The Warrior God
A commenter on my guest post at Per Caritatem questions whether the Old Testament imagining of God as a “mighty and violent warrior” can be discredited by the New Testament figure of Christ when the old image is “one rather large chunk” of scripture.
I don’t have a problem with the “large chunk” of scripture that depicts an almighty, violent warrior God. That understanding of God makes sense given the culture of those who conceptualized him thus. The symbols, figures, images, and myths about God have developed over time. Some have been figures of violence and war. As they are a part of a text I believe to be God’s Word, I don’t think they should be dismissed or discredited, but understood both within their proper context and in light of the revelations of Christ. Like any image of God, the warrior God both reveals and conceals. I may not take it literally, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t disclose to me a truth about God that God wanted revealed.
That God revealed himself as “Father” shows that he reveals himself through partially erroneous and flawed figures. The biological understand of fatherhood at the time of the New Testament’s writing wasn’t entirely accurate, to put it mildly. The father was the source of life; the mother just a vessel. Yet if we want to understand the meaning of God the Father, we have to take a detour through that flawed former understanding of fatherhood. I suspect a similar detour is necessary to understand God through the figure of the warrior deity.