Lisa said, "I’m trying to absorb the concepts in your Easter article. How do you see the sacrificial system given to the Israelites in the Old Testament fitting in? Or the segregation of women? These are aspects of God’s interaction with His people that I’ve always struggled with. What do these things show about His character?"
I'm thinking that the presupposition here, the one that still haunts those of us reared within evangelical fundamentalism, is that the Old Testament stories are not simply true, but 'literally' true. So when the bible say's God destroyed all the cities of the Plain, or when God commands the wiping out of a neigbouring nation, we assume that God clearly and unequivocally communicated that he wanted was the slaughter of the Canaanites.
We dutifully suppose that there is no gap between the record and the interpretation. But this requires us to work out a system like dispensationalism to explain how God used violence to accomplish his will at one time, but uses peaceful means in the New Testament; and presumably will again need to use violent means in the future.
But, as is appropriate to mediate upon this time of year, one of the amazing things that the resurrection uncovers for us is a new understanding of just who God is, what God's character is like; not at all capricious, vengeful, or wrathful but completely gratuitous and forgiving.
If the Passion doesn't utterly change the way see everything, then Christ retains status of a prophet, but nothing more. Gil Ballie says, The spectacle of God dying at the hands of a murderous mob while praying forgiveness on his murderers can hardly be thought to have left intact Old Testament notions of God’s punishing wrath.
But beyond this, it was Christ's return, as James Alison would phrase it, as "forgiving victim" that forces upon us a crisis. And this crisis, when embraced, frames for us a new possibility, a new self-revelation, and a new understanding of God. All this compels us to read scripture anew. That is, in a non-sacrificial way.