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Reading the Bible “by Faith”
The cruciform approach to reading the Bible—and specifically the culturally-conditioned and sin-stained portraits of God—requires faith on the part of the reader, which I argue in Crucifixion of the Warrior God. On one level we can discern by faith that often times God broke through the limitations and sin of the ancient authors, for we find divine portraits that, to one degree or another, reflect the character of God revealed in Christ. On another level we must discern by faith that God appropriated the limitations and sin of the authors God “breathed” through, for we find divine portraits that, to one degree or another, anticipate the ugliness of the sin-bearing, God-forsaken criminal on the cross. Of course, I am painting with broad brush strokes. In reality, most portraits in the Old Testament are Christ-like to a certain extent and reflect the culturally conditioned and sin-stained humanity of their authors to a certain extent.
To the extent that a divine portrait reflects the character of Christ, it may be regarded as a direct revelation of God’s character. For as with the teachings and actions of Christ, the content of this type of divine portrait directly reflects God’s true, Christ-like character. Conversely, to the extent that a divine portrait conflicts with the character of Christ, it must be regarded as an indirect revelation of God. This calls for a different kind of faith. For as with Christ when he bore our sins and took on the semblance of a guilty, God-forsaken criminal, the content of this type of divine portrait reflects the limitations and sin of God’s covenantal people more than it does his true character.
Along the same lines, as with the sin-bearing Christ on the cross, the indirect revelatory content of this type of divine portrait must be located not at the level of appearances, but in what happened behind these appearances, in what could be called the “meta-dimension” of these appearances. To put the matter in slightly different terms, we only discern the character of God on Calvary when, by faith, we look through the grotesque appearance of this guilty criminal and discern in the depth of this event the unfathomably merciful God stooping to this unthinkable level. We can discern the true character of God in OT divine portraits that look like standard ANE portraits of warrior deities when we, by faith, look through the barbaric appearances to discern the unfathomably merciful God stooping to this unthinkable level.
As such, to the extent that any OT portraits reflects the limited and sinful humanity of God’s people, and insofar as we discern the limited and sinful humanity of God’s people in any other aspect of Scripture, we may discern a harbinger and type of the cross. The same faith that enables us to discern the self-sacrificial God in the depth dimension of the limited and fallen “criminal” who hung on the cross is the faith that enables us to discern the self-sacrificial God in the depth dimension of Scripture’s violent portraits of Yahweh, as well as every other aspect of Scripture that reflects the limited and sinful humanity of its authors. And all of this, I submit, bears witness to the unfailing covenantal love of God.
Image: Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms-5211 réserve, fol. 69v.
Confronting the Divine Montage
The superiority of Jesus’ revelation over a montage view of God (see previous post) is captured when Paul and the author of Hebrews utilize an analogy of a shadow verses reality. Paul instructs his disciples not to “let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a…
Podcast: Is Cruciform Hermeneutics Simply Midrash?
Greg considers whether Cruciform Hermeneutics is just a complicated way of seeing what I want to see in the text, and offers nuanced thought for our more complicated hermeneutical challenges. http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0307.mp3
A Response to “Are Greg Boyd and I Reading the Same Old Testament?”
Collin Cornell has recently published a review of Cross Vision (CV) and, less directly, of Crucifixion of the Warrior God (CWG) in The Christian Century. In this post I will respond to the two major objections Cornell raises against these books. Cornell begins by recounting a discussion I had with a woman who was deeply impacted…
Lighten Up: You Gotta Believe In Something, Man!
Two things here: 1) How does this philosopher not see that “not believing in believing” is itself a belief? 2) Is that a turtleneck or is that philosopher just really hairy?
On the cross, God became our sin, as Paul wrote: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21). However, God didn’t begin to be a sin-bearing God when Jesus walked the earth and hung on the cross. Rather he became Incarnate and bore our sins on the cross…
New Testament Support for the Warfare Worldview
Warfare in Jesus’ Ministry The theme of God striving to establish his sovereign will (his Kingdom) on earth over and against forces that oppose him is prevalent in the New Testament. In keeping with the apocalyptic climate of the time, there are many references to angels at war with God, demons that torment people, and…