Monday, March 21, 2005

That'll Be the Day

Tonight I read an article in Newsweek entitled "From Jesus to Christ." It was about the Gospel story and how a carpenter like Jesus rose to such great fame after his death. If the Resurrection isn't true, how could an "average Joe" (or, arguably, his followers) launch a world-wide explosion of faith? Good question. I have always found the arguments for Christianity's historical accuracy compelling, but that's just me. A while back you could have said it was my bias. Not so anymore.
Favorite quotes:
"For the religious, the lesson is that those closest to Jesus accepted little blindly, and, in the words of Origen of Alexandria, an early church father, "It is far better to accept teachings with reason and wisdom than with mere faith." For the secular, the reminder that Christianity is the product of two millennia of creative intellectual thought and innovation, a blend of history and considered theological debate, should slow the occasional rush to dismiss the faithful as superstitious or simple."
"On historical grounds, then, Christianity appears less a fable than a faith derived in part from oral or written traditions dating from the time of Jesus' ministry and that of his disciples."
"In the second century, the anti-Christian critic Celsus called the Resurrection a "cock-and-bull story," and cast doubt on the eyewitness testimony: "While he was alive he did not help himself, but after death he rose again and showed the marks of his punishment and how his hands had been pierced. But who say this? A hysterical female, as you say, and perhaps some other one of those who were deluded by the same sorcery, who either dreamt in a certain state of mind and through wishful thinking had a hallucination due to some mistaken notion ... or, which is more likely, wanted to impress others by telling this fantastic tale ..."
(Oh, screw you, Celsus.)
"The uniqueness—one could say oddity, or implausibility—of the story of Jesus' resurrection argues that the tradition is more likely historical than theological."
Lastly, the article quoted a scripture from the book of Revelation:
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new."
While reading that, I retrieved the mental image of that scene from Titanic when the ship is sinking and the priest speaks that line. And then I had this thought that humanity - all of us - are on a sinking ship. I mean, turn on the news. We're going down, folks. And as I previously stated regarding self-hatred, I don't feel that this is something the Bible has told me so much as something I've observed, and the Bible is explaining. And I hope that I can find a way to cling to this verse, because, crutch or not, what else is there?


Tom said...

I saw on 60 minutes a story about these island people that survived the tsunami because they saw the signs of it coming and ran to higher ground. They knew of these signs because of "stories" and songs that they repeated from long ago that told of the last big wave decades ago.

The reporter and all that heard of their survival applauded their apparent connection with nature. So why is it when stories and writings of Jesus get passed on they become doubtful and those that believe them are seen as weak and in need of a crutch?

I agree with you; crutch or not we are better for it.

sojourness said...


Firstly, thanks for your consistency with comments. I was starting to worry that I'm boring people :)

Secondly, I agree that there is a stigma about people who mention their Christian faith as anything more than a cultural tradition. Perhaps it's the fact that Christianity demands so much of its followers? For example, if I respect people for being connected to nature, I can maintain that respect without any inconvenience to myself. If I start to believe someone's Jesus story, all of a sudden there's a whole "take up your cross and follow me" demand that encroaches upon my life.

Tom said...

Very true. Its sometimes easier to have hope than to have faith. There is also a non-conformist view people have that make them avoid Christianity. Its sexier and esoteric to be an open minded seeker than a died in the wool churchy person. Many want something new. The hidden holy grail. Its not there.

I have found a true Christian life to be apart from the organization of church and sometimes humanly lonely. Being content with the least is important and I am not there yet. divorcing myself from earthly things is hard.