The New Testament teaches that God is exactly like Jesus.* Yet we can struggle to believe this whenever we open the Old Testament and read about a violent God who is quite unlike his Son.

This dichotomy leaves us with a choice: Do we accept the Old Testament at face-value and develop doctrine where God uses violence to save and punish, or do we conclude a violent God is not an accurate revelation of Jesus' Father and learn how to read Scripture nonviolently?

To choose the second approach is not to disrespect the Old Testament but to acknowledge that our traditional, literalistic reading of Scripture does not provide us with a good enough interpretative framework.

Jesus said in John 14:9 he can "only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son does also." To me, this means Jesus chose a path of nonviolence that led to his death because he never saw his Father resort to violence.

Jesus—the exact image of the invisible God—is nonviolent because his Father is nonviolent too.

God is like Jesus is therefore my second starting point to developing a nonviolent interpretation of Scripture.


*For example, John 5:19; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3.

NonviolenceSteve Hall