I recently posted this same content on the Society of Vineyard Scholars forum and thought it was worth sharing here too. The following link (provided for reference) is more associated with Peter Enns’ hermeneutical approach, but I wanted to focus here in this post on a similar approach by Greg Boyd.
For Boyd, Col. 2:17 provides the critical key to interpreting the Old Testament (OT). As you may know, Boyd filters pretty much everything through the lens of the love of God as revealed in the self sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross as the ultimate expression/revelation of God and who He is/His nature, i.e. the OT stories provide but “a shadow of” the full truth revealed in Jesus. So he uses this verse in Colossians as a filter for everything in the OT and a way to address the problem of God-ordained violence and genocide in the OT. So in this way he explains (away) for example the apparent God-commanded genocide of the Canaanites as that is how they (Israel) understood God, but (based on the love of God revealed the cross) God in fact did not command this (accompanied by arguments based in the doctrine of accommodation). So in essence, in this, and many other instances, the OT is essentially historically inaccurate in what it claims that God said or commanded. This approach is definitely intriguing and worthy of careful consideration/analysis, however it seems to open a door to my being able to explain away virtually anything in the OT that I don’t like as, “well, no that never actually happened” or “No, God didn’t actually say that” (eerily similar to something the serpent said to Eve in the garden). And as the link above points out, the ultimate end of going down this road would seem to be a Marcionite tossing out of the entire OT with its violent, hateful, vengeful god!
I agree that the life, teaching, ministry, work, death, burial & resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate, full, final revelation of God (I can even accept that it trumps canonized scripture at least to a point). And I’m pretty much OK with the doctrines of progressive revelation and accommodation, but I’m not sure I’m able to go down Boyd’s road (at least not very far).
Now I like Boyd, and am a regular listener to his podcast, and I hate to be cliche, but this does seem to lead to something of a ‘slippery slope’ where I can simply toss out virtually anything in the Bible I don’t like or am uncomfortable with by arguing that its not consistent with the love of God as revealed through Jesus Christ on the cross. But in fairness, here’s a link to Dr. Boyd’s own response to the charge of Marcionism. You can also click here to listen to a podcast of Boyd preaching a full exposition of his view entitled: God’s Shadow Activity.
So what do you think? Do Boyd and others go too far? Is there anything useful/helpful that we can glean from this view without tossing out the entire OT in total?