The centrality of God’s love: A response to Greg Boyd’s Cross Vision (Part 1: Boyd’s argument)

Ted Grimsrud—November 5, 2018

Greg Boyd is a rare combination of academic theologian (Princeton PhD, former professor, author of important and sometimes technical theological books) and parish pastor (at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, since 1992). His pastoral work infuses Boyd’s heavyweight theology with a practical dimension that helps explain his wide popularity.

Boyd recognizes that the standard account of Christianity has at its core a deeply problematic belief. This belief is the claim that because the Old Testament at times portrays God as harsh, judgmental, and violent, Christians are bound to believe that God is indeed, in reality, that way. Boyd, though, knows that God is notharsh, judgmental, and violent. To the contrary, since we know what God is like most of all from God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ (especially Jesus’s crucifixion), Christians must affirm that God is loving, merciful, and nonviolent.

Now, of course, many Christians agree with Boyd. Some feel little tension because they have no problem simply accepting that the violent portraits of God are not truthful revelations. The Bible, for these Christians, contains materials that are not inspired by God and may be dismissed as non-revelatory. However, Boyd’s own beliefs will not let him dismiss parts of the Bible like some others do. So, he has a more complicated path to follow.

Boyd struggled with this question: How do we hold together our understanding of God as nonviolent love most clearly revealed in the cross of Christ with our affirmation of the full inspiration, even infallibility, of the Bible? He spent about ten years researching and writing on this issue and believes he has come to a satisfactory solution. He released Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Old Testament’s Violent Portraits of God in Light of the Cross (Fortress Press, 2017), which takes up about 1,400 pages. It was followed a few months later by a much shorter work, Cross Vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of Old Testament Violence (Fortress Press, 2017). Continue reading “The centrality of God’s love: A response to Greg Boyd’s Cross Vision (Part 1: Boyd’s argument)”

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