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How can you reconcile massacre in the Bible?

19 July 2019

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below


On Wednesday 18 June, Joshua 8.1-29 appears in the readings for evening prayer. In these verses, the Lord commands Joshua to massacre the men, women, and children of Ai. Fortunately, this does not occur in Sunday readings, but, if it did, how would one reconcile it with the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ?

Your answer: The only way to reconcile this violent massacring god of the Hebrew scripture with the God called Abba (Father) by Jesus of Nazareth, is to realise that our Bible (Old and New Testaments) describes a developing idea of Yahweh, the One True God.

God’s chosen people began with accepting the many pagan gods from surrounding cultures (see Rachel fleeing with Laban’s household gods in Genesis 31).

The God described by the author of Joshua was, he believed, just such a violent God. It took some time to develop the Father we meet in the New Testament.

Personally, I do not believe that the “father” of Yeshua was ever as described in Joshua, but that is how a god was expected to behave at that time.

(Mrs) Margaret A. Turner
Chesham, Buckinghamshire


When may an Anglican receive communion in a Roman Catholic church when travelling abroad? . . . [Answers, 28 June, 5 July, 12 July]

In the early ’70s, I was involved in a serious accident in France, and was in hospital for several weeks. The Bishop of Orléans heard that I was critically ill and came immediately and anointed me. The Vicar of my parish came and stayed at a monastery near by and was invited to concelebrate with the monks during his stay. When I went back some time later and stayed at the monastery, I was invited to concelebrate with them.

Over the succeeding years, I have attended mass in many places in France and Spain. As a matter of courtesy, I have asked the priest whether there was a problem with my receiving the Sacrament. I have always been made welcome and was once invited to read one of the lessons.

(The Revd) Julian Dunn
Great Haseley, Oxon


In 1987, I spent a month and more with Italian friends in Padua and received communion on numerous occasions in different churches, including St Anthony’s, the cathedral, and a parish church. Neither my friends, the priests, nor Ihad any problem with that.

(The Revd) Andrew Hunt
Shepton Mallet, Somerset


Does any reader recall an instance of someone “forbidding the banns”? . . .[Answers, 7 June, 14 June]

I had the opportunity to forbid the banns. Instead, however, I told the rector after the service. The reason: the couple had already married 12 months previously in a neigh­bour­ing, also Anglican, church.

Peter Chamberlain
Rushden, Northamptonshire


Your question: What are the correct vestments for use at the sacrament of ordination to the diaconate or priesthood? In the photos in the Church Times (Petertide Ordinations, 5 July), the bishops wore a chasuble and stole or cope and stole, and the ordinands wore their stoles (most white but some red), but the Sheffield bishops wore choir dress and the ordinands wore black preaching scarves.

R. W.


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