I’ve put down Boyd’s Crucifixion of the Warrior God for a bit as the further I get into it the more disturbed I become – not so much by his ideas per se, but by the sheer complexity of it all. Is the Bible really that hard to understand? I get that we read with 21stC western lenses and we need to re-enter the culture of the people and their writing to appreciate it. I get that we are always interpreting and we need to interpret well, but I fear he has made this so inaccessible that it almost becomes absurd.
I’m a big believer in the ‘teenager test’ – can I explain my ideas in such a way that a teenager can get them? If not then I need to go back and re-think them.
I posed the ‘teenager test’ on the CWG Facebook forum and discovered I wasn’t the only one frustrated with the hermeneutical gymnastics Boyd was calling for in order to make sense of these difficult passages of scripture.
So I’ve read 1000 pages and have 500 to go… I ‘get’ his points and I understand his theses. I’m yet to be convinced they are the best answers to the questions, but I’m more concerned that if someone said to me ‘what’s the deal with all the killing God orders in the OT then I doubt I could use Boyd’s framework as an explanation unless the person had a theology degree and a half hour to spend.
On a slightly different tack, I discovered an interesting podcast the other day – ‘Unbeleivable’, a series of debates between believers and atheists hosted by a Christian apologist, Justin Brierly. I like the premise of these podcasts – that we don’t need to fear honest debate although I’m not sure how much movement there would be on either side when a convinced atheist comes to defend his position against a theology scholar! Both are entrenched and unlikely to shift, but it is interesting hearing the arguments that get posed.
This one was centred on ‘genocide in the Bible’ and looked at 1 Samuel 15 – apparently the most offensive chapter in the entire Bible according to a ‘Ship of Fools’ survey (ok hardly reliable…) I’m a fair way into it now and the atheist is making a much better case than the Christian so I’m not sure the answers lie there – ha!
So at this point I feel far more aware in dealing with these difficult passages, but I’m yet to settle on answers that I can own. I imagine I will read further afield to see the other modes of reconciling these stories with the nature of Christ.
There is a real easy answer to the whole question that I’m sure a teenager would understand: God didn’t order the killing. A MAN who was in power co-opted the name “god” in order to press forth his agenda. It happens all the time.
When you remove the Personhood of God from the Bible and replace it with a concept used to manipulate people groups into doing what you want, all of the apparent contradictions become clear. And a lot of history for all major religions with it.
But we can’t really give THAT idea credence, can we?
Hi Bob – I do think that is part of the answer, but maybe not the whole answer.
Hamo – I was thinking about this post again the other day, so I have just come back to it. Its been on my mind a while.
I reckon the answer is much more simple than having to read through a huge thesis.
OLD TESTAMENT GOD
The God of the Old Testament sent plagues, orders to kill whole people groups and global floods in judgement*;
YET he showed love, tenderness and gentleness –
– “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’” (Numbers 6:23-27)
– “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
There is many more…
NEW TESTAMENT GOD
The God of the New Testament was sent to heal, preach love of enemy, and send people out across the globe to preach forgiveness and grace;
“You (Ananias) have not lied just to human beings but to God. When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.” (Acts 5:1-11)
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)
There is many more…
IN A NUTSHELL
God is clearly the same God in both the Old and New Testament, a two edged sword. Loving, gentle and patient – but bringing sure judgement against sin.
*In each case, God was always patient, there was a long period of Grace and warning before judgement was executed.
There – just had to get that all of my chest!