Decompressing from Brueggemann and Zahnd
As I write this piece, I am still decompressing as I return from the depths of the 2015 Word of Life ‘Faith & Culture Conference.’ I’ve experienced the heady privilege of interrogating Walter Brueggemann and Brian Zahnd for days on end. Many would regard Dr. Brueggemann as the most significant Old Testament scholar of our era. He would also probably be America’s best preacher if Bishop (my designation) Zahnd didn’t already clearly fill that role. I say this not to flatter, but to urge others who could not attend to participate through their books or the conference recordings.
One of my most significant takeaways came through an anonymous Q & A query at the tail end of the final session. Brian Zahnd had waxed prophetic with a call away from the ‘Monster god’ of retribution to the Christlike God of the Gospels. In that context, the astute question raised was,
“What do we do with verses like Psalm 7:11-12: ‘God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day? Does not the God of love as revealed in Christ become angry with injustice?’”
A marvelous question! It somehow flipped a switch of blazing illumination in my dear friend. And Psalm 7 could not have been a better biblical source for a revelation of the precise nature of God’s wrath – and a microcosm of how that notion evolves across the biblical witness. In what follows, I will extend and expand on Brian’s brief but bright response.