(pg. 17)

And it is claimed by Bradely that Christians cannot coherently believe in a Just and Loving God while also believing that God can command unjust and hateful atrocities. It is against this philosophical milieu that has provided the reasons why Copan and Flannagan have written their book, “Did God Really Command Genocide?” However, while the reason for writing this book is to address Bradley’s argument, their aim is to provide good reasons to believe not only is Bradely’s argument flawed, but also that such genocidal commands were never issued. They do this by providing an extended argument which I will briefly outline.

First, they make the required modifications to Bradley’s philosophical argument by taking into account a more rigorous form of the Christian doctrine of Biblical inspiration. As they claim, “If Bradley’s argument is to carry any weight, it should be directed at a rigorous, philosophically informed perspective on this – not just some Sunday school caricature.” (pg. 23)

Second, they address the perspective they refer to as Marcion’s Deity (pg. 37), or the view that the God of the Old Testament is different than the “loving, nonviolent Jesus”(pg. 37) of the New Testament, by urging us to, “think more deeply about difficult, ethically troubling Old Testament passages rather than gloss over them.” (pg. 41) And therefore, they urge us to consider that a proper response to the Old Testament criticism, if we believe that the whole Bible is the Word of God, is not to distance ourselves from the Old Testament but to equally consider both testaments in our response.

Third, with the established project of unifying our concepts of Old and New Testament morality, they consider the first response to Bradley’s argument. They do this by considering the nature of God’s commands in the Old Testament. If we were to grant Bradley’s argument that God commanded genocide in the Old Testament, would those commands apply to us today?

Fourth, they look into the moral assumption behind Bradley’s argument which states that the Canaanites were innocent. However, as we find out in Leviticus 18, “[T]he Bible does not portray the Canaanites in general as innocent of any serious wrongdoing.”(pg. 61)

Fifth, they explain the nature of the Israelite incursion. Chiefly, they address the overall assumption of a total conquest of Canaan, while showing that it was perhaps more of a raiding party who continually ran into trouble with numerically superior foes.

Sixth, Copan and Flannagan then address the objective of the Israelite Incursion. “The dominate language used in Scriptures is not of extermination but of ‘driving out’ and ‘thrusting out’ the Canaanites.”(pg. 76) They support this claim by showing that there is further context to the words “totally destroy”.

Seven, in continuing their investigation of context of the terms used in Joshua’s account, they begin to look at what appears to be disturbing descriptions of the Israel’s conquest such as, “utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old”, “he left no survivors”, “there was not one left who breathed”. They address these occurrences by showing several negative arguments why a literal interpretation is untenable and several positive arguments for Hegiography, or that certain key phrases ought to be read as hyperbolic.

These seven points would naturally contain the core of Paul Copan’s and Matthew Flannagan’s answer to the question, “Did God Really Command Genocide?” Considering Biblical Inspiration which permits God to offer an occasional command to Israel to take back a promised land from an extraordinarily evil group of people, who were both told to leave and chose not to, and doing so via a raiding party against militarily and economically critical cities which was recorded partially in Joshua (and other books) using familiar Ancient Near Eastern Military Conquest hyperbolic language, the answer is an overwhelmingly no – God did not command, and the Israelites did not commit, Genocide.

II. The Backdrop ~ Clarifying the Philosophical Argument and Addressing Christian Divine Inspiration

A.The Problem Clarified (By clarifying the Philosophical Argument and the Theological Position)

We’ll begin with the philosophical argument as presented by the Atheist philosopher Raymond Bradley: The argument from the violation of the Crucial Moral Principle. The Crucial Moral Principles could be stated as:

“It is morally wrong to deliberately and mercilessly slaughter men, woman and children who are innocent of any serious wrongdoing.”(pg. 17)

Given, what many Atheists infamously call the Genocide Texts, which includes references such as Joshua chapters 6, 7, and 12, anyone who claims to be a Christian theist is committed to believing the following four propositions:

1) Any act that God commands us to perform is morally permissible.
2) The Bible reveals to us many of the acts that God commands us to perform
3) It is morally impermissible for anyone to commit acts that violate the Crucial Moral Principle
4) The Bible tells us that God commands us to perform acts that violate the Crucial Moral Principle.

As one may well suppose, the four propositions, if taken together, forms a contradiction. And that is Bradley’s project – to show the incoherency of the Christian Theist’s position.

However, before we can even begin to respond to Bradley’s argument, a few things must be noted. First, this is a reductio argument. For those who not familiar with reductio-style arguments, the reductio ad absurdum, translated as “reduction to absurdity”, is an attempt to show that, given the internal arguments and assumptions of any position, they form an incoherency. And for most philosophers, an internal incoherency is a knock-out punch. So, in part, Bradley’s philosophical argument is a moral argument against Christians, and also in-part an argument about the coherency of Christian Theism. Second, reductio­-style arguments must assume that the premises in themselves are true for the sake of the argument. For example, many people could contest that the above propositions 2 and 4 are grounded in the Bible but maintain that the Bible doesn’t accurately reveal God’s commands. The problem with making this move is that it would change the reductio argument and turn it into an argument concerning the historical reliability of the Bible.

With that being said, we’ll continue in responding to the above four propositions.

The initial problem we run into is that propositions 2 and 4 do not reflect the goal of the argument. Bradley’s argument isn’t an attempt to show that the Bible contains historical texts that reliably inform us that God issued certain commands, the argument is that we have Divinely inspired texts which reveal that God commands us to perform acts that violate the Crucial Moral Principle. Therefore, we would have to modify propositions 2 and 4 as:

2′) God is the author of the Bible
4′) The author of the Bible commands us to perform acts that violate the Crucial Moral Principle

However, the term author in 2′ is still ambiguous. While Christians do believe the Bible is Divinely Inspired, Christians also believe human agents wrote the Bible. So one must begin by clarifying the nature of authorship in premise 2′. This can be done by asking the question, “What sort of relationship exists between Divine and Human authorship?”

Plantinga’s view is that we can make the divide between, what he calls, Historical Biblical Criticism, or the study in which theological assumptions are set aside and one attempts to discern the Human author’s intent, and Traditional Biblical Commentary, or the study in which theological assumptions, such as God is the author of the Bible, can be taken and one seeks to understand what God desires us to understand.

The interplay between both fields is perhaps clearly pronounced when Plantinga responds e to Ernan McMullin in saying:

“I think he thinks what is decisive here is what the human author(s) of the text in question had in mind. If that is what he means, I am obliged to disagree with him. In order to understand Scripture, we must know who its author and audience is [sic]. As in the latter, it is the Christian church over the ages as to the former, as Aquinas and Calvin agree, the principle and primary author of scripture is the Lord. (Of course this doesn’t imply any kid of crude dictation theory.) What we really need to know, therefore, is what he intends to teach in the text in question. This may very well be what the human author had in mind in writing that text; but of course it needn’t be. It might be that the Lord proposes to teach us (coming where we do in the whole history of his interactions with his children) something that hadn’t occurred to the person or persons actually composing the text in question. I would concur with those Christians, for example, who see various Old Testament passages (Isaiah and elsewhere) as really referring to Christ, the second person of the Trinity, and making assertions about him; it is unlikely, however that the original author intended to make assertions about the second person of the Trinity. What the original authors had in mind will ordinarily be of importance, but it will not necessarily settle the issue as to how to understand the text in question.” (pg. 21)

Therefore, as Plantinga summarized, there appears to be two specific claims concerning Biblical Inspiration. First, Christians recognize human authorship of the Scriptures. And second, Christians recognize Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures. But since Christians also do NOT adhere to a dictation theory of Scripture, there must be some other way to reconcile the view that there are human authors and divine inspiration. The way Plantinga reconciles these views is to note the epistemic differences between the author’s context and, given the entire revelation of God’s word, the Divine context.

It is this view that allows Dr. William Lane Craig to argue that while the Bible allows for human emotion or specific rhetoric to flow through the Biblical text, it does not necessarily asserted the Divine context.

Therefore, we can introduce the finally revised propositions 2” and 4”:

2”) God is the (primary) author of the Bible
4”) The secondary human author of the Bible commands us to perform acts that violate the Crucial Moral Principle

B. What Does it Mean to say the Bible is the Word of God?

So far, we have established Bradley’s philosophical argument, and therefore, the thing which we are aiming to respond. We’ve also articulated a Christian Doctrine of Biblical Inspiration that includes God’s primary authorship and human’s secondary authorship. However, we need to do bit more than to say, “There is Human Authorship and Divine Inspiration,” we need to answer the more difficult question, “How does Human Authorship and Divine Inspiration interact?”

To understand this relationship, Copan and Flannagan introduce the Appropriation Model by Dr. Craig and Dr. Wolterstorff. They argue that “Inspiration is a property of the text, not the mode of production.” (pg 24) It is not so much the particular way in which the truths are revealed, but that the truths are revealed.

At first glance, this appears to be a bit vague. For if God is omnipotent, then doesn’t God “bring about” all written texts? And if God brings about all written texts, then why can we not assume that all texts are Divinely inspired?

It is here, I believe, that Dr. Craig’s and Dr. Wolterstorff’s view becomes particularly clear. First, this question fails to make the distinction between what is “God’s truths revealed”(pg24) and “God’s plan of Human History”(pg 24). And the difference between a Divinely inspired text and a non-divinely inspired text is that a Divinely Inspired text isn’t only brought about by God, but it is appropriated by God.

The question now moves from, “How does Human Authorship and Divine Inspiration interact?”, to the question, “How does God appropriate texts?”To answer this question, we’ll have to explain The Appropriation Model of Speech Act Theory.

Wolterstoff, pulling from the works of J.L. Austen and John Searle, applies Speech Act Theory to Divine Inspiration.

According to Speech-Act Theory, speech is an action one performs, and there are three types of action:

1) “A Locutionary Act → The vocal action, or the action of the vocal apparatus which projects sound waves.
2) An Illocutionary Act → Actions such as Asserting, Declaring, Warning, Promising, etc. These are acts which are performed by way of performing locutionary acts.
3) A Perlocutionary Act → The action associated with the intention of performing speech (ie. Persuasion, instilling fear, etc.)” (pg. 25)

So speech is broken into three parts: the physical, the ends for performing the physical, and the reason why we perform the physical. We also know that each one can be performed without the other. Someone can make a loud noise with no prior reason or with not end in mind. Someone can point, which has a clear ends, but no vocal action. Or someone can have a reason to speak, but never end up saying anything. In Wolterstoff’s model, the illocution act is what we mean by God speaks through his Word, it’s the truths for which the Biblical texts are to convey – God’s word has an end in mind and His truths are those ends.

An example of a “double agency discourse”(pg. 26) could be in the job of a secretary. Imagine a secretary performs a luctionary act by drafting some document, then she has the manager sign the document, performing an illocutionary act.

And therefore,

“the Bible as the Word of God to us today is best understood in terms of God’s appropriating various illocutionary acts as his own. In Wolterstorff’s words, ‘All that is necessary for the whole [Bible] to be God’s book is that the human discourse it contains have been appropriated by God, as one single book, for God’s discourse.” (pg. 27)

“[T]his explains how one can affirm that the Bible is God’s Word and that God is the primary author of Scripture without affirming that God dictated it. It also explains how the Bible can simultaneously be the Word of God and the words of humans.”(pg 27)

This is important because it defines how we are to read Joshua and the other Genocidal texts, and informs us that our task is to distinguish what God has and what God has not appropriated.

To do this, first need an underlying fundamental principle which states:

“the interpreter takes the stance and content of my appropriating discourse to be that of your appropriated discourse, unless there is good reason to do otherwise.” (pg. 29)

How do we know what has or has not been appropriated by God?

A) Work out what illocutionary act the human author performed when he authored the text. Discern what the human author is saying. (This is done by reading the Bible as individual parts in their respective contexts.)
B) Ascertain whether we have good reason to think God was saying something different than the Human author. (This is done by reading the Bible as a single literary unit, ie. Prophecies of Christ)

One must make background assumptions concerning God’s Character, Context, and likely purposes… We do this in every other type of interpretation.

Five ways the divine illocution act may differ from the human:
1) Rhetoric ~ Conceptual Structure of Scripture (ie. Referring to God as ‘you’)
2) Distinguishing the author’s point of view from the “way he makes his point.” (ie. Form from content)
3) Distinguishing from what a Human author takes to be literal, God takes to be non-literal. (ie. Paul’s reference to God (ie. Quoting Song of Solomon as an archetype of the church and marriage).
4) To make an illocution to make another. (The story of the good Samaritan)
5) Distinguish a general principles from its particular instances (ie. Building a fence on the roof)

Therefore, to make the claim that God isn’t claiming what the author intends, one must:
A) Interpret God’s appropriation to mean something else.
B) Claim they misunderstood the text.
C) God did not appropriate the text.

As we draw towards a conclusion about a Christian Doctrine of Divine Inspiration is that we need to know how flexible our analysis may be in regards to the Biblical text. And if one is going to criticism truths within the Bible, one will inevitably presume some form of Biblical interpretation. The project of Copan’s and Flannagin’s in articulating such a view is show that it is far from reasonable to attack Christianity with a Philosophical argument from a Sunday School Caricature. If a critic is going to argue against a Biblical passage, one must first demonstrate a type of Biblical Interpretation, and, second, show that under that interpretation it is always wrong to kill innocent people.

C. The God of the Old Testament versus the God of the New Testament

However, there is one important sub-point that we are required to make. We began by clarifying Bradley’s philosophical argument, we presented a Christian Doctrine of Biblical Interpretation between Human and Divine authors, we presented a theory of how Human and Divine authors interact with each other, and then we showed how the divine appropriates the locutionary acts of humans. Now we must address the question, “Is the Bible a single, over-arching text or, almost quite literally, divided down the middle – between Old and New Testaments?”

Just as today, people in the early church had trouble with reconciling the Old Testament God with the New Testament Jesus, taking note that “[t]he killing of the Canaanites, plagues and other divine judgments, imprecatory (pray-curse) psalms, and harsh laws in the Old Testament seem to be of a different spirit than the ‘loving, non-violent Jesus’ of the Newt Testament.” (pg. 37)

People such as Marcion (born 100) interpreted the Old Testament passages literally. He then argued that the God of the O.T. Is different from the God of the N.T. In response, he wrote the Evangelikon and Apostolikon. Others, such as Origen (185-253/4), on the other end of the spectrum, allegorized all the troubling Old Testament Passages. But in either case, we are still left with the question, “Are we forced to pick between the Old Testament and New Testament Gods?”

One way to reconcile them have been offered by Peter Enns and Eric Seibert. They believe the Old Testament and New Testament do not portray different Gods, they simply portray God differently. However, as Copan and Flannagan point out, not only are there ethical or historical suggestions against Enss and Seiber’s view, but, if one is to adopt there view, they would be required to collect only certain texts when one appeal’s to Christ’s authority. For example, we would have to overlook violent New Testament passages such as Matthew 21:12:

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling

John 2:15:

“And he made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the
oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;

and Matthew 18:6:

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Or those passages which affirms the Old Testament such as Matthew 5:7:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

and Matthew 5:18:

“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

and we would perhaps be required to cross out all of the Book of Revelation. As Copan an Flannagan have both argued, the question isn’t, “Do we accept the Old Testament or the New Testament,” but we should ask, “How does God relate to violence?

III. Responding to Bradley’s Argument

We’ve clarified the Bradley’s reductio argument; we’ve introduced core aspects of a Christian Doctrine of Biblical Inspiration by acknowledging Human Authorship and Divine Inspiration; we’ve articulated, through Wolsteroof’s Speak-Act Theory, a way in which Human Authorship and Divine Inspiration can function together; and we have also looked at why we ought to consider the Biblical text as a unified document and not a “one half or the other”. Now while we have not provided a direct response towards Bradley’s argument, what we have done is set the contextual framework to go about with an appropriate response towards Bradley’s argument. It’s, if you will, the backdrop the stage. With that backdrop set, we can now begin to respond to Bradley’s argument.

This section will address proposition 4”:

“The secondary human author of the Bible commands us to perform acts that violate the Crucial Moral Principle”

First, we’ll ask the question, “Does the text really command us to kill the innocent?” with emphasis upon, “Does the text really command us?” In other words, what is the scope of God’s command in the “genocidal texts” – is it a general command or an occasional commend? And then we’ll again address the question, “Does the text really command us to kill the innocent?” with emphasis upon “kill the innocent.” Or, in other words, does the text really portray the Canaanite people (or other) as innocent people?

A. Does the Bible Command Us?

The initial problem with Bradley’s argument in dealing with the question, “Does God really command us?” is that Bradley’s argument relies upon commands given to Joshua and Moses. It doesn’t follow that we are commanded to kill the innocent because a text makes a command nor does it explain why an Old Testament command to Joshua and Moses could be applied to us.

Richard Mouw makes the point,

“We must also insist that not all commands which are found in the Bible are to be obeyed by contemporary Christians. For example, God commanded Abram to leave Ur of the Chaldees, and commanded Jonah to preach in Nineveh; it would be silly to suppose that it is part of every Christian’s duty to obey these commandments.” (pg. 53)

Other examples would include God’s command for Moses to speak to the rock (Exodus 17:6) or the command for the Levites to carry the ark of the covenant (Deut. 10:8 and Exod. 25:14).

It would appear that the Bible does contain commands directed at specific individuals or groups for specific times. From this we may conclude that the mere existence of a command in the Bible doesn’t automatically imply a duty for everyone at all times to follow it. We would call these commands occasional commands. However,

“Alan Donagan makes the general observation: ‘While the whole Torah [ie. The law of Moses] does not purport to be binding on all mankind, part of it does. Even in biblical ties, the Jews had come to distinguish from mere heathens those gentiles who recognized that part of the Mosaic Halachah [the Jewish Talmud’s laws and their interpretations] which applies to gentiles and Jews alike.” (pg. 54-55)

But, to the contrary, it does appear that there are things forbidden to all people. An example would be in Amos chapters 1-2, “where we see how gentile nations surrounding Israel are condemned for basic moral violations – breaking treaties, delivering vulnerable refugees into the hands of their enemies, ripping open pregnant women to expand national borders.” (pg. 55) So on the one hand we know there are occasional commands directed for certain people and there are certain practices that are forbidden to all people. This distinction appears to be held firm by the Council in Jerusalem (Acts 15) that argued “gentile believers are not required by God to follow Israel’s food laws.”(pg. 55)

So how can we tell if a command is an occasional command or a more general command? And how do we know how they play into each other? Well, there appears to be two ways. First, one can ask why such a command was isssued. And second, one can ask for the qualifications of those commands.

To the former, we could ask, “Why was Israel commanded to dispossess Canaanites?” The biblical texts provide two answers. In Deuteronomy 7:6-8, we are told:

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous that other people, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

So one part for God’s reason for commanding the Israelites to dispossess the Canaanites, we because God was fulfilling the promise he gave to Abraham in Genesis. The second reason can be found in Deuteronomy 9:5:

“It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Again, we notice the element of promise for Israel, but, furthermore, there appears to be a motivating reason for acting now versus some other time in dispossessing Canaan. Later, I’ll explain what were the sins of the Canaanites, but, for now, the two reasons for Israel to dispossess the Canaanites was to finally take the land that was promised to them by God and also to judge the Canaanite nations.

As to the latter question, “What are the qualifications of the commands given by God?”, one could answer that the Biblical text is clear that Israel is only to dispossess the nations within the borders that God has given them.

Deuteronomy 2:2-6,9, 19; 23:7 provide example as to the explicit area and peoples that Israel is to not disturb and are outside the domains of their dispossession.

We can therefore, reasonably conclude that not only are the Isrealites being commanded to dispossess a nation for particular reasons (ie. Promised land and judgment), but also limited in scope to those nations dwelling within the land of Canaan.

B. Kill the Innocent?

If we were to cut the argument here, the best Bradley’s argument could say is that God doesn’t command us to violate the Crucial Moral Principle, but that there was one recorded instance where God, in what would appear to be an exception, commanded Joshua to violate the Crucial Moral Principle. But allow us to continue.

Turning back the original question, “Did God command us to kill innocent people?”, and having addressed the the first part (ie. The question, “Did God command us?), we now turn to the latter part of the question, “to kill innocent people?”Or, put another way, were the Canaanites innocent people? To answer this question one can look over two features of the Canaanite incursion: Land Ownership and the Sins of the Amorites. (Note: There is a third feature, the risk of assimilation, however, due to the length of this paper as it is, it would be best for me to reference you to the original paper for further details).

Feature 1: Land Ownership

In Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy, one can find two types of land ownership that the descendants of Abram were committed. First, they have the land given to them buy God. We can find evidence of this in the following verses:

Deut 20:16-17 “Only in the cities of these people that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that brethes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you.”

Gen 12:1-2: “Go forth from your counry, And from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you’ and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing.

Exodus 13:5 “It shall be when the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that yo shall observe this rite in this month.”

And the second type of land ownership is personal possession, purchased by Abram. Evidence could be found in the following verses:

Gen. 23:17-20 “So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over to Abraham for a possession in the presences of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the ate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.
Gen 33:19-20 “He bought th piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the had of the sons of Jamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.”

From the above verses, it appears that one could argue that God gave the land to Israel as a promise. This promise is also emphasized by the fact that Israel was prohibited to provoke any nation outside that land(ie. The reason often given is that that land wasn’t given to the Israelites). The Canaanites were squatters.

Feature #2: The Sins of the Amorites

When we read Genesis 15:13-16, we notice two particular things:

“[K]now for certain that for four hundred years your descendents will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendents will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

As Copan and Flannagan point out, “First, the nation of Israel will gain possession of the and only after they have been oppressed in Egypt for several generations.” (pg. 67) “Second, in spite of having a legal title and a divinely approved claim on the land, Abram and his descendants could not take immediate and total occupation of the land.” (pg. 67) They had to wait until it could be said, in the words of Revelation 18:5, “for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.”

Leviticus 18 “[C]hronicles incest, adultery, bestiality, ritual prostitution, and homosexual acts; and, most significantly, Deuteronomy 12:29-31 singles out child sacrifice as particularly abhorrent.”(pg. 67)

Furthermore, they point out, “most of these practices are illegal today, even in Western nations, and no religious group that practiced incest, ritual prostitution, bestiality, or human sacrifice would be tolerated even in contemporary liberal societies with freedom of religion laws…. [in the] United States, adults who engage in child sacrifice could face the death penalty.” (pg. 68)

Again, “Gaza and Tyre are condemned for taking captive whole communities and selling them into slavery (1:6,9); Edom is condemned for stifling compassion against his brother Israel by pursuing him to the death (1:11). Ammon is condemned ‘because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders’ (1:13)”(pg. 58)

In both of these considerations, I believe it is extraordinarily difficult to argue that the Israelites were commanded to kill innocent people. However, some have respond that the text isn’t accurate, it’s a justification from the winning side. There are two problems with this response. First, they presumes the text is unreliable because of the command to exterminate. But to say the text is unreliable is to give up the argument that the extermination is reliable (also found in the same text). And second, as we noted in the beginning of my presentation, the nature of the philosophical argument is a reductio-style argument. The internal assumptions must remain fixed or else we shift the argument away from internal coherence to that of historical reliability.

C. The Israelite Mission: Thrusting Out, Driving out, and Dispossessing, not annihilating.

In response to the question, “Does God command us to kill innocent people?”, we have address both the former and the latter segments. We can return to the more general question and ask, “What was Israelite’s mission concerning Canaan?”

However, to begin with, “What was the Israelite’s mission concerning Canaan,” is to already bypass what was going on before they began to move in. God told them He would send forth a hornet to drive people out of the land. Presumably this was the record of the events in Egypt – miracles that instilled fear of the neighboring tribes. We see this in Exodus 23, vv. 27-31

“I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their back and run. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittite out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you

So before the Israelites moved into Canaan, God had said he was send forth a hornet. The effects are confirmed in Joshua 2:9-11:

“and said to the men, “I know that that Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of
Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

and again, in Joshua 2:24

“They said to Joshua, “Surely the Lord has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the  inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”

Therefore it seems, contrary to how Bradley and other atheist philosophers and Biblical critics, it was not a command to destroy all of the tribes in Canaan, but to destroy those who remain. Furthermore, in tying together the sins of those in Canaan, the dispossession, and the total destruction, it would be worth looking at Leviticus 18:24-28:

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defiled the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.”

Notice how this isn’t being drawn out as a one-way transaction – the Israelites dispossessing and destroying Canaan. They are also being told that if Israel does the same, they will witness the same effects as the those in the land of Canaan. Of course, without going into much detail, we read in 1 Chronicles 9:1b, “And Judah was carried away into exile to Babylon for their unfaithfulness

Most people, in response, quote Deuteronomy 7:2:

“And when the Lord they God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.”

What they don’t quote, are the contextual verses,1 and 3-5:

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to posses and drives out before you man nations – the Hitties, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger that you;….(continuing to verse 3)… Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for yoru sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you (note: God’s warning to the Israelites is the same that is given to the former occupants of Canaan). This is what you are to do to them (note: this is the mission): Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.”

Two things to note. First, it appears that those nations have already been driven out by God, therefore, the remaining people are those who refused the flee with the others. And second, the utter destruction seems to be pointed not towards the killing of the people, but towards their altars, images, and other sacred objects – it’s a destruction of their culture.

Again, we can look at Deut. 12:29-30:

“The Lord your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.”

In both verses, there is little concern about the killing of the people as there is against the Israelites adopting their culture of, as Mr. Bywater has remarked on several occasions, “Idolatry, Immorality, and Injustice.”

D. The Question of Genocide and the Hyperbolic Interpretation of Joshua

But even if we do adopt the view that the Israelite attack upon Caanan was intended to drive people out, we still have the question, “Then why do verses in Joshua, and other books, indicate that everything was destroyed?” So now, quite naturally, we look at the nature of the language that is used in the text. First, we’ll provide negative arguments as to why we cannot read these versus as literal descriptions. The second, we’ll provide positive arguments as why we should adopt a hyperbolic reading of the same texts.

Nicholas Wolterstorff at Yale rejects literal reading of the “extermination-esque” verses for two reasons. The text doesn’t appear to be affirming that reading, and the language is hyperbolic. In other words, the assumptions of the text doesn’t appear to hold a literal reading, and the language itself is demonstrably hyperbolic in construct.

“The first feature is that a tension exists between early chapters of Joshua and the opening chapters of Judges, which is the literary sequel to Joshua. Joshua 6-11 summarizes several battles and concludes with, “So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.” (11:23)

However, when we read in Judges 1:1-4:

“After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the Lord, :Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” the Lord said, “Judah shall go up. I hereby give the land into his hand.” Judah said to his brother Simeon, “Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we ay fight against the Canaanites; then I too will go with you into the territory allotted to you.” So Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up and the Lord gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they defeated ten thousand of them at Bezek.”

What we are seeing between these two sections, if we assume utter destruction as killing everyone, that Israel finally conquered all the lands and killed all of their enemies. However, in the sequel, we read something to the effect, “and the people remained there til this day.” Something doesn’t appear to be correct if we take a literal reading.

Here are a few more examples:

Joshua 10:20a v. 10:20b
“So Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely, but a few survivors managed to reach their fortified cities.”

If defeated completely means killing them all, then who made it back to the fortified cities?

Josh 10:39 v. Josh 11:21:

“They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.”

“At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns.”

Josh 11:21 (again) vs Josh 15:13-14

“In accordance with the Lord’s command to him, Joshua gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion in Judah—Kiriath Arba, that is, Hebron. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai, the sons of Anak.

If we read Joshua 10:39, 11:21: and 15:13-14 back to back to back, then Israel killed everyone three times.

Judge. 1:18 v 1:21

“Judah also took Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory. “

“The Benjamites, however, did not drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.”

Josh 11:23 v. Judge. 2:21-23

“So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.”

“I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did. The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.”

And interesting point here is that Moses and Joshua succeeded in carrying out God’s command, yet not everyone was driven out. So, quite naturally, we should ask, “What was fulfilled if everyone wasn’t killed?”

However, more directly addresses the above series of verses, we can make two possible conclusion based upon the above negative arguments. First, the writers of Joshua and Judges were mindless, being able to write contradictions just mere sentences later. Or second, we have something wrong with how we are reading the text. However, but because these contradictions are so blatant and so close, it makes one wonder if there was something else going on in the text.

E. An Argument for “ Hyperbole”

This would lead us into our positive arguments for a non-literal interpretation of those texts. Two of the positive arguments, which I have chosen to represent from Copan and Flannage, are their appeal to literary repetitions within the text and similar rhetoric found in comparable military conquest reports.

First, to the literary repetitions, Wolterstorff argues,

“Anyone who reads the book of Joshua in one sitting cannot fail to be struck by the prominent employment of formulaic phrasing…. Far more important is the formulaic clause, ‘struck down all the inhabitants with the edge of the sword.’
The first time one read that Joshua struck down all the inhabitants of a city with the edge of the sword, namely, in the story of the conquest of Jericho (6:21), one makes nothing of it. But the phrasing – or close variants therein- gets repeated, seven times in close succession in chapter 10, two more times in chapter 11, and several times in other chapters. The repetition makes it unmistakable that we are dealing here with a formulaic literary convention.”(pg. 95)

While the mere repetition of a clause doesn’t inherently imply a hyperbolic, or rhetorical, function, it does wave a flag for further analysis. Why the repetition? And this is why Copan and Flannagan further their argument by appealing to comparable texts. What we find are similar literary hyperbole. Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen makes an interesting connection with Joshua:

“This kind of report profile is familiar to readers of ancient Near Eastern military reports, not least in the second millennium. Most striking is the examples of the campaign annals of Tutmosis III of Egypt in his Years 22-42 (ca 1458-1438)…. The pharaoh there gives a very full account of his initial victory at Megiddo, by contrast with the far more summary and stylized reports of the ensuing sixteen subsequent campaings. Just like Joshua against up to seven kings in south Canaan and four-plus up north.” (pg. 95)

He continues,

“The type of rhetoric in question was regular feature of military reports in the second and first millennium, as other have made very clear…. In the later fifteenth century Tuthmosis II could boast ‘the numberous army of Mitanni, was overthrown within the hour, annihilated totally, like those (now) non-existent’ – whereas, in fact, the forces of Mitanni lived to fight many another day, in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries. Some centuries later, about 840/830, Mesha king of Moab could boast that ‘Israel has utterly perished for always’ – a rather premature judgment at that date, by over a century! And so on, ad libitum. It is in the frame of reference that Joshua rhetoric must also be understood.”(pg. 97)

The connection that is being made between Joshua and Tuthmosis II isn’t the connection that one is fake and other is not, or even that there are reasons to believe that Israel’s move into Canaan didn’t happen, the connection is that there appears to be a potential commonality between the two in their form of exaggerating what actually happened.

But the forcefulness of this argument, to me, appears to be made by how close the contradiction would be if they were not to be taken non-literally. For example,1 Chronicles 4:41-43 reads,

“These, recorded by name, came in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and attacked their tents and the Meunites who were found there, and destroyed them utterly to this day, and lived in their place, because there was pasture there for their flocks. From them, from the sons of Simeon, five hundred men went to Mount Seir, with Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, as their leaders. 43 They destroyed the remnant of the Amalekites who escaped, and have lived there to this day.”

Notice what happened. Judah attacked and “destroyed them utterly to this day”, however, not more than two verses later, they also say, “five hundred men went to Mount Seir…. They destroyed the remnant.” If they utterly destroyed them, then who were the remnant?

Another example can be found in 2 Chronicles 36:16-20,

“but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy. Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,

An oddity about this text affirms both, “All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon,” and then, almost without skipping a beat, continues, “Then they burned the house of God and broke down he wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles.” Naturally, we ought to ask, “How do you both carry all the valuables away and yet destroy all of them?”

The conclusion seems to follow that we can’t take all of it as literal, there is some hyperbole running through the text. The point, however, was to show that “utterly destroyed” appears to be hyperbolic and that it becomes clear when we read the Israelite attack in its fullness across Deuteronomy, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings. What we will find is that the assumption of the text is hyperbolic.
According to Copan and Flannagan, there is only one overwhelming answer to the question, “Did God Really Command Genocide?” Considering Biblical Inspiration which permits God to offer an occasional command to Israel to take back a promised land from an extraordinarily evil group of people, who were both told to leave and chose not to, and doing so via a raiding party against militarily and economically critical cities which was recorded partially in Joshua (and other books) using familiar Ancient Near Eastern Military Conquest hyperbolic language, the answer is an overwhelmingly no – God did not command, and the Israelites did not commit, Genocide.