Press play and let the music guide your reading of the post ;)
Although I thoroughly enjoyed Miranda’s Communism in the Bible, I can’t say I’m in complete agreement with some of his boldly-stated conclusions. Particularly, his claim that God commands violence and that Jesus advocated such (74, 75). Perhaps I’m still tied to my Yoderian influence, but I tend to side on the pacifistic side of the divide. That’s not to say that I don’t think the oppressed should ever use physical force to achieve equality. I do think such force is acceptable, nay required at times. However, I definitely think the normative posture of Christian teaching, derived from the words of Jesus, ought to encourage as a first-line option active, non-violent, disruptive resistance.
Of course, Miranda’s work was occasional. It was a manifesto. As such, it ought not be read as describing absolute normativity in all times. Neither should it be read as a work of dogmatic theology. As he even takes time to develop, there are seasons when certain activities are required. His primary focus is therefore to confront the situation of his time, which was one in which the established powers (the church and the socio-political structures) were actually contributing to the continued subjugation of the “crucified people” (to use Sobrino’s terminology). Thus, he calls out the status quo in order to show how they have used the Bible as an ideological tool to suppress the revolutionary tendencies outlined in the Bible and that were arising in Latin America among the people. To that, I am indeed sympathetic.
And in that vein, I think from now on I am going to have to steal a designation that Miranda merely uses as a quick flyby to designate what he sees as weak theology (i.e. the theology that ignores/suppresses the “obviousness” of Jesus’ condonation and use of violence). In the penultimate paragraph of the manifesto, referring to Jesus’ clearing of the temple, Miranda writes:
That Jesus used physical violence is a fact that cannot be denied. “And having made a scourge out of cords he drove them all out of the temple” (John 2:15). The aorist participle signifies here the instrumentality or mode by which the action of the main verb is carried out. What John really says here is, he whipped them all out of the temple. Or does flabby theology think he exhorted them out of the temple [my emphasis]?
Setting aside any debates about Greek grammar and syntax, how awesome is this polemic?!? I just love his sardonic tone! For those interested, in this manifesto such irreverence is replete. I hope his other works can sustain the tone and perhaps flesh out some substance – he’d officially be my favorite theologian/pastor. Either way, the new moniker for pansy theology: Flabby Theology… so much for an ontology of peace ;)