I just came across an interesting article by Greg Boyd at Christus Victor during my lunch break. In it, Greg outlines several points that he is finding helpful in an attempt to reconcile the peaceful, self-giving portrait of God painted in Jesus Christ, with the violent and even nationalistic God portrayed in the Old Testament. I was particularly struck with Greg’s first point, which I quote here:
The Principle of Incarnational Flexibility. If Jesus reveals what God has always been like, then God didn’t start being “incarnational” with the Incarnation. Rather, God has always been willing to humbly “embody” himself within our fallen humanity and has always “borne our sin.” The portrait of Yahweh as a nationalistic, law-oriented, violent-tending warrior god is the result of God condescending to “embody” himself within our barbaric and deceived views of him in order to work toward freeing us from them.
That rings true to me, at least in part. I’m not sure it fully grasps the times in the O.T. where God appears to command violence, however. I still tend to see those more as the result of humans (whether cynically or ignorantly) co-opting God’s mantle to promote their own objectives. What do you think?