Has Jesus become just another lego block in your theology?

Amen amen…this newest post from Rick at Following Judah’s Lion is excellent…

If you believe that the narratives contained in the Old Testament Scriptures are valid and at least generally accurate than you are faced with a problem. How do you reconcile the teachings and life of Jesus who was God in the flesh with those violent revelations of God in the Old Testament?

It is common place for many today to create some sort of amalgam in which you can claim to follow Jesus and yet incorporate certain violent aspects of the Old Testament narratives. This is not only problematic but it takes license where there is none. And it is the essence of spiritual hubris to build your own God with a smorgasbord of Scriptures with which you pick and choose what you like without embracing the superior and foundational teachings of Jesus Himself.

If Jesus is not the complete and all encompassing revelation of God then He becomes just another lego block in your theology. The Old Testament continues to be used of the Spirit to reveal Christ without demanding answers to the question of divine violence. “You have heard it said…but I say” must provide for us a template and a prism through which we understand the fullness of God. But what about the violence depicted in the Old Testament? That is a mystery and I myself embrace Oscar Hammerstein’s statement,

“Who can explain it, who can tell you why?

Fools give you answers, wise men never try”.

But even without a complete explanation we still must bow to the final and complete revelation contained in the teachings and the Person of Jesus the Christ. I suggest that if there are not some mysteries associated with understanding God then that is not the authentic God. How could God do some of the things the Old Testament Scriptures record and then culminate with the profoundly nonviolent teachings of the God called Jesus? I do not know, but I do know what Jesus taught and lived. And I am bound to follow Jesus and to understand the very nature of God through that incarnate prism. Yes, I do not know some things, perhaps many things.

But when segments of the visible church make Jesus into something that goes against what He taught then we not only have a problem but we have another Jesus constructed for the satisfaction of man. Usually the “sometimes violent” Jesus has a connection to democracy, freedom, and the American way. The “just war” Jesus is a product of patriotism and not of His own teachings. And professing believers will reach back into the Old Testament and sculpt a Jesus which commits all kinds of violent acts usually associated with protecting a certain nation and most notably the one called America.



6 comments on “Has Jesus become just another lego block in your theology?

  1. I agree with the premise of this article and its purpose. After all, the scripture plainly declares God’s wrath against all sin, and not just particular sins. And certainly there is no justification for making God the war champion of the U.S., instead of its sovereign judge. After all, wasn’t this country founded on rebellion in the first place? And what is the sin of witchcraft but of “rebellion,” as the ancient scriptures teach? And we’ve been quite the rebellious and boastful nation, have we not? But I do take issue with this statement:

    “In fact, anyone with a fourth grade reading capacity can see that the teachings of Jesus seem incompatible with the violence depicted in the Old Testament. Why do they seem incompatible? Because they are. So we are left with no choice. We must follow Jesus and openly admit that the atrocities committed by God in the Old Testament are a mystery and may have served His purposes, however we are now living in a “better” covenant with “better” promises and with a “better” sacrifice.”

    Was God’s judgment in the Old Testament unjust, and are we living in a “better” covenant because God is now merciful to all? Is God obligated to give this mercy to all? If God is obligated, is mercy justice? And if mercy is justice, then is judgment injustice?

    When it comes down to it, if we believe Jesus is who He claims to be, then He IS the God of the Old Testament who rained fire on Sodom, and who ordered the extermination of ancient people’s when their sin was ripe. He is also the God who has ordained that we are all to die once, and then the judgment. From that point of view, isn’t it accurate to say that God has already put us ALL under a death sentence from this body? and will then deliver our souls to face either eternal death and torment in the fire, or everlasting joy in heaven? And what was Christ’s crucifixion if not an example of “Old Testament violence” on the person who was made sin for us?

    Certainly God requires of us to love our neighbor and to love our enemies. But God is not a man that He must have mercy on all, but rather He, as our perfect and sovereign judge, “will have mercy on whom [He] will have mercy, and [He] will have compassion on whom [He] will have compassion” (Rom 9:15). If God decides to save someone, it is mercy. If God decides to damn someone, it is justice. After all, we are a sinful race, born in iniquity from the very womb. What is there in us that is in any way deserving of mercy? Mercy then must be utterly gratuitous on God’s part to the sinner, and judgment is our rightful desert. And if judgment is justice, then mercy certainly can choose its own. It has no obligation on anyone except its own pleasure. There is no contradiction between this declaration and His command to us to have mercy on all. We are not God. We are not perfect. Nor are we the sovereign rulers of the world. Yes, indeed, often times the faithful die young, and the wicked live a long life. Yet we know that God is in control, and so it was because He ordained that that faithful man should die young, and that wicked man should die old. There is not a hair on our head that is not numbered, and the sacred scriptures declare “all things work unto good for them that love God, who are the called according to His purpose.” And of the reprobate:

    “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Rom 9:22-24)

    Is God unjust then in so arranging the events of the world that wicked things happen, that the reprobate are born and doe their evil, and the “vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,” are themselves put through many troubles? “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (Rom 9:20).

    No, we can’t understand everything that God does and the events of the world, but we certainly should not condemn God’s justice, nor fear or be ashamed of it. We must acknowledge God’s right to not only unleash “Old Testament style violence” in the Old Testament, but the even greater horrors and judgments which shall be unleashed on the soul of every one of the damned even in the “New Testament” age. Let us fear, then, as wicked men, to judge the sovereignty of the Almighty God over His creations.

    • Great comment Ricardo..hope Rick responds.

      Incorporating, or i should say, understanding the the God of the old testament is the same God of the New Testament can be a deep subject or outright mystery for many believers. It’s like, in my opinion, understanding the premise concerning the Trinity: you either “see it” or you don’t. Sounds as though God has given you revelation on the subject little brother..Praise the Lord!!

  2. Under no circumstances should the bible ever be used to sanction violence, and on this premise i agree with the author, we only need to read the Sermon on the mount to understand that the way of the kingdom of God stands in contrast to the natural way of man. However , on the question of reconciling the violence of the old Testament with the teaching of Christ, where is the problem?I daresay that many of the more unsavoury recorded stories of violence reveal much of the character and attributes of God. Its not violence for the sake of violence , but for the sake of God’s purpose that many of these things are revealed. I know i’m going to throw the cat among the pigeons by saying this, but a lot of these narratives reveal a God who is sovereign[God does the choosing , not man] , and a God who is just and loves justice, and to quote a verse from Romans that for me puts this into perspective ;

    Romans 9:11
    For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand……………

    There is much that needs to be understood through the prism of election, yes folks, the most unpalatable thought that God has chosen before time , those whom he would save , and those who he would allow for their sins to consume them.If one were to read those violent stories with election in mind, then three things prevail, Gods sovereignty, Gods justice , and the preservation of the elect , until the time of Christ’s first coming.

    • Its not violence for the sake of violence , but for the sake of God’s purpose that many of these things are revealed.

      Amen Ray, i agree.

  3. Yes, there is only one God who reveals Himself in different ways. My post was meant to suggest that Jesus is the greatest and most accurate revelation of God, and that the violence in the Old Testament is a mystery and must never be amalgamated into this present gospel age. In the Old testament God wiped out the entire human race save eight souls. In the Jesus age God offers redemption to whosoever will believe even unto the uttermost parts of the world. And sin is just as rampant as it was in Noah’s day.
    God has His purposes, but His offer of His Son is who He is and always was and always will be.

    • God has His purposes, but His offer of His Son is who He is and always was and always will be.

      Amen!! It’s amazing, once you stop to consider it, that Jesus coming as he did, and going to the cross for the redemption of all those who would believe upon him, was always God’s plan. Now there’s a real mystery! 🙂

      “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

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