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On Killing Enemies
Deuteronomy 7: 1-6

In the modern age, the way the Old Testament talks about the Israelites’ destroying people troubles many Jews and Christians in the United States. It did not do so before the modern period, and it is not felt as so much of a problem in other countries. Whereas U.S. Christians often link their unease with Jesus’ telling people to love their enemies, it seems unlikely that the origin of their troubled feelings lies simply there (Augustine comments that Jesus tells us to love our enemies; he does not tell us to love God’s enemies). In the context of modernity people came to be troubled about the prevalence of warring between nations, with weaponry of developing sophistication, and came to generate the conviction that nations should be able to get together to eliminate war. Jesus’ teaching and the rest of the Bible suggest that this is an implausible conviction (“there will be wars and rumors of wars”), and recent history confirms that. People in the United States may also be influenced by the fact that the United States is the great war-making nation; it has war deeply and recurrently part of its history...

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