IF GOD IS ALWAYS NOTHING BUT LOVING TOWARD SINNERS WHY IS IT A "FEARFUL THING" FOR THEM TO FALL INTO HIS HANDS?
I am just reading Gregory Boyd's new book, "Cross Vision." It is the latest in a string of books posting the same basic two or three arguments in the anti-wrath of God movement. All of the instances in the Old Testament that seem to reveal God acting violently against sin are really just the early stages of what these contemporary writers describe as progressive revelation. What they mean by that term is Moses and David and a host of others thought God was commanding all these bloody sacrifices and vengeful judgments on His enemies, but it was all just their own mistaken notion which they attributed to God.
In fact, what was happening was the thinking of these Old Testament writers was clouded by the practices of the violent religious culture around them. As a result they automatically attributed the same actions to their God as well. And God, well, He just allowed them to do this because one day, when Jesus came into the world, all of these preliminary blind-spots about God would be clarified and exposed by God graciously "taking on" or "absorbing in Himself" (still not sure what those words actually mean) all such violence in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. God would then reveal His peaceful non-violent love and acceptance of this wicked power-hungry world. People would finally see the light.
The key point to understand in this whole issue is the nature of progressive revelation. In itself it's not a bad term. In historical evangelical/reformed thought the term progressive revelation meansthe Scriptures move from lesser details of redemption in Christ to greater details of redemption in Christ. Like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, you see more and more of the picture as more and more pieces are included. But progressive revelation has traditionally held that all of the pieces are God-given pieces. The doctrine of progressive revelation has never held that the early ideas of the Old Testament were man-generated and the later clarification of those ideas was from God.
In other words - and this is the most important point of all - progressive revelation doesn't move from less true revelation to more true revelation. Revelation doesn't evolve from inaccurate to accurate. Revelation never - never - moves from mistaken to correct.