So when I’m not doing henna, I’m either taking care of my kids or trying to enrich myself with hobbies or reading. This month I have taken on a large endeavor that has required a dictionary by my side, a notebook, and a pen at all times: reading the 1400+ page, 2 volume work Crucifixion of the Warrior God by Greg Boyd – published by Fortress Press .
I will be honest – this is the most complex book I’ve ever read. Specifically because I am no properly trained theologian (huge surprise, I’m sure) . So I am calling this review the Super Layman’s Review of CotWG . This book has more information crammed into every paragraph than a textbook. Not only because of the complex concepts or terminology but there are footnotes that span half the page sometimes – this really is a brain workout! Ten years ago I got a severe concussion that caused amnesia for a few days and ongoing memory loss. Since then, retaining listed information or recalling what I read has been a real challenge, which makes reading this book that much more of an endeavor. What is helping is taking copious notes and rereading sentences 2-3 times over to make sure I grasp the concept (so really its a 4200 page book if you have to read each paragraph 3 times). And since I don’t have anyone I know that nerds-out over this kind of stuff to discuss it with (another way to help me remember what I read), I thought I would write an overview online in segments as I work through it.
Okay, why go through all this when I’m not getting paid or getting some kind of certificate at the end? BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME.
Why couldn’t I wait until the simpler version of this book comes out later in the year? BECAUSE I COULDN’T WAIT.
What is it about?
The book compiles the research and concepts from theologians and Bible scholars of the Christocentric Hermeneutic (super layman’s definition: the fact the whole Bible (Old & New testament) is focused around Jesus and reading it as such) PLUS it expounds on these concepts in new way. The newness comes from Greg’s push to show HOW all of scripture, especially the violent portraits of God in the Old Testament, not only point to Jesus but is as beautiful as Jesus is … woah.
“…just as we are called to renounce the sin of the world mirrored in the ugliness of the cross even as we by faith discern a beautiful God revealing himself through this ugliness, so too are we called to renounce the sin mirrored in the ugliness of violent portraits of God even as we by faith discern a beautiful God revealing himself through this ugliness” – pg 31-32 CotWG
Like I said, only 100 pages deep but I’m already learning a lot. (I won’t spoil it for you) I understand the gist of how we are going to arrive there, but it is such an undertaking to somehow lead readers from a God demanding His people to cannibalize their children to the same God dying for His enemies that it is obvious why this book has to be so lengthy. (In a few segments already Boyd mentions he COULD expound further, but due to space constraints he can’t… Yeah, because I don’t have the space for an encyclopedia sized work on my Ikea shelf either)
If you want an overview of the book, check out the ReKnew podcast or a more in-depth discussion at MennoNerds
What is this book hoping to accomplish?
I think the goal is to take a concept that has been touched on but fragmented throughout other theological books and writings that God looks like Jesus, through and through – even the ugly portraits of Him in the Old Testament- and brings it ALL together to make the case concisely, clearly, and palatable to a vast group of readers. As Greg mentions in the book, this isn’t necessarily a “new” concept. But what IS new is the way we see the violence of the OT through the lens of Jesus and the cross. This book this is put together in a logical, compact manner with thorough explanations for each point (and about 1000 books referenced in the footnotes to go look it up yourself… if you need to do that, hope your eyeballs don’t fall out while reading them all)
Just for theology nerds? Nope!
What’s exciting is that this is a contemporary author who is super personable, down to earth, crazy intelligent, and fun which are important factors. When you are trying to learn something about a topic as paramount and personal as God and His relationship with us, it is helpful (if not completely necessary) for it to come from a teacher you respect. Greg is working on breaking a HUGE barrier that people have when they consider trusting in Jesus and walking into a loving relationship with Him. The barrier that looks like a blood thirsty, law obsessed deity that will scorch you if you get out of line. The barrier that looks like a schizophrenic god that lures you in with kindness and love but will turn on you with a vengeance and punish your sinful nature. The barrier that looks like he ordains and orders every terrible event. Those are some big hurdles to overcome to trust in the all loving, forgiving, merciful heart of Jesus. If you struggle with those kinds of concerns and questions, I strongly recommend picking up Crucifixion of the Warrior God and let it help guide your intellect to a place where it can be satisfied so your heart can take over from there.