J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Once again, NazNet counters its prime aim. It states that it is Church of the Nazarene-friendly. The Church of the Nazarene historically accepts the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, a few rebels excepted.
Now NazNet seeks to turn that around by making the Bible weighed down in error, therefore opening up the window for dark shadows. When one takes away the conviction that the Bible is the pure Word of the divine, mortals start to slice and dice.
In that, NazNet joins the rebels.
Liberals have been doing slice and dicing for years, hence the liberal creed of doubt over faith.
NazNet encourages that doubt over faith, particularly when making sense of the “harsh passages” of the Old Testament. And this is to be Church of the Nazarene-friendly? This is supportive of the “Nazarene community” that NazNet plays up to?
Cundiff, along with NazNet Founder Dave McClung and Moderator Hans Deventer, adore C. S. Cowles’ position of errancy.
NazNet readers are encouraged to read in full Cowles’ “An Open Letter Concerning Scriptural Inerrancy.” Note: http://www.naznet.com/inerrant.htm
Highlighting that encouragement, Cundiff states the unthinkable: “I find a solid Wesleyan perspective that helps me deal with the issue, not from a devotional point of view, but rather from a theological one. I appreciate this insight.”
A Wesleyan perspective? Hardly.
All the more NazNet overseers use companionable words to cozy up to Nazarenes, e.g., “Wesleyan.”
Yet with that “Wesleyan” slide-in, who could then doubt Cowles’ position. It must be a winner for Cundiff to give it the Wesleyan wave.
Cundiff then on NazNet provides this Cowles quote: “No matter how hard one tries, it
is impossible to reconcile the many commands to kill enemies in the Old Testament with the commands to love our enemies in the New.
“Even more difficult is the portrait painted of God as a violent and genocidal child killer in the Old Testament (Noah’s flood, the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the slaughter of the Canaanites and Amalekites), and in Christ the lover of children in the New.
“(Dutch Reformed theologian A.) Van de Beek admits as much. He confesses that ‘The more one wants to let all of Scripture speak for itself . . . the more unclear the Bible becomes. The more we believe that the whole Word is revelation, the less we know who God is.’”
“’. . .the more unclear the Bible becomes’”? “’. . .the less we know who God is’”?
If a guide is going to take us in that direction, do we really want to follow that guide, that theological modus operandi? Apparently Cundiff finds that guide in keeping with his “Wesleyan perspective.” Seemingly Cundiff discovers that journey helpful in his theological understanding. So with that, NazNet encourages Nazarenes to travel hand-in-hand in Cundiff’s come-upon.
I have discovered just the opposite than Cundiff, Cowles, Deventer, McClung, and de Beek. I have found that the more one wants to let all of Scripture speak for itself, the clearer the Bible becomes. The more I believe the whole Word is revelation, the more I know who God is. That’s my personal testimony, satisfied that I am that it is a secure one.
How can Cundiff, apparently supported by McClung and Deventer with other site overseers, ever agree with de Beek? In that, these individuals strip all confidence in the divine revelation as being purely perfect.
But is God imperfect in His communication? Is the Word thereby flawed so as to leave us hanging with doubts innumerable? Is the Bible we have held to over time now declared to be crippled so that we are left with merely another literature piece?
What these doubters have exposed is not the imperfect Bible. What they have revealed is their lack of intellectual acumen plus lack of spiritual excellence.
If they had drawn upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance, they would have come upon answers to their questions, solutions to their problems.
It is possible to read in the Spirit to as to be more convinced than ever that the supposed harsh biblical passages all the more reveal the personhood of a just and loving deity.
Both Old and New Testaments speak pointedly concerning the divine nature. Instead of relying on our preconceived portrait of God, wanting the Bible to support that, we must take the scriptural data as is. With that, God’s persona will come into form in its reality.
Let that reality stand as who God is, for it is in truth who God is.
Someone asked me: “You’ve apparently linked belief in Christ with blindly following everything in the Bible?”
That questioner did not believe that I could hold to an Old Testament God who was the same God who appeared in the New Testament. Here is my answer to his questioner:
In the Old Testament, God commanded the death penalty in twenty-some cases. This was not because God was barbaric, but because God was civil. The Israeli twelve tribes had no law enforcement agencies. Further, they were surrounded by barbarisms of strange magnitudes exhibited by neighboring pagan nations.
Consequently, for God to establish an Israeli civil community, He set forth stringent punishments–some being the death penalty. He Himself became, in other words, the Law Enforcement Agency for the new nation of Israel. That chosen community thereby was to model morality / civility to the surrounding nations.
Extremely severe penalties then were commanded by God in order to bring in line an Israeli community which tended to be unruly like its neighbors. If God had been lax in penalties, human nature, being what it is, would have tested gladly the boundaries. But when penalties were severe, human nature thought twice before testing the boundaries, hence the death penalty prescribed by God in some instances.
However, once Israel lost its nationhood by “going a-whoring after other loves”, Israel’s civil structure disappeared. Israel as a nation lost its temple, its government–that is, its two primary components of culture–religion and politics. Pagan nations then ruled over the heretofore nation of God. In this loss was the disappearance of death penalties previously prescribed by God. The death penalty period as dictated by divine revelation, in other words, ended near the close of the Old Testament era.
That is why when Jesus appeared as flesh-and-bones divine revelation, He pronounced, “You used to say, ‘An eye for an eye’, but now I say to you: Love your enemies.” Jesus pronounced a civility of love toward one’s enemies. “Love your foes, pray for your foes.” This was the New Testament for it was now a new way of dealing with others–all others.
Government was now established primarily within the believer rather than under Israeli kings. “The Kingdom of God is within you.” Law was now primarily of the heart. “My law will be written on your hearts.” That was the new politic. Further, the tabernacle was now primarily the human frame: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” That was the new religion.
Therefore, for the New Testament Church Age, it is the law of love toward all–friends and foes. Jesus provided a simply stated ethic. He refused to garble it with amendments. But, one may ask: “What about these atrocious crimes and the death penalty?”
The biblical answer is still the same: love your friends and foes in Jesus. What kind of Christian love then can be shown to a multiple-murderer / rapist / arsonist / child molester? What kind of Christian love can be meted out to a Hitler?
It is a Christian tough love. Tough love keeps the exceptional criminal alive but
consigns that one to supervised environs without parole. Hopefully, even that exceptional criminal then may come upon redemption through Christ, yet never be placed in tempting circumstances whereby he again may do others and Himself harm.
Keeping the individual alive also allows the possibility that, realizing human justice systems to be flawed, that person in truth may be found innocent though originally pronounced guilty. Indeed, the future may prove this to be fact if new evidence is forthcoming. History has case files on those in the aforementioned category.
Reason this moral / ethical situation from God’s perspective: Adam and Eve slew God’s love when they played loose with Eden’s snake. However, God did not slay them. Instead, God banished them to their own solitary isles of remorse, hoping at least for their eternal redemption.
You once slew God’s love by going your own stubborn way. In reality, you pronounced yourself Lord of your life. It is a hurtful truth to you now that you are a believer; nevertheless, living once in sin and for sin, you were once that callused toward your own loving Creator. However, did God obliterate you? No, instead God searched you out, loved you even while you were enemy, in hopes of redeeming what was left of your destiny.
He now invites each Christian to live out that same kind of persevering, at-times-tough love toward all others–especially those who are Enemy. God has already walked for us the path of love-for-foes. We, of all creatures, should know this for sure. Praise be to a loving, merciful God!
He then invites us to join Him on that love path. He has walked it for us. He asks us now to walk it for others.