Does the Bible Teach the Same Kind of 'Holy War' as the Quran?
There is no denying that both the Bible and the Quran relate tales of violence. Both books have commands for the faithful to kill unbelievers (most notably Deuteronomy 7:1-5 in the Bible and Surah 9:5,19 in the Quran). Joshua, in fact, did enter the land of Canaan and wiped out many (but not all) of its inhabitants. But is this the exact same thing as the Quran's numerous commands for Muslims to slay non-Muslims and/or subjugate them?
The "holy war" in the Bible is limited to only one set of passages in the Old Testament—those related to God's commands to eliminate the Canaanites and their fellow pagans from the land of Israel. They were given the option to convert (as in the case of Rahab in Joshua 2:11) or they could leave the land and resettle elsewhere. God had already warned the Canaanites, who were notorious for burning babies alive in worship of Baal, that they had 400 years to repent of their crimes. And with the approach of the Israelite army, it is very likely that the women and children could have fled, leaving only the warriors to fight.
Nevertheless, God did not ever tell the Israelites to go conquer and take the land of the Egyptians or the Syrians or the Greeks or the Babylonians or anyone else. And they didn't. Whatever you think of this bloody episode in the Bible, the biblical evidence is that this command to execute the Canaanite culture was limited only to that piece of geography and that particular time period. The Canaanites no longer exist, and the present-day government of Israel (the freest government in the Middle East) does not carry out these commands from the Law of Moses upon any of its inhabitants. And Christians have historically believed that the Law of Moses was completed at the cross, and its civil and ceremonial codes have been terminated for believers today (Galatians 3:24,25; Hebrews 7:11-25; 10:1-14).
However, the commands in the Quran to make war on all unbelievers have no "sunset clause." All of these commands are open-ended. They are not limited in any way to any geographical boundaries or to a time period. They are for all faithful Muslims for all time.
See next page to read about the so-called peaceful and tolerant passages in the Quran.