Saturday, 19 October 2019

Are you a Christian or (just) a theist? What role does Jesus have in your theology?

To become a Christian it would seem necessary that Jesus has an important, probably vital, role in your understanding of divine activity - in addition to God the creator. All Christians regard Jesus as divine and necessary - but most Christians are unable satisfactorily to explain why.

And this is something that each must workout for himself, it seems to me; in practice. Because of this, for a long time I found it hard to be a Christian in any theoretically solid way - explanations kept crumbling...

(The ability of Christians explicitly to defend and explain Jesus seems to be increasingly necessary in the modern world - since naive Christians are falling to secular materialism with sustained high frequency.)

I was not satisfied with any of the usual explanations of what Jesus did, because they were either incoherent, or depended on an understanding of God and creation that (on living-with them) I sooner or later regarded as mistaken.

For me, any explanation leads on to further questions - until eventually I reach an assumption, and I must assent to this intuition: it must seem right at the deepest and solidest way I can manage, by sustained and intense thinking. I've reached such firm ground with Jesus - at least for the past few years.

I regard all theories of Jesus that start with an omnipotent God (who created everything from nothing) as fundamentally and necessarily mistaken - because such a God can do, and does do, everything - so there is by definition no need for Jesus.

This rules-out the entirety of traditionalist Christianity - Orthodox and Roman Catholic, and Protestant.

The only large scale theology left standing is Mormon; with its God (i.e. Heavenly Parents) who is wholly good by constrained by time and that creation is ongoing, continuing, open-ended; and began with pre-existent unorganised 'stuff' and the primordial spirits of men and women (who were embryonic Gods).

But, in my view, mainstream Mormonism errs in making Jesus primarily about atonement. This falls into being a double-negative theology of Jesus that I regard as refuted by intuition as well as the Fourth Gospel. Jesus came to bring us something more, life more abundant; not merely to undo sins and errors.

Because if Jesus was essentially an undoer, a negative figure, then that leads back to why God created the situation such as to require an undoer, but that undoer cannot itself be God... It also diminishes Jesus to be an undoer rather than the bringer of a great gift.

Yet, the strangest thing is that the work of Jesus is explained, repeatedly and clearly (albeit poetically) in the Fourth Gospel, which is about 2000 years old. If it can be read without a superstructure of preconceptions - the answer is there.