I’ve gone to church my whole life. I remember learning all those old Bible stories as a kid in Sunday school.
David killing the giant Goliath with a stone flung from his slingshot.
Elijah slaughtering the hundreds of prophets of Baal.
Joshua marching around Jericho till the walls fell and the residents were massacred.
They are exciting stories, the sort of stories that keep your attention, filled with heroes and villains, as well as a good does of blood and guts. Of course, I also learned that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. The greatest hero was not the one who killed, but allowed himself to be killed.
Over the years, and I’m not sure when it first hit me, I started to wonder. How could the God revealed in Jesus – one who taught love of enemies and who showed it by dying – be the same God who commanded and praised the killing not just of enemies, but often of seemingly innocent people? Its a common question. Anyone who has spent time in the church and read the Bible has been confronted with it. It is often cited as one of the primary reasons people reject faith – God just appears too bloodthirsty, and thus simply not worthy of worship.
In the midst of wrestling with this question, I have discovered many answers that have been given over the years. Some are more satisfying than others. Even in the midst of finding answers, questions have lingered. Aren’t these answers just “spin”, the sort of thing we see when politicians and celebrities are faced with negative stories about themselves? If Jesus truly is the human face of God (or to use theological lingo, the second person of the Trinity, God in the flesh) then does Jesus not illustrate what God is really like? In other words, is it a choice between Jesus and the Old Testament?
I recently began reading Greg Boyd’s two-volume work on this subject, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God. I am actually reading this with a few friends of mine and we meet to discuss it occasionally. While I read, I am going to blog about it, share what I find helpful or relevant or weak.
I am looking forward to this book because Boyd seems to have struggled with the same questions I have, namely how to lift up Jesus as God while believing the Old Testament is inspired. In other words, the solution cannot be to throw out the Old Testament as wrong or outdated, nor can it be to take away from our understanding of who Jesus is.
“I have come to believe that Jesus revealed an agape-centered, other-oriented, self-sacrificial God who opposes violence and who commands his people to refrain from violence (e.g., Matt. 5:39-45; Luke 627-36). I also believe in the divine inspiration of the Old Testament (OT) primarily because I have good reason to believe Jesus treated it as such” (xxvii).
I’m about 140 pages in and finding lots of fantastic points. It should prove fodder for both good discussion and, hopefully, good reflection on here.