Divine Aikido - Sermon by Greg Boyd

On Sabbath, September 17, 2016, Dr. Gregory Boyd delivered his sermon entitled “Divine Aikido” at the 2016 Adventist Forum Conference, in which he confronts the theory of violent atonement and God’s wrath.

The audio file and PowerPoint from his sermon are below. On this Easter weekend, we invite you to listen to this special presentation.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7971

We, humans, seem to need symbolism and ritual to bridge the gap between the temporal and the spiritual. Watching some of the Easter celebrations around the world, it occurred to me that Christian ritual, in its various forms, looks a lot like the incantations and rites performed around the world in areas where Christianity hasn’t reached. The ceremony, with all the bells and whistles that include vestments, equal to body decorations in some cultures, are about the same thing - a way of dealing with spiritual issues in a literal (temporal) way.

The Old Testament, as well, is filled with graphic ceremony. The ceremonial system is a visceral way of dealing with guilt, redemption, and hope. After disappointing himself and his God, blood had to flow in order for the individual to have a “clean slate” - a new beginning - to live the rest of his life. Even back then, people had figured out that “God hated the sacrifices” as much as they did; but their culture insisted on a demonstration of this redemptive event.

Jesus, thrust into this culture of “sacrificial blood,” played out the symbolism - first, for his generation; but also for the future. This is why we have Paul, the intellectual in this picture, interpreting, the symbols into answers for our universal spiritual needs - however, as is often the the case, the symbol becomes the object of worship in our need for the concrete depictions of the intangible. The SDA worship of the sacred also includes ceremony, admittedly on a smaller scale than some of the others.; but when it comes to the basics of Christianity, the focus is on the cross and the resurrection. Without these two together, as the “cornerstone” of Christianity, it is difficult to make sense of Paul when he states ***He who ws delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.***; or, ***But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.***.

While statements like these may attack our enlightened sensibilities; and our sense of justice and morality, yet, there they are, in the middle of the Bible’s most comprehensive explanation of Christianity. These explanations were meant for the lay person to digest; not to be deconstructed and dissected at some conclave of higher learning.That’s not to say that even those words my end up sounding very different given a different background or context. Much has been written into the Bible through translation of both, text and tradition.

We probably never outgrow the need for visuals to explain the abstracts in our experience. We seem to still need ceremony and ritual when it comes to the important milestones in our lives - baptisms, births, weddings, funerals. Quietly contemplating or exchanging vows don’t seem to be enough for most societies. Our morality seems to require someone with credentials to make pronouncements and officiate in these events. We haven’t quite graduated to a spiritual connection with our God.

Perhaps it’s not God who needs the sacrifice, but our sense of justice.

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Let’s now listen from someone who is worthy of our spiritual attention: Ellen G. White’s Mind Character and Personality Chapter 3
Misuse of Sciences Pertaining to the Mind.—In these days when skepticism and infidelity so often appear in a scientific garb, we need to be guarded on every hand. Through this means our great adversary is deceiving thousands and leading them captive according to his will. The advantage he takes of the sciences, sciences which pertain to the human mind, is tremendous. Here, serpent-like, he imperceptibly creeps in to corrupt the work of God.

Greg Boyd is promoting a major paradigm shift here that is a major deviation from what has been firmly established orthodoxy for thousands of years. After all, it was The Father himself who envisioned and established the violent system of sacrifice, with all its innocent blood and death and flesh on alters. He could have sent His Son to the streets of America and Jesus might have died a less violent death via lethal injection instead of the heinous, barbaric, extremely violent bloody scourging and the cross. The Father in His unknowable wisdom deliberately chose the brutal Roman Empire. The most radical, ultimately violent rebellion must have demanded the most radical, ultimately violent antidote. Boyd is arguing against the providence of God Almighty and His prerogative.

When a major shift of doctrine is proposed, I would expect a long chain of Bible texts, as we know that Scripture interprets Scripture. What I noticed while listening to the presentation is that Boyd only references Scripture vaguely, loosely.

He made sure to take a swipe at our nation’s founding in his sermon, which is an overtly political insertion, and just doesn’t belong in an Easter presentation. Out of place.

There is a palpable withdrawal from traditional Christian beliefs happening.

I know a lot of people don’t want to serve a God that would require them, as sinners, to go out into the field and find the most perfect lamb and stab it in the throat. It’s just too uncomfortable. We are supposed to be mortified, bothered, repulsed by our sinful actions, because they require an installment that only the Son can provide.

First, I can’t see how Greg Boyd’s sermon can ever be compared to the ‘panentheism’ taught by Dr. Kellogg’s book, ‘The Living Temple’, as far as destroying the ‘Christian Economy’ goes ! The ‘Christian Economy’ – like the ‘Jewish Economy’ – depends upon that ultimate mediation of Christ that always refers to that same cross-scene that Boyd refers to as being the ‘truth’ which must define all ‘types’, or ‘shadows’, regarding ‘God’ in the Biblical record .

But ‘panentheism’ leads directly to the question:

If God (the Father) is in everything, everywhere, and not ‘person-al’, not able to be escaped from, then he is in, even, rebellious sinners (Without consuming them ?). So, why send the Christ as a ‘surety’ – as an ambassador of peace – ‘down’ from the Father in Heaven to Earth’s rebels ? And, panentheism also destroys the pre-second-advent ‘substitution’ of the Christ as the ‘second Adam’, representing fallen humanity ‘up’ in the ‘court’ of Heavenly witnesses assembled about the Throne of the Father.

Greg Boyd’s sermon merely demonstrates that for some Christians, Christ’s intercession at the cross, ‘below’, has resulted in successfully resurrecting their comprehension of the character of the Father’s ‘heart’ ‘up’ from the ‘old’, toward the ‘New Jerusalem’, at the top of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. . . and this is very Ellen Whitical:

“The plan of salvation was opened to Jacob’s mind in this dream. Christ was the ladder that he saw. Christ is the link that binds earth to heaven, and connects finite man with the infinite God. This ladder reaches from the lowest degradation of earth and humanity to the highest heavens. We are to ascend the ladder that Jacob saw, but not by our own strength alone. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance and reformation. We are not left to struggle on alone.” {PH105 6.2}

When Greg Boyd sees the goodness of God in the cross of Christ, he sees more than too many SDAs see, and approaches closer to the Throne of the Father – through the teaching of Christ and the cross – than too many SDAs approach.
Yet, Christ, our ‘Brother’, stands right there beside the Father,
not at a ‘safe distance’ !
What other ‘Christian Economy’ is there, than that which Greg Boyd enjoys ?

Now, for my own comments:

As Greg Boyd mentioned, it has become popular in some circles to see the Old Testament as mere allegory, mere ‘theater’. But, ‘allegory’ and classroom-‘theater’ can be real, too, partly due to predictable human nature.
And don’t forget that, as Paul said,

“. . . we are a ‘theater’ to the ‘kosmos’, to angels, and to men.” I Cor 4:9

With that ‘angel’s eye view’ in mind, years ago, I began studying Bible maps, Bible geography. Not long after I took that neglected course, Michael Drosnin came out with his second ‘Bible Code’ book regarding the ‘skip codes’ in the Torah and other Hebrew writings being studied by Eli Rips in Israel. But, what triggered my interest most, was Drosnin’s explanation of that intriguing little peninsula that used to stick out into the water of the ‘Dead Sea’ before it began drying up.

‘Lisan’ is its name, and Drosnin explained that ‘lisan’ is Hebrew for ‘tongue’, or ‘language’ (handled primarily by the cortex of the ‘left brain’). Drosnin was intrigued by a ‘skip code’ that involved the Lisan Peninsula, and ‘lost’ my interest when he theorized that a ‘UFO’ might be buried there.

I had my own unorthodox ‘angel’s eye perspective’ to pursue. Previously, I had found many ‘geo-graphic-al’ forms along the ‘Great Rift’ that provided great ‘backdrop’ illustrations for ‘Theater’-Earth as seen in the ‘Exodus’ (‘Out of Egypt have I called my son . . . .’) and the Hebrew Feasts. So, I went back to Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy to see just what other ‘adam’-forms might resemble the geographical forms of the ‘adamah’ from which ‘adam’-kind were formed. You see, I could not accept that the ‘West Bank’ form on modern maps, and the ‘Dead Sea’ form, were so much like a skewed but ‘symmetrical’ Rorshach inkblot,
by mere coincidence.

I found 2 ‘adam’ forms that matched the general ‘picture’ of the ‘Dead Sea’ and the ‘West Bank’ :

First, ‘twin’ babies as situated in a womb, about to be born, head-first, upside down. Second, ‘twin’ human brain hemispheres which, of course, have asymmetrical functions .

These two ‘adam’-forms not only resembled Bible-geography ‘forms’, but also Bible-geography ‘functions’. As for ‘babies’, the story of the twins of Judah, by Tamar – Zerah and Perez, and the ‘scarlet cord’ – were replayed by Achan and Rahab and her ‘scarlet cord’, just after the ‘cutting’ of the Jordan ‘umbilical’ by the ‘ark’ and all of Israel . . . after which all the males were finally ‘circumcised’ with stone knives (at Gilgal’s ‘Circle of Stones’) like 8-day-old babies. ‘Zerah’, through Achan’s ‘hypocritical’ lust for a mere ‘goodly Babylonish garment’, ‘died’, and ‘Perez’, like the faithful Rahab who ‘broke out’ of Jericho’s rubble to marry into the line of ‘Perez’ as an ancestor of Jesus, lived on. As Paul says,

‘Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter (hypocrisy, outward forms), but of the spirit: for the letter (hypocrisy) killeth, but the spirit giveth life.’ II Cor 3:6

There are 2 separate and distinct ‘births’ described in the Bible, and Paul is touching upon both in the text above. There are many more ‘coincidences’ to be noticed from the ‘theater’ perspective regarding ‘DNA’, ‘flesh’ reproduction, but the ‘brain’ ‘re-birth’ perspective is the one that applies to Greg Boyd’s sermon.

The ‘re-birth’ described by Jesus to Nicodemus, who was a ‘teacher in Israel’ – a ‘man of letters’ – could not be traced in a genealogy. It was as if being ‘born’ by wind, you could not see where it came from, or went to. The Holy Spirit was that ‘Wind’, Who was also to, ‘lead you into all truth’. ‘Truth’ is something traced by the nervous system to the brain. The DNA traced in human flesh is disconnected from ‘thought’, just as Jesus described :

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Matthew 6:27

So, assuming that the ‘West Bank’ shape – which originated from the shape of the ‘hill’ territory taken by Israel under Joshua – is a very real, but also very ‘allegorical’, very ‘theatrical’ representation of the right brain hemisphere, that deals primarily with ‘getting the picture’ (not the ‘language’) . . . then, when God told Israel to wipe out every man, woman and child of the Canaanites, He was primarily concerned with erasing the ‘pictures’, the false ‘images’, of God that their ‘right brains’ contained, having worshiped the likes of ‘Moloch’ for 400 years of generations. Those living memories were to be destroyed, but not the landscape, not the ‘brain hemisphere’, itself. The Israelites and their memories of God were to move into the heathens’ intact former landscape.

Every locality of the ‘Promised Landscape’ had its ‘god’. Each ‘house’, or village could be compared to a ‘neuron’ containing humans, and even animals, with evil ‘memories’ of ‘gods’ such as ‘Moloch’. Each foot-path, two-track, and highway connecting the villages could be compared to the network of communicating nerve-connections among ‘neurons’, theatrically-speaking.

And at the neurological ‘heart’ of it all was the ‘one place of worship’ which God chose for His ‘throne’ – Jerusalem, ‘Teacher’ or ‘Teaching of Peace’, of ‘At-One-Ment’. This place, where God said His ‘eyes and heart would always be’, corresponds to the moral ‘heart’ of the human brain that was finally becoming understood by ‘science’, just as I was making these comparisons of ‘adamah’ and ‘adam’ forms after Y2K. . . . That’s enough information to make the following point :

This ‘Theatrical’ perspective opens up a whole new probability that the Old Testament promises regarding ‘land’ and ‘Zion’ and ‘Jerusalem’ were always about ‘mind-scape’, ‘imag-in-ation’, primarily. This means that modern ‘Zionism’, with all of its related bloodshed, has no more Biblical defense than the false ‘Christianity’ that loves violence of ‘flesh’.

The conquest of Canaan was never about human ‘flesh’, primarily, but about the True God conquering human imaginations.

You see, the Canaanites, like the pre-flood humans, had ‘filled the cup’ – their Biblical, mental, ‘hearts’ with violent gods for 400 years. :

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

So, Israel did, in fact, use very bloody violence to erase very bloody cultures with evil ‘imaginations’ from the ‘Promised Landscape’. But, what was most shocking from an ‘angel’s eye view’ was to see that the very ‘culture’ of the ‘imaginations’ of God’s own people – people who had formerly erased the ‘heathen’ for their evil imaginations, just as the Great Flood had – had also degraded in ‘heart’ to the very level of those heathen, by demanding, ‘Crucify Him ! . . . .’ or,
‘Humiliate our Milquetoast God !’

You see, they had only ever hypocritically erased the bloody ‘flesh’ of those heathen from the ‘landscape’– according to the ‘letter’ – while they never did erase the bloody evil of the heathen memories of their gods from their own mental ‘hearts’. Only Jesus – the ‘Son’, both of ‘adam’-‘flesh’, and of God-‘heart’ – ever did that complete conquering of evil ‘imaginations’, and He proved that victory at the cross.

Jesus had, and was, the ‘zakar’ – the ‘male’, the ‘memory’ – of the only true, merciful-and-just God, and He was the first human with fallen, bloody ‘flesh’ to be re-‘born in Jerusalem’, in such a mysterious, ‘new’ neurological ‘image’ :

“Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child (a ‘zakar’, or ‘memory’).” Isaiah 66:7

So, far, far . . . FAR from being the ‘Omega of Apostasy’, what Greg Boyd is preaching is very, very much closer to that ‘Omega’ salvation, of which Jesus has always been the ‘Alpha and the Omega’, and of which the SDA church leadership was intended by Jesus to be the messenger . . . before ‘naked’, faithless ‘Laodicean’ ‘hearts’ got in the way.

As I type this, Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, is rapidly rising into greater and greater influence in the White House. The President has placed the ‘Zionist’ Israel ‘question’ in his hands. Jared Kushner needs to hear what Greg Boyd has learned about the God of the Old Testament, and more. But I’m quite sure that the ‘bloody violence’ of ‘flesh’ fighting over Jerusalem will continue to prevail in Israel, at the continued, humiliating expense of that, also, very Biblical conquest of the human brain’s imaginative ‘heart’, which Jesus accomplished there at the
last bloody, fleshy, Passover . . . just after the first ‘Communion’ of ‘hearts’ :

"And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,
and oil to make his face to shine (Gethsemane, ‘Thy will be done. . .’),
and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart."
Psalm 104:15


Yes, Boyd proposes a paradigm shift. (Not something bran new, though. The penal substitutionary theory, as known in popular evangelicalsim, did not come to full expression until AFTER Luther. And if you don’t believe this you have to refute historian Gustaf Aulen and his book Christus Victor.)

Here’s something you can’t do and be self-consistent: say in one breath that Jesus is the image of the inivisible father (Colossians); say in another that Jesus’s essence comes to expression at the cross (“father, forgive them”) and his essential teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (no violence against your enemies; only love) and THEN say: Atonement must involve DIVINE violence.

A repeated secular humanist argument against Christianity is that it foments violence. The Bible, read through the lens of Hebrew 1:1-3 (!!!), gives no support to this, or at least no support to the idea that the Gospel foments violence. Tragically, organized “Christian” religion HAS fomented violence. Whatever can be done, theologically and otherwise, to fend off this tendency is worth doing.

Will someone now come along and say Hebrews 1:1-3 doesn’t count?



So please tell me why we should have a problem
with the teaching that God punished Himself for our sin so justice could be satisfied and we could be totally forgiven??

I don’t get the problem?


This is a conflict between God and Satan --". How can God be just and justify the sinner )strong text. That. Is. What is so amazing about Grace.

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The problem, Darrel, is that personification of “justice” or of “the Law,” saying that they are satisfied, is simply a literary device. Satisfaction can only be gained by a being capable of experiencing pleasure or discomfort. This satisfaction thinking leads full circle back to God having to be satisfied or appeased.

Since we Adventists see God’s Law of other-centeredness as a transcript of His character, it’s more than awkward to simultaneously embrace the Evangelical view of the atonement, which has The Father putting Christ to death to appease Himself. This Evangelical view of the atonement wasn’t the dominant view in Adventism prior to the 1970s, at least not on the “East coast.”

It’s also very awkward to read the remarks above that use the term “Omega apostasy” in this context of clinging to the Evangelical ideas trumpeted by Luther and Calvin. Very awkward!

The great irony here is that Omega Apostasy and New Theology are the same labels that were hung on the Evangelical/Reformation views that started propagating out from Berrien Springs in the 1960s–the very viewpoints that Greg Boyd is questioning here! Those of you who have been around for a while remember those terms being spoken by watchmen on the wall during that timeframe.

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Meanings of atonement may be infinite, but most commonly we discuss two contrasting views of the gospel/atonement. One view suggests that the good news is that when human beings sinned, God demanded that someone pay the price for that infraction. Jesus offered to pay that price by His death. As a result, God–perhaps reluctantly in some views–accepted the payment and agreed to save us.
A second view suggests that from the beginning the question has been: Who is telling us the truth? Is it God? Or, His great adversary? God has said that sin is deadly. (Genesis 2:17) The Devil said, “That is a lie.” (See Genesis 3:1-4.) So, who is telling us the truth? Who can we trust? Jesus came not only to tell us the truth about the gospel but to live it out. He did not die of crucifixion; He died of sin; and He arose in His own power to prove His divinity.

The questions which arose at the very opening of the great controversy on this earth were convincingly answered by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The covenant has been the same, the law has been the same, the gospel has been the same from Adam’s day to ours. (John 8:56; Romans 4:13; James 2:21-23)
I see wisdom in allowing space for multiple views for the reason Christ died. People and cultures are varied. The almighty God is able to reach all sorts through many different paradigms.


I have an article that might help with you question of what is the problem, you can find it here http://cafesda.blogspot.com/2014/02/whatis-wrong-with-substitutionary.html

"What are the implications of Christ dying as my substitute? If my account has been rearranged to say that I am righteous why would I need a substitute to die for me? If Christ lived the perfect life and substituted it for my life record on the supposed heavenly ledger I would not need someone to die for me as a substitute. So again what is this legal fiction trying to say? It is saying that God has a law, that if His law is ever broken then someone must die to pay the penalty for breaking the law. So this legal fiction removes from God His ability to forgive a person in favor of the option of cosmic bookkeeping where, the one righteous one, dies, and his death is substituted for everyone else if they want to accept the substitution. If we used an illustration from the family we could say that the children in the family have disobeyed their father. Let us say the crime was not weeding the garden when that is what they were asked to do. So the father who loves his children instead of punishing them says, “I will go and weed the garden for you” and after weeding the garden he takes a switch and scourges himself to take the punishment that he felt the children originally should have received for their disobedience. Declaring to his children that he has perfectly weeded the garden and accepted the punishment due to his children, that he was their substitute. On his home account books, he writes that they have weeded the garden perfectly.

When we examine the concept of substitution in everyday life we see just how poor a concept it is. If we took it to the criminal justice system we would be horrified at the results. As we watch a serial murderer released and an innocent librarian executed for the crime. Would we proclaim that justice was satisfied? Of course all analogies break down at some point. For instance we would not say that justice was satisfied if the judge released the murderer and said he was forgiven. Even if we thought that the murderer was really sorry for what he did and wanted to change we would not trust that he was changed, we would at least want him locked away for the rest of his life. God on the other hand not only has the power to forgive but the ability to create a new mind in the criminal, one that no longer is in rebellion to God but is willing to trust God. That faith in God is what is counted as righteousness"

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