On the Energion Hangout tonight at 7:00 PM central time, we’ll be discussing the topic of violence in the Bible, with a particular emphasis on the Old Testament. But as participant Dr. Alden Thompson will doubtless remind us tonight, there’s violence in the New Testament as well. Alden Thompson is author of the very first title in the Energion catalog, now in its 5th edition, Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God?. Joining Alden will be Dr. Allan Bevere, author of The Character of Our Discontent, a book that resulted from his decision to preach from the Old Testament more, even though he’s a New Testament scholar.
I’ve known Alden Thompson for a long time. He was my professor for two years of undergraduate Hebrew and for my first quarter of Aramaic. It is no accident that Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God? was first in the Energion catalog. It was out of print and I ask to reissue it because I wanted to use it in my own teaching.
I would say, in fact, that Alden is one of the major reasons why, despite all the doubts I’ve had over the years, I’m still a Christian. No, he didn’t prevent me from leaving the church following seminary, and I’m no longer a member of the same denomination, but the kinds of approaches to the various problems in both biblical studies and theology have stuck with me. In addition, I use some of the approaches he teaches, both to inspiration and to dealing with diversity in the church, quite frequently.
Alden takes a kind and gentle approach to working with those who disagree, no matter what their perspective. He’s careful with questioners’ faith, while still being willing to take their questions seriously.
I met Allan Bevere more recently, through the medium of blogging and then of print publishing, but I’ve also developed a friendship with him. Allan takes orthodox Christian doctrine seriously and is a pastor first and foremost. He is also an adjunct professor, and helps prepare other pastors.
Tonight I intend to challenge both these scholars regarding difficult passages of scripture. Can we bypass the violence? Can we look at some aspects of scripture as just plain wrong? If not, how do we deal with such passages as Numbers 31?
I think this discussion will be lively and lots of fun!
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