Sunday, April 10, 2011

Q & A- circa 33 a.d.

Today's Epistle and Gospel, when read together, really form a 'question and answer' form of compendium of the arguments made against Our Lord Jesus Christ during his life time and in the years immediately following whilst the scriptural canon was being written. In the Epistle we have a theological statement of the nature of Jesus' work and significance whilst the Gospel collects together some of the common arguments against Jesus' credibility that the continued to be fired at the early Christian Church. The arguments seem to go beyond the Pharisees normal interests and encompass the concerns of some of the other sects that existed at the time notably in the question of the death of the Patriarchs. At the end of the Gospel we find an interesting point, almost an aside, that the Pharisees thought Jesus too young, in earthly years, to have had the insights he was expounding.

So the arguments against Jesus went something like this; (1) That Jesus was actually subject to demonic possession. (2) That Jesus was placing himself above Abraham- inconceivable for a group who defined themselves by their own descent from the Patriarchs. (3) Finally, that Jesus had not yet reached the accepted age for such teaching. These arguments would have continued to be levelled at the early Church particularly after their expulsion from the synagogues. In answer to these three arguments contra the Epistle to the Hebrews counters that (1) Jesus was the high priest of all good things to come and therefore demonic possession was impossible. (2) that he is actually a new covenant which perfects the work of the the covenant with the Patriarchs going beyond a temporary solution to human sin. Finally, (3) Jesus' significance and existence as high priest exists outside of the normal constraints of this creation. Human judgements of maturity and the like are not significant.

These are not the specific arguments that we are likely to face today however the themes that lie behind them do find new expressions; (1) That the Christian 'movement' is purely the product of mass hysteria. (2) That Christianity is just one equal amongst the many faiths of the world. (3) That the 'historical' Jesus was limited in his earthly actions by the cultural constraints of his time and his reaction against some of them. Each one of these is a stumbling block which are the real challenges to what the Church proclaims and unfortunately tend to get repeated, without any challenge, in much modern 'theologising' within and without the Church. At the essence of all these three is the problem of relativism, that there can be no true 'black and white', no absolute good and evil. Surely that is not what we have received from the Apostles.

1 comment:

  1. I have recently been thinking that Jesus was immersed in relativism just as I am. His words and actions created a path through this relativism, part of the human condition me thinks!


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