Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jesus fufilled the Law.

The claim is often that Jesus did what we couldn't do -- he perfectly followed the Law in our place, as that is what God demands.

However, if the claim is also that Jesus is God, then does saying he fulfilled the Law hold any validity?

This isn't a matter of if Jesus was perfect, he lacked the ability to break the Law. It's a matter of if Jesus was God, then some of the Laws had a hard time applying to him in the first place.

For instance, take the commandment "Thou shalt not steal." If God is in fact the Creator of all, and He's made everything, and anything you own is in fact provided to you by God, then God "owns" everything. How, therefore, could Jesus even begin to go about stealing, since it was all his to begin with?

Same with not being allowed to covet -- we again go back to the idea that it's all God's by default. He made it, He owns it, He has the rightful claim to everything. If you own everything, how can you covet something your neighbor has? It's already yours.

"You shall not murder." I'm not going into a debate on some of the acts committing by God in the Tanakh, but the idea is often that if God does kill, it's not murder, it's something He's allowed to do, the same way a painter is allowed to destroy a painting. If God killing is in a completely different category, and His right since He is just and righteous, then where does God even begin to have the opportunity to break that commandment?

If Jesus is God, can we still say he did what we couldn't do? How do you perfectly follow something that doesn't even apply to you? God wouldn't have a chance to even try and break the commandments, because if there's something out there that God can steal, then you lose the very definition of 'God' in a Christian sense. I'm sure the duality of Jesus would come into play here, with the man aspect of Jesus actually under this restriction, but there's no way to make that make sense. You'd have to fall back on the "It's a mystery" idea.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

If the Bible's inerrant, than so am I.

An interesting trend keeps popping up in some of the blogs I visit. I think I notice it more among conservative/fundamentalist Christians than liberal Christians, but given that I have the liberal outlook, I could be blind to it.

I find that for those who hold that truth is more multi-faceted, or that God can be experienced in more than one religion, or even that more than one religion can be true, there's more of a dialogue. If people differ, they are willing to explore why the other person believes as they do, or follows the path that they do. Disagreement doesn't automatically mean that the person disagrees with God.

In a more fundamentalist mindset, it's not the case. If I say that I don't believe the fundamentalist's position, I'm not ask why, my position is not explored. Rather, I'm flat-out told I'm wrong, and why. Not only am I wrong, I'm apparently also disagreeing with God, or have a problem with God.

That's the frightening aspect about it. There seems to be no hint of self-examination on the fundamentalist viewpoint, no willingness to step in the shoes of another. Instead, there's almost an elevation of the fundamentalist mindset, putting it on equal standing with the viewpoint of God.

How can common ground be reached with that perspective? Or compromise, or the middle road? I'm not on God's side, so I'm automatically in the lost/unsaved/hellbound/second status role.

Simply because the Bible might be inerrant does not mean that one's interpretation is at the same level of inerrancy. Yet how often do any of see that awareness? Rather, it comes across more that the person's method of understanding the Bible is also inerrant.

Perhaps this is because fundamentalism does seem to be simplistic, in many ways. It's tied to the idea of the Four Spiritual Laws, or there's this certain set of beliefs one must have to be saved. There's no hint of the depth or complexity found in the Bible in that mindset. Which, granted, if it's thought that every single book in the Bible carries the same core message, than it's easier to be simplistic than complex. If you feel that the message of the Bible is simple and inerrant, then there'd be very little you could do to misunderstand it once you do properly understand the inerrant message.