Friday, March 25, 2016

The Journey continues - into Holy Week



A while back I wrote about taking a journey through my faith. I must confess that lately, while on the surface my faith may seem strong, it still is tenuous. I will state that I have a strong belief that the Old Testament, for the most part, is purely mythological, particularly Genesis. When you read of God (I'll call him Yahweh since I really refer to the Hebrew god of the first five books of the Bible), I see a god that has very human characteristics: remorse; anger; genocidal tendencies; fickleness; even arrogance. I find THAT god, Yahweh, to be very hard to take seriously. I really doubt most everything in the book of Genesis is fact, because that's where we see Yahweh, not the God of the New Covenant as manifested in Christ. 

But a major part of me has an issue with reconciling Yahweh with the loving God as shared with humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. I have doubts about the concepts of "original sin", and if it was "introduced" in a fictional Garden of Eden. I have serious doubts about the mythical Tower of Babel (where different languages were supposedly to have originated), the Great Flood (which parallels the Epic of Gilgamesh), and even the Hebrew enslavement and release from Egypt following Moses. It's just all too fanciful, and more like a comic book movie than fact.

But sometimes I fly in the face of all these doubts with an uncertainty in the reality of Jesus. I have lately been wondering if he actually existed as a historical person. There are arguments that he did, and arguments that he did not. And, sometimes I wonder if he really WAS and IS God as he claimed to be. C.S. Lewis stated once that anyone who makes that claim is either certifiably nuts, or is speaking the truth. And for me, there are several litmus tests that I see as being the reasons for the very truth of Jesus, and those are the things that for now are holding my faith together.

For me, the very fact that the Gospel narratives - all four of them - do NOT perfectly match in content or dialog, is one of the litmus tests. I believe that if the Story was false, the four authors of the Gospels would have worked diligently to make sure that the details of their own stories matched, in order to insure its veracity. But in fact, they don't match, facts are jumbled. There are inconsistencies among all four of the Gospels. And to me, that actually strengthens their legitimacy and veracity. 

And as we come to Easter, I think of these days, from the night when Jesus was betrayed, to his ascension 40 days after Easter (and I don't really think it WAS 40 days, because 40 is a number of great significance - probably picked because the Great Flood story said it rained for 40 days and 40 nights). But other things about the Passion ring true: the great denial by Peter (who was not with the program yet became the greatest of the Apostles); the efficiency of the cross as Christ's death; the public humiliation of crucifixion; the fear of the disciples following Jesus' death (that alone to me is a powerful statement of the truth of Jesus); the constant nonacceptance of Jesus' followers that he was alive, even when he was in their midst; the FACT that the church existed, and that men, women and children would willingly die for something that would have been false; and finally, THERE WAS NO BODY - where was it? After all, if the Romans or the Jewish leaders wished to disprove the news that this Jewish prophet from Nazareth had, of all things, risen from the dead, why didn't they just go and get the body and say "here. Here's the proof that your so-called 'Messiah' is dead." But that didn't happen.  

When I find myself shaky in my faith, I think of those pivotal few days, when the world came crashing down on these men and women. And, then, on a quiet Sunday and in the days following, these same fearful folk witnessed the true Resurrection - seeing Jesus alive, and they went on tell anyone and everyone that Jesus is Risen. And my faith, for the moment, is solidified in that Truth.

Soli Deo Gloria

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