God and Violence in the Bible and the modern world

The subject of God and violence in the Bible and the modern world is very controversial and any theologian would (and should!) find it a daunting task to answer student questions on this matter.

Because I have been teaching lately on Joshua and Judges, I felt the need to talk about violence in the Bible and how we are meant to reflect on that issue today (both in terms of theodicy and Christian ethics).

So, I dared to write a series of blog posts on the issue, not because I think I am an expert, but because even a basic framework to understand this issue is better than none at all!

I wrote this series on SPU’s Center for Biblical and Theological Education director’s blog (Celeste Cranston is our very capable director). They can be found HERE.

I encourage your feedback, as I am still processing all of the scholarship I can. As a “New Testament guy” I felt out of my element dealing with the violence of the OT, but as a Christian I have a deep desire to make sense of all of this. So, I would love to be in dialogue. My views are articulated, but not unchangeable. I am open to being persuaded to think differently!

Anyway, I have lectured on this material to students, staff, faculty, and local church groups. The overall impression is that, “This is a helpful start, but I have more problems, concerns, and questions yet to be answered…” Join the club!

FYI – some of the best resources in my study on this subject were

1. John Goldingay’s always provocative and stimulating perspectives in his Old Testament Theology

2. Terence Fretheim’s articles on God and Violence (check ATLA).

3. Brueggemann – of course.

4. Gordon Wenham – see Story as Torah – conclusion (esp. pp. 153ff)

5. David Lamb – God Behaving Badly (sometimes a few clarifications and some contextual detail go a long way…thanks David)

If you read the blog posts, you will see that I am not a pacifist – strange, since I live in Seattle! But, neither am I the NRA poster child. I articulate my particular perspective – with fear and trembling.


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