I like and respect you both and have enjoyed following this exchange. I hope this doesn't drop me down a peg (or more) in your eyes. But while there appears to be a major point of disagreement between you, I don't think there is cause for worry. While I'm not saying that there isn't some bad doctrine out there, coming from a less than honorable place (or "just" ignorance) ~ and while presented with seemingly conflicting views, it wouldn't appear that both could be right ~ as you pointed out, bear, in Hebrews 4:12: "For the word of God... is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
I take the Bible literally (or so I believe). But I also believe as you do, David, that Scripture can be interpreted differently. And certainly what we were raised to believe would have an influence on how we do interpret different things. Plus there are simply ambiguities. I believe God knows this! I believe in a loving God. And perhaps this is naive, but I do not believe in a God Who would say ~ rather cruelly, "Better figure out what those words really mean, or... you lose!"
I'm reminded of something that our now departed friend Russell Means once read aloud in a video post here: Catlin's Creed. Catlin was an artist who lived with native-American Indians for many years and was the source of much information about them. He loved the Indian people, and his "creed" talked about different reasons why. Among others are these:
"I love a people who are honest without laws, who have no jails and no poorhouses.
I love a people who keep the commandments without ever having read or heard them preached from the pulpit.
I love a people who never swear or take the name of God in vain.
I love a people "who love their neighbors as they love themselves."
I love a people who worship God without a Bible..."
The church I was confirmed in did not teach the Bible or encourage it to be read. And I left the church in my teens. I came to read the Bible late in life without "religion" attached, coming to it primarily from personal experience, including what could only be described as spiritual experiences, namely, with a loving God ~ what turned me into the (somewhat fanatical, even) believer I am today.
Nonetheless, there were things in my childhood that surely did have an influence on my beliefs and, therefore, interpretation of Scripture. This poem, for one, deeply resonated with me:
Abou Ben Adhem
BY LEIGH HUNT
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
I see nothing in the Gospels that would condone the slaughter of innocents. And if the Book of Revelations is prophecy, it will happen, sooner or later, regardless of American foreign policy aiding in the slaughter of innocents. Jesus' message centers around love. As Christians, I'd think we would do well to be directed by love of God, love of our fellow man, and the Golden Rule, letting God do any other judging and on His timetable, not Israel's or ours.