Greg Boyd Joins the Apologetics Hall of Shame.

While I was still a believer, I found myself drawn to Greg Boyd’s books, in large part because he seemed willing to wrestle authentically with the tougher questions which challenge Christianity. In particular, I enjoyed his books Letters from a Skeptic, and God of the Possible.

Now Greg has a new book out: Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty and Rebecca Held Evans has interviewed him, regarding it. Partway through the interview, she asks him about the violent portraits of God found in the Bible, and how he would recommend that believers deal with these.

Greg answers that since Jesus is the ‘supreme revelation’ of God, then:
“…whether we can explain the violent portraits of God in the OT or not, it would be unfaithful for us to ever allow anything we find in the OT to compromise what we learn about God in him. “
This of course, is a very convenient hermeneutic tool which allows Christians to distance themselves from, and override, distasteful content in the Old Testament. The writers of the New Testament shamelessly used their ‘new revelation’ to recycle, reinterpret and supersede the Jewish scriptures - as the occasion requires.

Greg basically pats the troubled Christian on the head, and says, “There, there. Don’t worry about those nasty Old Testament scriptures. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. He’s all that matters. He’s what God is really like.”

Next he says:

“…we have to wonder, how do portraits of God commanding genocide or causing mothers to cannibalize their babies point to the enemy-loving, non-violent God revealed on the cross?! On the other hand, however, I argue that the cross itself holds the key to solving this problem…”

Keep an eye on both of his hands kids, because Greg is beginning to set up his magic Scripture trick:

“Now, if the cross reveals what God is really like, then it reveals what God has always been like. And this means we should read Scripture with the awareness that God has always been willing to stoop to bear the sin of his people and take on appearances that reflect the ugliness of their sin…

I thus suggest that we should read all Scripture “through the lens of the cross,”

In plain English: “Use the Apostle Paul’s teachings as the basis for a revisionist reading of the Old Testament.”

“…The cross reveals God to us only when we look past the surface appearance that reflects the ugliness of our sin and discern in its depth our gracious God. In this light, I suggest we should read Scripture always asking, where else might we find that God is revealed not by how he appears on the surface, but by what faith can discern as we look past the surface to discern God humbly stooping to bear the sin of his people?

…whenever we come upon portraits of God that, to one degree or another, fall beneath the beautiful, non-violent portrait we are given in the crucified Christ, we should assume that the revelatory content of these portraits is, to this degree, not found on the surface of the portrait itself, but in what faith can discern happening beneath the surface as it beholds God stooping to bear the sin of his people."

In plain English: “Use your imagination (faith) to creatively ignore the plain meaning of the texts, and come up with your own meaning. When you come across passages that make God look like a violent, misogynistic, sociopathic asshole, ignore those clear details and assume something hidden is going on.”

Clearly, Boyd does not want to believe that his god is capable of the atrocious things attributed to him by the writers of the Old Testament. He does not want to take the Bible at its word. That is what drives these elaborate mental gymnastics.

Greg goes on to say:

"Hence, I submit that the ugliness of portraits such as the one of Yahweh commanding his people to slaughter “everything that breathes” or of causing mothers to cannibalize their children reflects the ugly, fallen, culturally conditioned hearts of his people, not God himself. What rather reveals God is that, out of his covenantal faithfulness and unfathomable love, he was willing to stoop to bear the sin of his people by being willing to take on this literary appearance in the inspired record of his covenantal activity (viz. the biblical narrative).“

In plain English: “Since the actions and character of the Old Testament god are quite often the antithesis of the Jesus I worship, I am forced to go to the ridiculous extreme of declaring that God allowed himself to be falsely portrayed in the sacred writings of the Jews, as a bipolar, bloodthirsty, genocidal tyrant, out of ‘love and covenantal faithfulness’. Never mind how many people were confused, repelled, and led astray by this misrepresentation, over the centuries. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Oh yeah, I also have some ocean-front property for sale in Montana, if you are interested.”

This kind of nonsense is the best that a man of Boyd’s intellect can come up with to try and salvage the Bible? Really? He is held hostage to his belief that the Bible is divinely-revealed truth, and the Stockholm Syndrome is clearly evident. When it comes to accounting for the monstrous god who angrily kills and destroys his way through the Old Testament, the options are very limited. If Greg Boyd was unchained by theological pre-commitments, surely he would have the integrity to acknowledge the despicable nature of Yahweh, and the bankruptcy of the claim that the Old and New Testaments form a unified whole, much less a revelation of divine truth.

Boyd joins the ranks of Paul Copan, Norman Geisler, and William Lane Craig – defending the indefensible in the Old Testament – taking his place in the Apologetics Hall of Shame.

Sadly, his mental gymnastics will no doubt be hailed as cutting-edge theology, especially when he releases his future book-length treatment of this dodge - The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Reinterpreting the Old Testament’s Violent Portraits of God in Light of the Cross.

Written by John Green