Gregory A. Boyd (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) was a professor of theology, is senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church (which he founded) in St. Paul, Mn., and is a brilliant author. His book, God at War, The Bible and Spiritual Conflict, recovers the original Christian worldview. In a nutshell:
The New Testament is thoroughly conditioned by a warfare worldview. In this view the whole of the cosmos is understood to be caught up in a fierce battle between two rival kingdoms. This view entails that the earth has, quite literally, become a fierce war zone and a desecrated battlefield.
Jesus entered this war zone to set up the rightful rule of God over against the illegitimate rule of Satan. Jesus’ healings, miracles, exorcisms, resurrection, as well as most of his teaching, make sense only as various aspects of a unified ministry within the context of this worldview. The cross and the resurrection were, above all else, the act by which God vanquished his archenemy.
According to Boyd, Christ’s victory concerns the whole cosmos before it centers on us. Our salvation and liberation is part of an ages-long, but not eternal, war. Satan is fatally wounded, yet he and his army live so the war rages on. There are still important battles to be fought. Fighting them is what life is all about.
Mainstream Christianity prefers the “blueprint view” of life, in which everything that happens is willed by God for his mysterious purposes. As comforting as this view is, the logical end to it is that nothing we do makes any difference. Prayer makes no difference. Our position in such a world is truly hopeless. But the New Testament writers presented a world in which God’s will is often thwarted by evil cosmic forces.
Boyd uses an image of Nazis torturing an innocent child. Incredibly, many modern Christians prefer to see some secret providential design being fulfilled by means of the Nazis! Boyd prefers instead to discern in the eyes of the Nazis something of an evil “twisting serpent” seeking once again to undo God’s creation. In the New Testament worldview, the only reason a child is tortured is because free beings, human and angelic, can will such atrocities.
Precisely because our present suffering is NOT God’s will—however much he can now use it for our ultimate good—we can have assurance that the cosmos will not always be this way.