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The Word of God in Print and in Person

• Bruxy Cavey

How are other pastors and church leaders responding to Greg’s proposal for interpreting the violence of God in the Old Testament? In this sermon, we get to hear from the perspective of Bruxy Cavey, pastor of The Meeting House in Toronto, Canada. He summarizes his interpretation of Greg’s writings, and offers his take.

 

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In this sermon, Bruxy Cavey shares his response to Greg’s proposal regarding how to interpret the violent portraits of God found in the Old Testament. He began by sharing how Greg is modeling the right way to do theology, by submitting his ideas with trust and humility. In contrast, usually theology is handled with aggressive certainty.

Bruxy followed this with a creative explanation of the danger of bibliolatry. After telling a story of someone who murdered because he followed the Bible literally, he demonstrates how we must take a deeper look beyond the literal meaning of isolated Scriptures. This served as an introduction to his understanding of Greg’s thesis, which he summarizes in five points:

  1. By creating beings in his own image and likeness, God was committing himself to relational partnership in the unfolding of history, salvation, and revelation.
  2. God has inspired a book that incorporates the frailty, faults, and flaws of his human authors in order to point to the perfection of Christ.
  3. When we read the Bible, we can see both our own human imperfection and the perfection of Christ shining through, which should engender humility and encourage worship.
  4. Greg is applying the principle of accommodation not only to certain events recorded in Scripture, but to the inspiration and writing of Scripture itself.
  5. In other words, just as Jesus on the cross is made to appear like a criminal by his own people, so God in the Old Testament is made to appear like a criminal by his own people. In both cases, God accepts, accommodates, and redeems this misunderstanding.

To illustrate how this view of the Scriptures is played out, Bruxy cites specific passages where the fallibility of the human authors are visible. While Scripture is “God-breathed” (inspired by God), it is so in a way that includes the perspective of the human author. This is meant to point the reader to Jesus, because we follow the living Christ. We believe in the infallible, inerrant, authoritative Word of God—and his name is Jesus.

This is made clear in John 1:18, where it is confessed that Jesus “explained” or “exegetes” the Father. From the very “bosom” or “heart” of God comes forth Jesus who demonstrates what God is like in his being.

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Topics: Controversial Issues, Non-Violence

Sermon Series: Cross Centered


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Focus Scripture:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  • John 1:18

    No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained him.

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7 thoughts on “The Word of God in Print and in Person

    Zack says: Wednesday April 12, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Will the Q&A be posted as well?

    Reply
    Donald McKay says: Thursday April 13, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Have not yet read this magnum opus. But I still wonder 1] where God got the skins He clothed Adam & Eve with, 2] why Abel’s blood sacrifice pleased God who had been given no such instructions, 3] why Noah (“perfect in his generations and who walked with God”) experienced no correction when upon exiting the ark he immediately built an altar and offered blood sacrifices, 4] why Job, again “perfect and upright, feared God and shunned evil” “regularly offered burnt offerings” for his children’s possible sins? When “the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins,” why did they bother, and why did God “accommodate” rather than lead them on to greater perfection / maturity by revealing His better / higher way?

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Friday April 14, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Donald,

    There are many, many others infinitely more qualified to answer the questions you pose, but a few things come to mind in your post.

    When Abel offers the best of the ‘fat’ of his flock to the Lord as a sacrifice, we later read in Hebrews 11:4 –

    “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.”

    So in retrospect on one level, it’s really the – ‘Pistei pleinoa thysian’ –[By faith a more excellent sacrifice] that is the emphasis of the text, not so much the shedding of innocent blood. Irrespective of “accommodation” it’s essentially the act of faith within the heart of Abel that should focus our attention towards God.

    In Genesis 3:21 The text says – “Way-ya-‘as’ Yah-weh” – [and made the Lord] in the Hebrew. Now this same expression is used in other texts where making, doing, accomplishing, bearing, bestowing is emphasized. It doesn’t necessarily imply that God killed or destroyed animals to do it. Remember he supposedly does this ‘before’ their exit from the Garden. Some have suggested that He did in fact fashion them from ‘dead animals’ that were there as a consequence of Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience. Or more aptly, God simply created them as he did the loafs & fish, etc… But taking a strict literal interpretation of these events can lead to endless conundrums obviously. The ‘Literary Framework Model/Interpretation’ might be more appropriate here?

    Job’s sacrificing I think is appropriate to the cultural zeitgeist in which he lived. Remember, the whole gist of the Book of Job is to set into the mind of the reader a context of ‘Spiritual Warfare’ where what we think we know and understand is actually much deeper and more profound than we can ever imagine. Remember though what Job says in 19:25 -26 of – “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God.”

    Noah however is an interesting case. Notice how he apparently has animals (‘clean animals’ – perhaps infants born in situ?) in reserve for sacrificing (or for food – milk, cheese, eggs….?) when he comes out of the ark. Genesis 8:20. Otherwise if taken literally, he would be eliminating species right out the door potentially. Prohibitions on the consumption of meat seem to have been lifted at that point- Gen 9:2 (this is very debatable topic though and not necessarily sequentially recorded) But, if that’s true and he did bring animals in reserve for such potential future sacrifices, then that would possibly imply he had been doing so before the Flood following Abel’s example. But some scholars see Noah utilising extra animals that were brought onto the ark (three pairs actually) But this is a pre – Levitical sacrifice and is more of a ‘thanks offering’ rather than a specific ‘sin atonement’ with the emphasis on the ‘sweet savour’ going up to God. Either way, Noah is covering himself and his family and is following in the footsteps of Abel’s offering – This is however a horrendous deep subject with a myriad of tomes written dissecting it’s significance.

    I will say though that from the references you’ve gathered together, you seem to be suggesting an emphasis on ‘Redemption’ and the polemics of various ‘Atonement theories’. The pendulum of faith on these issues swings in both directions somewhat and it would appear that when one adopts more of a ‘Accommodationist/Progressive Revelational’ stance, you’re potentially more inclined to emphasise ‘Incarnation’ over ‘Redemption’ stratagems. Not that one is more important than the other, but when more of a salvific emphasis is placed on ‘Incarnation’ – living like, being like and forgiving like Jesus, rather than on the mode of exchange or substitution that went down on Calvary, you often see not only violence in the Old Testament differently, but potential eschatological retributions as well.

    Cheers

    Reply
    Vince says: Friday April 14, 2017 at 7:53 am

    I don’t think I understand why this is so very important to pastors like Greg. If God does get angry and/or causes harm to come to people (or animals?)then Greg might have a hard time believing in Him? That’s not it, is it? Could that be it? All this energy – years poured into a book that won’t be able to prove anything conclusively? How much disciple making time was sacrificed? I’d like to understand how this was the best use of God’s time. Greg is a dynamic leader who has much influence. I’ve learned a lot from him as God has spoken through him, but is this really a Kingdom advancing/God’s will accomplishing project? I miss the Greg that is zeroed in on the Kingdom, not the Greg who is trying to prove his theology has no flaws. Let me save him time: it does. Lots of them. I listened to the panel discussion. Scripture was taken out of context (using the bible like a cookbook – remember that?) to keep the flow of thought intact, and that’s what Calvinists do! Come on! Let’s get past this. Stop worrying about promoting a book! Let’s promote our awesome God! None of us or our beliefs hold a candle to the majesty of the living God that we proclaim! Let’s not let our faith have to be certain or provable (sledge hammer faith – remember that sermon?). We don’t want our theology to become an idol, do we? Playtime is over. There’s a world to win!

    Reply
      Amanda Churchill says: Wednesday April 19, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Vince. You raise the issue of the importance of stewarding our time, and you then ask whether the amount that Greg has invested in his recent book is a wise use of his time. That is a fair question. Here is why our answer is ‘Yes.’ Many years ago, the leadership teams of Woodland Hills (overseers, pastors) discerned that Greg has been gifted and called by God as an innovative theologian who is to help shape the theology of the Kingdom movement that God is raising up all over the world. Theology shapes people’s worldviews, which in turn shapes their values and their lifestyle. For this reason we highly value Kingdom-inspired theology and Greg’s calling to study and articulate it for us here at Woodland. You yourself note that you have learned a lot from Greg over the years. Well, if Greg hadn’t been freed up to research, write and preach what he does, you would never have learned what you have from him. With regard to the new book, Greg has been very clear that he believes God lead him to this understanding of the Old Testament’s texts about violence. He believes writing and sharing about this book is part of his God-given calling. You may disagree, but we hope you can respect that Greg is following what he believes he has been called to do by God. We can tell you that, already, many people have shared with Greg just how helpful his new book has been to them with regard to helping their vision of God become more Jesus-like. And THAT is what Woodland Hills is all about.

      Reply
    Vince Capobianco says: Thursday April 20, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Thanks Amanda! I can see how Greg can be one part of the body. I think that’s where I went wrong in my thinking. If Greg is using his gift, then that is an encouragement for me to use mine as well, and to encourage others to use theirs. Greg’s gift allows others to continue the work of making disciples and teaching them to obey Jesus’ commands! That’s good, and makes sense. Thank you again for setting me straight on this!

    Reply

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