Monday, June 05, 2017

CWG (Chapter 13)

Chapter 13: The Masks of God

In this chapter, Greg Boyd lays down the foundational principle for his cruciform thesis: In some God-breathed Scripture, there was a divine accommodation of the cultural depravity of the covenant people. Insofar as this occurs (as in the violent texts of the Old Testament), it is revelatory in the sense that it shows God has always been inherently willing to stoop to our level in order to stay in relationship with us.

Boyd believes classical theism was essentially inherited from Greek philosophy and prioritizes human reason over divine revelation. Aquinas played a major role in shaping the classic theistic belief that God is, essentially, the unmoved mover. Boyd thinks this approach is littered with problems. Particular germane to his area of interest is the fact that classical theism must assume that when Scripture speaks of God changing His mind, or responding to humans, or other intensely relational terms, these depictions must be instances of accommodations (since God doesn't really do those things. Boyd this this view missed out on the most beautiful aspects of God's nature.

When we start with Christ (revelation over reason), however, we come to very different conclusions (absolute love over absolute power). What doesn't 'change' in God is His moral goodness, but for that very reason God is very open to change insofar as that is the most loving thing to do in a given relationship. In fact, God is willing to put on ugly 'masks' (to use Luther's idea in a very different way) in order to relate to us (even to the point of appearing as a warrior God). The revelation of the cross must cause us to look differently at Old Testament texts in which God appears violent. In such texts, according to Boyd, God was simply stooping to the level of His people and allowing them to put on Him a violent mask and it is that willingness (in order to stay in relationship with His people) that is revelatory.

Boyd's project is really starting to take shape here. As a personal aside, after reading this chapter I was feeling comfortable enough with Boyd's overall approach to these texts to attempt to explain his position to my wife in my own words. She's smart and open minded. And I could see questions forming in her mind as I explain Boyd's approach. She was satisfied that he anticipated her concerns and seemed generally favorable to his thesis. I feel about the same way.

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