Sunday, April 08, 2007

One God, or Two Gods?

One of the early Christian heresies teaches that the God of the Old Testement, the Jewish God, is not the God Jesus proclaims. Now, I think anyone who is honest with themselves can understand how this heresy came about. In the Old Testement we are confronted with a God that is militaristic, often angry, and sometimes horribly cruel. We read stories of genocide, of war, of slavery ect. Then we see Jesus, who we believe to be God in flesh, and He is quite different. He tells us to have mercy, to love and do good to our enemies, to turn the other cheek. It does not take much imagination to see how some people could think these two could not be reconciled. In fact, it is very difficult to reconcile the two. It is hard for me, it is hard for most, and to be honest most non Christians actually don't give much credence to those who think they have accomplished this feat.

So in my mind we have two options when trying to reconcile these two views. We make Jesus fit into the old paradigm, or we make the old paradigm fit into Jesus. Neither of these is a good fit mind you, which is why there is a problem. But I would suggest that we who call ourselves CHRISTians, who supposedly base our faith on Jesus the Christ, who call ourselves followers of Jesus, take the second option. In deed if what we say we believe is true, we cannot do otherwise. Jesus was God in flesh. Jesus told us that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father. We have too often done the opposite, we have seen the God of the Old Testement and required Jesus to be different than how He showed himself to be.

Now I would suggest that the God of the Old Testement is much more convenient for those that are "winners". They can say God is blessing me in my wealth, in my power, in my stature. They can say, God is leading our army against the evil adversaries, and will establish our nation, our business, our church as the true power, blessed by God victorious and triumphant. This is a seductive idea, we all want God to be on the side of our interests. But this is not the plan lived out by Jesus.

Jesus stood against this notion. He stood with the powerless, and indeed became powerless even though He is the only legitmate power of the world. Jesus did not fight, but received all of the wrath of the powers. He was a suffering servant. God revealed in humanity was not the conquering militaristic ruler all were expecting, but a suffering servant, who befriended the least of these. The most amazing truth of the gospel is that in refusing to be the conquering king, he became the conquering king, and calls us to be the same. If we are followers of Jesus, shouldn't we stay with Jesus' methodology? Shouldn't we keep Jesus at the center and make even the Old Testement bow to the revelation of God in Christ? Should we not understand all, through Him who made all?

The one problem that often gets brought up is the apocalyptic Jesus riding in on a horse, with blood dripping from his sword. Infact I have been accused of keeping Jesus captive in the gospels, and not embracing the revelation Jesus. Well, this point makes absulutely no sense to me. The book of revelations is full of apocolyptic language, cryptic imagery, and unclear symbolism. While Jesus actually walked in the flesh and calls us to follow His earthly example, we would rather try and base our life on a future, idea that is not in any way clear, or concise, and is full of difficult imagery. If, as some assert, this revelation Jesus really is the bloody judge of the world, slaughtering all that stand against Him, how can we emulate that anyways? How can we be the triumphant judge? The only Jesus we can be called to follow is the one that walked the earth two thousand years ago in the middle east.

I believe there is one God, not two. But in my ignorance, and uncompleteness I will choose to err on the side of the Jesus of the gospels. He is the one that bids me follow, and if every knee shall bow to Him, and His name, then I will do well to make all of my ideaologies bend the knee to Him as well.



Justin said...

Great stuff rev, Justin

David said...

If Jesus has the same characteristics as the God of the old testament (after all, aren't they of the "same substance"), then he still retains the bad-tempered, vindictive, genocidal urges. Doesn't he?

The fact they are not emphasised as much in the Gospels doesn't seem like a good enough reason for you to ignore them or doubt them. I shouldn't accuse you of disbelief, rather you put them into the endless conversation pot where they are sometimes discussed but never resolved. That's the dishonest equivalent of disbelief for emergent christians. It keeps opposing camps on side with touchy-feely connections, but always wondering just what the other people really think (so it has the opposite effect of creating trust).

Anyway, I can see why God got so angry. Humans have messed up this world to such an extent, even God had a difficult time trying to patch it up. No wonder he got into murderous rages. What with people wearing clothes made of two different materials or walking into the holy temple sanctum with damaged testicles, no wonder he got angry. That plus people working on the sabbath day or "worshiping" wooden statues.

On the other hand, Jesus did lighten up a bit - letting his disciples gather food or work a little on the sabbath.

So if you follow Jesus, the occasional killing spree is ok. Especially if your surname is Bush and you use "smart" weapons.

Troy said...

I agree John, like Karl Barth wrote: 'There is no unChristlikeness in God'.

Rebecca said...

Daaaavid...this is getting borrrrrring...

David said...

Do you agree that the Bible is an inferior moral guide, Rebecca? Christians who continue to put it forward as the best moral guide are misguided, are you one of them? Why not just throw it out and move on?