R-Rated: Rated R for Redemption
God can redeem any person out of any situation.
(Read Joshua 2:1-20)
In 144 AD, the church father Marcion was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, Italy, because he held to a dual authorship of the Bible. He could not bring together how there could be one God who authored both the Old and the New Testament because the God of the Old Testament seemed to be a God of anger and wrath, and the God of the New Testament appeared to be a God of love and grace. He looked at a passage like Mark 10:14 where the Son of God said, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of heaven." Then he looked at a passage like Joshua 6:21, where God says the whole city is devoted for destruction. Kill the children, let the children suffer. The Son of God in Mark 10:14 says, "Suffer little children, permit little children." But Joshua 6:21, God said, "Cause the children to suffer death." The old men, the young men, the women, the cattle. Everything is destined for destruction. Marcion couldn't understand how there could be one author of both Testaments. Therefore, he denied the Old Testament in terms of using and preaching from it, but embraced the New Testament.
We are modern day Marcionites. We embrace the New Testament. We do not deny the Old Testament, we just ignore it and don't preach from it. But God wants us to assume a posture of second naiveté, to become a child again and to crawl up into the cranium of Yahweh with this text, and stay there long enough with this text until that which is familiar about this text appears to be strange. I believe that for every New Testament doctrine there is an Old Testament picture. The New Testament doctrine for this sermon is redemption, ...
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Robert Smith Jr. is Associate Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama.