war and violence

I’ve been reading a series by Greg Boyd about the “violent strand” of God in the Old Testament. I recommend the series — although I’m sure it will make conservatives a little nervous. I agree with a lot, and disagree with some, but have found most of it to be pretty insightful. I haven’t read all of it yet, but my favorite quote so far:

If any Christian leader is going to appeal to the Old Testament to legitimize their nation’s warfare, they must commit to fighting the way the Israelites were commanded to fight. They must be certain that Yahweh himself has told them to enter into this war and must do so without any consideration of whether or not it meets someone’s criteria of a “just war.” They must refuse to take any practical or pragmatic issues into consideration and must place no trust in their military might or wisdom. And they must refuse to benefit in any way from their victory.

It has always been funny troubling to me when some Christians use the “God uses America as an instrument of His justice” rationale for America entering war or bombing terrorists. I think Greg’s quote shows us why. He goes further and contends that nobody since the time of Joshua has entered into war on the sole basis that God simply told them to do so. I think we need to stop using OT war and violence to justify America’s wars and violence.

What I appreciate the most about this series so far is the length Greg goes to explain how no matter what your thoughts are about the violent strands of God in the OT, it can not change your view of Jesus as being the incarnate God of the universe who sacrificed himself for you. If you are having trouble with the violence in the Old Testament (like I do sometimes), take heart, because Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” Do you want to know what God is like? LOOK AT JESUS.

“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9)


2 responses to “war and violence

  1. I like to think of God in the OT as a mix between Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Jack Palance from “City Slickers.” Just saying.

  2. hmm. I would agree.
    I’m finishing up a class on the book of Jeremiah [which has totally kicked my butt] where this strand is visible. yet…it’s almost beautiful because you see the heart of God so desperately wanting His people, yet is seemingly exasperated with them and is going to bring destruction whether or not they repent. but bigger than that is the underlying restless love for them (and Jeremiah) despite the ignorance, war and desolation.
    not that insightful, but somewhat applies.

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