Tuesday, August 08, 2017

CWG (Chapter 23)

Chapter 23: When All Hell Breaks Loose

When God withdraws from a situation, the void is filled with violence (from human and/or spiritual forces). In this chapter, Boyd focuses on the latter while examining the story of Job and the story of the Flood.

Boyd, who believes the story of Job to be largely fictional, focuses especially on the prologue. We find Satan, an adversarial character, making false claims. God essentially has no choice, in the narrative, but to allow Satan to attack Job in order to prove the devil's claims untrue. The book is not so much a theodicy as it is a reminder that we humans are too ignorant to really grasp the cause of evil. The one thing we do know, in light of Christ, is that God is not the cause of evil. Thus, Boyd considers "the book of Job to be a superb illustration of both the Principle of Redemptive Withdrawal and the Principle of Cosmic Conflict."

Moving on to the Flood story, Boyd avoids controversies about the nature of the flood (though he does believe it to be historical). He believes that while "the author of this narrative interprets this disaster to be a judgment that was directly carried out [by] God"... we know better in light of Christ. More than that, because we know this, we actually find elements of the narrative that confirm the Christ-centered interpretation. Boyd points out that God's Spirit withdrew once the ark was completed and all the violent activity that constituted the flood was the natural consequence of His protective presence being removed. Creation was undone, as cosmic forces filled the void. God does not run from responsibility for, but grieves the events of the Flood.

While I would want to quibble with issues like the historicity of Job and/or nature of the Nephilim, I was generally impressed by Boyd's work here (especially in regards to the flood). I do believe it is possible (and preferable), now, to read these texts in a way that doesn't attribute violence to God and that makes us more aware of the powerful cosmic forces that exist within creation.

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