Ted Grimsrud—November 1, 2017
[This is the 16th in a long series of posts that will work through Greg Boyd’s important book, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Interpreting the Old Testament’s Violent Portraits of God in Light of the Cross (Fortress, 2017). The 15th post may be found here—and an index of the series here.]
Chapter fourteen, “The Heavenly Missionary: Yahweh’s Accommodation of the Law, Nationalism, and Violence” (pages 701-64), is the second part of Boyd’s account of the first of the four principles that make up his “Cruciform Thesis”: the principle of “cruciform accommodation” continuing the discussion from chapter thirteen. He looks at how God’s accommodation to human sinfulness may be seen in how God allows the writings of the Bible to present God as complicit in the people of Israel’s violent understandings of the meaning of the law and of their nationhood.
What about “sin”?
A key part of Boyd’s account is what he calls God’s “sin-bearing” efforts: “To the degree that canonical portraits of God reflect [the fallen and culturally conditioned hearts and minds of God’s people of the time,] our cross-informed faith must discern the heavenly missionary stooping to bear the sin of his people, just as he did in a definitive way on Calvary” (703, emphasis added). It’s not quite clear to me what is involved in “sin-bearing.” This term seems a bit jargonish without a clear explanation of what it means. Is it the idea that there is some kind of legal “transaction” where the sin is “paid for”? What’s the actual outcome of this “sin bearing”?
Boyd seems Augustinian in writing that we are all living in a state of sin—as if being in a state of sin is what matters most in the human relationship with God. If it is the case that this general sense of our sinfulness matters the most in relation to God, then we would likely say that what killed Jesus was our sinfulness in general; we are all guilty. The significance of Jesus’s death then is to somehow address this universal problem of human beings being fundamentally sinful as a state of being. Precisely how Jesus’s death resolves the problem of universal human sinfulness is yet to be determined. Continue reading