Somehow, inexplicably, I read the Bible to say that God was damning the "outsiders"--the Philistines, the Amalekites, and the other "ites"--even though Jesus, God Himself, teaches us to "love our enemies." If the Bible is "inerrant," then God was telling the Jews to kill the "outsiders." The logic of this to the Jews was that, if they didn't kill the others, then the Jews would become like the others. The logic to modern-day Christians is that God was exercising his divine justice through his chosen people--the Jews.
Love your enemies (Jesus). Kill your enemies (God of the OT). Is this somehow correct?
When I saw the Bible as speaking with a forked-tongue, I didn't love it. Loving the truth, I couldn't deal with the inconsistencies in the Bible that I had been taught was the "holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God." I read other books about Jesus (many, many, many other books about Jesus--Jesus is captivating), but the Bible had lost its appeal. As God dealt with my self-righteousness, the book that had cultivated my self-righteousness lost its luster.
Recently, one of my favorite pastors described the Bible as "trustworthy." This I can believe. Seeing the Bible as "inerrant" was a huge problem for me. But "trustworthy"--that I can wrap my need for truth around. We have a new Sunday School teacher for whom the OT is his friend. He brings it alive--dispatching with the rote, uninspired teachings of my upbringing and, instead, bringing the Word to life with a sense of wonder. This I want to hear. So, now I can go "back to the Bible" and hopefully read it correctly.
Our SS teacher explained that, after the Jews killed the "outsiders," the Jews then became exactly like the "outsiders." To my way of thinking, then, there was no point in killing the "outsiders." The Jews were sufficiently sinful in and of themselves, even without the supposedly corrupting influence of "outsiders." So, maybe the God of the OT wasn't telling the Jews to kill the "outsiders" in order to maintain their purity? (Indeed, this is the very thing that ISIS--murder your enemies to maintain your purity.) Maybe the Jews wanted to kill the "outsiders" anyway and were just using God as a justification? Maybe the Prophets weren't just upset with the Jews because they were immoral, but rather because they didn't love their fellow man. Maybe Jesus came to correct the incorrect views of the OT Jews and of modern-day Christians.
Our SS teacher also taught that there are four groups of people that God was greatly concerned about and, accordingly, the Prophets were concerned about--the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the sojourners. These were the folks outside the Jewish religious order, outside the mainstream of society, outside the love of God--according to the insiders.
If God wanted the Jews to be concerned about the "outsiders," is not God even more concerned about them? If the "outsiders" are special to God, you could read the OT to say that redemption lies with the "poor, the widows, the orphans, and the sojourners." But this isn't what the Jews believed. They believed that redemption lay within the Jewish religious order, just as we Christians believe today.
So, as for me, I'm going with the Bible as being "trustworthy," not inerrant. I'm going with God as the friend of sinners (not their judge), the lover of His enemies (not their murderer), and the deliverer of all--even the self-righteous like me. For, indeed, this is my only hope!