Greg Boyd’s Predecessors

Greg Boyd’s Predecessors June 26, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 5.35.23 PMIn his big book The Crucifixion of the Warrior God, Greg Boyd sketches his six predecessors. Which is a way of saying, “Hey guys, this is not brand new. Others have thought in similar ways.” It’s obvious that it’s not “in identical ways.”

Who are they and how do they anticipate or set the agenda for Boyd?

Another question must be this: It is not if he has set these theologians in the discipline of a cruciform hermeneutic, for each has such a theory at work. The question is this: Did they work out that cruciform hermeneutic consistently? Or did Boyd go where they didn’t go for some wrong reason?

First, Thomas Torrance.

Torrance thus describes Scripture as a “secondary text” of the Word of God that communicates the “basic text,” which is Jesus Christ.

Given that Torrance understands the cross to be the supreme expression and thematic center of every aspect of Jesus’s revelatory and redeeming ministry, it follows that if all Scripture ultimately points to Christ, then all Scripture ultimately points to Christ crucified. Indeed, as Torrance recognizes, it follows that all Scripture participates in the revelatory and redemptive activity of Christ, thematically centered on the cross.

Second, Anthony Thiselton.

The message of the cross brings about a reversal of evaluations, and a change in the mind-set and system of references that had previously constituted a horizon of expectation.

Third, Richard Hays.

Scripture is to be reinterpreted in light of the cross and resurrection. There is no reason to be embarrassed about this, because the evangelists were convinced that the events of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection were in fact revelatory: they disclosed the key to understanding all that had gone before.

[Boyd says] My claim is that if we simultaneously hold fast to our conviction that the cross fully reveals God’s true character together with our conviction that Scripture’s violent divine portraits are “God-breathed”—their morally revolting character notwithstanding—we will be given “eyes to see” (Mark 8:18, cf. 4:9, 23) how these portraits bear witness to the crucified God.

Fourth, George Knight.

Even more to the point, Knight argues that the incarnation and crucifixion (which he appropriately treats as two aspects of one event) reveal that “our God is eternally the Savior, eternally suffering ‘hell’ at the antics of his perverted sons and daughters (Hos 11:8-9).”

Fifth, John Goldingay.

Throughout “the First Testament story,” he writes, “God was paying the price for sin, bearing its consequences, refusing to let it break the relationship” between him and his covenant people. “Only because God continually took up the cross in an act of self-denial did God’s relationship with the world and with Israel continue.”

Sixth, and most in alignment with Boyd, Jürgen Moltmann.

I consider Jiirgen Moltmann to be the contemporary thinker who most thoroughly and consistently captures the centrality of the cross for the Christian interpretation of the Bible and for Christian theology in general.

Moreover, Moltmann firmly grasps that if we understand God “completely in the light of what happened on the cross, we must accept that God’s very nature is opposed to violence.32 For Moltmann, this historical revelation of God’s nonviolent, self-sacrificial, loving character must constitute “the nucleus of everything that Christianity says about ‘God.” ‘The death of Jesus on the cross,” he writes, is “the centre of all Christian theology” such that “all Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ.”

Boyd thinks each of these authors, in their own way, did not apply a cruciform hermeneutic adequately to the violence-of-God texts in the Old Testament, but he makes clear that each of them laid the foundation for building such an edifice.

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