One of the toughest problems that I have been wrestling with in the last year is how to match up the God of the Old Testament that engages in so much violence with God as revealed completely in “gentle” Jesus of the New Testament.
As a follower of Christ, my primary belief is not in the Bible. My faith is in Jesus. I follow him, not a book. However, I choose to read that book because of my belief in Him. And when it comes to reading that book, I do so through the “lense” of Jesus. I base all of my theology and understanding of God on the person of Jesus, and through that filter I read the rest of the book. Which, of course, means that I read those very troubling Old Testament passages through how God has been revealed in Jesus as well.
This has been quite a journey for me over several years. And yet, as I have re-focused my centrality around Jesus rather than just the Bible, I can only come to one conclusion: I believe that violence is always wrong and outside of God’s ideal for me personally and humankind generally. Whether it be in the form of war, personal vengeance or even self-defense, I believe I am always called to “return evil with good” and not claim my right to violence.
However, there is much to still be wrestled with in this arena. And while I am still quite a work in progress, I think a lot of understanding is falling into place.
For those of you who may have found yourself wrestling with this same topic at some point, allow me to suggest some helpful resources.
First, is an excellent article that I came across this week by Brad Cole that deals with this topic called, “Scary God or Scary People.” Take a read here, if you are interested. (Scary God or Scary People)
Also, Greg Boyd (author and preacher) has some very good insights in his book:
“The Myth of A Christian Nation”
and in a series of blog entries that he did last year. Here is a link to those posts as well.
Anyway, some of you have been asking about some good resources and hopefully this will help. Happy thinking!