Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Son of Man, Yes: Flower Child, No

I was talking about the Incarnation last week:
I quoted part of this bit then, but it bears repeating:
"...Jesus Christ is true God and true man. During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of faith against the heresies that falsified it."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 464) [emphasis mine]
That didn't stop after the first centuries. For two millennia now, the idea that Jesus really is God, had been God from before the beginning, and really is human, has seemed rather - unusual.

Maybe one reason why folks have occasionally decide that Jesus isn't God, or isn't human, is that we can't explain how God did the Incarnation - and that's almost another topic.


I've run into a few variations of this joke:
"If it's green or wiggles, it's biology. If it stinks, it's chemistry. If it doesn't work, it's physics. And if it doesn't make sense, it's math."
Quite a few folks aren't entirely comfortable around green, wiggly, things: and remarkable number of biological things stink.

In a way, it's no wonder that so many folks have decided that God shouldn't have much to do with green, wiggly, stinky, stuff. Particularly when it's sticky, too.

Diapers and Divinity

I didn't find biology repulsive before my wife and I started raising children. Since then I've changed diapers, cleaned up messes, and still think biology is fascinating: but I don't expect everyone to be just like me.

On the other hand, even if I couldn't abide wet, sticky, things: I wouldn't think it was prudent to assume that the Almighty shares my limitations. At least, I hope not.

That brings me to this bit:
"The first heresies denied not so much Christ's divinity as his true humanity (Gnostic Docetism). From apostolic times the Christian faith has insisted on the true incarnation of God's Son 'come in the flesh.'87 But already in the third century, the Church in a council at Antioch had to affirm against Paul of Samosata that Jesus Christ is Son of God by nature and not by adoption...."
(Catechism, 465)
Maybe it was easier to think that Jesus, Son of God, became divine after those awkward early years.

Think about it. When was the last time we saw Christmas-themed art include something like a changing table?

Jesus: God and Man

My Lord didn't pop into existence, fully grown and with a beard. The Gospels are clear on that point: Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:26.

Is the baby Jesus divine? The apostle John says so: John 1:1-5. So did John the Baptist: John 1:29-30, 35-36.

Physical growth aside, Jesus learned as he grew:
"Jesus, with his human heart, learned how to pray from his mother and from the Jewish tradition. But his prayer sprang from a more secret source because he is the eternal Son of God who in his holy humanity offers his perfect filial prayer to his Father."
(Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 541; quoted in "General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI" (November 30, 2011))
I've wondered how God is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Three Persons, One God; and how the infinite and eternal got packed into a finite body: without bursting this physical creation.

Wondering is one thing, understanding is another. I don't expect to know, or understand, exactly how God works. God's God, I'm not, and I've discussed Job 38:1-42:6 before.

"...God from God, Light from Light..."

One of my favorite parts of the Bible are those first verses of John:
"1 2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

"He was in the beginning with God.

"3 All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to

"through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;

"4 the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. "
(John 1:1-5)
"...and the Word was God..." seems clear enough, but folks having trouble believing that Jesus is God is nothing new.

Catechism, 465 talks about the first ecumenical council of Nicea. That was almost 17 centuries ago.

Someone had decided that God had zapped some dude, making the Son of God from a created being. We got the Nicene Creed from that council:
"...We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
one in Being with the Father....
(Nicene Creed)
There's more to it than that, of course.

Jesus, Books, and a Goofy Idea

Nifty new, and not-so-new, ideas about Jesus keep popping up. One is that Jesus isn't divine; another is that Jesus is God, but not human. Conspiracy theories have been popular, at least for the last few decades.

Writing a book about Jesus 'really' being a failed political leader, a flower child, or a plot to enslave women, is a fairly reliable way to get attention. I wouldn't do that, since I'll have enough trouble during my particular judgment. (August 27, 2011)

One goofy idea that's been popular for a while now is that Jesus of Nazareth was just a wise man: and that we should do what he says. That sounds nice: except that Jesus also said, with no possibility of misunderstanding, "I am God:"
"24 Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.' "
(John 8:58)
Sane men don't say, "I am God;" and I don't think doing what a crazy man teaches makes sense.

Crazy men don't stop being dead, Jesus did: so I think Jesus is sane, and is God. (March 11, 2012)

Radical, Yes; Flower Child, No

A flower child is "someone who rejects the established culture; advocates extreme liberalism in politics and lifestyle" (Princeton's WordNet)

Jesus didn't exactly reject the establish culture, but I can see how folks get that idea:
"He said to him, 22 'You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

"This is the greatest and the first commandment.

"The second is like it: 23 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

"24 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.' "
(Matthew 22:37-40)
This isn't the sort of fluffy sentiment we find in greeting cards. It's the cold, hard, unrelenting love that walked to Golgotha, and will never end. That sort of love was radical two millennia back, still is, and that's another topic.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.