Okay, okay, the title might be a little too strong. I do believe that Jesus is the righteous judge of the world and that we will all stand before Him to give an accounting, and that based on the judgment of Jesus, some will be eternally separated from God… So don’t rake me over the coals too much for that title….
I am only wrote that title in connection to Romans 8:34 due to a comment that was left on someone else’s blog about my recent series on God, violence, and evil. Here is what happened:
Peter Kirk recently posted a quote from one of my blog posts (if you do this, let me know so I can come interact with your readers!), and one of the people who left comments strongly disagreed with my ideas, and quoted Romans 8:34 this way: “Who is it that condemns? Christ Jesus…”
Is that a verse which says that Jesus Christ does actually condemn people? When I saw that verse, I blinked and shook my head and thought, “Really? How could I have missed that all these years?”
So I went and looked it up.
And guess what? The devil is in the dots. The problem is with the ellipses (…).
I know we all use them, but always be wary of Scripture quotations that include ellipses.
In Romans 8:34, Paul is not answering his question and saying that Jesus Christ condemns. No! Exactly the opposite. Paul is saying Jesus Christ is the only one who could condemn, but far from condemning anyone, Jesus died for us and intercedes for us! This is the only way to make Roman 8:34 fit with Romans 8:1.
Romans 8:34 should be understood this way: “Who is he who condemns? Jesus Christ is the only one who could, but He doesn’t! Instead, he died for us, and rose again from the dead, and now intercedes for us at the right hand of God the Father in heaven!”
Beautiful! Far from condemning humanity, Jesus loves us, died for us, and now intercedes for us!
Look, I know that not everybody will agree with the theory I am proposing about how to understand the violence of God in the Old Testament (see the link list at the bottom of this post).
I just have never been satisfied with any of the proposals for how to reconcile the violence of God in the Old Testament with the self-sacrificial love of Jesus. My proposal from fifteen years ago is still the only way that helps me view God the same way I view Jesus while still maintaining the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.
While I know that my proposal wreaks havoc on many traditional ways of reading some biblical passages, please know that just as with Romans 8:34, I am aware of these texts and simply understand them in a different light — in the light of the love and beauty of the crucified Christ.
I know that the burden of proof lies upon me to show how my thesis fits with Scripture, but I am beginning to think that the real burden of proof lies upon those who want to maintain that God is violent despite all the evidence to the contrary in the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus Christ, and especially in what He did for the entire world on the cross.
Though my thesis might be difficult to prove, it seems impossible to reconcile the bloody and violent God of the Old Testament with the loving, forgiving, and self-sacrificial God revealed in Jesus Christ. And I am not saying they are different Gods – they are One and the same! We just have to read about God in the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus and what He did on the cross.
That is what I am trying to do in this series, and I hope you will continue to stick with me through the ride! Very soon we will begin looking at some of the difficult texts like the Flood and the 10 Plagues.