by Rebecca Bynum (Dec. 2008)
What seems to be overlooked by many theologians and critics of Christianity is the power of evil. It is a law of the stage that God should not be brought onto the scene unless there is a problem that only God can solve. If, as the Christian faith asserts, Jesus was God incarnate, then the problem he was sent into the world to solve must have been beyond the ability of humankind to solve. And the fact that in order to solve it the very Son of God had to endure such degradation and abuse must mean that the power of evil in our world - and in our hearts - is far greater than we have imagined. I believe that at the end of the day God will emerge the victor, but, as the Bible - both Old and New Testaments - indicates, it will be without the help of humankind. And when we see God, or at least as much of God as we humans can comprehend, I believe we will understand that he has been in the fight of his life. This is no mere shadow-boxing that God is doing; this is a strenuous wrestle. If we understood that, and if we realized that we humans are ourselves the ones who generated this problem, we might be a bit more humble, and have a bit more understanding of and appreciation for the sacrifices God is making on our behalf. One of the respondents quoted a passage from Isaiah, but he did not complete it. In addition to saying, "Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool," God is also heard to say, "This is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word." (Isaiah 66:1-2)
Jesus consistently spoke of himself as having to suffer and die (and rise again) for the sins of the world. He also spoke a heck of a lot about sin, punishment, hell, eternal damnation, etc. Moreover he did and said all of this in light of the Jewish teaching regarding the Messiah (Luke 24:27). I’m not sure I know of “the simple message” of Jesus. It often sounds like a dreadful message.
Read something other than liberal or anti-Christian theologians and historians who’ve never taken orthodoxy seriously, reading into the texts thing that are not there, with the attempt to make Christianity something that it is not nor ever has been. It’s not that you must believe the orthodox story, but at least take it seriously for what it (based upon the text and history) claims (this should be true of the West’s approach to Islam as well). For example, Neil Postman and Walter Lippman were not Christians, but when they wrote about Reformed Christianity and theology (they were both great admirers of the intellectual integrity of people like Jonathan Edwards and J. Gresham Machen), they took it seriously for what it was.
My point is that what we have in modern Christianity is not necessarily the simple teaching of Jesus. I think the atonement doctrine, the teaching that Christ was a sacrifice to appease God, is an example of new wine put into an old wineskin. The skin has burst and we're about to lose the wine. Jesus revealed God as a Father - not a jealous or wrathful diety requiring appeasement through sacrifice.
Tough this was a major leap forward in the human conception of God, it should keep Jews from viewing Jesus as a Hebrew prophet (not necessarily the son of God).
It was the effort by Paul and other early Christian leaders to place Christ into the framework of sacrifice that has created a religion more about Jesus as a symbol than one consisting of his life and teaching as revealing the Father's true nature.
I will expand on this in my next piece.
Far more rational to accept that all deities and the theologies that are woven around them are figments of human imagination - liberating, too, because then we can get down to the business of standing on our own two feet and managing our own affairs on the basis of what is demonstrable, tolerant, and humanist.
I guess the orthodox doctrines are too simple to consider valid any longer?
That man was given choice in the Garden (you may do this, but not that), was disobedient, creation fell as a result, the rest of the story being about God's reaching DOWN to man, rather than man's reaching UP to God, to save His creation through His Messiah, is considered a child's tale not to be taken seriously by the intelligent. I think Jesus and St. Paul said something about this.
The idea of God taking the initiative of rescuing man through Christ removes all the glory and power from man, leaving him with that boring old business of loving God, loving neighbor, and getting on with the difficulties and joys of life.
It's more fun and profitable to play god, evolve the idea of god. Anything, so long as it avoids believing the Gospel.
OK I write up agin the problems I found in reading this article.
Which Christian theolgian ever thought that God is beyong good and evil? This idea is more associated with pantheism such as Vedanta type of Hinduism.
That evil is necessary?. This is also not a Christian idea.
That God being jealous is an unworthy idea Infact it is a very sensible idea and fits perfectly with a loving God.
Where did you get that free-will for mankind is a rarely taken up idea.
There were genocides and mass murders in History eg Gengis Khan. There is no need to think that 20th Century in general and Holocaust in particular pose any new theological problem.
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A very absurd article. Which Christian theologian ever thought