December 23, 2004


God the Rebel (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy)

That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already; but that God could have his back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents for ever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point - and does not break.

In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologize in advance if any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in that terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." No; but the Lord thy God may tempt himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane.

In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God.

And now let the revolutionists of this age choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2004 5:35 PM

The author should go a step further, perhaps to the moment of death.

Jesus was carried in a human womb and was birthed a human. He also died a human suffering untold agony. Why not cry out at the moments before death in anguish?

Has anyone never cried out in pain when undergoing extreme trauma such as a crushed hand, or other injury, knowing you would survive but could not stand at that time what was happening to you?

It was a perfect plan executed as such.

What's Chesterton's problem accepting that?

Posted by: TW at December 23, 2004 6:05 PM


The point is that the trauma took Him by surprise, despite all His planning.

Posted by: oj at December 23, 2004 9:42 PM

I'm with TW.

Chesterton is overanalyzing. Almost as though he has to deny Jesus' humanity to allow him deity.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, which was given to humans. There is no reason to deny a human died on the cross and was forsaken, just like the blood of a ram substituted for Isaac.

It wasn't Jesus' deity that saved us, but the sacrifice of his sinless humanity. That is why he can be a substitute.

I must admit that I have never understood how the flesh can be/is intertwined with the spirit, but saying that the trauma took God by surprise is melodramatic.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 24, 2004 9:42 AM

Then why does He despair and why does He have to plead with Him to forgive us?

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2004 10:04 AM

Why did He have to set it up so Jews took the fall for the whole thing?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 24, 2004 2:17 PM

The ones who accepted Him didn't.

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2004 3:37 PM

Jeff, Jesus was, and remains, first and foremost the Jews' Messiah. God called the Jews his beloved, something he has not said about any other specific group of people. If you want to say that "God set them up to take the fall for the whole thing," go ahead. By the same token then, it is also true God also set them up to be the recipients of a wondrous gift! Rejection and acceptance of Jesus each have their ramifications(AND IT'S UP TO GOD, NOT ME, WHAT THOSE RAMIFICATIONS ARE/WILL BE).

Posted by: Phil at December 24, 2004 4:36 PM


Jesus said to the Father, "take away this cup from me; nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."

Then, Jesus said to Peter in Gethsemane, "The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." This should answer your question.

When Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," he was talking about the men who were literally fulfilling scripture by crucifying him and gambling over his clothes. This is because "All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me." (Lk 23:34, Ps 22:18)

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 24, 2004 9:31 PM


Precisely. God needed Christ to explain it to Him.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2004 8:32 AM

Not quite OJ, while I wouldn't say that God needed anything explained to him, I would say that as a result of the cricifixion, God can now say "I feel your pain" and mean it and we know that when God says it it's genuine and not a cliche. God has walked in our moccacins.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 25, 2004 3:18 PM


Prior to which He couldn't, no? He learned.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2004 5:47 PM

The ones who accepted Him didn't.

Leaving aside that little matter of the conversos.

And the other little matter that those possessed of The Truth saw fit to visit the sins of the fathers upon the sons.

How much of a moral compass does it take to avoid making that mistake for 20 centuries in a row?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 25, 2004 9:10 PM

The conversos were Christians and they've done fine for themselves. Jews don't lack a moral compass just because they haven't all converted even after 20 centuries.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2004 9:16 PM