A couple posts ago we talked about this thing called Kingdom theology and addressed the concept of imitating Jesus. The fundamental idea we came to is that there is a proper scope and extent to which it is right to imitate Jesus, and a scope or extent to which it is improper.
To further entertain these matters, I have read all of Greg Boyd's blog posts up to the present (starting back on March 14 here) in which he addresses the problem of reconciling the warrior nature of God in the Old Testament to the love nature of Christ in the New Testament. He does not have an answer presently, but rather his blog posts are his thinking-out-loud to hopefully reach a solution. He says, "In my opinion, this is the most challenging objection to the Christian faith and most difficult theological question of the Christian faith."
Let me state right now why I feel Boyd is struggling with this issue. He is mistaken on the scope to which we are to imitate Christ, and his knowledge of Christ's qualities is incomplete.
Let me also say that Boyd is a very smart guy and far better read than me. A better 'riter, too. There's still hope however that I am better at 'rithmetic!
In Boyd's theology:
Jesus Christ is the definitive revelation of God, superseding all previous revelations (Heb. 1:1-3). With his radical teachings about unconditional love for enemies and unconditional refusal to engage in violence, Jesus brings to a pinnacle the unfolding peace tradition of the Old Testament while further confirming that this tradition (not the war tradition) expresses the true heart of God. This beautiful revelation of God’s heart in Christ contrasts with the grotesque divine commands to slaughter people in the strongest possible way.
So to know the true nature of God, he says we are to look at Christ. Any understanding we can get of God's nature from the Old Testament must conform to what we see in Christ. In discussing a book authored by Eller, he says:
Eller rightly sees that we must read the Old Testament in light of Christ, not qualify the revelation of God in Christ on the basis of the Old Testament. He rightly sees that the Old Testament is authoritative to disciples of Jesus only insofar as it points toward, and concurs with, what we learn about God and the Kingdom through Christ.
I can't help but wonder if this whole discussion is nothing more than Boyd trying to figure out why he carries around the Old Testament in his Bible. The only reason he seems to have is that Jesus quoted from the OT, and so in imitating Christ he must use the OT somehow. Sadly, I think many Christians do not think there is much point to the OT either. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." But I guess even that does not have much force when Boyd throws around the possibility that parts of the OT aren't inspired... oh well.
First, let me address the mistake of an incomplete understanding of Christ's qualities. Notice Boyd was quoted above to say Christ taught "unconditional refusal to engage in violence." This comes from the Sermon on the Mount, I assume, where Jesus teaches, for one, to "turn the other cheek." This certainly seems to be unconditional. But how does this jive with Jesus turning over tables and driving people out of the temple with a whip (Jn 2:15)? Is this an unconditional refusal to engage in violence? I don't see it.
And for you tree-hugging types, you ought to take issue with Jesus cursing a fig tree to its withery death (Mat 21:19). That's not a very gentle Jesus.
So part of the problem with seeing a contradiction between God's warrior nature and Christ's love nature is that Jesus is painted to be void of a warrior nature, when in fact that is incomplete. Kingdom theology seems to have reduced Christ's person to ideologies of pacifism and hippie love. We must agree that Christ "is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature" (Heb 1:3), but that does not warrant us to reduce Christ to unconditionals and call it God's nature. God is not as simple as we might like Him to be.
And in an attempt to keep each post finishable for you in one sitting, I'll have to continue later...