J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Scott Cundiff fits right in with the emergent church foolishness.
God is a “violent and genocidal child killer.”
God is deranged when he calls for “Noah’s flood, the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the slaughter of the Canaanites and Amalekites.”
The Old Testament deity is anathema to this Alvin Texas Church of the Nazarene pastor who serves as moderator on “friend”-to-Nazarenes web site NazNet.
I wonder if Scott Cundiff preaches the above disconcerting suspicions regarding the Bible to his Sunday morning congregation. Of course, it is a small church so maybe those few don’t care what they get for a message.
And when it comes to Cundiff’s Sunday evening evangelistic messages, how can he present the biblical God when there are questions buzzing all around his head concerning the scriptural authority? Perhaps God messed up throughout the entire writ.
Cundiff writes on NazNet that perhaps there is an “’otherness’” to God. What that means is anyone’s guess. Surely God has declared His persona throughout Scripture for us to get the basic point that He is the perfect eternal balance between justice and mercy. However, Cundiff does not seem to get hold of that.
But I would wager that when it comes to preaching biblical sermons in Alvin he sticks to the Word. After all, there is a pastor’s salary check plus parsonage and benefits at stake here. So keep the old holiness preaching going full force. There’s money in it.
But on NazNet, Cundiff changes to a kiss up for liberals on site—some young, others older. And of course he can always depend on Netherlands’ favorite Hans Deventer to back up his agnosticism. And then there is NazNet founder/owner Dave McClung who permits the
two heretics to post anything they please on NazNet.
So there is an “’otherness’” to God that Cundiff can’t understand. Perhaps Cundidff should realize that mortal brains cannot grasp the wholeness of God. Perhaps Cundiff should also conclude that the Word is a divine revelation that will only be totally grasped in eternity when our understanding apparatus is perfect.
In the meantime, believers read the Word by faith. They live the Word by faith. They evangelize concerning the Word by faith.
And those who have not given up on the Word get to see more clearly the God of Scripture as the Holy Spirit gives understanding to the humble. For instance, read the footnote to understand how God can do what He did in the Old Testament time frame. There is reason to it all; but Cundiff gives up too quickly—as does Deventer and McClung plus their clique on NazNet.
Cundiff writes on NazNet: “Writing from a devotional point of view my take away is that there’s that about God, an ‘otherness’ that is beyond us and that passages like that (Old Testament verses) are reminders of that fact.”
However, Cundiff’s suspicions are okay for they keep him in line with his Wesleyan theology. He states that outright. As soon as someone can tell me how agnosticism with such disbelief in the God of Scripture lines up with holiness Wesleyan doctrine, let me know. But Cundfif has come upon the twosome wedding one another quite nicely.
“I find a solid Wesleyan perspective that helps me deal with the issue.” Again, what is the issue? It is that Cundiff cannot believe in the God of the Bible. Yet that baseline brings him closer to his Wesleyan understanding.
Truthfully, there is no tie between John Wesley’s teaching concerning the Bible’s God and Cunciff’s “’otherness.’” None.
Cundiff continues: “And van de Beek is right. 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.
“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.’”
Cundiff states his belief in this Bible-throw-away. Sad, but true. And he’s right there in the Texas Bible belt (South Texas District/Church of the Nazarene) supposedly ministering the gospel to the unsaved.
So there you have the bottom line: Don’t read the Bible. Don’t study it. If you do, God dies on you.
FOOTNOTE: YES, YOU CAN BELIEVE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT GOD
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.