Jesus the “Prize-fighter”?

I know some who read my blog don’t care for pastor-scholar Greg Boyd (who I don’t always agree with though I’d like to meet some time) – but he has a recent post confronting Mark Driscoll’s view of Jesus as a violent (and I imagine UFC type) “prize fighter.”  Boyd notes Discoll’s comments were from “a few years ago” so I don’t know if Driscoll has changed his perspective (probably not?) but he is quoted as having stated the following:

“In Revelation, Jesus is a prize-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” (You can find the original interview here). 

Well, now.  So Jesus is the lead fighter for the UFC franchise?  🙂  Along with Boyd, I am not surprised Driscoll has this perception of our Lord Jesus Christ – Driscoll wants to be a man’s man an seems to consistently present the need for men to be tough guys wild at heart who go out to conquer life (and a spouse) and get good jobs and have lots of kids, and consistently puts down other images of how Jesus might be portrayed and puts down men who do not or may not be able to live up to his standards of manhood. 

Frankly, this perception of Jesus by Driscoll it is a blantant text book case of imposing, if not transposing, one’s own personal  theology and cultural ideology on to the biblical text.  I cannot say that Boyd is not doing the same with is own pacafism but I find what Boyd is presenting significantly closer to the biblical presentation of Jesus than what Driscoll puts forth.  This isn’t to say that Driscoll isn’t a good pastor or Bible teacher or anything like that.  I just happen to think how he presents it is going the wrong direction. 

Pastor Boyd writes:

I frankly have trouble understanding how a follower of Jesus could find himself unable to worship a guy he could “beat up” when he already crucified him. I also fail to see what is so worshipful about someone carrying a sword with “a commitment make someone bleed.”  But this aside, I’m not at all surprised Driscoll believes the book of Revelation portrays Jesus as a “prize fighter.”  This violent picture of Jesus, rooted in a literalistic interpretation of Revelation, is very common among conservative Christians, made especially popular by the remarkably violent Left Behind series…..

The most unfortunate aspect of this misreading, as Driscoll’s comment graphically reveals, is that the “prize fighter” portrait of Jesus easily subverts the Jesus of the Gospels who out of love chooses to die for enemies rather than use his power against them and who commands his followers to do the same (see e.g. Mt 5:43-45; Lk 6:27-36)…..

The more significant point Boyd makes that I wanted to highlight here is this one (the bold is my emphasis of the important point being made:

At any rate, if we interpret Revelation according to its genre and in its original historical context, and if we pay close attention to the ingenious way John uses traditional symbolism, it becomes clear that John is taking traditional Old Testament and Apocalyptic violent imagery and turning it on its head.  Yes, there is an aggressive war, and yes there is bloodshed. But its a war in which the Lamb and his followers are victorious because they fight the devil and Babylon (representing all  governmental systems) by faithfully laying down their lives for the sake of truth (”the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony”), not by being “prize fighters” with “a commitment to make someone bleed.”

That’s the whole thing about following Jesus isn’t it?   He takes so many things in our world and in our lives and turns them up side down – up is down, down is up, leading is serving; instead of hating show love; instead of holding grudges, forgive; instead of agression, submit and so on.  A life of discipleship to Jesus is downward path not an upward one – it is a life of serving others and sacrificial living not asserting the self and so on. 

Well, the post is a good read and has a good list of books on the Revelation to add to your Amazon wish list for future reference!

HT: Dave Black

Voting has opened for the $50 Eisenbrauns voucher…

Joel has posted the entries he has received for a $50 Eisenbrauns voucher.  You only have 1 day to vote.  I recommended Mark’s post sharing about his journey out of the AU AoG.  Mark coped a fair amount of flack from a so called “brothers” in the Lord for both leaving the AU AoG and for sharing his story publically.  This should not have happened.  Alongside my own entry are some other great posts.   Mark was generous enough to recommend my post “The AG Paper on Creation and Ken Ham.”

So, head over to Joel’s blog and vote for either Mark or I….   🙂

yup, another shameless self promotion post!  lol!  oh well…

13 Things Your Greek Teachers Won’t Tell You

Dave Black, NT Greek prof at SEBTS, offers 13 Things Your Greek Teachers Won’t Tell You:

1. Greek is not the only tool you need to interpret your New Testament. In fact, it’s only one component in a panoply of a myriad of tools. Get Greek, but don’t stop there. (You’ll need, for example, a Hebrew New Testament as well.)

2. Greek is not the Open Sesame of biblical interpretation. All it does is limit your options. It tells you what’s possible, then the context and other factors kick in to disambiguate the text.

3. Greek is not superior to other languages in the world. Don’t believe it when you are told that Greek is more logical than, say, Hebrew. Not true.

4. Greek had to be the language in which God inscripturated New Testament truth because of its complicated syntax. Truth be told, there’s only one reason why the New Testament was written in Greek and not in another language (say, Latin), and that is a man named Alexander the Great, whose vision was to conquer the inhabited world and then unite it through a process known as Hellenization. To a large degree he succeeded, and therefore the use of Greek as the common lingua franca throughout the Mediterranean world in the first century AD should come as no surprise to us today. I emphasize this point only because there are some today who would seek to resurrect the notion of “Holy Ghost” Greek. Their view is, in my view, a demonstrable cul-de-sac.

5. Greek words do not have one meaning. Yet how many times do we hear in a sermon, “The word in the Greek means…”? Most Greek words are polysemous, that is, they have many possible meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. (In case you were wondering: Reading all of the meanings of a Greek word into any particular passage in which it occurs is called “illegitimate totality transfer” by linguists.)

6. Greek is not difficult to learn. I’ll say it again: Greek is not difficult to learn. I like to tell my students, “Greek is an easy language; it’s us Greek teachers who get in the way.” The point is that anyone can learn Greek, even a poorly-educated surfer from Hawaii. If I can master Greek, anyone can!

7. Greek can be acquired through any number of means, including most beginning textbooks. Yes, I prefer to use my own Learn to Read New Testament Greek in my classes, but mine is not the only good textbook out there. When I was in California I taught in an institution that required all of its Greek teachers to use the same textbook for beginning Greek. I adamantly opposed that policy. I feel very strongly that teachers should have the right to use whichever textbook they prefer. Thankfully, the year I left California to move to North Carolina that policy was reversed, and now teachers can select their own beginning grammars. (By the way, the textbook that had been required was mine!)

8. Greek students think they can get away with falling behind in their studies. Folks, you can’t. I tell my students that it’s almost impossible to catch up if you get behind even one chapter in our textbook. Language study requires discipline and time management skills perhaps more than any other course of study in school.

9. Greek is fun! At least when it’s taught in a fun way.

10. Greek is good for more than word studies. In fact, in the past few years I’ve embarked on a crusade to get my students to move away from word-bound exegesis. When I was in seminary I was taught little more than how to do word studies from the Greek. Hence, I thought I had “used Greek in ministry” if I had consulted my Wuest, Robertson, Kittle, Brown, Vincent, or Vines. Since then I’ve discovered that lexical analysis is the handmaiden and not the queen of New Testament exegesis. Greek enables us to see how a text is structured, how it includes rhetorical devices, how syntactical constructions are often hermeneutical keys, etc.

11. Greek can cause you to lose your faith. It happened to one famous New Testament professor in the US when he discovered that there were textual variants in his Greek New Testament, and it can happen to you. When the text of Scripture becomes nothing more than “another analyzable datum of linguistic interpretation” then it loses its power as the Word of God. That’s why I’m so excited about my Greek students at the seminary, most of whom are eager to place their considerable learning at the feet of Jesus in humble service to His upside-down kingdom.

12. Greek can be learned in an informal setting. The truth is that you do not need to take a formal class in this subject or in any subject for that matter. I know gobs of homeschoolers who are using my grammar in self-study, many of whom are also using my Greek DVDs in the process. If anyone wants to join the club, let me know and I will send you, gratis, a pronunciation CD and a handout called “Additional Exercises.”

13. Greek is not Greek. In other words, Modern Greek and Koine Greek are two quite different languages. So don’t expect to be able to order a burrito in Athens just because you’ve had me for first year Greek. On the other hand, once you have mastered Koine Greek it is fairly easy to work backwards (and learn Classical Greek) and forwards (and learn Modern Greek).

Okay, I’m done. And yes, I’m exaggerating. Many Greek teachers do in fact tell their students these things. May their tribe increase!

Now who wants to tackle “13 Things Your Hebrew Teachers Won’t Tell You”?