Friday 13 October 2023

Some thoughts on Israel and Palestine


Last week we all woke up to the shocking news reports of Israel being attacked by Hamas. And it was not an attack on the political leaders or military bases; but on festival attendees, on civilians in their homes, on regular people. Stories of beheadings and children taken as hostages tell a tale that shocked the world. Yet equally appalling has been the Israeli response, missile strikes on apartment blocks and ambulances. The cut off of food, water and electricity supply to the Palestinian people means hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk in an area where the majority of the population are children. 1 million residents, in one of the most crowded places on earth, were given 24 hours to evacuate their homes yesterday, those who return will come back to nothing.

It’s been a long time since I blogged on anything. This for me was a way of laying out my thoughts and processing them. And that’s why I have returned today, I’m not an expert on the Middle East, I know a little, not a lot, and if the experts have not managed to bring peace what do my words mean? Nevertheless, I am here because what I see on Facebook and other social media makes me uncomfortable. There seems to be unwavering support for Israel simply because they’re the Bible nation, usually with a verse like Genesis 12:3 attached, “I will bless those who bless you. And I will curse him who curses you”.

Let me say first off that I get that they have peoples living on their doorstep that do not recognize their right to exist, peoples that have threatened to wipe them from the earth since before I was born, this conflict is not new and I understand the need for secure borders and checkpoints. But there is more to it than that isn’t there? I can’t help but feel that the latest attacks, while inexcusable and unjustifiable, were nevertheless inevitable. If you treat people like they are animals, don’t be surprised when they bite you, Israel may have been the victim of a monster that they themselves created.

Growing up in a Westernized Christian culture, I was very much fed a one sided story about Israel, who was the victim, who was the perpetrator? It was always presented as good vs evil. Of late though I’ve been trying to read up and watch some documentaries, like Palestine is Still the Issue (available in full on YouTube and I'd recommend it) to hear the other side of the story. What I learned were the stories of people forced off of their land, treated as subhuman not only in Israel but in occupied Palestine where Jewish settlers and soldiers live segregated from their neighbors. They have different roads, different schools, different benefits. Every aspect of the Palestinians lives are controlled, from who they can marry to what areas they can travel to and from, this should sound familiar to my fellow South Africans. 

Of the 2.2 million people living in Gaza 1.7 million are refugees, more than 500 000 of them live in 8 crowded camps located across the strip. I’ve watched videos and heard the stories of brutal executions and tortures to the more common, but daily, simple humiliations suffered at checkpoints. 

As last weeks attacks unfolded, I wondered to myself, what was Hamas trying to achieve? Surely they knew the backlash would be more severe than the damage they themselves inflicted? If Israel is the gasoline they themselves were the match that ignited the chaos that would reign down on not just Hamas but on all Palestinians. The only conclusion I can draw is that these were the actions of not only the hateful, but the hurt and the hopeless. The reality is that some have been radicalized by the oppression, poverty and death around them, they lash out, and Israel retaliates. Violence begets violence. Its an unending loop.

Many will support Israel unwaveringly on religious grounds. Facts are inconsequential. Let me point out though that a large part of the Bible is prophets speaking out against Israel, calling her to repentance for many things, chiefly among them was the manner in which they treated widows and orphans and the sojourner in the land. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m not an expert, I can only offer my own opinion. The conflict in the Middle East will never die until all rulers and authorities lay their weapons down. Violence can’t be cured with violence. Peace will only be possible when Israel becomes a blessing to other nations, which is how the rest of Genesis 12:3 goes, when your enemy is treated as a neighbor, a brother and his humanity is respected and recognized. Chances are he will not be radicalized and rise against you. 

As the various messages on FB say, pray for Israel, pray for her peace, their loss was great, this was and is a major tragedy. Over 1000 people lost their lives because of the sins of their rulers. But pray for Palestine too, 2.2 million people are paying for the sins of 30 000 fighters right now. Before this week had even started most of them had already known more suffering than we ever could imagine.

Friday 4 September 2020

Where is God in our suffering?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday, let’s call her Sarah. Sarah is not a Christian, she acknowledges that there must be a higher power behind creation but has no religious persuasions or affiliations beyond that. During a very rare God conversation she asked me where God was when a small child dies of cancer. If there is a loving, relational being out there how can He seem so cruel and distant? Sarah added that in such a case she would rather take the child’s place in death and suffering yet God does nothing. She added a personal story of the death of a loved one where someone made a well-intentioned but insensitive and offensive comment about God needing a deceased person taken from her family more than their loved ones did and had taken them home. 

Now Sarah is a good, compassionate and intelligent person and I believe that her thoughts and feelings suggested that she understood and was closer to the heart of God than most religious people that I know are. I tried to explain that the Bible portrays death as an enemy, that the world is a broken place and that that is kind of the point of the cross and resurrection. I do not believe that God is distant in our suffering or indifferent to death. He is not idle at all but has entered in to our story and suffered and died as one of us so that through death, He might conquer or overcome it that we could enter in to His story and rise again, incorruptible and free from the things that currently make us broken. 

So where is God when a child dies? He is hanging on cross, put there by the very people that He wants to save. Where is He when a woman is is dragged in to a field, raped and then strangled to death? He is getting flogged by soldiers and carried off to get executed. All while the people He loves clap their hands in approval and shout that this must be Gods will. The point of Jesus dying is not to satisfy the wrath of an angry deity who must pour his wrath in to someone or something; but for God to identify with humanity in order for us to be united in Jesus and become partakers of the divine nature. We do not get to avoid death, it comes for us all whether we are 5 or 95 years old, and eventually we all die. But the hope we have is that death cannot hold us and that there is new life after. God is like Sarah in that He would rather taste of death Himself than see a child remain in bondage to death and suffering.    

Let me add as well that God does not 'take people home' because somehow an all-powerful, omnipresent being needs a new angel more than a small child needed their mother or a husband needed his wife. Remember, death and disease are portrayed as enemies in the New Testament and Jesus went around healing people and raising them wherever He went. The only time we look at death as a friend is when people are suffering and we see it as a release. There is validity in this but ultimately we yearn for a life free of pain and suffering and this is what is hoped for in newness of life. And this life is not to be lived in some far away spiritual utopia. Scripture tells us that earth is our forever home, where we will one day reside again minus all the bad stuff that currently makes it not so pleasant. As ambassadors of this ‘heavenly kingdom’ we’re supposed to be actively proclaiming and living for this good right now. Making things more beautiful or at least a little less cruddy as we go along.

Of course, atonement and eternal life on earth are much bigger topics than what I have shared here. Why not just snap His fingers and end death instead of go through it at all? I tried to answer that in my first book and my new one will add more perspective as well. For now, I hope this gives a new slant to where God is in our suffering and portrays Him less as a passive bystander and more as an active agent for change. Hopefully there is a thought in here that will help someone through their suffering or at least think twice before giving awful answers about God to those who are grieving. 


Wednesday 25 December 2019

Rethinking Holiness

Not all that long ago I was sitting and chatting with my wife and she made a comment that we are not as concerned about holiness as we once were. Her comment was in the context of us having journeyed outside of more formal church structures that had reformed theological systems of belief and a more fundamentalist outlook on life toward the freedom that we had found within the house church that we had started and the liberty that we discovered in Christ in this time. This grace and liberty had lessened the fear of been smitten by the Lord that we previously walked in and the example that she shared was that today we were more likely to watch something on TV today whereas, in the past, we would have switched it off the first time that we heard someone cuss.

Her reflection was accurate as well, while I still consider myself a conservative person, I do appreciate music that sometimes has naughty words in it. I’ll watch a show like the Walking Dead even though it’s filled with zombies and violence. And I’ll laugh hard at an inappropriate joke made on the Grand Tour. I could try and justify these things by saying that it has not corrupted me in any way, I never use coarse language myself, or encourage and applaud violence but at the end of the day I have to admit that my standards have changed.

My response on the day was that I think that my definition of holiness had somewhat changed over time which was manifesting in our lives subconsciously. Holiness was and is still important but it had become less of a personal discipline and morphed more into a relational expression toward others. What I mean by that is that growing up I always thought of holiness as meaning don’t drink, don’t swear, don’t smoke, don’t listen to angry music (I battled with that one), don’t watch movies that have any sort of age restriction on them, don’t hang out at bad places and don’t hang out with people who do any of the above. In other words, holiness was about abstaining from certain behavioral issues that were or had the appearance of evil.

And some of those things above probably are good to avoid with one or two debatable ones in there as well. Yet my old, narrow view of holiness as you may have noticed, was very negative and all about abstinence. It was all inward focused on not doing bad things but had very little positive application in ones life. So how do I see things now and what does it mean to be ‘set apart’? I think that at this stage I see holiness as an expression of love more than anything else. Holiness is not so much about what I am good at resisting (though that is important) as much as it is about how I relate to others around me that is unique or in contrast to the ways of the world. This certainly still carries inward connotations for sure, it requires more dying to self and the same sort of discipline as before, it’s just more others centered which means that it is more about doing good than it is about been good.

You see, I can abstain from all sorts of appearances of evil, I might not ever get drunk, be rude to people, sleep around, get into fights or similar things. Instead I could spend the day fishing or hiking in the mountains having never done anything ‘bad’ all day. But does that make me holy? I don’t think so. Thinking about these things I went and had a look at a few scriptures on holiness, and I soon discovered that holiness is intrinsically relational. In 2 Corinthians 7:1 for example, Paul urges us to ‘perfect holiness in the fear of God’, in the next verse he elaborates by saying that we should wrong no one, corrupt no one and cheat no one. Paul associates holiness with our conduct toward others.

I recently read the comic-style biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the faith Spy, and it documents a moment during his travels where he has an epiphany about been a good person verses doing good, faith to Dietrich had become something more than as intellectual study or exercise and shifted into something that demanded action in the face of evil. I see the same thing with Peter when he makes a similar observation where he associates holiness with ones conduct, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Likewise the author of Hebrews urges his readers to “pursue peace with all people and holiness” (12:14). I don’t think that it is possible to do one without the other.

Lastly, the verse that stood out the most for me was in Ephesians 5:1-3, keep in mind that the Greek word for holiness is ‘ἅγιος’ (hagios) and is, in this case, translated as ‘saint’.

Therefore be imitators of God dear children. And walk in love, as Christ has also loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting of saints.

My take away from this is that the saints (holy ones) are to live sacrificial, others centered lives, guarding their own thoughts and actions as we walk in love. The definition of holiness I am advocating for above does not detract from the previous definition that I held too, but it certainly calls for a broadening of what we think that it means to be set apart. What this may look like in practical terms, a decade ago I would have declined an offer for an alcoholic beverage ten times out of ten, setting me apart from others in whatever group environment I happened to find myself in. Today, I would probably still decline a drink because I just don’t really like most alcoholic beverages, but I might also say yes to appease my host, or to relax, share and enjoy the moment and a connection with another person. The point is, what was once a hard and fast rule is now more just a moment by moment decision guided by the principle of loving others as you love yourself. Maybe I don’t want to appear to be a religious stick in the mud and having a drink might cause my friend to open up more than he would have if I simply said, “no thanks I don’t drink”. Maybe this is why Jesus was happy enough to sit around a table flowing with wine and questionable characters. His holiness was certainly not lessened by it as He let His love for others and His Father motivate His actions. Of course, there are places that have no grey areas, sexual immorality for example is always harmful and therefore the opposite of loving. 

Perhaps we do not need to complicate things so much. Remember Jesus’ new commandment, the golden rule, and I guarantee that we will stay on course in pursuing holiness as well.        

Tuesday 24 December 2019

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of those rare voices whose appeal seems to transcend denominational boundaries. He is kind of like Europe’s Watchman Nee in that regard. His ideas and teachings, amid the backstory of been a pastor in Germany during World War 2 is simply fascinating. So when Hendrix’s book, The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler crossed my path, I jumped at the opportunity to review it.

This book is perhaps one of the most unique reads that I have had the privilege of reviewing. It reads like a biography but not really, as it intertwines the stories of both Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well Adolf Hitler together. The author makes use of both direct quotes (clearly marked with an *) and some speculative dialogue, the artistic license really helps to add to the drama, fill in the blanks and move the story along with easy transitions from scene to scene. Additionally, the simultaneous telling of two different stories and the philosophies that drove each individual is accentuated by the stark contrast between the two men.   

The Faithful Spy also reads like a history book, but not really, recounting Hitler’s rise to power, his military conquests, strategies and eventual defeat. There is just the right amount of information shared to keep one fully interested without ever running off into long and boring non-essentials. While John Hendrix himself mentions that he is not a historian and relied on the hard work of others to bring us the story, I feel like I could say the same to him, as he did the hard work of researching and condensing some of the most interesting and important moments from Bonhoeffer and Hitler’s lives and World War 2 and presenting them in a way that is entertaining, educational and enlightening.   

This book also reads like a comic or graphic novel, but not really. There are portions with strictly text and then there are large pictures as well as multiple-sequence panels that we would traditionally associate with comic books. All of the artwork is done on a limited palette of black, turquoise (for Dietrich) and red (for the Nazi's) and I don’t know how else to say it other than that everything somehow comes together and works well. It’s pleasing on the eye, the portions of text are never too lengthy that they become difficult or laborious to read; perhaps this is to make it appeal to a younger audience but I have to say that it worked for me and I personally found it refreshing, daring and original.

Regarding the story itself, Hendrix documents Dietrich’s upbringing and highlights some of the pivotal moments in his development, much of which I was unfamiliar with, having not been included in other books and films that I had previously read or watched on his life. Perhaps most significant would be his pilgrimage to Rome and how he was deeply impacted by the multitudes and singing witnessed at a Catholic mass, this changed his perspective on what the church was and is and liberated him from the idea that God was simply an academic exercise to be studied. Then during his studies in New York he got to see what the church looked like in action, at the forefront of the battle against racism and social injustice. Bonhoeffer had learned the difference between been a good person and doing good, and he would bring these ideas from lessons learned back to Germany with the conviction that faith required doing good in the face of evil, that his actions mattered and that he needed to help people wherever it was needed. This also drove him to confront one of the most difficult of questions one might ever be faced with, what is the duty of a person in the face of overwhelming evil? Could he be an accomplice in an assassination attempt when presented with the opportunity to kill Hitler?

Faced with these questions, Dietrich joined the resistance against Hitler, acting as a double agent and the book gives a fascinating account of these assassination attempts as well as Hitler’s lucky escapes and how the resistance avoided getting caught for so long. Eventually, Bonhoeffer’s involvement in the conspiracy against Hitler is discovered after he had already been imprisoned and he is sentenced to death only days before Germany was finally liberated from Nazi rule.

This is not just a history lesson or riveting novel. This book shows us just how easily a tyrant can rise to power and seduce the masses. It also shows us that the church and individuals can go several ways in such times and leaves the reader asking themselves which way to go, we can be seduced by power or scared into self-preservation, we can try to fight fire with fire or we can seek alternative non-violent solutions.

I received a copy of this book from Speakeasy in exchange for an honest review, fortunately I can say that I loved everything about it. It’s an easy read, its message is ageless and it will appeal to people of all ages, I highly recommend it. You can find a copy of it by clicking over here.  

Friday 15 November 2019

Why did Jesus have to die?

In my previous two posts in this series I questioned the theory of penal substitution. Noting the lack of evidence for it in scripture, the counter evidence against it as well as the logical inconsistencies one encounters when following the thought process down the road. Moving forward, let’s examine why Jesus did have to die if it was not to satisfy God’s wrath. Not only that, but let’s explore why He rose again and why it is central to the gospel. This good news as I understand it, is not about a God whose justice demands that someone, even a substitute, experiences His wrath against them but it is one of a loving God who shows mercy, love and a willingness to seek out and redeem what has been damaged or tainted by sin. The pictures could hardly be any more different than the one the reformers developed and gave to us. So for a brief few minutes let us lay aside the ideas of Calvin (and Anselm before him) and go straight to the Bible to see what it says about Jesus dying for us. We will look at just one point today and several others down the road.

Jesus died to defeat the devil

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden, everything changed. Well, nearly everything. Adam’s choosing to become independent from God led to a radical change in humans. Rather than being like God, man became sinful, fallen and broken, and due to man’s sinfulness, the world suffered as well. Paul said in the book of Romans that the whole of creation groans and eagerly awaits liberation from bondage and decay (Romans 8:19–22). Yet scripture also tells us that although the serpent lost his legs in Genesis 3, the devil himself benefited from man’s rebellion, temporarily gaining power and control of this world. Jesus referred to Satan as the ‘Prince of this world’ (John 12:31, 14:30), Paul referred to him as the ‘god of this age’ (2 Corinthians 4:4) and as ‘the ruler of the kingdom of the air’ (Ephesians 2:2), while John said that ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one’ (1 John 5:19). In Matthew 4:8–9, Satan takes Jesus up on a high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, offering them to Jesus if He will bow down and worship him. Jesus did not dispute Satan’s claim that they were his kingdoms to give away, but rather, He made it clear to whom His personal allegiance belonged.

The same power that Christians fight for today was expressly forsaken by Jesus. His kingdom is not of this world and I throw this in as a little challenge for believers to think about. Focusing on Jesus though, this passage tells us that He was not willing to make a deal with the devil or play the game by his rules. Jesus shows us that He did not come to reform the devils kingdom but to usurp the works of Satan, He came to disarm him entirely and tramp on his head and in so doing, He would release those who were held in bondage by the evil one. For example, in 1 John 3:8 it says:

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Hebrews 2:14 is another verse that speaks plainly of Christ’s purpose in dying:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

Unlike penal substitutionary theory which misapplies a couple of texts and tells us that Jesus died so that God’s anger, like that of all of the pagan deities, could only be satisfied by a human sacrifice. Scripture shows us a different God, and through an abundance of texts and authors it teaches us that the death and resurrection of Jesus was not to appease an angry Father but rather it was an all-out attack against an angry devil and on the kingdom of darkness. It was an act of war that defied all of the logic that we commonly associate with battle. Although the devil still roams around today, up to his same old tricks, the Bible is clear that he has already been judged, disarmed and defeated, even though his final fate has not yet been carried out (John 12:31, 16:11; Colossians 1:13, 2:15; 1 John 3:8). So the part the cross seems to have dealt with (at least in the instantly recognizable sense) has to do with breaking Satan’s power over man and the ushering in of the counter-kingdom of God. Although Satan still holds people in bondage and has a general influence and control within the world and over society, in Christ we now have the option of living under a different King, free from Satan’s yoke of slavery.

Luke 4:18 tells us that Jesus came to release the oppressed and to set the captives free. Because of the cross, the devil no longer has power over those who have been born of the Spirit. His only weapon is deceit. He is like the little old man standing behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Nevertheless, in this world, deception, death and destruction still abound as the principalities and the powers of darkness continue to do their thing. Just as the truth sets men free, ignorance and error will keep us in bondage. Ultimately, we still await a day when Jesus will ‘put all of His enemies under His feet’ (1 Corinthians 15:25) and where ‘Satan will be crushed’ (Romans 16:20) but we are simultaneously assured that the battle has already been fought and that the victory has already been won (Revelation 5:5). Because of the cross, the devil no longer has power over those who have been born of the Spirit.

Saturday 9 November 2019

I am taking a break from the usual topics that I write about to spread a little awareness about keratoconus.

What is Keratoconus?

Today, November 10th, is world keratoconus day, the word entered my life unexpectedly several years ago after visiting the optometrist after noticing a rapid decrease in vision in my left eye. A week later an ophthalmologist diagnosed the problem and warned me of the long and expensive journey that lay ahead.

Keratoconus (KC) is a rare and degenerative eye disease that occurs when your usually dome –shaped cornea becomes cone-shaped causing blurry and distorted vision which when left untreated or uncorrected can lead to been declared legally blind. Because our pupils open wider at night, the pupil is exposed to more of the irregular corneal surface in KC sufferers making night vision and light sensitivity far more pronounced. There is no concrete evidence but it is thought that the cause of KC is oftentimes genetic or the result of rubbing one’s eyes.

The world with keratoconus

Treatment for keratoconus

There is no cure for keratoconus but the progression can be slowed or stopped with a procedure called crosslinking which is performed to strengthen the cornea, this is commonly known as epi-on (noninvasive procedure) or epi-off (which involves surgical removal of the corneal epithelium during the procedure). A corneal ring implant known as Intacs is another option available which helps to flatten the peak of the corneal cone. Then as a last resort, a corneal transplant can be performed as well which is something around 20% of people with KC will require.  

Crosslinking procedure

Glasses and soft lenses do not help to correct vision in a keratoconic eye so once an eye is relatively stable, usually a few months after having crosslinking done, vision is corrected by using either RGP (rigid gas permeable) lenses or scleral lenses. Finding the right lens is a long process of trial and error and can take years to get right but for me personally, In my left eye which is my KC eye, I went from 20/317 vision to 20/65 vision once I received my scleral lens (20/200 is legally blind) so the struggle is well worth it in the end.

My personal KC kit and part of the everyday morning routine


The chances are if you have KC that no one around you will understand it or even have heard about it. It can be a daunting and lonely road so it is best to join a keratoconus group on Facebook or a similar site where you can ask questions or just share your struggles, invite those closest to you to join as well so that they can understand what you are going through. In the end though, KC is not a death sentence, the vast majority of people will still be able to drive and work a regular job and in time, you do adapt to the changes. I still get to write which is something that I love. All of the procedures and lenses mentioned above are relatively new and although advancement is slow due to the rarity of the condition, it is there and the options you have available to you today simply did not exist 1 or 2 generations ago. It is a good time to be alive.

The Old Testament Case for Nonviolence (book review)

I have done a lot of study on the atonement and hell in recent years, now the next topic that I have started to tackle is the violent depictions of God in the Old Testament and how to reconcile them with the clearest image of the Father we have available to us which is the non-violent, peacemaker Son Jesus. So I was thrilled when Matthew Curtis Fleischer's book, the Old Testament Case for nonviolence came across my path for a review opportunity as it had been on my radar for some time already.

The book starts with Matthew describing the problem of violence in the Old Testament in a way that even Richard Dawkins does not get close too. The frequent mass killings of men, women and children, sometimes for seemingly insignificant reasons or through no fault of their own. The commands to kill brothers, friends and neighbors. Even one particular story where God causes His enemies to cannibalize their own children. Or the story when a city was to be destroyed but the soldiers got to spare the young virgins as the spoils of war. Not to mention the very politically incorrect shunning of the blind, lame, dwarves, hunchbacks, the visually impaired and anyone who had suffered the misfortune of having crushed testicles. This goes on for a number of pages and chapter 1 pulls no punches and you start thinking to yourself, how is he going to come back from this? By the way, you can read chapter 1 for free by clicking over here.

I share a lot in common with Matthew, we both see Jesus as the final word on Christian ethics and living, the culmination and perfect revelation of God the Father and because of this, we both believe that Christians are called to nonviolence. And I am extremely glad for having read this book as I have learned so much from it. For example, it had not occurred to me before that Israel never had a proper military before they became a monarchy, or that they were prohibited from stockpiling weapons. Israel as a nation was highly dependent on God to fight their battles for them. No Jew reading the scriptures would think of the Old Testament as glorying in war, rather, they would have seen Gods protective hand over them.

Similarly, Israel's conquests were all about land. It is interesting to consider that the Levites were never granted a portion of the land in Israel and that we the church are a kingdom of priests. In other words, we do not have land to defend or fight for, the kingdom of God is not defined by nationalities or lines drawn in the sand, thus, we the church operate under a wholly different set of principles to what the nation of Israel did.

As much as I loved this very readable book, I must say though that I don't wholly agree with some of the books primary arguments. The greatest of which is that God chose to reveal His ways and nature incrementally to His people. To be clear, this is not an idea that I completely reject. Matthew makes good and I believe a compelling case for the giant leaps forward the nation of Israel lived by compared to the surrounding nations of the time. What seems savage to us was fairly tame and revolutionary for its day. And that goes for war, the treatment of woman, slaves and more.

There is a lot of progressive revelation seen in the scriptures, an obvious example would be Jesus' prohibition of divorce where Moses had been more lenient. But to say that God permits something or relents to mans poor ideas and choices is hardly the same as arguing that God partakes in those sins Himself. Where I think the OT Case for Nonviolence falls short is that it concedes that God acted violently in times past because man was not ready for a nonviolent God and had to be slowly brought to a place where he could accept a God of nonviolence. I find this unconvincing. Yes, we meet people where they are at and we teach them at a level that they can comprehend. We are all on that road ourselves too, we have right beliefs and wrong ones but that does not mean that we partake in error ourselves because someone is not as far along the path as we might be. 

I am still on a personal journey to reconcile the violence of the Old Testament with the way of the Prince of Peace. This book has not settled all of those questions for me but it has made a valuable contribution to that conversation and I feel far more enlightened for having read it.

I received this book to review from Speakeasy in exchange for an honest review, and honestly, it's fantastic and contains a wealth of valuable insights for one searching for answers on this topic. Once again, go read chapter 1 over here and if it grips you as it did me, go get it on Amazon.