Thursday, March 17, 2011

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Do you think that the God of the OT is different from the God of the NT, and if so, or if not, for what reasons?


Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Reminds me on the ZigZag from Feb, 17th. Still a different change here, I guess. ;)

Yet, one reason is the same for me. God is the same, because he does not change. That's what he said. That's what I need to be able to trust him.

I might not see everything at every time and therefore misinterpret his behavior. But that dies not mean, that he is different.

Tamra Larter said...

I'll take a stab at this... but with fear and trepidation as I am NO theologian.

I agree with Lukas, that God is unchanging. While principalities and powers of this dark world have names which reflect their 1000 faces, God is the God who WAS and IS and IS TO COME. He is ONE and he is the I AM. I don't think this has changed. I may be taking that out of context, but I hope I am conveying this correctly.

I want to say that God is the same, but how He is doing relationship with us has perhaps changed... At first Adam and Eve had full access to God... they walked with him in the garden, but when sin entered the world is when God cursed and then set down more boundaries.

The boundaries and requirements to get beyond them - to get within a relationship with God only increased throughout the OT (I'm making a guess as I have only just began reading the Bible through again after 10 years of being a snoozing Christian).

How God does relationship in the NT has changed... because many of the things REQUIRED (blood sacrifices, peace offerings, etc>) are no longer in light of the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, The Lamb of God. What God requires of humankind now is that we believe in Jesus, indeed completely rely on his Blood sacrifice for us, repentance and a life full of hearing and living obedient to His will... which has always (unchanged) been for us to be in covenant with Him, to honor Him and Him alone. He in turn has always (unchanged) offered us a future and a hope.

Wow. I think I said what I really meant to say there. No time to edit or rethink anything, so I look forward to your response and any corrections/clarifications.

Greg said...

Thanks. Yes, this one is different. Several discussions taking place here recently have focused on the issue of the God of the OT seeming more harsh and battle like, while Jesus never commands taking life. It appears, at least for some, that God is different in the two testaments.

Would your view of it be something like - the Bible says God doesn't change, therefore I have to reconcile what might seem like a change, by saying that I have a limited view. To say God is different in OT and NT is to misinterpret God's behavior?

Greg said...

Thanks. Good points. You've strung together some pertinent thoughts. Much appreciated.

Seems to me that you are saying that God is the same, but that he related differently to people in the OT and the NT. Is that right?

Tamra said...

Greg, Yes. That would have been the shorter way of saying it... but of course I am realizing now that the discussion is much more complex than that... and I didn't even try to touch the who issue of violence/war vs. non-violence/peace.

I like what you said to Lukas about acknowledging limitedness. I do wonder if perhaps some of these aspects are still true of God...??? Maybe??? But just not the focus of the NT?

I realize I have many questions around this issue too. Thanks for bringing this up.

Greg said...

Yes, I believe it is a complex issue worth thinking about. While there are notable similarities, which you so rightly highlighted, the differences seem to be prominent as well. If that's the case, how can we formulate a picture of God that takes similarities and differences into consideration?

Tamra Larter said...

What about saying that God is unchanging, but that Christ is the mediator for God's anger/wrath/waring side?

It is not my intention to force God into being the same in both OT and NT, but it does seem to make sense to me that God is the same and is unchanging in his nature but because of Christ we can by means described in the NT affect or perhaps have an influence the degree of the consequences for wrong actions?

I don't know... I'm a little confused. Because I see God as unchanging and yet He IS more seemingly violent in the OT. I have heard others describe God as NOT the author of violence... that it comes from the enemy... when violence manifests it is because God has lifted His hand of protection.

But the language of the Bible is confusing because it says things like God hardened Pharoh's heart and such.

So... still thinking about all of this.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

dividing God into "hatred" and love or OT and NT is fatal in my eyes. (I know this is harsh and it does not stay in the middle. Your seeming more harsh and battle like, while Jesus never commands taking life is much more balanced. But I want to go to the edge here, because I don't want to drift into the wrong direction.) Yes my view would be, that he does not change. I'm not even sure, that he would change behavior, as it mirrors his self.

My guess is, that our take on the NT is very much influenced by Humanism.

And maybe (therefore?) we do not see God's love in the OT and at the same time do not see God's righteous judgements today.

Tamra Larter said...

Well said Lukas. You trigger the thought that I have had since I began rereading the OT which is that there IS love there too.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

If there was no love, God would have smitten everybody. He would never have saved anybody. He would have instantly killed Adam and Eve - or maybe Eve before she would have given the apple to Adam.

God IS love, therefore we see his love all the time. We just have to look at it with clear eyes.

Greg said...

As far as Israel, and especially the prophets go, God is responsible for the nation's exile.

Do you think one could say that God could reveal himself contextually, but not finally be contextual? That is, God can speak and act somewhat differently in different contexts, but he is not determined or obligated by context, as he is the same God.

Greg said...

True, I agree that the NT take is often inappropriate and tends to sometimes have a pretty view of Jesus, yet there is something different about him than Yahweh and the nationalistic fervor concerning Israel that he seems to maintain.

Greg said...

God is indeed love and much more.

Tamra Larter said...

yes. yes. don't want to limit God.

Joshua said...

I think there's a richness and diversity within both texts to how God is portrayed when we reduce it to "God is love" or "fear the jealous, megalomaniac". The God portrayed slaying Ananias and Sapphira is not the same portrayal as the heavens opening up and an disembodied voice declaring Jesus His son in whom he is pleased. God sitting on a throne, circled by seraphim shoving coals onto lips is different from God questioning Adam in a Garden or comforting Elijah. I'm not suggesting that YHWH is the whimsical, capricious Hebrew version of the Greeks', but there is a complexity to God's character that isn't captured in axioms. Moreover, the portraying is done by humans, who inscribe their depictions with their own unique perspectives, which while "unique" is still highly informed by cultural understandings, etc.

And while I think there's a number of interesting aspects to this question, I'm less curious if "God has changed" in relation to violence to how perhaps His message has between canons.

Greg said...

Thanks. Good thoughts. I like the idea of a complexity to God's character. Seems to me there is a surplus of meaning here that's beyond words, while yet words are sufficient and do suffice in recounting what we need to know.

Yes, your last sentence is more to the point of the question, though the issue of change may underlie that.

Formulations, in my view, are important and aiming to express the same, yet different God no easy task. But I concur, the message change between canons gives rise to thought.