A bit more on Old Testament violence and the love of God

I recently finished Tom Holland’s Dominion. Reading the history of Christianity at the same time as reading about the conquest of Canaan in the Old Testament as I was, it really struck me that the two histories are depressingly similar. And though the Old Testament seems to indicate divinely-sanctioned violence, the ultimate testimony of Scripture, summing all things up in Christ, seems to say: Jesus was right, even though most of his followers, before (to speak anachronistically) and after, got it wrong. It is to the degree to which we allow our view to be shaped by Jesus’ understanding of the law – summed up in loving God and loving your neighbour, your neighbour being those ‘outside’ as well as ‘inside’ those you suppose to be the ‘accepted’ – it is to this degree that we ourselves may be able to call ourselves truly followers of Jesus, in spite of the legacy left by many of those who have claimed to be his followers and yet have not loved their neighbour. Darkened though history may be by surprising, deep aberrations from what we might expect of the people of God and even the person of ‘God’, the shadows only lengthen because of the brightness of his majesty, as Jesus hangs at the crux of it all, arms stretched wide in a plea for reconciliation, the Prince of Peace the victim of all the world’s violence, taking it into himself and abolishing its legacy in God and in humanity once and for all on the cross.


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