Q & R: A Bloody Mess for Eternity?

Here’s the Q:

Hi Brian,

I know that you were raised in the brethren church like I was and my 82 year old father just came for a visit the other day and he’s still staunchly in the old theology, he blurts out phrases and old remembrances thinking to comfort me, but they only seem to make me saddened for him.

He went on and on this time about the blood, how it’s all about the blood and how the blood is the focus of everything important. It has stayed with me as I remember those sermons, hymns and tropes from my days in the pews and I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that they (and he) have got to be wrong.

In the evolution of my faith I have come to know a god of love, not one of violence, who needs violence, who achieves the plan with violence. Can you please help me think this through? There has to be something either wrongly translated or wrongly understood, or intentionally screwtaped for the distortion of the future. It can’t be that God intended everything to be a bloody mess for eternity, can it?

If you’ve written on this I must have missed it and would so appreciate anything you could point me to that might help me unwrap this in my head. You’ve been such a great guide for me out of the darkness, I am truly grateful. Thanks again.

Here’s the R:

Two places I think you’ll get some help from me – three, actually:

  1. Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? In the chapters on original sin and eucharist, I give a summary of some of Rene Girard’s seminal work that I think you’ll find helpful.
  2. The Great Spiritual Migration: The middle section, especially.
  3. A New Kind of Christianity: One of the sections addresses the question: Is God Violent?

Obviously, I think you’re on the right track, and I hope these resources will be helpful. I’d encourage you to also see work by Brian Zahnd and Derek Flood, who are doing such good work in this regard, among many others.