Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcome 2009!

Finally! I celebrate with a song.

The Damsel wishes everyone a Happy New Year. May the world see how time itself belongs to a loving God and Savior. May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meet My New Favorite Theologian

"...Christian scholarship has an obligation to truth, that is, to God. Only by the careful pursuit and acquisition of truth can we begin to execute our calling faithfully and effectively. Theologians and their students must shun the naive ferocity of those who hold to opinions that cannot stand up to careful scrutiny. Do not mistake their vicious passion for intellectual virtue or courage. It is not. It is the anguished outrage of those who have been unfaithful to their commission as apostles for truth, a commission that requires fidelity to things as they are, not to things as we would like them to be. Like Nero, those theologians spend their time fiddling with the evidence while the real world, and its questions and concerns, burns down around them. But, they themselves do not worry because they believe their asbestos dogmatism will protect them, even if it does not protect the world. In truth, however, it will protect neither. That is because Christian theologizing is, or ought to be, a 'reality game.' The morality of scholarship demands a willingness to face the truth, even when it says that some of our most cherished beliefs are raw fiction. Without courage to face the truth and the freedom to do so, neither Christian scholars nor the students they instruct will ever stand in the vanguard of academic pursuit. They lack the intellectual virtue and wherewithal to do so."—Michael Bauman, "Peer Pressure, Confessionalism and the Corruption of Judgment: Why Theologians Can't Think Straight"

I like this quote, even though it is a generalization. "...those who hold to opinions that cannot stand up to careful scrutiny" can apply to anyone, even myself. I believe it was the physicist Richard Feynman who said, "It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Although we cannot verify theological statements by laboratory experiment, the same principle applies. The difference between good theology and bad theology is known by testing against the background of history and logical coherence (just to name two criteria). I should hope that all theologians would hold truth above their pet theologies and accept whatever correction they need.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dirt Doesn't Lie...or does it?

This is a couple of clips from an online discussion from my church's website about young earth creationism.
"S" said:
My personal favorite view of geologic age versus young earth theory is something I first read in a Josh McDowell book. It is called apparent age theory. I am going to butcher it here. Basically if God was going to create a bottle of wine from nothing then he would create a (red wine of course probably pinot nor) bottle of wine that was aged perfectly. Since God created all the natural forces we see at work currently then God created the earth at the exact age it needed to be (with corresponding fossil record) to foster the life we see today.

"C" said also:
Just because science proves that the earth is billions of years old doesn't mean that God didn't create it 10,000 years ago. He didn't create embryo Adam and Eve-They were created as adults-working, talking, walking, etc. He didn't just plant a bunch of seeds and wait around-The Bible said he created vegetation and trees in one day. So, to me, it stands to reason that he created mountains and craters and all of those things as is. People take a good 18 years or so to mature, trees at least a year, so a couple billion years for mountains or whatnot doesn't really seem that different if you see it that way-that they were all created in a day. Also, the entire earth covered in water during Noah's flood would have accounted for some of the mysteries as well.

I've never understood why "apparent age theory" is so popular with some Christians, because it seems to cause more problems than it 'apparently' solves for believers wanting to see how the Bible's creation account matches up with scientific obervation.

My reply was not directly to "S," but I addressed the content of his comment as follows:
Let me first say something that is foundational to the matter. I mentioned in my previous post that Christians have always valued the pursuit of Truth. Underlying this is the long-held notion that Truth exists, and Truth is knowable. So...

The first thing I would question is why we are pitting "science" against God. God is the Creator of the universe who chose to reveal His character in the Bible. If we study His creation, we should find that He is the Creator. If we study His word, we should find that He is our Redeemer. The two seem compatible and are not opposed to each other. What we are really saying is that atheistic scientists are trying to argue against God's existence using aspects of His creation as evidence. Silly thing to do, because if God is the Creator, then we would find evidence for His existence, not the opposite, right? (Incidentally, most, if not all, Christian philosophers say that this is an illegitimate philosophical move for scientists to make anyway.) So as Christians, we shouldn't make the same philosophical blunder as they.

This brings us to the "appearance of age" issue, which you both have brought up. Let's reframe it a little by recalling what Christians use to argue for God's intentional creation of everything: the Design Argument. The human eye is a classic and longstanding example of Christian apologetic for a Creator God. We point out the intricacy, the specificity, and the complexity of the eye's design as evidence of God and for God. Recently, Intelligent Design theory has injected even more emphasis on design by, in effect, negating the chances that some things could have evolved from simpler forms. We make this claim of design, taking for granted that how we reached this conclusion is through the scientific study of things like the eye. Please stay with me here, because this is the part that gets interesting: in spite of the strength of the Design Argument, Darwinian evolutionists dismiss evidence for design by insisting that what we see is only an "appearance of design,"--what we see is not the truth.

Now, as a matter of logic, the "appearance of age" claim of YEC is identical to the "appearance of design" dismissal from evolutionists. It tracks the same pattern of reasoning, and, in the end, suffers the same losses. It violates our underpinnings of Truth by claiming that Truth does not exist (in what we can readily study, like the human eye) and that Truth is unknowable (mountains do not reveal their true age).

I realize that I've been running around in the philosophical realm mostly and not the theological realm, so let me return to it. For the Christian, what the "appearance of age" claim does is erode our confidence in God as the God of Truth, or at least it should. Without the knowable design and consistency of the natural world to rely on, how would we function at all, theologically or otherwise? How would we know the true origin of creation? How can we be confident in the evidence for design? How can we have confidence in Jesus' miraculous conception if we only know how babies appear to be made? How can we be sure Jesus is divine, or did he only appear to be? How can we be confident in the transmission of scripture or does it only appear to be reliable in its origin? Was anything a miracle or just an appearance of a miracle? This line of thinking makes it hard to tell.

From my above reply, you can see I have great misgivings about the Young Earth explanation of the natural world, both rationally and theologically. I'm not getting into the other issues I find promblematic about YEC in this post, but I see problems with principles of Bible interpretation, a promotion of a type of cognitive dissonance with regard to scientific inquiry, and a shift away from responsible theology toward superstition. While ultimately I don't find YEC harmful to any one Christian's life, faith, or eternal destination (you can believe it if you want to), YEC has been a source of faith abandonment for so many in Christianity. I believe that it's time to stop the bleeding, which calls for changing this default view in our churches--the dismantling of the popular teaching of YEC as the "biblical" view.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Blessings

My kids are cute.
My husband is cute.
We all have what we really love for Christmas, the Spirit of God and each other.

Everything else is icing on the cake.

I hope your Christmas is likewise blessed. Glory to God in the highest!

In the little village of Bethlehem,
there lay a Child one day,
And the sky was bright with a holy light
o'er the place where Jesus lay.

Alleluia! O how the angels sang.
Alleluia! How it rang!
And the sky was bright with a holy light,
'twas the birthday of a King.
("The Birthday of a King" by William Harold Neidlinger)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Review: A New Earth (Eckhart Tolle)

Full title:
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s PurposeCopyright 2005
ISBN 978-0-452-28996-3

I. Intro
As Dr. Phil got his big break by rubbing elbows with Oprah Winfrey, so has Eckhart Tolle, one of the nation’s superstar spiritual gurus in the latest (re)incarnation of the New Age Movement. A New Earth (ANE) is Tolle’s latest book, first released in 2005 but only receiving enormous attention last January via Oprah’s Book Club. Because of her promotion, it skyrocketed onto the New York Times bestseller list and remained there for double-digit weeks.

Are you looking for happiness in life? Do you want to end suffering both personally and globally? Do you want to start now? Like any self-help and/or pop inspirational manual, ANE claims that anyone can achieve happiness and banish suffering beginning the moment you read and comprehend Tolle’s message.

II. Chapters and Summary
The book contains nine chapters and an excessive number of subchapters all explaining why Tolle’s view of the universe is better than yours and how his propositions are the key to finding happiness.

Tolle lays out his view of the ego, the emotive part of a person responsible for negativity and negative emotions. Specifically, the ego is the drive to preserve a greater opinion of ourselves than we ought to have. He describes the “pain-body” that each person possesses. The pain-body is a kind of glutton for punishment that causes us to repeat cycles of emotional pain in an attempt to seek revenge for personal slights.

Using a generous sprinkling of Zen philosophical terms, he describes how people can divest themselves of personal pain, resentment, and conflict by changing one’s perspective on your involvement and attachment to the material life most people embroil themselves in. He says that you must gain awareness and understanding of your self, remove yourself emotionally from all your life’s situations (to a degree), and take peace from your existence, not your circumstances.

The result of gaining such awareness is that today we can begin living life anew with fresh eyes and a more mature confidence in ourselves, his version of a new heaven and a new earth (hence the title of the book).

So see that this unhealthy behavior is bad for you, the world, the universe. Now you know, 'and knowing is half the battle.' The end?

III. Analysis
To his credit, he is less Shirley MacLaine-ney in articulating Eastern principles and couches them in language more conventional to American ears, which I believe contributes to the popularity of his books.

So why is ANE so popular?  As such, I believe ANE has set a new standard for Eastern philosophy in America. Far from droning on about cosmic eudaemonia and so much self-absorbed navel gazing that has dominated the public’s impression of New Age thinking, ANE taps human psychoanalysis to explain the sources of suffering and the misplaced human drive for fulfillment found in everyday behavior. The use of the terms “ego,” “pain-body,” and “dysfunction” is a step up from many traditional purveyors of Eastern religions who refer to karma, auras, and psychic energies to explain the more metaphysical side of human life.

I can’t really object to the self-help portions of ANE. Western traditions have similarly taught that “consciousness,” “space,” and “inner alignment” are needed to address the difficulties of life, except that we’ve used words such as maturity, objectivity, and patience. If one were to read ANE simply for the insight on how to control negativity and behave more rationally, then this book offers decent advice.

There’s a bit of pretentiousness to the book. On page 6, he states, “This book’s main purpose is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything…” Oh, but it is. Otherwise, why write a book? “…but to bring about a shift in consciousness, that is to say, to awaken….It will change your state of consciousness or it will be meaningless.” See?

The biggest criticism I do have about ANE is not the self-help advice but the undercurrent of anti-Christian platitudes, which serve to keep his views obviously more enlightened-sounding than those of “the religious”. As a Christian, I find nothing more striking about Tolle than his presumption to know Christianity (you know, before it was misunderstood by the church) better than Christians. He redefines sin, salvation, and the very name of God, and frequently misinterprets reinterprets the words and teachings of Jesus to conveniently fit his views that border on blasphemy. Just check out pages 69, 71, 79, 116, 227, and 245 to name several.

A few examples:
“The history of Christianity is, of course, a prime example of how the belief that you are in sole possession of the truth, that is to say, right, can corrupt your actions and behavior to the point of insanity….The Truth was considered more important than human life. And what was the Truth? A story you had to believe in; which means, a bundle of thoughts.” (p. 69) Unless I miss my guess, ANE is full of propositions and moral absolutes/directives, which are, it seems, also a bundle of thoughts.

Next, “When forms around you die or death approaches, your sense of Beingness, of I Am, is freed from its entanglement with form: Spirit is released from its imprisonment in matter. You realize your essential identity as formless, as an all-pervasive Presence, of Being prior to all forms, all identifications. You realize your true identity as consciousness itself, rather than what consciousness has identified with. That’s the peace of God. The Ultimate truth of who you are is not I am this or I am that, but I Am.” (p. 57) Ahem, I believe the problem here is self-evident.

Last, “When you hear of inner space, you may start seeking it, and, because you are seeking it as if you were looking for an object for an experience, you cannot find it. This is the dilemma of all those who are seeking spiritual realization or enlightenment. Hence, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (p. 233-234) “Hence, Jesus?” I’ll tell you what is bliss: blithely mutating the meaning and application of the words of Christ for the sake of the readers’ potential flowering of consciousness. It certainly is a new world, isn’t it?

How magnanimous of Mr. Tolle to tell me my life’s purpose. Like a lot of preachers of Eastern religious thought, everything boils down to a “just so” argument. There is no defense of the One Life to which all of us supposedly belong. For a man who spouts the oft-repeated mantra about how truth is relative, he is adamant about how his teachings are necessarily transformative. The overarching posture of ANE is that Tolle is right and all other beliefs that he contradicts are wrong.

IV. Conclusion
In all, Tolle might not be that far from the truth. He recognizes that humanity’s deep spiritual problem necessitates some internal change in order to resolve. At issue is whether or not his teachings actually address the heart of the problem, which, with his many words about egos and pain-bodies and consciousnesses, seems to fall short. Tolle would say that we need to be like him. I would say that we need Jesus instead.

Addendum: There is something about this book that sounds so familiar...could it be that
Gaius Baltar?

Other reviews:
"A Review of Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose," by Mary Jo Sharp (Confident Christianity)

"A New Earth and The Spiritually Elite," by Marcia Montenegro (Christian Answers For the New Age)

Two Chix Apologetics

I found this group on Facebook (yes, I gave in...), and am wowed by finding other women who like talking about theology and Christianity as I do.

The blog that goes with the Facebook group is called Confident Christianity. Coolness...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Hitler By Any Other Name Would Smell Just as Sweet?

It was just a matter of time before America's PC chicken would come home home to roost. A Pennsylvania couple made headlines when a local grocery store refused to decorate their son's birthday cake with his name on it. The boy's name? Adolf Hitler Campbell.

Okay, so one might wonder why these parents would name their child after the leader of the infamous Third Reich. In their own defense, they claim that "Adolf Hitler" is just another German name plucked from their German heritage. Pretty innocent? Uh-huh. What about one of the other kids, the one they gave the middle name "Aryan Nation?"

Legally, parents can curse their children with objectionable names if they want (within limits, of course), but then to try act all casual and innocent about it for the newspaper is just disingenuous (I prefer to think of it as blatant SOB-havior).

But all right, back to the chicken - Are these people white supremacists? In my view, there's not much reason to name their offspring after Nazis unless they were. White supremacists are a hated minority here in the U.S. I would find it downright humorous and poetic should a case like the Campbells become a legal matter of discrimination that the ACLU would come to their defense. What a hoot!

(I know that the ACLU have defended white supremacists in various legal matters, but what would it look like on CNN?)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Everyday Heresy

How Many Ways Can You Go Wrong in One Sentence?
Conversation 2

This is continuation of Conversation 1 about the deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity.

"G's" comment:
And Lettia, it did feel almost as though this couple was assaulting the deity of God when we first had this conversation, and I was afraid for them for even suggesting that Jesus wasn't fully God, but merely had qualities of God since he was after all his son.

I responded:
The way you explain your friends' ideas about Jesus as Son of God betrays a bit of confusion about what Sonship is on their part. This is really important, because I believe this confusion exists in the Christian church at just below the conscious level and is not well addressed.

First, the idea that "Jesus was not fully God" is problematic by itself. In Judeo-Christian monotheism, someone is either divine or not divine; he cannot be somewhere in-between. In Jesus' case, He is either God or He is not. So, the term "fully God" is either a redunancy or signifies bad theology by suggesting that divinity is like a tank that must be filled to capacity in order to achieve God-status. In most cases, it's bad theology that rules the day.

Second, getting the "fully God" part wrong will trip you up going into the next portion of the sentence, "but merely had qualities of God..." Really? What are those qualities? If they are not eternal self-existence exhibiting omniscience and benevolent omnipotence operating in a transcendent-emmanent paradox with relation to the material world, then what--forgiving others, healing the sick, walking on water? Well, Jesus' disciples, even Judas Iscariot, had some of those qualities, but we don't wonder how close they were to being divine. Point is, one cannot appeal to the qualities of God without describing, well, God! They are unique and exclusive (no 'merely' about it!) to only ONE in a Judeo-Christian monotheistic worldview, which means that God cannot share His inherent qualities with Jesus unless Jesus inherently possesses those qualities also.

Third, the last portion, "since he was after all his son" simply screams out massive confusion. If I may grab an Islamic objection to the Sonship of Jesus to demonstrate confusion about Jesus as the Son. Islam teaches that God does not and could not have a son. To a Muslim, having a son is a form of procreation, something that is irrational for God to do. Therefore, Jesus being the Son of God is irrational at best, blasphemous at worst from their point of view. But Sonship isn't about a Muslim point of view; it is a Judeo-Christian point of view, which begs the question, what was so special about Jesus that made Him God's Son? And if being God's Son makes any sense at all, why wouldn't being God THE Son make just as much sense? Your friends are borrowing heavily the language of orthodox Christianity without any of the definitions associated with the language either because they don't know the definitions or because they choose to ignore them. In either case, they are not adopting a Judeo-Christian view of Sonship, which is that Jesus is fulfilling the duties that the second member of the Trinity, the Son, was sent into the world to do. What your friends mean by God's Son is a mystery to me, and I think perhaps it might be a mystery to them as well.

Overall, trying to explain how Jesus is not God but is able to exhibit all the "qualities" of God comes from and leads to great theological confusion about the very nature of God. If we impose a post-Enlightenment standard onto the Bible as many do, it should not surprise us that what was obvious in the 1st century escapes our understanding today. Furthermore, if we use terms devoid of their original meaning, it should also not surprise us the heights of heresy to which we can achieve. Sad but true.

Everyday Heresy

A Thumb in the Eye of the Son and other Mistakes about the Trinity
(Conversation 1)

Once in a while, members of my church bring up theological questions set off by personal encounters with friends or acquaintances with views contrary to Christian doctrine. Here's one such case: "G" has been speaking with a couple of friends who deny that Jesus should be understood and worshiped as God. This is her representation of their view and my response.

Alright...I have been chewing on, reading about and in general, bothered by a question that was posed to me this past summer by a Christian couple that I have never distrusted their answers and wisdom in thing things of God and the bible.

We were debating/discussing the reality of God being made up of 3 persons (Father, Son and Spirit) - or if it was a widely accepted idea that "the church" has taught us to be true.

They think that Jesus was really only the SON of God (who had been given power) and not also fully God. And they don't necessarily think that Jesus was with God since the beginning of time. They said these ideas are something we read into the Old (or New) Testament. They also said that they think the Spirit is not a separate entity or part of the Trinity, but that everywhere it speaks of the Spirit of God, that is exactly what it is - God's Spirit (and not this 3rd separate God-thing).

I made my arguments on why I believe in a Trinity (all pretty much based on the same stuff we teach at The Journey). But there were a couple points they made that really threw me for a loop and I have frankly been struggling with.

I've done some research, re-read the sections from the Gospel Class book on the Trinity and the scriptures we use to back this idea up. But I still haven't been satisfied with my researching on a few points they brought up:

1) We both agreed that the bible clearly teaches there is only ONE God. But as they pointed out, Jesus never had the power to do anything on his own, but always was given to him from God. And Jesus always pointed out that there was ONE God, his Father, and that Jesus only worshiped God (not himself) and his life pointed people to God. This couple thinks it's almost blasphemous when people worship Jesus - because as the bible teaches, there is only One God who we should be worshiping, and that is the Creator Himself. And yes, without Jesus' sacrifice we couldn't have direct access to God, but if there is only One God and Jesus was very specific and intentional to not make himself equal with God, then what's going on here?

2) (this is the one that really messed me up)... They said if we believe in Jesus being fully God, then God must have died when Jesus died. How do we explain that?!?! In some of my research it explained this by stating that just b/c Jesus died physically, his spirit was still there and still with God. But the bible states that God left him completely (he can't have any part in sin). I don't see how God and Jesus' spirits still could have been together when it says that Jesus gave up his spirit after he breathed his last.


After all the concept of "3-in-1" is so HUGE, why are there only hints in the bible of this idea? It never says 3-in-1 anywhere in scripture. So why on earth do we even use a man-made word "the Trinity" to describe this?

I responded:
The objections to the Trinity aren't new, but you can be relieved to know that they were answered about 1700 years ago (and since). Hence, you have many resources at your disposal to help you out.

Well, if the concept of the Trinity originated with the Westminster Catechism or Luther, you might have a point there. But it is much older than that, going back to the Church Fathers (the generation of church leaders following the Apostles). Understand that the word "Trinity" is a term that was fashioned to describe the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because of what Christians had already believed about God, not an idea that evolved over time. It is very important to make that distinction, otherwise you'll be getting history backwards, as seems to be the case with the couple you're talking about.

Let's call it what it really is: any objection to the Trinity as it relates to Jesus is simply an assault on His deity. It is a denial that Jesus is God, so I'll just deal with this rather than talk about all of the Trinity in detail.

When I was in high school, I had a good friend who was a Jehovah's Witness, and I spent oodles of time researching JW teaching about Jesus and how to combat it. Back then, my approach was to pull out every verse in Scripture that demonstrates Jesus' deity. I got really good at spotting relevant verses, but I still missed the bigger picture because my knowledge of Bible and church history was severely lacking. The single biggest disadvantage we have today when it comes to reading the Bible is that we do not know how to read it in its historical context. Fact: we are NOT the Scriptures' primary audience (spiritually, yes we are; historically, no). Our troubles begin when we forget that the NT, in particular, was written in the context of 1st century Palestine for primarily Jewish and Greek audiences. So, we must read it like a 1st century Jew (preferably) if we are to get the full impact of the words on the page.

Ironically, the deity of Jesus is the best example of what I'm talking about. Your question includes the phrase "Jesus was very specific and intentional to not make himself equal with God." If we take a 1st century mindset and look at the ministry of Jesus, we would come to a very different conclusion.

(some are notes I cut and pasted from my prep on the cancelled DYD Forum on the Resurrection) Let’s examine some things Jesus said and did in the Gospels.
1. "I say to you”/”I tell you” statements – Jesus often used these phrases to assert authority to change a concept of Jewish law or tradition by either contradicting it or correcting its present interpretation. For example, on divorce, Jesus assumes authority over Moses and contradicts Mosaic tradition (Matt. 19:8-9). And again, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). The impact of this was not lost on those who heard Him, for in so doing, Jesus was putting Himself in authority above them, above the Prophets, and above God’s Law as Judge and Revealer of God’s truth. William Lane Craig says in his book, Reasonable Faith, “Jesus’ sense of personal authority to correct the Torah and contradict Jewish tradition goes down hard for faithful Jews.” To His audience, Jesus put Himself in the very place of God, making the pronouncements that only God has a right to make. This is true even today. Jacob Neusner, the well-known Jewish scholar, wrote the book, A Rabbi Talks With Jesus, in which he objects to Jesus on the same grounds a Jews in the 1st cent. Neusner is offended at Jesus’ presumption to subject the Torah to His word and says of the book of Matt, “No one can encounter Matthew’s Jesus without concurring that before us in the evangelist’s mind is God incarnate.” In effect, Neusner is asking, “Who do you think you are, Jesus—God?”

2. Many times, Jesus orients Himself to God the Father differently than He orients His disciples to God the Father. In John 20:17, He says to Mary, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " He doesn’t say “our Father.” (The famous Lord’s Prayer is actually a misnomer, because Jesus never prayed that prayer; it is a prayer for His disciples to pray.) Jesus always establishes a unity and intimacy between Himself and God the Father that He doesn’t ascribe to anyone else.

3. Liberal theologians also deny any historical references to Jesus' divinity, yet there is one parable of Jesus that is universally seen as authentic to Him, the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matt. 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12): in this parable, Jesus clearly puts Himself in the story as the son the tenants plot to kill for his inheritance. The Pharisees' reaction to this parable is telling, for they seek His immediate arrest--for what? Jesus put Himself in direct authority above THEM with special relation to God and spoke judgment against THEM (remember, the Pharisees were the religious elite who were closer to God than anyone else; anyone having more authority than they would HAVE to be God Himself).

4. One of the titles Jesus often used for Himself was "Son of Man" with direct reference to Daniel 7:13. My intent is not to get into a Bible verse-joust, so I will quote Darell Bock in his Breaking the Da Vinci Code. When you read how Jesus portays Himself to His immediate audience in the Gospels, you can't help but recognize that "Jesus is a divine figure worthy to sit in God's presence because He is capable of sharing God's unique glory." The Gospels needed to make distinct exactly what their position was on Jesus: that Jesus was either a blasphemous pretender or one worthy to share in God's glory. Their choice is the latter. Jesus is a fully human person who also bears the unique signs of God's deity and deserving of that status, a view held by Christians long before Nicea.

That anyone would ask for more explicit claims for Jesus' deity really betrays a modern blindness to the way things were (anachronistic imposition of post-Enlightenment thinking, if you will). They are committing the first mistake I talked about, which is to want Jesus to get up in the middle of the Beatitudes and shout, "Yes! I am God! Worship Me now!" Such a proclamation would have been unecessary and would have given the wrong idea to Jesus' listeners. To say that would have meant that Jesus was the Father, (or a contemporary mistake which is to say that Jesus is the Trinity) which would make no sense whatsoever to the Jewish mind.

As I noted above, the challenge to the deity of Jesus Christ is and old one, and an answered one at that. But history doesn't seem to make a difference in the minds of modern-day deniers, so here we go again and again. Anyway, Conversation 2 is coming up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Complegalitarian Moves to WordPress

Goodbye, Blogger! The Complegalitarian blog has a new home at WordPress. If you're interested in jousting about gender roles in the Christian church, join me in a discussion over there. Now, behave! :-)