LENTEN CONVERSION: WHO IS YOUR JESUS? AN END USER PAUSES TO REVIEW THE CONSEQUENCES OF BELIEVING OR NOT BELIEVING IN JESUS THE CHRIST.

In my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) today, I wondered about who Jesus is. I think this is part of the mystery of Faith, that probing of the human heart to try to love God with all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our strength. Each day, I must begin my quest anew, seeking God where I am and as I am. Each day, I try to find ways to be near the real presence of Christ, physically, mentally, and spiritually through the Cistercian practices of Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, contemplative prayer. You know what? I have never even met Jesus face to face or know what he looks like. I only know him through others, such as the Saints and how they have tried to move from self to God. Jesus knew this discrepancy would occur for those in the future, so He gave us the Advocate to be with us as he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father (images for our human understanding, not God’s). Jesus was in the upper room and had an encounter with Thomas to prove a point. That point was meant for us to give us confidence that, even if we have never seen or met Christ, we know Him through others (the Church, our friends, neighbors). Read this story three times, each time slowing down to delve into what the Holy Spirit is telling you.

Thomas. 24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 Now, a week later, his disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”p 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 28*q Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29* Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? r Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/20

What a wonderful illustration of how to see Jesus. Scriptures are one way to see Jesus, so is receiving the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ in the Eucharist, as is the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. All the Cistercian practices are there for me to use in order to see Jesus. All it takes is for me to believe that Jesus is present to me.

When thinking of Jesus, each of us has a different picture of who Christ is because of where we have been in life and what we choose for our future. That doesn’t mean each person is wrong but it is also true that we won’t know for sure until we see him face to face, just like Thomas. That is dying in the Hope of the Resurrection. It is not a mental conundrum to solve but anticipation of future glory.

THREE APPROACHES TO SEE JESUS

If it is true that each one of us “sees” Jesus differently because of our reason and the choices we make, then there are at least three approaches to how humans think about Christ, each with their unique assumptions about what is true. It is also true that, if I choose the wrong Jesus, I will miss the point of the Christ Principle and end up with Christ the Philosopher, Christ the Social Worker, or merely Christ the son of Mary. I use the word “approaches” because within each person’s Jesus, there are at least three (maybe you know of more) approaches into which we all might fit. These approaches all have their criteria, their assumptions hidden beneath the surface, Although they all use the word “Jesus” what they mean might be radically different. I urge caution when looking at these words of Faith. What follows are my thoughts about how I differentiated between approaches.

THE DETAILS ARE IN THE ASSUMPTIONS

Assumptions are those often hidden premises that each one of us holds that inform what we believe and how we believe it. They are the learned lessons of our lives that we have assimilated into our behavior and help with the choices we make. This is why many people can look at the life of Christ and see different things. The assumptions we make inform the choices we select. The choices we make have consequences for additional assumptions that move us forward. We get rid of some assumptions and accept others in their place. When you read my three different ways to see Jesus, remember that I view it from my assumptions.

I. THE HISTORICAL JESUS: Studying about God without God as your center.

This is a movement or an approach to seeing Jesus that looks at Scripture from the viewpoint of historical veracity; what is true must be historically proven. If there are inconsistencies in Scripture, it proves that those books are in error. What is left after passing through this gauntlet of historical beatings is the true Jesus. https://www.cs.umd.edu/users/mvz/bible/bible-inconsistencies.pdf Looking at the apparent contradictions in all books of Scripture, the natural conclusion is that all of this is just made up by overzealous followers who foisted the myth of the resurrection on gullible followers. If you believe this, your world view of religion takes on a juridical and scientific approach to what is real.

The Jesus Seminar is one of these movements. If you strip away all of the contradictions and assumptions about Christ based on the subjective Faith of followers, what you have left is a good man who gave us some inspirational ways to act in life. John Dominic Crossan is one of the chief proponents of the Jesus Seminar approach. What you choose to believe has consequences both intellectually and spiritually in how you view reality.

Another very popular author is Dr. Bart Ehrman. A former clergyman who examined the Scriptures and writing of the early Church Fathers and concluded that all the Jesus information was Misquoting Jesus (the title of one of his popular books). He is currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a prolific author and apologist for the historical Jesus approach to seeing Christ. This approach is one that dismisses Faith at all in favor of reading the texts of Scripture strictly for what they tell you (or don’t tell you).

Watch what Bishop Robert Barron says about the Jesus Seminar and the implications for those who choose to believe its assumptions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRgkG9QxGC0&list=TLPQMDIwMzIwMjGxC0wT_0CM0w&index=2

AN END USER REFLECTS ON THE HISTORICAL APPROACH TO JESUS

I am no theologian, nor scripture scholar, nor do I consider myself an expert in anything academic. I do consider myself a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian who comments on life as it is quickly passing by, like looking out at the countryside on a Canadian Pacific passenger train. In this context, I offer you two observations about the Jesus Seminar and those who are academically teaching about the Scriptures and Jesus while being agnostic/atheists (like Dr. Bart Ehrman). If all Christ was to me was the object of study, like learning academically the Jesus of Scriptures and early Church struggling to find out who Jesus is, then I would look upon the notion of the historical Christ with some interest. It is not of interest to me because I see it as cotton candy– tastes good but there is no nutrition. Here are some results I took from Wikipedia about the Jesus Seminar and some of their assumptions. You be the judge of its merits. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar

A. FIRST OBSERVATION: WHO DO PEOPLE SAY I AM?

Seeking the real Jesus is nothing new, despite the academic challenges of the Historical Jesus approach. Read what Matthew 16 has to say about who Jesus is. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/16

The Demand for a Sign. 1*a The Pharisees and Sadducees came and, to test him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2* He said to them in reply, “[In the evening you say, ‘Tomorrow will be fair, for the sky is red’; 3band, in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you cannot judge the signs of the times.] 4c An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”* Then he left them and went away.

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.5d In coming to the other side of the sea,* the disciples had forgotten to bring bread. 6e Jesus said to them, “Lookout, and beware of the leaven* of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7* They concluded among themselves, saying, “It is because we have brought no bread.” 8 When Jesus became aware of this, he said, “You of little faith, why do you conclude among yourselves that it is because you have no bread? 9f Do you not yet understand, and do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many wicker baskets you took up? 10g Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up?11How do you not comprehend that I was not speaking to you about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12Then they understood* that he was not telling them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter’s Confession About Jesus.* 13h When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi* he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14i They replied, “Some say John the Baptist,* others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16*j Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18k And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20*m Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.

The First Prediction of the Passion.*21n From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he* must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.o 22* Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” 23p He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

The Conditions of Discipleship.*24q Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,* take up his cross, and follow me. 25r For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.*26What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”

Contrast the above passage with what I copied off of Wikipedia about the Jesus Seminar. I don’t want to put false words in the mouths of those who believe differently than me. My conclusions and assumptions are certainly different. If you continue to read further down, you will find a second opinion, one based on the effects reading the Historical Jesus approach had on me.

“Acts of Jesus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar
  • In 1998 the Jesus Seminar published The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus. To create the material for this book, they voted on the individual acts of Jesus as recorded in the gospels, much as they’d previously voted on the individual sayings attributed to him.[5]
  • According to the Jesus Seminar:
  • Jesus of Nazareth was born during the reign of Herod the Great.
  • His mother’s name was Mary, and he had a human father whose name may not have been Joseph.
  • Jesus was born in Nazareth, not in Bethlehem.
  • Jesus was an itinerant sage who shared meals with social outcasts.
  • Jesus practiced faith healing without using ancient medicine or magic, relieving afflictions we now consider psychosomatic.
  • He did not walk on water, feed the multitude with loaves and fishes, change water into wine, or raise Lazarus from the dead.
  • Jesus was arrested in Jerusalem and crucified by the Romans.
  • He was executed as a public nuisance, not for claiming to be the Son of God.
  • The empty tomb is a fiction – Jesus was not raised bodily from the dead.
  • Belief in the resurrection is based on the visionary experiences of Paul, Peter, and Mary Magdalene.
“Criticism from scholars

The Jesus Seminar has come under criticism regarding its method, assumptions, and conclusions from a wide array of scholars and laymen.[27][28] Scholars who have expressed concerns with the work of the Jesus Seminar include Richard Hays,[29] Ben Witherington,[30] Greg Boyd,[31] N.T. Wright,[32] William Lane Craig,[33] Luke Timothy Johnson,[34] Craig A. Evans,[35] Paul Barnett,[36][37] Michael F. Bird,[38] Craig Blomberg,[27][39] Markus Bockmuehl,[40] Raymond Brown,[41] James D.G. Dunn,[42] Howard Clark Kee,[43][44] John P. Meier,[45] Graham Stanton,[46] Darrell Bock,[27] and Edwin Yamauchi.[27]

Jesuit theologian Gerald O’Collins has been critical of the methods and conclusions of the Jesus Seminar with particular attention to Christological ramifications.[47][48]

Lutheran theologian Carl Braaten has been sharply critical, saying “The Jesus Seminar is the latest example of a pseudo-scientific approach that is ‘dogmatically’ opposed to basic Christian dogmas, popularizing in the public mind Harnack’s view that an unbridgeable gulf exists between Jesus and the church.”[49]

Without trying to be too simplistic, I want to add my own observations about the characteristics of the Acts of Jesus contained above. Whenever I think of academics and great thinkers who spout their expert opinions about Jesus or the meaning of the Gospels, I am reminded of Mrs. Murphy. What follows is a blog which I wrote about the enduring influence of Mrs. Murphy on my thinking. The late Aidan Kavanaugh, O.S.B. was one of my professors of sacramental theology back in the 1960s. He would speak of Mrs. Murphy as one who knew more than all the academics combined.

THE ENDURING EXAMPLE OF MRS. MURPHY

My first exposure to Mrs. Murphy, a fictionalized, archetypal character used by Father Aidan to ground the academic theologians in the practical expression of Liturgy as the Body of Christ in the local community. She lifted up all the cares, worries, successes, and challenges of the day with Christ to the Father. I remember him saying about Mrs. Murphy that she is the little old lady in the backbench of Church, eyes closed, faithfully praying to God with all her soul. This lady, said Father Aidan, knows more about the meaning of Faith than all the sophisticated theologians and academics combined. She brings all her struggles and aspirations and lays them at the feet of Christ in humility, simplicity of words, fidelity to the love of Christ, seeking only to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit. At the time, this example just passed right over my head, like so many of the other ideas I encountered. Being in Father Aidan’s class was like taking a sip of water from a fully functioning fire hose. So many wonderful and scintillating ideas were presented in such a modest way that I found myself struggling to catch just a gulp. I remember Mrs. Murphy because it has taken me a lifetime to flesh out the significance of what Father Aidan was trying to communicate. It has been only in the last six or seven years that this image has even begun to make some sense to me. My inspiration came from the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in their monthly Gathering Days. Being from Tallahassee, Florida, my drive to the monastery once per month was five hours away in Atlanta, Georgia. I very slowly came to see what Father Aidan was alluding to in his avatar of Mrs. Murphy. It is time I take to place myself in the presence of Christ, in the presence of my fellow Lay Cistercians on gathering day, that makes me open to the Holy Spirit in community. Liturgy is the expression of this living body of Christ which culminates in the Eucharist but which is sustained in the local Gathering in the name of Christ. I am very slowly coming to expand my Faith horizon from Church as someplace I go to for the Sacraments to actually believing that I am the Church wherever I am and that, joined with others of like persuasion, we offer our whole day as a sacrament in our search to find God wherever we are. Spirituality becomes not just those times where we formally pray in silence and solitude. However, that much more significant is the time we take in our whole day joined with our community of Faith. All of this joined to the Church Universal as the acceptable sacrifice of our lives in with and through Christ to the Father’s glory through the power of the Holy Spirit. Practicing the five Cistercian charisms of silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community is how I have come to address Mrs. Mruphy’s challenge of simply being in the presence of Christ and listening. St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., great Doctor of the Church, has this written about him: “One day when Thomas Aquinas was preaching to the local populace on the love of God, he saw an old woman listening attentively to his every word. And inspired by her eagerness to learn more about her God whom she loved so dearly, he said to the people: It is better to be this unlearned woman, loving God with all her heart, than the most learned theologian lacking love.” https://www.azquotes.com/author/490-Thomas_Aquinas

THE IMPLICATIONS FOR MY BELIEF

Anyone can believe anything they want. There is a reason we have reason and the ability to choose what we reason. It is also true that we are defined by our choices and not our knowledge or abilities. For me to choose the approach to Jesus without Faith would be like trying to get fresh fruit from a long dead orange tree.

  • The Jesus Seminar and Historical Jesus movement discount the Gospels and inspired the Epistles’ writings as mainly overzealous disciples.
  • If there is no resurrection, says St. Paul, we are the most pitiable of persons. What is true is that those who do not believe in the resurrection’s power are to be pitied.
  • What does it gain you by knowing everything about Christ but failing to love others as Christ loved us?
  • The Scriptures are the inspired word of God. If the Resurrection is not true, says St. Paul, we are the most pitiable of people.
  • The Scriptures do not tell us about how the heavens go but how to go to heaven.
  • According to John 20:30-31, the purpose of Scripture is so that we may come to believe that he is Son of God, Messiah, and that believing we might have life in his name. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/20 The Scriptures are all about Faith and the consequences of not having it by not believing.
  • I would not give my life to preserve the assumptions of the Historical Jesus.
  • I could never place the assumptions of the Jesus Seminar as my personal purpose in life. It would make a pitiful center.
  • If all my Faith was to me was just pious platitudes, to hell with it. It is just a clanging cymbal.
  • The Christ Principle is a sign of contradiction to all those who lack Faith, but to those who have Faith, no answers are needed. Long ago, I have stopped trying to defend (apologia pro vita mea) my faith and am content with trying to love others as Christ loved us.
  • The study of Scriptures, without realizing its purpose is to prepare us to live in heaven, is just about dead people and their ideas. There is no transformative power here. It does not lead me to want to sit next to Jesus on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait for my friend to share himself.

Thomas. 24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”o 26 Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”p 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 28 *q Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 * Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? r Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Conclusion.* 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book.s 31 But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.t

John 20:30-31

B. SECOND OBSERVATION: MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH THE HISTORICAL JESUS

I learned most of what I know about Jesus from the Scriptures. Most of what I learned from Scriptures I studied from an academic point of view. This is the WHAT and WHY of Scripture but was definitely academic. This next observation results from listening to the Great Courses series of two DVDs by Bart Ehrman, Ph. D. entitled The New Testament. https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/new-testament There is also this DVD on the Historical Jesus. https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/historical-jesus

My interest in Dr. Ehrman is one of admiration for his scholarship and the sheer volume of his commentary about the New Testament and the Early Church. He had a Ph.D. and taught at The University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. I was impressed, much like I would be if I had leukemia (which I did) and went to a physician I did not know and placed my total trust and faith (human faith) in his opinions and ideas. He came from a background of Pentecostal preaching and believing and achieved fame for his insights into Scriptures. What I failed to notice, in my admiration and sheer joy at finding someone who cast a discerning shadow on Christ was that, along the way, he lost his faith in Jesus as Savior. In my opinion, what was left was cotton candy, tasting sweet but having no nutrition for my body.

THE TEMPTATION TO CHANGE MY CENTER

When I listened to his DVD on the New Testament, I found myself physically strange in my whole thorax, like something had just invaded my body from what was there before. I became lethargic and had terrible thoughts about the words of Christ to me as being fake and fraud as perpetrated by those disciples who want to believe what Scripture actually did not say about the resurrection and Jesus as Son of God, Savior. I had, what I call, Spiritual Depression and what St. John of the Cross and other mystics call the dark night of the soul. I remember the feelings of abandonment and hopelessness as I challenged my center. This went on as long as I continued to listen to this DVD, enchanting and seductive in its approach because it seems to make sense to my mind, but my mind and heart were definitely at war. Being the simple thinker that I am, I wondered what in the world was happening to me? It was like taking a very strong sleeping pill and being in a fog, being hostage to a foreign ideology that was creeping ever so silently to cover my world with its thick syrup-like drippings, as in the Sherman Williams logo that has the world being covered with paint.

Perhaps some in the Historical Jesus approach would say that I was just suffering through the withdrawal syndrome or demystification of all this phony, religious, pity piety built up by its followers over the years. Like waking up from a coma, I reaffirmed by Faith in the living Christ, Son of God, Messiah, as St. John mentions in John 20:30-31 and called upon the name of the Lord to have mercy on me, a sinner. Almost immediately, I re-consecrated myself to my Lay Cistercian promises to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Immediately, my worries were banished as the fog of unbelief lifted, and I began to assess what had happened to me. What did happen?

THE STRUGGLE TO BE SPIRITUAL

I had dipped just my toe in the seductive pool of unbelief, the concentrated orange juice of doubt and hopelessness. Like Adam and Eve, I had just been visited by the serpent of delusion and doubt, the one who espouses jealousy and revenge, the one who tempts the faithful to lose their center (Christ) and, when they do, laughs at them for being so gullible and spineless and escorts them into the Hell of their own design.

I thought back to one of the books I had written (I am probably the only person that has read it) which speaks of the struggle or the battle to be spiritual. https://amzn.to/38lbLee I read this Scripture from Paul in https://bible.usccb.org/bible/romans/10. Whenever you read the inspired words of Scripture the Word is present in your mind the heart. You can become what you read, with the grace of the Holy Spirit. The way to conquer the temptations of unbelief is to sit next to Christ on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait patiently to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Read this passage three times. The first time for the words, the second time for meaning, the third time read it as one who needs the redemptive love of Christ to crowd out (capacitas dei) false teaching and restore the resonance of the Resurrection.

 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on their behalf are for salvation.a 2 I testify that they have a zeal for God. Still, it is not discerning.b 3 For, in their unawareness of the righteousness that comes from God and their attempt to establish their own [righteousness], they did not submit to the righteousness of God.c 4 For Christ is the end* of the law for the justification of everyone who has faith.d 5* Moses writes about the righteousness that comes from [the] law, “The one who does these things will live by them.”e 6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says,f “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will go up into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7* or ‘Who will go down into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”g 8 But what does it say?

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”h

(that is, the word of faith that we preach),9for, if you confess* with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.i10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.11For the scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”j12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him.k13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”l

II. THE CREATIONIST APPROACH: Seeing Jesus only through the eyes of Faith.

If the Historical Jesus approach is one which denies Faith while crafting their picture of what Jesus was, then the Creationist Approach is the opposite of that. On the surface, it seems like a reasonable approach to who Jesus is, just like the Historical Jesus approach. The assumptions of the approach are that the Scriptures are the inspired word of God and therefore without error. If they are without error, then what the Scriptures tell us must be taken literally. You can determine how old the world is by tracking the timeline of the Old Testament and tell when the end of the world is by looking at the Book of Revelations. It is all there for those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. All of this is backed up by science as they propose it, verified by those with advanced degrees and honors.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theistic_evolution

AN END USER REFLECTS ON THE CREATIONIST APPROACH TO CHRIST

I have a problem with this view of Christ. After all, I am actually a creationist because I hold that God created everything with a beginning and an end. What complicates things for me is that various positions hold that Scientific advances don’t support a strict biblical interpretation of Creation in Genesis. In this “Faith alone” version of how to look at Scripture, everything in Scriptures must be true because it came from God. “The Science alone” approach says that nothing in the Scriptures is true unless it can be proved to be historical, e.g., there is no resurrection. Where I find myself is somewhere in the middle between two perceived poles of thinking.

Science is to be encouraged to be what it does best, use the tools designed by human ingenuity to make discoveries that increase our knowledge and quality of life. Rather than at odds with the “Faith only” approach, there should be some resonance between them. I don’t see that, at least not fully, at least not using their assumptions. The “Faith only” approach is not so much wrong as it does not consider the advances of science or the advances of biblical scholarship. This approach uses Faith as a lens through which it makes assumptions that it thinks is justified. I am using creationism to look at Christ, although the controversy is actually about evolution and how the world was created in the beginning. In the chart below are the main types of rational theories about creationism. I use them because, when looking at Christ, there can be different ways to view anything religious, and the disagreement is rampant.

When I looked at all the various ways to see religion, and thus to see Christ, I am struck by how different each position is based on their assumptions. My own position about how I use the Scriptures to look at all things Jesus is to fall back on the rocky road of belief in Christ as it has come down to us through twenty centuries of people trying to claim their way is the right way. Actually, I think that is the wrong question, and wrong questions always give wrong answers, if only slightly off track.

In the first example, that of the Jesus Seminar, academics took a poll of those that thought that Jesus fit into various categories of actual historically verified Scripture passages or where they made us to suit the penchants of followers having blind Faith. I find that taking a poll on anything is good for only the group in question and for the timeframe in which it was administered. First of all, Faith is not based on any belief system or the belief of any individual, but rather on the source of that Faith. Faith is also not just an intellectual contruct of any system of propositions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism

“The main general types are listed below.

HumanityBiological speciesEarthAge of Universe
Young Earth creationismDirectly created by God.Directly created by God. Macroevolution does not occur.Less than 10,000 years old. Reshaped by global flood.Less than 10,000 years old, but some hold this view only for our Solar System.
Gap creationismScientifically accepted age. Reshaped by global flood.Scientifically accepted age.
Progressive creationismDirectly created by God, based on primate anatomy.Direct creation + evolution. No single common ancestor.Scientifically accepted age. No global flood.Scientifically accepted age.
Intelligent designProponents hold various beliefs. (For example, Michael Behe accepts evolution from primates.)Divine intervention at some point in the past, as evidenced by what intelligent-design creationists call “irreducible complexity.” Some adherents accept common descent, others do not.Some claim the existence of Earth is the result of divine intervention.Scientifically accepted age.
Theistic evolution (evolutionary creationism)Evolution from primates.Evolution from single common ancestor.Scientifically accepted age. No global flood.Scientifically accepted age.”
Multiple creation approaches

The Jesus using Science only is not so much wrong as failing to see that reality has three universes and not just two (physical, mental, and spiritual). My brain just won’t allow me to see Jesus through these two lenses of reality. The Jesus using Faith only is not so much wrong as incomplete and does not take into account human progress in science and literary criticism.

MY ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT LOOKING AT FAITH WITHOUT SCIENCE AND REASON

  • The Scriptures were written to give simple people (not academics) hope that life is worth living, as Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to preach.
  • There are so many ways of looking at creationism or the Historical Jesus that you end up just making your best judgment and going with that theory, which may be only the flavor or the day.
  • The question becomes, how can I look at Jesus using my reason and free will to determine what is true?
  • Belief without Faith does not make anything happen, as even Jesus conceded when he could not work his miracles there because of their lack of Faith. Read what happened at Nazareth. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/mark/6
  • I hold the Faith part of this creationism (the creationary evolution as stated above) because it makes sense in terms of my Rule of Threes. (There separate and distinct universes but only one reality.)

The Rejection at Nazareth.1a He departed from there and came to his native place,* accompanied by his disciples. 2* When the sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 3b Is he not the carpenter,* the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4*c Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” 5 So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,* apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.

III. THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE APPROACH: Jesus is Son of God, Savior.

All of this leads me to reaffirm my belief in my traditional bedrock of Faith and belief, the Church. This third way, and again, I remind you that this approach is my assumption about reality, is Faith informed by Reason.

Faith comes from God’s energy and grace. Our ascent to this is a belief, collectively in the Church and individually in proclaiming that Jesus is Son of God, Savior. In this approach, I don’t try to defend or prove anything. It is all about having in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). In this way, I find the truth and the life to lead a life centered on coming to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Messiah and that by believing in that name, I might have eternal life forever. John 20:30-31.

My only worry is that I might lose my center to the temptations of the flesh (Galatians 5) and succumb to the false promises of the Devil. They are subtle indeed, and He is a Wiley One, as Adam and Eve can testify.

THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE

Here is a YouTube about Christ from Bishop Robert Barron. My words don’t seem to convey what is in my heart about the Christ Principle. Bishop Barron and the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen capture my thinking best.

AN END USER LOOKS AT THE JESUS PRINCIPLE (My assumptions)

  • I reaffirm my belief in the Nicene Creed and Apostles’ Creed.
  • I reselect Jesus as Lord and Savior and wish to have Him as my personal center each day (Philippians 2:5).
  • As a Lay Cistercian, in silence and solitude, I try to wait for the Lord until he comes again in glory by using the Rule of St. Benedict (Chapters 4, 5, and 7) and Cistercian practices and charisms until I die.
  • With God’s grace, I strive to increase Christ in my heart and have less of my false self (Capacitas dei).
  • Jesus is alive right now, as really present in the Eucharistic and in Eucharistic Adoration, present through our openness to the Holy Spirit in each person who confesses that Jesus is Lord.
  • The kingdom of heaven on earth begins with my Baptism of water and the Holy Spirit where God grants me adoption as son and heir to the kingdom of heaven in heaven.
  • Like the Mrs. Murphy of Father Aidan Kavanaugh, O.S.B.,I must practice seeking God each day as I can and as I am in humility and with a willingness to take up my cross and be obedient to God’s will. Each day is sufficient unto itself. Each day begins a new opportunity for me to link my broken life with Christ crucified in reparation for my sins and failures and to make all things new in Christ.
  • The Church Universal, twenty centuries of struggling to have in us the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), is the living body of Christ on earth, in heaven, and awaiting purification with a second chance.
  • The Blessed Mother and all angels and saints are witnesses to Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior by how they loved others as Christ loved them. We pray through them to Christ and through Christ to the God Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come, at the end of the ages. (Cistercian doxology)

MY SUMMARY ASSESSMENT OF HOW I APPROACH JESUS, SON OF GOD, SAVIOR

Each day, I find I must choose to be a follower of Christ, trying to love others as He did us. Each day, I come up just a little short and must continuously use contemplative practices daily to keep my faith from atrophying. I look at the first approach, learning about Jesus without the assumption that there is no God. My mind and heart both tell me that this is just not right, given what my faith relationship with Christ tells me. I can’t, and therefore I won’t go with this assumption. The second approach, that of Faith without the input of science and other languages that describe reality, I share somewhat. I have a problem with looking at the Scriptures as telling us how the heavens go rather than showing us how to go to heaven. Again, the assumptions use words such as “Creation,” “Faith,” each weighted with what the end-user believes to be true. That there are so many contradictions in the Scriptures only assures me that I am on the right track. The third assumption is one of simplicity and complexity at the same time. This approach is in development (capacitas dei) by using the Cistercian charisms and practices of silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community. The Church is my collective mother, housing all those signed with the cross and having Jesus as their center. My mother envelopes me in a blanket of Faith, the Faith of the Church, the same church full of sinners and saints, all moving from Alpha to Omega, as Teilhard de Chardin pointed out. Here is a prayer from Teilhard de Chardin.

“Glorious Christ, you whose divine influence is active at the very heart of the matter, and at the dazzling centre where the innumerable fibers of the multiple meets: you whose power is as implacable as the world and as warm as life, you whose forehead is of the whiteness of snow, whose eyes are of fire, and whose feet are brighter than molten gold; you whose hands imprison the stars; you are the first and the last, the living and the dead and the risen again; it is to you to whom our being cries out a desire as vast as the universe: In truth, you are our Lord and our God! Amen.” (The Mass on the World, 1923, XIII, 131-132)

In the end, St. Paul says in I Corinthians 13, there are three things that matter. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/1corinthians/13

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.g13* So faith, hope, love remain, these three;h but the greatest of these is love.

God gives me three gifts to help me see Jesus on my journey. The first one is Faith, which comes from God and empowers me to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. The next gift is Hope, the reaching for that which I cannot possess, the gift that is the Holy Spirit overshadowing me with God’s own energy. Lastly, there is Love, the greatest of the three gifts because it is the product of the God equation (3=1). This is the mathematics of Being, beyond human capability and capacity to possess it, a Being100% of its nature, and whose value is pure energy, not a human statistic.

I stand before all of this in silence and solitude in the stillness of my being and say, Let it be done to me according to your Word. Forever.

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