Why does Jesus get a Free Pass?

Often in Bible class the distinctions or contrasts between the OT and the NT pop up and I always try to express my appreciation for the OT writings.  I sense big and small manifestations of Marcionism (that Genesis through Malachi are irrelevant to Christians) and continue to be concerned.

Today, I had an epiphany.  I thought of something and I can’t get it out of my head.

Why does Jesus get a free pass whenever someone brings up all the “bad” things God did in the Old Testament?

If we believe that Jesus is eternal and a part of the Godhead, why do we continue to make a distinction between God the Father and the violent acts He commanded and committed,…..and the Son, the eternal Word (John 1:1-4)?

I have already sensed that God’s Violence is part of the reason some minimize the inspiration of Scripture.  If we believe that the Israelites inserted God and gave Him the “credit/fault” for their violent actions (like every other nation in the ancient world did), we don’t have to believe that God would do such a thing.

But:

Where was the “Word that was with God in the beginning” when Adonai told the Israelites to utterly destroy the Canaanites-man, woman, and child?

Where was Jesus when Elohim struck down Uzza, Nadab and Abihu, et al.?

Where was the Son when YWHW did/said X? (x being anything that we find objectionable)?

What are the options?

We can say Jesus was created after that and had no part in it.   Maybe Parenthood mellowed God out. (I am speaking as a crazy person) Chime in, Laymond, although this is not about you.

We can say that the Father was making the calls and the Son was submissive.

Was the Father trying to keep Jesus out of it so his “hands would be clean”?

We could suggest that the Son was trying to stop His Father from doing this things, maybe pleading with Him, disagreeing, resisting.

I believe that the Eternal Son/Word/Jesus was there in every instance, in total agreement with the Father.

To me, the fact that we bring up God’s violence in the OT  in contrast to Jesus in the NT without thinking about the statements above reveal our polytheistic tendencies.

We might as well say aloud that there are two gods, and Jesus is the better one.

We are exposing our Marcionite tendencies and insulting the Godhead in the process (IMHO).

I am not suggesting that my suggestions are comprehensive.  Someone help me out.

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30 thoughts on “Why does Jesus get a Free Pass?

  1. Jon Pease

    Trust Brother. Who are we to question that? Maybe those whom violence was done weren’t human, maybe God cares little because he Knows what comes next, We don’t know anything about his dimensions. I’m no Bible scholar, nor do I want to be one. I’ve read it many many times and the more I know the less I know, and the deeper my faith that he has got it under control. Love You Brian, keep blogging boy!!

  2. David

    I guess some of this stuff we’ll never understand this side of the foot of the big throne, but I believe God and Jesus were completely unified from the beginning, and as such, Jesus “condoned” the violence God administered in the OT.

    And frankly I have no problem with that. I think we need to remember that God is not first and foremost loving, not first and foremost merciful. God is first and foremost Holy. He is sinless, and cannot abide where sin abides. And since the beginning, there is no forgiveness of any sin absent the shedding of blood. That’s just the way it is, whether we think that’s the best way to do it or not.

    I’m OK with the “violence” in the OT because I don’t recall an instance when God deliberately destroys people who are Holy and righteous. God destroys sinful nations because, simply, before the new covenant, death was the penalty for sin. Was that way since Eve bit. Why God let some sinners die of old age and allowed others to die violently I can’t answer, but I do know that it was His perogative either way.

    God ordered the Canaanites destroyed for exactly the reasons the Israelites doomed themselves when they didn’t carry out the order to the letter: allowing a sinful, idolatrous people to mingle with God’s chosen would only drag God’s chosen away from God. And total allegiance to God isn’t an unfamiliar teaching of Jesus throughout the gospels.

    As a created being of God, I’m not owed anything from God. Sure, I’d like to die in my sleep when I’m 95, but if I bleed to death tomorrow from someone slitting my throat, God hasn’t wronged me by imposing option B instead of option A, has He?

  3. Might also have something to do with how we read the OT. It does raises all sorts of questions about the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture.

  4. What’s the old line… God did all those terrible things in the Old Testament, but then he became a Christian.

    A few suggestions:
    (1) We make the New Testament out to be cleaner than it is. Look at some of Jesus’ sayings about punishment. Look at Ananias and Saphira. Look at Paul striking a man blind, at God killing Herod in a terrible way for not giving him the glory. Read the book of Revelation.
    (2) We don’t understand the concept of holiness in the Old Testament. Somehow we are comfortable with God destroying evildoers so that heaven will be a holy place, but have trouble with him doing the same so that his people and their land would be holy.
    (3) We read the Bible from above rather than from below. That is, we approach God’s Word ready to judge and evaluate, rather than letting it judge and evaluate us. I do know that such statements don’t fit well with modern ways of thinking, but I see that as a flaw in modern thinking rather than a flaw in God’s Word.

    OK, that’s probably more than enough for now. This is your blog, after all.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  5. brian

    thanks jon,
    I personally don’t have a problem with the violence, but I have a problem with polytheism and marcionism.

    thanks david,
    I think you are right. when everyone deserves death, we can’t really complain

  6. it’s difficult to elaborate, because i really did mean it as a question: “might it have something to do with God’s progressive revelation of himself and his purposes to man?”

    it seems to me there is a bit of a progression of God’s revelation of himself to mankind. for instance, in Jesus is revealed a proper and more complete interpretation of the laws contained in the old testament. and there seems to be a slow shift from more polytheistic tendencies to monotheism. so i’m wondering if violence / pacifism might also have been introduced in parts?

    though i don’t have a problem, myself, with violence as justice.

  7. OK you have stirred the hornet’s nest, and received a few stings, seems what I have been trying to get across , is a longer conversation than just dismissing what I say , and declaring the “Trinity” a fact. If in fact “The Trinity God ” does exist than there are three accountable for, what we see as the blood and guts portion of the old testament. I Believe we have been warned many times that God does not tolerate disobedience, then or now. What could be worse punishment than being cast into a lake of fire, whether it be instant death, or eternal torment. and why would God send one of his cohorts in the old testament to try to mediate an understanding between God and his creation, man. And explain why this coconspirator would volunteer to stand between man and God, because if the three are equal, than one could not send the other. I, like you have studied why would God ever change his mind, we have a few examples in the old testament, because he was asked by someone he loved and trusted, Like Noah, Lot,and his son Jesus. No the destruction of mankind has not been canceled, only delayed, the wrath of God has not been cooled only postponed. God will have his vengence.
    No I don’t see Jesus as being there when God took his vengence on Adam, for eating an apple, or was it for disobedance? well you asked me to chime in 🙂 I have plenty more.

  8. brian

    thanks, laymond, sorry for the jab,
    I do appreciate your input inspite of our serious disagreement

  9. I would love to attend one of your bible studies. I would love to discuss with you, “The Word” and how the “man Jesus ” became that word. No matter how we look at it Jesus Christ was and is a creation of God, the creator. Jesus the boy did not exist until God the Father created him within Mary his mother. (I hope no one has a problem, with the baby Jesus being created by God) Jesus became the “word of God” when he received the spirit of God, at baptism, created by God. As we see Jesus was called the mediator between God and man, a position not there before God created it.
    Christ, not there before God anointed Jesus as such, A priest for us, standing at the side of God not a position until God created it. whether you believe the spirit of Jesus existed before or not, Jesus did not. He was a creation of God. Now can you answer the question why, did God create
    his only begotton son.?

  10. I believe Jesus has always been. that while having a different role, he is equally divine as the Father.

    I get a little more emotional discussing with you laymond because I believe that is a serious matter, not just a disputable one. it’s at the core of CHRISTianity.

    it’s insulting to Jesus.

    I worship Him because He is God in the Flesh.
    We are not suppose to worship created beings.

    I asked you to chime in b/c I know you would anyway. but this wasn’t the main point of this post.

  11. Mat 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

    Jhn 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

    We look at statements like the one in Jn. 8-58 and say Jesus is saying he is God, or at least eternal, with God. all the time forgetting what Jesus said his mission was.

    Jhn 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

    Jhn 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received [them], and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

    Hbr 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
    Hbr 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

    This should be an emotional subject.

    Mat 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy [against] the [Holy] Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

    Isa 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God.
    Isa 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that [there is] none beside me. I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else.

    “No other God except one” if accusing God of lying is not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, I don’t know what would be.

  12. Brian this statement you made bothered me so much I had to comment on it.

    “I worship Him because He is God in the Flesh.
    We are not suppose to worship created beings.”

    Is that what you think we attend assembly for “to worship Jesus”
    One Sunday morning a member was welcoming visitors and said ” welcome, we are gathered today to worship our lord and savior Jesus Christ” I later cornered the eldest, elder a friend, and asked if that was what we were there for, he said ” well the deacon just misspoke, we are here to worship GOD with Jesus Christ, since the church is the body of Jesus, that would be self worship, I will speak to the deacon” I don’t recall it happening again.

  13. If you can, pick up a copy of Christopher J. H. Wright, “The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative,” Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2006. Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Mission-God-Unlocking-Bibles-Narrative/dp/0830825711#noop. Besides the book being a fine example of biblical theology arguing for a missional reading (hermeneutic) of the Bible, the author will address many of these questions. Wright is an Evangelical Old Testament Scholar with many years spent serving as a missionary.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  14. brian

    laymond
    1. i did not mean to exclude God the Father from worship. I meant worshipping Jesus along with the Father.

    2. I can not apologize for worshipping Jesus, and will not, even if it offends, Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and you.

    3. if you already assume Jesus is not worthy of worship, then yes, worshipping his body, defined solely as the church, would be self-worship. but that’s not what I was talking about

    4. I am currently preaching a series on Christian Unity and pointing out that diversity of thought can be okay, but this top that we disagree upon is one of the few that I would split a church over

    Laymond, you get one more post on this subject, make it a good one, even make it a long one. but it will be your last one concerning the Divinity of Jesus/Trinity/etc.

  15. Brian, not to drag this out, but I’m not ready to take this matter out of the realm of the disputable. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul was willing to make accommodation for those (presumably believers, in context) who did not know there was just one God. Surely we can do as much.

    I think there needs to be some room left for divine realities exceeding human understanding. One reason that the New Testament doesn’t spell things out more clearly on this issue is the fact that human definitions err by necessity. That is, when we say, “God is exactly like this,” we’re wrong.

    For those of us in the Restoration Movement, we owe much to two men who disagreed on this very issue. The Stone-Campbell unity movement was born and survived all these years despite the fact that Stone and Campbell disagreed on whether or not Jesus was God incarnate.

    So I’m not ready to make this a test of fellowship, nor will I separate from those that do.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  16. Wow. Is there an actual Arian posting comments on this blog? I thought John shot that heresy down sufficiently in the opening of his gospel:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . .14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

  17. brian

    rex,
    thanks, I am familiar with the name and actually am interested in at least 5-6 of his books

    tim,
    i will take into consideration your comments

  18. Brian, you really need to read a lot more about the two men who founded the movement you claim to follow.
    The restoration movement, that spawned the Church of Christ. God bless you boy, you got a lot of learning to do.
    before you become a good teacher.

  19. Brian said “I believe Jesus has always been. that while having a different role, he is equally divine as the Father.

    I get a little more emotional discussing with you laymond because I believe that is a serious matter, not just a disputable one. it’s at the core of CHRISTianity.”

    I always thought the core belief of Christianity was the belief that Jesus died and was raised to live for evermore, not that he was divine before he died.

  20. brian

    thanks, laymond
    but for the record and my readers, I admit to being greatly influenced by the american restoration movement-some for good, some not so good–but I am trying to be more influenced by the Bible and the Spirit than anything else, and don’t claim to “follow” it

  21. brian

    the core of Christianity is not that some rabbi died and was raised to live ever more, or that an angel or some created being died and was raised to live evermore, but in my understanding,
    that God become a man, and died for our sins, and was raised to life to live evermore

  22. As to whether this issues should be a “test of fellowship”…I believe we need to recognize the difference between someone who sincerely struggles yet working through this issue with all of its questions and the person who has eyes and ears yet simply refuses to see and hear. The later seems to be a good description of the Marcionites and their position, which was rejected as heresy and for good reason. I am just curious if those who deny that Jesus is God Incarnate have read anything from the early post-apostolic Christological discussions on this issues to understand what is at stake in the claim that Jesus is God Incarnate and how would they respond to the claims of what is at stake. I am far from the most read on early Christian history but between the requirements of my education and my own interests, I have read enough to know that there is much at stake in this issue and the early Christians – with not only scripture alone (sola scriptura) but their interpretation of scripture in light of the Apostolic Tradition (regula fidei) passed down to them – had GOOD reason for defending the claim that Jesus is God and understood very well what is at stake in that claim. And what is at stake is a very different Christianity from the one in which God is able to redeem his creation from its fall.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  23. Adam Gonnerman

    Good thoughts. The passages you’ve mentioned are difficult, but when I realize that the God in whom I believe is the God who sent Abraham up a mountain to sacrifice the son he was promised, and who later gave up his own son on a hill, it puts things in some perspective. This God is real and the world is real. Bitterly difficult at times and things don’t work the way I’d like to think they should.

  24. Pingback: Jesus and Suffering « anti-itch meditation

  25. Brian,

    You raise an interesting topic, and one that Atheists have (mis)used to reject Christianity and the Bible.

    What is often overlooked is method by which destruction takes place. In the beginning, God (and His people) did not seem to resort to violence in the battle against sin. It was righteous Abel that was killed, not the other way around. Moses had to relinquish the sword in order to deliver the people of Israel. Isaac and Jacob were also men of peace (and Abraham, except for one instance). It was only after the dead bodies of the Egyptian soldiers washed up on the shore of the Red Sea, that we suddenly find the Israelites armed and fighting battles.

    There are some striking illustrations after that, in Old Testament history, where God either tries to show the Israelites that their victory comes through faith in him and not through their fighting, or delivers His people without any fighting at all.

    Therefore, their picking up of the sword was because of unbelief (they didn’t want to get caught without weapons again, like they were on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea). And God, knowing that faith cannot be commanded, went the second mile with them, and allowed them to administer the punishments on evil which would have otherwise occurred through the wicked destroying themselves in the mad strife of their own fierce passions, or the forces of nature going out of the control of a God who was rejected. He endured the unbelief of the Israelites and allowed them to administer the punishments, all the while trying to lead them back to full faith in Him.

    Jesus understood God’s original intention, and the principles of His kingdom, and therefore did not take up the sword, much to the surprise of the Jews of His day who expected the Messiah to lead out the armies of Israel.

    This is not to say that God doesn’t punish evil, but simply that He is a Saviour, not a destroyer. Men destroy themselves when they reject the only one who can save them from sin. Sin is what kills…Jesus simply prevents it from killing us right away.

    Because men do not see this, they assume that when a destruction comes it is God coming near to punish them. The proper view, is that He was always there, but our sins finally drove Him away. This can explain a lot of what happened during the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the plagues on Egypt (to name a few).

    The exact same procedure took place on Jerusalem, in AD. 70 when the Romans destroyed the city and temple. It was a direct consequence of their rejection of Jesus, who was the only One who could have given them the self-control and restraint they needed. Without that, they became more and more obnoxious to the Romans, until they were finally destroyed. Yet Jesus described it in Matt. 22, as “the king (His Father) sending forth His armies to destroy those murderers.”

    The same wording is used regarding Saul. God says He destroyed Saul…yet a few verses earlier Saul kills himself by falling on his sword. But the same steps took place as in the case of Jerusalem. Saul rejected more and more of the word of God, until he had no more protection from his enemies, or his own depressed and darkened mind.

    In the end, as someone pointed out earlier, because of the love shown in the sacrifice of Christ, we can trust God even if we don’t understand some of these events. But it is also good to study these things more deeply, so that we don’t misrepresent God, and thus inadvertently turn people away from Him.

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