During that discussion, I claimed such faithful questioning did not begin with Christ and the New Testament authors who question Old Testament reports of divinely-sanctioned violence. In truth, we see the practice already at work in the Old Testament ... and not only when the Prophets question the Law (Jeremiah 7:21-23) or when the Chronicler contradicts earlier interpretations of David's life (compare 2 Samuel 24 with1 Chron. 21). Such faithful questioning of the Joshua conquest already occurs right within the book of Joshua.
OT scholar, Matthew Lynch, would confirm this for us in a video interview with CWR here: https://vimeo.com/101826159. He followed that up with a fine series of articles that begins HERE.
At the time, I identified two competing voices at work within Joshua that I labelled state-sponsored spin texts versus investigative journalist texts.
Brian Zahnd liked this description and responded with his typical acumen:
But did they find the WMDs?
Joshua is episode 6 in a 66 episode saga. It's a story in search of an ending ... and we dare not cease our search for what God is like in Joshua. Of course if you want to cherry-pick the Bible to support militarism, Joshua is prime picking.
This is why I insist we must center our reading of Scripture in the Gospels and their portrait of Jesus. The inscribed word must be interpreted by the Incarnate Word.Hear, hear! Indeed, the Gospel accounts of the Incarnation climax in the self-revelation of God-in-Christ as "cruciform"--literally "cross-shaped." In the words of Gregory Boyd, the Crucified God crucifies the pagan image of the Warrior God that continues to entice Christians to this day. Boyd puts it this way:
... when Christ was crucified, all sin was nailed to the cross with him (Col. 2:14), which included all conceptions of God as a violent warrior. ... we should forever set aside the sin-stained portraits of Yahweh as a violent warrior god that were crucified with Christ to manifest the nonviolent, self-sacrificial, enemy-embracing love of the one true God. In short, I submit that we should consider the crucifixion of the one true God to be the permanent crucifixion of the warrior God. (Greg Boyd, Crucifixion of the Warrior God, 552).However, Greg also makes it clear that while many of us have come to the same conclusion, we've taken divergent paths to get there. And those paths include sincere disagreement. For example, Greg describes the works of Eric Siebert, Pete Enns and Derek Flood as "dismissal solutions," which he critiques as inadequate (a charge which Flood responds to here). In any case, these divergent attempts at dealing with OT violence share some measure of faithful questioning.
I only mention this to come around to my earlier point. Namely, I see this same faithful questioning at work in the Book of Joshua. But I don't believe I've laid out that data before explicitly in public writing. In a forth-coming book (A More Christlike WAY), I hope to revisit this in detail, but allow me to share the basics here and now as I unpacked them in 2010. I wrote:
After reading 'Disturbing Divine Behaviour' I was driven back to the Joshua conquest texts.
I see that a state-sponsored militaristic spin appears already in Joshua and appears to include an agenda. Let me give you an example:
When I eventually presented this data to Dr. Lynch, he urged me not to simply use the second voice to negate the first voice. He believed that we ought to ask ourselves what revelation each of the two voices might communicate. He guided me to a very simple analysis of this very nuanced text:
1. The first voice (the rather triumphalist voice) insists, however brashly, that God is with us. God truly did enter a covenant relationship with a people to whom he would be faithful and through whom he would bless the world. Of course they (and we) are tempted to smuggle in corollaries, such as "God is for us but he's against them," and "God is a Winner, so we will alway win," etc. The Book says so. And sometimes we do too. And when these expectations disappoint us, we are tempted to despair of the first revelation. Maybe God isn't with us! Maybe God isn't faithful to us! But this leads us to the revelation of the second voice.
2. Of course God is with us. Of course God is faithful. Even when "our side" doesn't win. Even when we are unfaithful. Even when we suffer defeat or end up in exile. Let's not lose sight of that beautiful revelation. The second voice is realistic and sometimes laments. And it adds the corrective revelation ... our King, the second Yeshua, was enthroned on a cross. Our King says, My kingdom is not of this world, my weapons are not the weapons of the world. Lay down your sword and pick up your cross. We don't takes lives to save our own. Follow me, laying down your lives so that you pass through death into life.
Thus, this faithful questioning does not deny the shout of victory, but it reinterprets the means and the results of that victory through the cross-shaped victory of the Cruciform God.