Right Questions: An approach to violent Bible texts

Some of us find it difficult to find the Triune God of Grace in the more violent sections of the Hebrew Scriptures.  This is something I personally have wrestled with for a long time, and none of the easier options have worked for me.  It is so important for me to worship Jesus as the Word incarnate, in whose Light all revelation is transformed. But at the same time, I know that the Scriptures are there to tell me things I cannot tell myself, so I find that I cannot simply discard the parts of the Bible that aren’t comfortable for me.

This sermon outlines a way of approaching Scriptures in a way that is sensitive to these concerns, but also emphasizes the question “What question is this text trying to answer? When I go to the book of Joshua with the question ‘How violent is God?’ am I disrespecting the text by asking it to answer something it is not meant to answer?  The audio is here: http://thejourneychurch.com/teachings/?sermon_id=361

4 comments so far

  1. p16632@msn.com on

    I wanted so much to hear this audio on the right approach to violent bible text but could not find it. How do I get to this audio? Is it in the Sacred Practices sermon? That is what clicking on the link kept taking me to.

    • Oops, I guess you’re right that isn’t very clear… The ‘sacred practices’ message is the one you want. It’s not a very descriptive title.

  2. Nan Kuhlman on

    Hi John,
    I really appreciate this audio, and I think it also speaks to the issue of suffering which is a topic I’ve been thinking and writing about lately. When we stop looking at the Bible as if it contains a “prescription” for whatever ails us and instead see it as a recounting of one people’s growth as well as a revelation of God’s essential nature and sensitivity to what we need where we’re at, we are better able to see past the tough times in our individual lives to the God who is with us and for us.
    Loved it!

  3. John on

    Thank you for your audio. I woke up early this morning and the following came to mind. We are all on journeys of discovery so it is never about right or wrong.

    Life To Life Notes

    Is God guilty of violence?

    Man, since antiquity, has searched to establish meaning of self. God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit has given us freedom within who they are as love allowing us to paint His face with multiple shadows of belief systems about Him. From Thor,Zeus, Aphrodite, Baal, etc, the spectrum limited to our own deceived belief mythology, has not been resisted by God in violent retribution.
    His voice can be gently heard and seen throughout the Hebrew writings of what we call the Old Testament of the Bible, among the many false gods of man who in their own view and effort are trying to overcome the Light shone into their darkness. God has in fact validated humanity as precious and beloved by inspiring the Scriptures with His injection of thought and action. He choose to join the conversation because He has never not loved us.

    So in these writings, God who is love and who is good, choose not to directly converse with us as before, but to speak to us at various times and in different places through the prophets. He did not come as a dictatorial adversary to all the gods of our own imaginations demanding our attention and respect, but purposely spoke the reality of truth into our own structure of self-imposed beliefs. So God said NO to our sacrificial systems and spoke of Mercy, and NO to our scapegoating, rather choosing to become the victim of humanities violent acts.

    He choose in His Son to touch all humanity and to bring an end to our delusion of Him and establish for all things a new Kingdom in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He, Jesus, would not project a god to us but show us through relationship the way reality truly is structured. The Word, Logos, would reveal the Triune God, the Father of us all. The Word, Logos, the way truth is lived for all human life became flesh, one of us, a human being. He came to reveal the one and only true God to us all. For me I have to start with Jesus so that He may discern anything written about the Father in the Bible.

    The end would be the same as the beginning, where as you see me you have seen the Father, where what I see my Father doing I also do. He told us that no one has seen the Father at any time and no one knows Him but I will reveal Him to you. Even John the Baptist and his Disciples fell back on old violent thinking, so He had to gently remind them who His Father truly was. Many times He was heard to say, “you have heard it said, but I say”, revealing that the belief they had of the Father was self-induced and needed a new way of thinking, a change of mind.

    Jesus brought an end of humanities sacrificial system by choosing to be the scapegoat, the one for the many. All of humanity cried out death, while in fact the victory of His death, resurrection and ascension gave all humanity a new birth into the new creation Kingdom of Life. The end had been restored as the beginning. The image and likeness no longer defaced but shining brightly for all to see and hear, so that many sons and daughters may come to experience eternal life, Father’s Life, in the here and now.
    It is not about becoming something we are not, but all about who we already are, as Jesus testifies His Father’s true natures reality. Come let us reason with Him so that we may live out of the abundance of grace, the hope of glory, in us. Always question your own answers, for then we come to discover as we move from faith to faith, that God’s way of reality and structure, has always been ours. A freedom and rest released from the mind of Jesus in us, knowing that Jesus the Father and the Spirit are truly one.

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