I just finished reading a book chapter by David W Pao about “holy war” and the New Testament. It is well written and I have learned a lot from it. I like the fact that Pao maintains that Jesus is the Lord of all, and that “God the Victor is not in the possession one national and ethnic group”. (p 134)
In this post I will highlight two insights from Pao.
Pao sees the “Word of God” as the ultimate “warrior” in the Book of Acts. That is, the Word (in Acts) is “an instrument of God’s will in history.” (p 120) But it is important to note that “while the Word is the victorious and glorious Word, the church is the one that suffers in the hands of the enemies of the Word. This motif therefore points to the coexistence of the theology of glory and the theology of suffering in the same narrative [in Acts].” (p 120) Also, “human agents cannot claim to ‘possess’ this Word. Therefore, these agents cannot claim to have conquered the world through their own power or initiative.” (p 121)
In Revelation, we find, according to Pao, the “focus on the centrality of the death of Christ as the critical turning point in the struggle between God and Satan”. (p 122) “Followers of Christ can participate in this victory [of Christ] not through the assertion of power, but through the acceptance and proclamation of the Gospel of the cross. Through this Gospel, one finds the redefinition of power and victory, as suffering and humiliation become the ultimate weapon through which the sovereignty of God can be affirmed.” (p 123; emphasis added)
More posts about Pao’s views will be posted over the next few days.
Source: David W. Pao, “”Holy War’ and the Universal God: Reading the New Testament Conquest Accounts in a Postcolonial Setting” in After Imperialism, edited by Richard R. Cook and David W. Pao (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2011).