What really struck me was that you did not view your remarks as a mistake. They seemed unapologetically consistent with your theology, what you believed to be God’s character and God’s way of interacting with creation. I won’t pretend to know with certainty the exact details of your theology but I’ll take an informed guess. My guess is that you believe that in the past God felt enraged, angered and disrespected by the mostly moral failings of humanity. God became so enraged that He (I’m guessing your God is exclusively male) demanded satisfaction for this sin which God took as a personal affront and since the price required to make up for this affront was higher than any normal human could afford to pay, God sent his son to pay the price for humanity with his violent torture and horrific death as the only adequate substitution possible.
If my guess is correct, and the character of your God is one that is angry, demands to be paid back for being disrespected and is willing to send His own child to be violently tortured and horrifically killed to satisfy His own enormous level of outrage, then it makes sense that torture and violence would be embraced by God’s followers on people they see as offending them. Your God’s holy violence models a holy violence used by your God’s followers.
The Jesus I know, however, has a character which is non-violent, radically inclusive, infinitely loving, compassionate and which never coerces belief or insists people follow him. Jesus’ character and methods are the clearest revelation, I believe, of God’s character and methods. Additionally, Jesus’ character and methods are exactly opposite of the character and methods of the God you describe. The loving God and inclusive Jesus I mentioned before are the ones I know and choose to follow.
This is where my revelation happened. I remembered that this has happened before in the opposite direction! Historically, there once was a God who used torture and brutal death to maintain control and create converts and new followers and was referred to as Son of God, Savior and Lord. Those titles were taken by the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who claimed the status of God and used those techniques of violence and torture to demand others respect him, fear him, acknowledge him as God and to create and maintain loyal followers.
In the first century, in an incredibly subversive move, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth took those same titles of Lord, Savior and Son of God from Caesar and gave them to Jesus! With that subversive takeover of divine titles, Jesus’ followers proclaimed to the world that Jesus was Lord and Caesar was not, that Jesus was the Son of God and Caesar was not and that Jesus was the Savior and Caesar was not. Significantly, their appropriation of those titles and application to Jesus also proclaimed that God’s character was best demonstrated by Jesus’ character and not by Caesar’s.
What I now understand is that you and others are doing that same type of subversive takeover of the titles of God and Jesus. You have removed those titles from the historical character and actions of Jesus of Nazareth and applied them to something or someone you call by those names but who seems to me to posses the character and methods of Caesar Augustus, rather than the character of Jesus of Nazareth.
In the past I’ve thought that people with the ideas that you expressed the other day and I had the same God and the same Jesus, but simply understood the same God and Jesus from different perspectives. Now, however, I think what you've helped me realize is that we simply follow two completely different, totally unrelated, entirely separate, absolutely opposite individuals (confusingly) both named Jesus. These two very different individuals both named Jesus also reveal two completely different, totally unrelated and entirely separate, absolutely opposite Gods with diametrically opposed characters and methods.
What you helped me realize is that I don't need to argue with you over the character of God. We simply have different Gods and different Jesuses. I’ll admit, yours confusingly seem to have the same names of “God” and “Jesus” as the God and Jesus I know, but they have literally opposite characters and methods. I simply don’t know your God or your Jesus. Frankly, and no offense intended, but I don’t want to know them. They sound horrible to me! I don’t want to follow them and I don’t want to spend any time with them in this life and I certainly don’t want to hang out with them for eternity!
Sarah, you are welcome to worship your God and your Jesus. It is a free country. But I’m going to worship and follow my entirely different God and Jesus… the ones who are about radical self-giving love, inclusion, forgiveness, generosity and grace and NEVER about death, violence, torture or revenge. Thank you for showing me this truth!