Audio: Brian Zahnd on OT Violence

Have you ever wondered why parts of the Bible command grotesque injustice in the name of God? Lately this has been a question I haven’t been able to ignore as much as I could in the past.

I’ve wanted to trust the Scripture’s authority, but also reject any image of the Divine that does not match what I find in the character of Christ as revealed in His meekness on the Cross. And many of the very dark passages I’ve been reading in the Old Testament lately just didn’t seem easy to explain.

I came across this sermon preached by Brian Zahnd, a dude who often has fresh insights on the goodness of God. I feel like he pretty artfully laid out this problem with Scripture and provided a Christo-centric response to it. It’s a very thought provoking talk.

Take a listen and see if you can agree with Brian’s conclusion that Jesus alone is the only “inerrant, infallible Word of God” . . . .

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You Have Full Permission to Indulge

Often I find myself having discussions with other believers about God’s nature and character. It’s not unusual for someone to express to me, “My view of God is changing and expanding. I need to know though, is it really okay for me to explore the idea that He is as good as my heart is coming to believe? Shouldn’t I try to maintain some sense of Him being [insert judgmental, controlling, retributive, etc.] too?”

It seems to me that our souls actually need to be given permission to trust that God is radically good. We need to be told that there are no contradictions to God’s goodness within His personality. This is often a struggle though, especially for those of us who are well versed in traditional schools of theology that painted a more confusing picture of the Divine as we were growing up. Sadly, much of the Christian world is responsible for using the Bible to portray this false “balance” within God’s heart. That is, a balance between Endless Mercy and Harsh Judgment, Life-Giver and Destroyer, Intimate Friend and “Holy, Scary King…” etc. etc. Of course we don’t straight up acknowledge that is is the idea we are presenting. This is the impression honest seekers of truth are left with nevertheless.

Our souls actually need to be given permission to trust that God is radically good.

God spoke to me through a vision on 11/11/2011 that helped me as I was starting to grow in clarity on these matters. I was approaching Him in prayer, and I pictured in my mind the Throne Room in Heaven. Ephesians 2:6 tells us we are already seated in heavenly places in Christ, so I wanted to make that position of intimacy and authority with the Lord my starting place for communion with Him.

As I looked toward the Lord, I felt Him say to my heart, “Look at Me!” I realized I was shamefully looking down a little, rather than confidently looking Him in the eyes. I lifted my gaze, and when I did I saw His two beautiful eyes of fire that the Book of Revelation speaks of. They were warm and radiant. Immediately I was hit with the realization that they were gateways to His heart. The impression that I received was that one is the eye of Grace and the other the eye of Justice. Both eyes though were blazing with a fire that poured from the same pure heart. It is a heart of burning Love.

This was a metaphoric lesson I needed to learn.

The vision ended, and I was left with this feeling that God is for me. He’s never against me. I was liberated to indulge in my love for God’s grace, knowing that that grace consists of the same substance as His justice. The two are flawlessly in union with each other and in no opposition in how they shape God’s perspective of myself or the world.

Since this experience, I’ve learned a lot from Scripture and study that has convinced me God is only and always loving. It’s not just something that is “technically” true to me anymore. I am gorging myself on His goodness, His grace, and His love for me. Through this process I am finding it only to brings me greater health and maturity. It even gives me better discernment when needing to recognize false gospels and heresies that would seek to interfere with my relationship with Jesus.

Now I want to be a voice that gives others the freedom to search out the endless depths of God’s goodness.

So to those of you who are starting to revel in God’s extravagant kindness, but wondering if this is safe… 

Don’t over-complicate things.

Don’t feel you have to have an immediate answer for every objection that comes to your mind when you doubt that God is really as enjoyable as you find Him to be.

Don’t let tradition or skepticism hinder you from thinking outside the box and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead you.

Let God take you on a journey of discovery, and be willing to follow Him wherever He brings you.

I promise, as long as you are falling deeper in love with the Man Christ Jesus, you will not regret it. There is a feast to be had for you (Isaiah 55:1-3). You have full permission to indulge in it!

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