Aug 29 2014

This Day With God: A Grand Future to Look Forward To

After the devotional Picture of How Life Will Be, we should be ready to praise God with song and give thanks in all circumstances. Described to us is a glimpse of heaven; the temperature is perfect, there is plenty of … Continue reading

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Aug 29 2014

Allan R. Bevere: Letting God Off the Hook: Adam Hamilton on Violence in the Old Testament (Part 3)

This is the final post by Dan Hawk on violence in the Old Testament. I thank Dan for his willingness to contribute his thought-provoking essays to this very important discussion. Part 1 of his series is here; part 2 can be found here.

God in Gray: A Response to “God’s Violence in the Old Testament,” Part 3.
by Dr. L. Daniel Hawk

I thank my friend Allan for giving me a slot for a third post and thank everyone who’s visited this discussion. It struck me that interested readers might appreciate a few thoughts on how the issue of divine violence can be approached differently. I conclude therefore with a few talking points on the matter of theologizing about violence in particular and the Old Testament in general.

1. Theological inquiry must be grounded in the canonical text rather than historical reconstruction. Attempts to do theology based on historical reconstruction culminated in the Biblical Theology movement that flourished in the mid-20th century before imploding under its own weight. While incorporating the fruit of historical inquiry, contemporary North American biblical theologians (among them Brevard Childs, Walter Brueggemann, Terence Fretheim, and John Goldingay) have re-centered theological reflection on the biblical text, rather than what historians say happened or what they claim biblical writers thought. That however has not stopped interpreters like Hamilton from making theological claims on the basis of historical scenarios. To be clear: The biblical text is revelatory. The historian’s reconstruction of Israel’s past…not necessarily.

2. Theological inquiry of the canonical text and of the canon as a whole must address the evasive, multiform, paradoxical character of the Bible’s witness to God as fundamental to its warp and woof. The Old Testament confronts readers with reports, depictions, and claims about God that cannot be reconciled or harmonized, and are not meant to be.

3. The Bible as a whole narrates God’s work to renew a world ruined by human sin. It witnesses to a Creator who enters the world and identifies with humanity. The Incarnation was not a new move on God’s part but the culmination of what God had been doing since befriending a single family almost two thousand years earlier. God’s problem is that, when stepping into the world, God steps into an unholy mess. God is caught up in the maelstrom of violence that saturates the human condition. The God who commands “thou shalt not kill” cannot avoid commanding and endorsing killing on a massive scale in order to accomplish redemptive ends. Basically, when God steps into humanity, God gets slimed…gets covered with human stuff. For this reason alone, God’s story cannot be told apart from paradox.

4. This does not mean that there is no coherent thread within the canon. Theological and Christological interpretation are invaluable for discerning it. The message of scripture as a whole, as it is proclaimed by Christian communities, comprises the framework for theological reflection on the diverse, conflicting threads of the canon. The sense of the whole is articulated by what has been traditionally called the Rule of Faith or, in terms of the Wesleyan tradition, the analogy of faith.

5. The canon presents God at work in multiple locations and multiple ways within human society– at the center, on the periphery, and at all points between. In the New Testament, God speaks from outside the power-structures, stands over against them, and calls them to judgment. In the Old Testament, God not only speaks from outside the system but also from the center and the circles that radiate from it. God works through and within the monarchy, priesthood, and civic institutions as well as outside them. These diverse locations reveal that God is not absent from any sphere of human life, and in this way the canon opens points of contact for Christians who believe God is at work within the systems of the world, those who believe that Christians must remain separate from them, and all spaces between.

6. Understood in this way, the canon can be viewed as a divine gift that enables Christians of different locations, perspectives, and experiences to join together in conversation and discernment. The moral dilemmas we face are of such complexity that we cannot adequately deal them apart from prayerful humility toward the text and those who hold profoundly different ideas about what the Church is and what God is doing in the world.

7. On the issue of violence, some hermeneutical approaches must be rejected as not faithful and fitting to the biblical witness. These include interpretations that view violent narratives as templates to be imitated or taken up to endorse a partisan or nationalist agenda. The Church has done this kind of thing for so long and in so many ways that justifying violence has become our default mode of thinking and response. We must do better. It will take a lot of work to change our dispositions, so that peace becomes our first and best reaction to every manifestation of violence. The Bible, read well and read together, can help us do this.
Dr. L. Daniel Hawk is Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Ashland Theological Seminary. He has his Ph.D. from Emory University. Dan is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church (East Ohio Conference) and has researched and written extensively on the Book of Joshua. His books include a commentary on Joshua in the Berit Olam series, Joshua in 3-D: A Commentary on Biblical Conquest and Manifest Destiny, and Every Promise Fulfilled: Contesting Plots in Joshua.

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Aug 29 2014

Seedbed: 4 Ways to Foster Health In Your Worship Team

What does a “healthy” worship team look like, and how can you foster that culture as a worship leader? Drew Causey claims that healthy worship teams are better than a talented worship team, and healthy teams are usually the talented ones anyway. Read these 4 tips on how to accomplish this as a worship leader.

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Aug 29 2014

Begin Again: TGIF: Gratitude for New Life

This week I was blessed to be allowed to hold a week old puppy. He was amazingly soft! His mama was happy to snuggle up against my side while I held her tiny treasure. After a month of deep and meaningful, this episode of light and joy was truly welcome. I simply sat and stroked the…

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Aug 29 2014

Thoughts of a Naked Alien: Surrender Your Life-Style

Matthew 16:21-28


21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. 22 Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” 23 But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”


24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 25 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. 26 Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? 27 For the Human One is about to come with the majesty of his Father with his angels. And then he will repay each one for what that person has done. 28 I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see the Human One coming in his kingdom.”


Common English Bible (CEB)



1.       How might love sometimes stand in the way of mission?

2.       How can someone else’s love for us be a temptation to us?

3.       How often does the Church act on human thoughts assuming that they reflect God’s thoughts?

4.       Is Jesus asking us each of us to give up our life, or our way of life?

5.       Have you ever found something as soon as you quit looking for it?

6.       If the Kingdom has already come (verse 28), where has it been hiding?!/pages/The-Naked-Alien/352389110349?ref=ts

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Aug 28 2014

Mitchell Lewis: All Available Resources

The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries issued a statement today related to Mission Concerns for Refugees and Human Rights in Iraq. The statement contained this paragraph: On August 8, United Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of North Carolina, … Continue reading

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