My rating: 4 of 5 stars
*ARC received for my unbiased review from Netgalley.
Derek Flood’s book Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did asks the question: Does our interpretation of Scripture bring life or death? And given the crime rates and the feelings of many Christians who believe in war, the answer is clear: we are violent. But what does Jesus say about the matter?
Flood makes interesting valid points which he backs up with research.However his interpretation on final judgement leaves much to be desired.
First, the way we read the bible isn’t at all how Jesus read it. Flood backs this up by introducing the term trajectory reading. Trajectory reading, I gather from the context, means reading progressively. Not a static reading and then leaving it up to feelings or tradition to interpret for us. When Jesus quoted the Old Testament, he wasn’t displaying unquestioning obedience but faithful questioning,
“Properly interpreting New Testament- not as detached scholars but as followers of Jesus and his way- thus involves recognizing the redemptive trajectory it sets away from religious violence, and then continuing to develop and move forwards…we cannot stop at the New Testament but must recognize where is was headed.”(78)
Second, Flood compares the prophets’ writings and noticed how many of them clash: some seem to be proclaiming violence in God’s name and others speak of peace.
I particularly like how Flood introduces the example of the RSVP program in San Francisco- a Sheriff’s department undoing evil for evil and using right tactics and compassion to retrain offenders.
This brings me to Flood’s idea on hell and judgement. In fact, he has a section in the book titled, “Undoing Judgement”. Now we all know when the Word speaks of Hades/Hell, we pretty much can picture what that means. Flood thinks differently. If my reading of his book is correct, he believes it is all parables and imagery. The Gospel of Matthew uses too many violent texts, he asserts and Jesus was just using hell as a term people of His time can understand…
I enjoyed this book and learned much from his research and I hope that despite his ideas on hell that readers will learn that Jesus was showing us a nonviolent way to minister to those who hurt us and who are hurting.