Something Else is Going On

From Something Else is Going On by Greg Boyd

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March 21, 2017

Greg,
Thanks for this, I’ve studied this and there is more.two books I highly recommend that take this deeper, kinship by covenant by Scott Hahn and understanding the whole bible by Jonathan welton.
They go into the fact that not all covenants are equal and explain this well. Love your work

March 21, 2017

Greg,

So if I’m hearing you correctly the Cross totally reframes the violence the Hebrew children enacted against the idolatry of idolatrous polytheism.

And the prophets and the full revelation of the logos in Jesus life, ministry, death and resurrection call Israel and the church away from the rebellion of the children of Adam?

I truly feel this is, as you said Sunday and in your text, this is the Church, Body of Christ, people of God, and gift of the Holy Spirit before Constantine and the Empire reality of church.

March 22, 2017

I really like where Greg is headed with this series thus far and from what he’s saying about God’s character ‘reflectaphorically’ mirroring in scripture the ugliness of Israel’s sin in the Old Testament, is quite profound. It immediately brought to mind a famous quote from the German theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1328):

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”

Eckhart points out this reflective insight several millennia later coming from the other side of “The Cross Event” – from a human perspective, whereas with God, ‘The Cross’ is always immanent in His Triune kenotic character, even if we can’t see it and or record it in its ‘full salvific form’. The principals behind the idea of a ‘reflectaphor’ come from the theoretical physicist David Bohm who basically says –

“The observer becomes revealed as the observed. Second, a reflectaphor in the context of a particular artwork [inspired scripture] is mirroring other reflectaphors in that context and in fact is a reflection of the whole of that context.”

If we stop and think about it, Israel’s epistemology mirrored their ontology. In other words, their knowledge of who God was, mirrored the reality of their own corporate ‘Being’ as nation; as a chosen people. As their experience developed and grew over the centuries (zigzagged all over the place actually), so did their knowledge of God and His true character, which in turn ‘progressively’ pushed forward and further their ‘crisis of Being’ internalizing an ever-greater need for a Savior, a Messiah to come and set them free – You can almost feel Simeon’s hunger and thirst for the Lord to arrive. He represents Israel: he’s old, he’s tired and he’s spent but the Holy Spirit reassures his heart that it won’t be long! Israel’s own maturation as a people set the stage for the Incarnation to occur at exactly the right time in their history, in the world’s History.

Violence is like a parasitic twin that humanity has carried with it since our expulsion from the Garden. It’s no surprise that we anthropologically project onto God our own angst, which He then reflects back at us. I know that I have not adequately captured the nuance of Greg’s message and like many others, I can’t wait to read his book and wrestle with these concepts more thoroughly. Looks to be a fantastic series!

March 23, 2017

The One hanging on the cross was free of personal sin and was innocent. So, i’m not following how God’s violent “sin– bearing” OT depiction is a simile of the Lamb’s cross. If I understand Greg, he is saying that God committed sin, these ugly barbaric atrocities, and that somehow committing sin is “bearing–sin” that points to the cross. Jesus (at least in his incarnate state) is innocent but the Trinity prior to the cross actually took on sin by being complicit in sin, truly more than that, God is providentially ordering collective wrongdoing on a greater scale than that of the Third Reich. I’m not sure that I see how this is going to be worked out entirely. I would love some thoughts. Perhaps Greg’s rationale will be sketched out more thoroughly in future messages.

March 24, 2017

Towards the foot of the Extended Summary we have the phrase, “we come to ugly sinful portraits of God that contradict the beauty and holiness of God revealed on the cross”. While I understand what the writer is trying to say, perhaps that structure could be better worded as I also comprehend where Garth’s comments are probably coming from.

What I would like to draw from that phrase is, “holiness of God”. The issue is that God is Holy Love and in no way can countenance sin but must always judge it otherwise He is compromising Himself…the judgements are effectively the wrath of God’s Love against sin.

Therefore whenever we see God’s judgements, and because we do not of ourselves possess an Holy Love, how, in any human way, are we able to pass comment on such matters. Indeed Paul says in Romans 11:33-34,

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?””

I therefore only offer the following comments as observations and do not seek to be like Job’s friends offering ‘advice’ for the recent ‘events’ in Job’s life.

Firstly, in New Testament writings, the issue as presented does not appear as something that concerned the writers. Being (mainly) of an Israelite background and brought up in the scriptures, they (the believers) were accepting of their past situation and gloried in the freedom that the Gospel brought them.

Secondly, DA Carson makes the observation in his book, “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God” (p78),

“…wrath, unlike love, is not one of the intrinsic perfections of God. Rather, it is a function of God’s holiness against sin. Where there is no sin, there is no wrath-but there will always be love in God. Where God in his holiness confronts his image-bearers in their rebellion, there must be wrath, or God is not the jealous God he claims to be, and his holiness is impugned. The price of diluting God’s wrath is diminishing God’s holiness.” And perhaps, one could also add, so to the death of Christ on the Cross.

Lastly, Carson has a further observation that is similarly applicable (p81) that Greg may cover in future messages,

“The reality is that the Old Testament displays the grace and love of God in experience and types, and these realities become all the clearer in the new covenant writings. Similarly, the Old Testament displays the righteous wrath of God in experience and types, and these realities become all the clearer in the new covenant writings. In other words, both God’s love and God’s wrath are ratcheted up in the move from the old covenant to the new, from the Old Testament to the New. These themes barrel along through redemptive history, unresolved, until they come to a resounding climax – in the cross.
Do you wish to see God’s love? Look at the cross.
Do you wish to see God’s wrath? Look at the cross.”

I join with others as the unfolding of Greg’s series promises to be interesting.

March 24, 2017

Yeah, I just don’t get this at all.

March 24, 2017

Loree,

This may help –

Michael Hardin – Love Vs Wrath – YouTube
Video for 1:07:42 Michael Hardin – Love Vs Wrath▶ 1:07:42
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8vb99Md-RI

March 25, 2017

Not convincing at all.
At the time when these killings took place God was able to speak with an audible voice, both to Moses and to the entire people, and able to demand “spare the trees”, and still he was not able to say ” don’t kill the dogs..” Not to mention the babies. But He let them kill because the humans expected him to be such a God? Come on! When did Jesus do any thing because they expected him to?

And God could have told them straight out what kind of God He is, not reveal himself as a contridiction to the God on the cross… But he “had to”??

Either God really wanted the babies killed, like he allegedly told the Israelites, and He loved that they obeyed. Or the Old Testament is not as inspired as we like to believe.

March 25, 2017

Dear Weak,

I think it may be relevant here to also mention a few things before this ‘thesis’ gets off the tarmac. Cautiously as a prerequisite to assuming anything about the nature and character of God’s supposed ‘violence’ in the Old Testament, we should consider discussing some theories as to the formation and selection of the Biblical text itself. It is known by most scholars that after the Babylonian Captivity, that various sources were more than likely woven together through redaction to systematically form what we now call the Old Testament. This is known as – “The JEPD Theory” or “Documentary Hypothesis”. Basically it breaks down the Old Testament into having four key modes of expression based on the particularities of literary style, emotive concerns and or historical chronology –

The Yahwist – (J) abbreviated from the German word for “Yahwist”
The Elohist – (E)
The Deuteronomist – (D)
The Priestly – (P)

Now this is just a theory to be certain and the clustering of various sources and categories cannot be free of subjectivity, but nevertheless, it provides keen insight into the development of the Pentateuch and may provide a way to resolve some of these conflicts of ‘Character’.

The reason I’m mentioning this, is that often the ‘violence’ attributed to God in the OT is associated with what is called a “Progressive Revelation” where He meets them where they are at mentally, spiritually and culturally at various times, condescending to their level to eventually lead them up and out of a codependence upon violence and the sacrificial system collimating at The Cross. This idea definitely has it merits. But I also wonder, if what we are actually dealing with in the OT in not so much a ‘Progressive Revelation’ or a ‘Mirroring of Mimetic violence to reflect the Passion of The Cross’ but rather it is a “Competition of Voices’ within the Old Testament itself.

When you look more closely at JEPD theory you can clearly see how each of these four modes of expression have their particular ‘ax to grind’ and or viewpoint to tell. This is not to suggest at all that it is ‘not inspired’ either – the text remains essential intact, regardless of ex post fact attestations. Much like the “New Testament”, the OT may have been selectively tampered with for canonical reasons to reflect those ‘voices’ but not lost its core essential ‘Truths’. Having a ‘Christocentric’ lens looking backward into the Old Testament is part of the problem, as well as the ‘solution’ to this conundrum. Let me suggest an example of what might be going on.

When Samuel tells Saul in 1 Sam 15:1 3 – “Thus says the Lord of Hosts… Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Samuel doesn’t see it as God sinning; ‘committing a barbarous atrocity’ but rather as God’s Divine Justice. Samuels mind and life experience is seeped in violence, he sees and knows little else. At that stage in their history if Jesus [as a member of the Trinity] were to hypothetically deliver His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ ethic or a condensed version of it to Samuel and inspire him to then have said; “Now go and share the following with Saul – “You are to love the Amalekites and Amalek as yourself, forgive him even though he’s an enemy of Israel, you must turn the other cheek and pray for him….” Saul would have laughed in his face and thought him completely crazy and out of his mind and probably would have thrown him out or put him to death right then and there! Incidentally, Samuel hacks to death King Agag himself, whom Saul has spared in a recent battle at Gilgal, a short time later. This [Priestly voice or viewpoint] epitomizes the ‘Divine vendetta culture’ that they had constructed and swam in daily. But more profound than that it represents the conflict between Priests and Prophets – who is entitled to speak for God? In other words, God appears to meet them where they’re at ethically, gives them what they expect and instructs them with what they can actually handle and mentally work with – it ‘is’ in a sense a “progressive revelation” of the conflict of the dissemination of “God’s Will” but not a rationalization of the apparent contradictions that exist in the text.

There may essentially be two or more voices operating throughout the Old Testament – One of Priests, one of Prophets, the Yahwist and the Elohist. God’s will is unfolded over the centuries through these ‘voices’ that then leads towards the birth of the Messiah who finally inverts and ultimately overturns the ‘lex talionis’ of retribution with – “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. And through His Resurrection and His pouring out of His Spirit, He empowers us to do the same.

March 26, 2017

Dear Dave.

You are saying that people of The Old Testament, even the prophet Samuel, didn’t really know the full character of Yehovah God. Samuel didn’t know Jesus. Samuel would probably kill Jesus if he would appear and speak the truth about what God really is, what God really wants.
I agree. And this warped image of God was inherited by the writers of the Bible. And today it is inherited by the preachers and readers of the Bible.

The Bible has become the forth member of the Trinity. An idol that you have to believe in to be saved. But nowhere does the Bible claim that you have to believe in everything that its writers believed and the all the words they wrote to get saved.

But most preachers will call you a heretic and false preacher if you say that many passages in the Old Testament are wrong, that Samuel was wrong, that this is a human perspective, not God inspired, even though the inspiration of Jesus shines through here and there.

And pastors like pastor Boyd really struggle with this dogma , trying to believe that it is all from God, trying to convince himself that “there is something else going on.. God really did say these awful things because they are in the Bible, so it must be true… I just have to figure out WHY He said it and then it will all fit perfectly and divinely into place.”

March 26, 2017

Weak,

Can I call you something else? Neither You nor Greg certainly come across that way – Ha!

Well, first of all I have to say that whenever one is discussing the origins of Biblical texts, you often find yourself diving into a bubbling caldron of controversy. There’s almost no way around it. Of course if one leans more towards a hyper literal, inerrant, Divinely inspired one-to-one infallible dictation coupled with a flat-reading of the text hermeneutically, then you’re more than likely not going to like most aspects of ‘JEPD Theory’ – ha! Because many Apostolic writings often make frequent reference to the OT authors by name, it is then assumed by some there was therefore no compilation in the past that occurred and if there had been, then that would be tantamount to suggesting that the New Testament authors were in fact ‘lying’.

But I think that’s a bit reactionary though and that by considering the possibility of some ‘ex post facto attestation’ you’re not saying that the text isn’t inspired or truthful, but simply pointing out the very human tendency (in the past as well as the present) to focus on what ‘we think’ is critically important to the Faith and how it should then be communicated and recorded. You know for example many Christian traditions contain other books not typically found in most Evangelical New Testament Bibles. Arguments about ‘Apocryphal’ sources have been raging for centuries and has often led to horrible violence and schisms; ironically which is really what this subject is all about – Ha!

The German Biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen is normally credited with the formulation of the JEPD hypothesis, as well as Richard Simon two centuries before him, but it has been revamped and revisited dozens of times over the last 130 years, waxing and waning in and out of favor and popularity depending upon what contemporary scholarship and evidence gave it support. A quick troll through Google sources and you’ll find plenty of angry diatribes debunking its viability – and some of it rightfully so. Wellhausen was somewhat anti-Semitic and displayed certain biases’ in his analysis of the texts. But nevertheless, it is an effective scholastic tool or lens through which one can approach the purported discrepancies of God’s apparent violent temperament found in the OT. The following two links are pretty good in outlining the structure of the theory but obviously, I’m not in agreement with some of their conclusions.

PRE 120: Documentary Hypothesis – YouTube
▶ 16:06
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZp9BOGDh64
25 May 2016 – Uploaded by Dan Clanton
This video introduces students to the Documentary Hypothesis in the context of a course on Old Testament. It …

5. Hebrew Bible Yale- Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis …
▶ 48:45
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy5ue0QPUOo
1. 10 Nov 2012 – Uploaded by HowtheBibleWasMade
JEPD. Also deals with the Patriarchs.

As far as Greg goes, I’m fairly certain he will cover aspects of the ‘Documentary Hypothesis’ in his upcoming Tome but as to whether or not he thinks it’s relevant to answering the crucial questions concerning ‘the violence of God’, we’ll just have to see after reading his book. One of the major problems with this scenario of ‘post-facto attestation’ is that when we read; “Thus saith Lord” in the text, we are not hearing them actually say in their real contextual time – “We ‘think’ this is what God wants”. So our logical conclusion is; “If that wasn’t God talking, then how can anyone be so sure that when it says in the New Testament; “And Jesus spoke unto them, saying….” That they didn’t get it wrong there as well? And ultimately the answer to that is….. You cant! It’s a matter of ‘faith’ and a personal transforming witness of the Spirit, not a strict literal adherence to the scriptural text and how we mechanically think it was actually transmitted. Critics of “Progressive revelation” make some powerful points, however “If God can only reveal to us at any given point, what our own minds have expanded to be able to handle, then is it really “revelation” at all? Maybe that’s just ‘progress’ and not really ‘revelation’.” The point is as I see it, is that God doesn’t work into our systematic theological schemes nor is He bound by them.

Cheers

March 26, 2017

By the way, Pastor Boyd’s allegory about watching his wife across the street was not a very good one.

In my opinion the whole dilemma could be better described if he had said that he didn’t see it with his own eyes, but that he had heard from others that a HIGHLY RESPECTED (even by Boyd’s wife) AND POWERFUL PASTOR THAT NO-ONE WANTS TO CRITICIZE, but who does not know Boyd’s wife as well as he does, claimed to have seen his wife behaving like that towards a panhandler.

So now it’s not just “I know it happened because I saw it with my own two eyes”…

But more like: “It is almost impossible for me to believe that this respected Pastor can be so wrong… but then again, I know my wife better than him… So it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to know anything for certain, and I guess I shouldn’t even speculate, but wait until I get home and speak with my wife about it”

March 26, 2017

Thanks Dave, I enjoyed the videos, including the one with Mr Hardin. I am familiar with the JEPD hypothesis from my religious studies. I am also familiar with the Quelle hypothesis regarding Matthew, Mark and Luke.
But I have struggled since I was a kid with coming to grips with the conflicting, schitzofrenic images of God and the idea (and the pressure to accept it or be a heretic or false teacher) that the Bible is the eternal, inspired, inerrant word of God. I rush to watch any sermon where some preacher claims to have made some sense out of the contradictions and paradoxes, like the ugliness of God in the Old Testament… But in my adult age I always land on the same conclusion that the preacher would be better off just stating: I DON’T KNOW… AND WE WILL PROBABLY NEVER KNOW ON THIS SIDE OF LIFE..
Because what the preachers are saying doesn’t make sense to me… Their explanations may sound intellectual, but when you have spent 30 years pondering, you know that they are not answering the real questions… Because it is impossible. Including “the problem of evil”. And therefore I believe in Jesus despite the contradictions, definitely not because of them. When it all falls apart and makes no sense, and I feel I lose faith and I can’t trust my understanding of the Bible, or the people who translated my Bible, and maybe not even the people who WROTE the Bible, then Jesus is still my rock to stand on. I don’t understand him logically, but I hold on to Him. Or rather, He holds me. Thank God

March 27, 2017

“Jesus is still my rock to stand on.”

Amen Bro! That’s the main thing no matter how one wants to cut the Pizza.

Cheers

March 30, 2017

I can’t make sense of any of this. When we talk about “Jesus bearing our sins on the cross,” what it means to me is that Jesus (God the Son) ACCEPTED that we are violent and that it would require him to be the victim of that violence, and to transcend it by rising from the dead afterwards. See Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory for this. Also see Christus Victor, Ransom Theory, and Recapitulation Theory. It wasn’t that God needed to change his mind about humanity, it was that humanity needed to see, through Jesus, God’s full character through Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection.

So in what way is God “bearing our sins” by… what? being blamed for the violence of the Hebrew scriptures? What is God revealing by doing that? I hope that’s coming in the next sermon, because it wasn’t in this one, and it leaves huge gaps in this idea. It should be noted that archaeological evidence strongly suggests that none of these supposed genocides ever actually occurred. So if they didn’t happen, but God let people write about them and say “God told us to do it,” in what way is that bearing our sins, and in what way does it benefit anyone? Honestly, it sounds like God letting humans lie about God. How is that helpful?

March 31, 2017

Dave, I viewed the YouTube video that you gave me. I really enjoyed it, but I still don’t get the violence in the OT. I’ve listened to Greg for years and I’ll keep listening to this series as well hoping to “get it” at some point. Thanks for taking the time to try to help me.

April 1, 2017

Loree,

Some closing thoughts –

Often the spiritual stakes are high and the issues infinitely complex but like the ‘Theory of Evolution’, some, if they can’t immediately reconcile this apparent violence dilemma – they walk! It becomes a ‘house of cards faith’ that crumbles instantaneously when challenged, as Greg is fond of saying. As you know, our faith sometimes demands of us a lot of wrestling, groping in the dark and struggle both physically and intellectually. Because Old Testament violence is one of those “straws that often breaks Camel’s back”, many become intellectually immune to the potentialities and variety of scriptural ‘accretion’ and then either give up altogether or swing their pendulum hard in the other direction and embrace a kind of Marcion dualism; a “Janus faced God” completely divorced from Israel’s past.

Seeing the Bible as an absolute ‘seamless contiguous whole’ may not have been what Jesus was implying when he said – “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” – John 5:39

Remember, Jesus can and does often reinterpret or rather ‘reveal’ the deeper truths scripture –

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you………” – Matt 5:21

And –

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” – Luke 24:27

On the other hand, Jesus said three times to the ‘Devil’ (whether an ‘Ha-Satan’ or a personification of ‘Lucifer’) when confronted in the wilderness – “Yέγραπται”:‘gegraptai’ – “It is written…..It is written…..It is written…….” It’s pretty clear. He doesn’t however say – “It is redacted….. It is redacted….. It is redacted…..” Otherwise, I think Satan could have easily come back at that and said – “Oh yea, by who’s authority is it written?”

In 2nd Kings 22 we read about how Hilkiah found “The Book of the Law” during the repairing of the temple. Josiah who was king then, instituted a huge “Deuteronomic reform” that may have included a massive amount of copies being produced by his scribes that were cast in a much ‘stricter format’ that than of before, due to his hatred and thorough house cleaning of the out of control adulterous practices that has been going on. It’s times like these when a conservative infusion is deliberately enforced and recorded by those in power. Also, we read in Proverbs 25:1 for example – “These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed.” Which took place years before Josiah’s ‘reforms’, which were in part due to Manasseh’s (Hezekiah’s son) evil perversions. This proves nothing but it does show how social/political context could potentially affect the transcription of the text from one generation to the next.

I’ve always thought it very interesting that it was what Jesus didn’t say, that often spoke the loudest. When he gets up and reads from the Isaiah scroll in the synagogue at Nazareth, he intentionally cuts the passage short and leaves off -

“And the day of vengeance of our God” – Isaiah 61:2

and then abruptly rolls up the scroll and sits down. Talk about the tense beauty of the moment! But this raises more questions than astonishment and when he makes a couple of denunciative comparisons, they freak in anger and immediately turn on him. Their poverty and oppression by the Romans was as intense as their spiritual pride and they weren’t going to let some supposed upstart “Prophet” tell them how the world is or is going to be. They would have killed him at that point had they not been deprived of the opportunity.

It’s a ironic and sad twist of history that many who see the ‘violence of God’ in the OT as necessary for the punishment of ‘Corporate Sin’, have no hesitation whatsoever in condoning contemporary violence against whomever they feel has violated or even threatened their personal space, their nationalistic border and or religious faith. Our need for clarity on this subject is like so many endless theological rabbit holes we find ourselves falling into. They often lead to an alternate reality where our sensitivity to right and wrong is inverted, blended and transformed into something we didn’t expect. If I were able to put myself into the shoes, aka: ‘sandals’ of an Israelite living in Canaan 3200 + years ago, how would I feel about my neighbors? About my God? Based on what we now archeologically know was going on around them. Like Mosul today, irreconcilable fractions exist that are exacerbated by outside interlocutors who have resource greed as their agenda. That living “Hell” was reflected in scripture then, as it is in the news today.

Cheers

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Video Information

The Old Testament often portrays God as either doing, commanding, or threatening violence. For many, this is a huge problem because these depictions contradict the way Jesus lived and commanded. What are we to do with this contradiction? In this sermon, Greg invites us to see that there is something else going in these portrayals of violence, and we can only see this something else when we understand what was going on when Jesus died on the cross.