Friday, March 18, 2011

The Contextual God?

Following the question on ZigZag yesterday here are a few thoughts. The fierce debate about the similarities and differences of the God of the OT and of the NT is well known. My configuration would go along these lines. God in both testaments is contextual; revealing into contexts in different ways and these inform us about something of who God is. That is, the God of first and second testaments is willing to be contextual, though he is not finally subject to context.

In the OT YHWH is understood as being responsible for both Exodus and Exile. YHWH moves in a mighty way to liberate Israel from one Empire and to deport them into the hands of another. Words of disappointment and threat effectuate the displacement, as Israel has gravely sinned against the covenant God. Yet, a new hope arises and the proclamation that a freedom to return to Jerusalem will come, and loss, grief, and alienation will be undone, as Babylon the Empire, releases its vassal.

In the NT Jesus proclaims the arrival of the kingdom of God and that this is good news. He defeats Satan, casts out demons, heals the sick, and raises the dead, offering cleansing, forgiveness, and redemption to all who believe. He ventures to tell his followers that not only are they to love neighbor, but also enemy. Although, a military denouement is not yet, it will come. The mighty Woes in Matt. 23 addressed to the religious elite in Jerusalem of Jesus’ day, give a foretaste of an impending disaster and another Exile. Jerusalem has been longed for, but will be left desolate.

God in the two testaments is related and distinct. There is sameness and difference, proximity and distance. These portrayals of God show us his revelatory message and communicative acts are contextual, yet he is not enslaved to context, but freely wields love and justice in his own fitting way.