June 26, 2005


The scandal of Christianity (Peter Sellick, June 22, 2005, Opinion Journal)

The scandal of Christianity, despite what the scientists turned theologians say, is that it does not posit a universal God who is detached from the world. Such a God would be quite acceptable because he would be infinitely distant. Thus the scandal at the centre of Christianity is that God has made Himself known to us through this friend of sinners, this man of sorrows from a disreputable corner of the Roman Empire. But what is worse is that this man suffers a criminal’s death abandoned by his friends and, it seems, by God. He is an outcast from proper society, dying shamefully outside the city walls. It is this man who is presented to us as truly God and truly human. It is no wonder that those who pride themselves on their righteousness are scandalised. [...]

[I]t is not only the violent power of Rome that is judged in the death of this innocent man, but also the religious authorities of the day. There is an internal critique of religion found not only in the New Testament but also in the earliest writings of Israel. Read correctly the bible tells us that Jesus is the end of religion as the world knows it and the restoration of the true worship of God that brings life and freedom. This is why Christians cannot just affirm anything that is religious in the way of political correctness. Christianity gives us a critique of religion far more potent than any secular tirade. [...]

The real reason for the offence of Jesus has its basis in the human psyche. The above arguments are just the outer appearance of a deeper fear. They act as intellectual protection for something much more serious - self preservation. For if we acknowledge that Jesus is the one with whom we have to deal, that he stands in our path demanding a response, then we are in real trouble. The fear is that we might have to give ourselves up - this must be the biggest fear of the modern age. When we think of how much we have invested in the concept of the individual, this is no surprise. The self-esteem movement is but the tip of the iceberg. [...]

While reason and doctrine are important we do not come to faith because of them. It is, in the end, not an intellectual decision. I have never won a theological argument with the result that my opponent has come to faith. Rather, it is a matter of coming to understand a story that sweeps all of our self-made stories aside. This displacement happens simply because the Christian story is the best, deepest and truest story around. It produces graceful human beings and truly free selves. In other words, it saves them from stunted and superficial lives informed by a stunted and superficial story.

But...if he's He, I'm not Me....

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 26, 2005 11:58 PM

Works especially well for Unitarian Universalists ... like Ray Bradbury.

Posted by: ghostcat at June 27, 2005 12:06 PM

Every time I think I've come to the end of the string of degenerate, depraved, hateful arguments from Christianity, I turn out to be wrong.

The latest (and I hope last) is the dispensationalist-millenialist argument (made in the 1940s, but new to me this summer) that the oven-roasting of 6 million Jews was a necessary step to their welcoming back their Saviour.

Apparently, it never, ever occurred to any of these Christians that that sort of price might be hard to justify.

Anyhow, that's the sort of action in the world that we're offered. Yeech.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 27, 2005 3:33 PM

Obviously they had to die to get to Heaven. But they needn't have been Darwined.

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2005 3:59 PM

I meant the Jews had to die for the dispensationalist-millenialists to get to Heaven.

It is obvious that none of them thought that was overmuch to ask of the Jews.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 28, 2005 2:37 PM

They will. Everyone will.

Posted by: oj at June 28, 2005 5:39 PM

Not all in ovens.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 29, 2005 3:27 PM

...as Darwinist rule becomes rarer.

Posted by: oj at June 29, 2005 3:53 PM