Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bible Passages That Reveal A Vulnerable God

My vision of an 'omnivulnerable' rather than invulnerable God is not something that is separate from scripture. It is not the dominant explicit Biblical theme. Certainly there is more Biblical warrant for belief in an invulnerable God rather than a vulnerable God. Yet it is there, throughout scripture, and becomes implicit throughout the New Testament, eventually.

Passages that reveal a vulnerable God include:

Genesis 3:22- Shows God worried or even afraid of the power man had gained by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and the power he may gain if he eats from the Tree of Life.

Genesis 11:6- Shows a similar concern as Genesis 3:22, with God afraid of the collective power of even a mortal mankind.

Genesis 32:23-33-  Shows a God who is vulnerable to mankind in a rather extreme way, in that Jacob can wrestle Him to the ground, and force his blessing. Jacob's fight with God may be the most extreme vision of Divine Vulnerability in all of the Old Testament. I consider it a direct encounter with the divine, not just in history, but every time I read it.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12- The truth is that nobody knows for sure who the Servant Songs originally were written about. The prominent suggestion is that it represents all of Israel, though I am personally doubtful of this. What is certainly true is that it is the only example in all of the Old Testament of salvation through vicarious suffering, and the cosmic dimensions behind it all are telling. This passage comes to me as revelation of God, as it has for so many Christians for a long, long time. I think this reading is valid.

Hosea Chapters 1-3- Hosea's own suffering with his adulterous wife is directly connected to God's suffering as a result of His people's disobedience. This is probably second only to the Genesis 32 passage in the Old Testament. Here we are told directly of God's pain, which is revealed in Hosea's.

All of the Crucifixion Stories- Of course one can question whether the Gospels really intend a full identification of God with Jesus. But they represent a movement in that direction, a movement that was completed with the codification of Christian Doctrine. And to the degree that we do see Jesus on the other side of the Divine/Human divide, the Crucifixion stories are then certainly the supreme examples of divine vulnerability. God finally answers Job, by becoming Job.

Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 1:5, 1 Peter 5:1- All of these passages attribute Christian suffering to a sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Suffering is no longer the result of God's Will, but the consequence of God's being love. God's love results in God's suffering, and our suffering is a sharing in His suffering.

Revelation 5 & Revelation 13:8- Here is the final culmination of the entire Vulnerable God and Suffering God theme in scripture. Jesus Christ is the Lamb Slain, a supremely vulnerable creature that yet holds within Himself all the power of the Divine. Here is the entirety of my theology, summed up in two images.

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