Wrath and the cross

In the penultimate chapter of Humanising the Divine I make a quick stab at the ‘cross’ and what it means. To accompany it, for those on zooms I put up a video today.

Here are some bullet points:

  • The idea of a transaction taking place is not the most ancient (post-NT) view(s).
  • Transaction begins to gain traction with Anselm (approx 1060AD) with his view that we owe God a debt that we cannot pay, this moving from the feudal system to the law court with the Reformers… hence today our penal substitutionary view; we are guilty, Jesus pays the penalty.
  • Human anger is never called righteous anger, so we cannot extrapolate what is the wrath of God from anything human. God’s wrath is not personal.
  • The cross does not deal with God’s anger issue!
  • God did not turn away from Jesus on the cross, ‘unable to look on sin’. It is not so much a mis-reading of Scripture, but of not reading enough verses!
  • The major thrust of the New Testament is to do with the ‘when’ of the cross. If we do not answer that we will not be able to line up an answer to the ‘what’ takes place there and the ‘why’ of the cross.

It is a first stab… I come back to it in book 4 which will be out in the next few days!!

Pray (what) for Israel

Glad to read of people praying for Israel, and in these days of resurgent violence to be praying for peace. Individuals and families being thrown into pain and suffering.

Something happens though that seems so predictable with a Scripture pulled out to defend whatever ‘Israel’ does. So here I go into a little turbulent waters.

What is meant by ‘Israel’? There are many answers to that question – dependent on what theology shapes the reading. And when I write theology, we also have to include Jewish theologies. Not all Jews (now, nor in biblical times) accept that ‘all Israel is Israel’. Even Jewish theologies differ on their perspective of the ‘land’.

Never speak a negative word about Israel… really? That seems so far from being in line with the biblical prophets. They spoke into the life of other nations but mainly spoke into the life of Israel. And given the various streams in the Scriptures if we let the streams of conflict to influence each other it would be very difficult to jump on a bandwagon of ‘support Israel at all costs’. In all situations, support can also mean challenge… don’t let me get away with whatever path I choose.

I am not actually convinced that God promised the land to Israel. Of course there are many, many Scriptures that suggest that… but then again there are some Scriptures that suggest God ‘ordained’ monarchy (Deut. 17:14-16)… whereas I much prefer 1 Sam. 8 as being God’s response to monarchy (for Israel). Oh and the land… I think Paul agrees with me in Romans. And if Paul does not then I think there is a Paul somewhere in the world who does! (Of course the first sentence above is a little provocative… but I appeal to Paul of Tarsus, Jeremiah, and to Stephen; to the original promise to a certain gentleman from Ur and to his ‘seed’.)

I am not interested in replacement, but am interested in fulfilment; I am interested in calling, and calling for the sake of the entire world (book #2 on ‘Significant Other’ tracks the downward trajectory of Israel as royal priesthood so that it opens the understanding of Jesus dying for the Jew (first)).

There is one incredibly strong Scripture concerning Israel… and I do not think that an appeal to the host of Scriptures that are often appealed to cut it… after all someone on the throne of David forever, priesthood for ever… for ever… for ever…

‘Because of the patriarchs’. Now that is strong. Says a lot about God… gives me a lot of hope for all peoples.