What If The Crucifixion Never Happened?

English: A 14th-century of Jesus Christ bearin...

English: A 14th-century of Jesus Christ bearing the cross, from the monastery in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I saw this article this morning and it moved me in several ways. First, it is a very good commentary on the whole “For God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son” theme. He did, and not only did He give us his wisdom and goodness, and gentleness, He allowed the world to torture Him and inflict a barbaric death upon Him. But what really struck me is a comparison. First read what Brother Burrito has to say and then we’ll talk a bit

 

Just suppose that God became incarnate and grew up to become the greatest teacher of Divine wisdom the world has ever seen, as would be appropriate for the Son of God. Just suppose that his every word was recorded for all time in incorruptible form, without error, and was passed down through the ages without misinterpretations to enlighten all the generations of men born thereafter.

Just suppose that after a long lifetime of teaching and good works and countless miracles to prove his provenance, Jesus just died of old age and was buried in the most magnificent tomb which became the supreme place of pilgrimage for all human beings until the end of time.

Wouldn’t that have been a much neater solution  to the problem of fallen mankind needing salvation from his sins, and hope of eternal life? Much less of a bloody mess. Less disturbing to keep in mind. Feel-good warm glow all round.

Well, I hope that anyone reading this can see that the correct answer to this question is:

NO!

The reason for Christ’s bloody torture and mutilation unto death is because sin and its cost is real, terrible and infinite.  That cost must be met or the Book of Life will not balance. Sinful creatures cannot enter Heaven as anti-matter cannot exist amongst matter.

Who can settle an infinite debt other than infinite God Himself. We all know the pain of indebtedness, and the hungry gnawing feeling it gives us. Imagine that feeling lasting for eternity. That is what Hell feels like.

So why should God repay our debts? Surely it would be less trouble for Him to write off the debt and dispose of us, His wayward creatures, as broken playthings. That is what we would do.

Now this is the clincher: God values us too highly to write us off. He makes us in His own image and loves us as His children!

 

 

Continue reading What If The Crucifixion Never Happened?.

 

We will talk more about this tomorrow but for now, let us think a bit about Christianity itself. Of all the world’s religions only Christianity is based on the actual begotten Son of God, not a prophet, not revealed wisdom, but the actual begotten Son of the one God. And what happened to him? He was arrested, convicted (of nothing much) and executed. Not the way religions are normally founded, is it?

 

In the early days, our religion was known as “The Way” and it spread like a prairie fire in Nebraska during a drought. By the time Mohammed was born it had spread from those 11 men and a few women in Jerusalem to all parts of the known world. From the British Isles to China, from Norway far into Africa, “The Way” was known. It never spread by the sword, as some others did. It never posited world conquest, and most of all it never promised a good life on earth. Instead, it has always offered (and still does) each individual life everlasting in the next. But you have to learn to trust and obey God.

And you must learn to serve men as well, pride has no place at this table as Jess has shown us this morning. The Apostles themselves had a great deal of trouble with this lesson and so do we. And we will continue to do so, it’s a very difficult thing.

The main thing Christianity teaches is that good and evil exist and we must strive to do good, they are not relative, they exist, and if we attempt to humbly do good we will be better for it and if we trust God we will be saved. This is the religion of the Christ, and him crucified, and there is nothing easy about being a Christian, never has been, never will be. It is the toughest mission on earth because we live our religion not die for it.

We honor many martyrs, and we know there will be many more. Every day we see reports of those murdered because of their faith, and we wonder how we would bear up. Hopefully, we will never know, but the answer is there, and the answer is that symbol, the cross.

 

We will bear up in direct proportion to our faith.

 

Advertisements

Good? Friday

Christ Before Pilate. Friedländer (1969): p. 83.

Christ Before Pilate. Friedländer (1969): p. 83. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a child, I always wondered how the day when Jesus suffered murder by the state could be called Good. As I grew up and put away childish things and thoughts, I came to understand the story. It is the ultimate story of servant leadership. It is the story of how God himself came down in the guise of a man, to show us the way. Here’s a part of the story.

And so now we come to the climax. We have seen Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we have seen the Last Supper with it’s echoing call “Do this in Remembrance of Me”, we have seen the arrest during prayers in the garden.

We have seen Peter, renamed Cephas (the Rock) deny the Christ 3 times. We have seen the trial before the Sanhedrin, and the passing of the buck to the Roman, Pontius Pilate who could find no fault in this man but allowed him to be condemned according to Roman practice.

We have even seen the treachery of Judas, who for 30 pieces of silver betrayed his Lord, soon repented, attempted to return the reward (which ended up funding the pauper’s cemetery) and his death as a suicide.

And so now we come to the fatal procession from Jerusalem to Golgotha.

In one way or another, we will all walk the Via Dolorosa. One of the mottoes I use to keep trying to do the right thing, “No one, not even Christ, ever got out of life alive”. For me, that about sums it up. You may as well do the right thing, you might not get the reward on earth that you were striving for, but at the judgment seat, you will be rewarded.

Here is the story according to St. Matthew:

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross, and the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew.

And the chief priests said unto Pilate, It should be written and set up over his head, his accusation, This is he that said he was Jesus, the King of the Jews. But Pilate answered and said, What I have written, I have written; let it alone.

Then were there two thieves crucified with him; one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it again in three days save thyself. If thou be the Son of God come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now; if he will save him, let him save him; for he said, I am the Son of God.

One of the thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. But the other rebuked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation; and this man is just, and hath not sinned; and he cried unto the Lord that he would save him. And the Lord said unto him This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli,lama sabachthani?(That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?) Some of them that stood there, when they heard him, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let him be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

Jesus when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and the bodies of the saints which slept, arose, who were many, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, heard the earth quake, and saw those things which were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him for his burial; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

Now, remember this was on Friday following the triumphant entry the prior Sunday. How the mighty had fallen, from the crowd’s hero, one might say a rock star, to an executed criminal buried in a borrowed grave in a week.

This was the man many had expected to free Israel from Rome, there would be others for that mission, it would culminate at Masada and in the destruction of Jerusalem and the diaspora. The next ruler of the city, after Rome, would be Islam, contested by the Crusader knights. But until our own time, Jerusalem would not be ruled again by the Jews.

This has been used in the church in England since Anglo-Saxon times. I’m sure you can hear why.

[The late Archbishop Job 15th Antiphon]

And so the Messiah, the King of the Jews died. The lesson would seem to be not to upset the applecart, to go along to get along, even to sit down and shut up, wouldn’t it?

It’s a pretty sharp lesson too. One of the most cruel methods of execution ever devised by man.

And so ends the story;

or does it?

Again today there is a companion piece by Jessica that goes with this post. It will post again about noon CST. A day for contemplation.

Palm Sunday, Triumphalism, and Leadership

Yesterday, we reviewed the difference between leaders and non-leaders. Today in my traditional Palm Sunday post we will look at Jesus’s leadership in Passion week, and see what lessons we can learn from him, and like Jessica, we will look at a contemporary example.

On Palm Sunday, way back in the mid 60’s, according to the traditions of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, I became a man, with all the responsibilities to God that that carried. It was also when you traditionally got your first suit. The Sunday before was Examination Sunday, the test was verbal, in front of the congregation. This entitled me to take my First Communion on Easter Sunday, as was considered meet and right.

As always the Sanctuary was decorated in palm fronds commemorating Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Also as on all special Sundays, we processed behind the Pastor and Choir up the center aisle to this, Hymn No. 1 in the old E&R Hymnal.

And so I became responsible for my own everlasting fate, which up until this time had been my parents (and Godparents) responsibility.

Palm Sunday was, of course, the most triumphant day of Christ’s ministry. With the adoring and worshipful crowds which of course would soon demand and receive his death.

What can we learn from this? General Patton put it this way:

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. . .

A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”


We know that earthly glory is fleeting, who can recite the exploits of Edward Longshanks or Frederick Barbarossa from memory. Sure we remember some of our founders but its only been a few generations, and we have been trained (some of us anyway) pretty well.

But what is different about the Christ, other than the Resurrection that is. Like most troublemakers through the ages, he died a common criminals death. Think about that for a moment. Within a week he went from the darling of the populace to an executed criminal, that’s quite a fall, in any time or place.

The other thing is: He never forgot the mission. What thoughts must have been in his mind on that long ago Palm Sunday, knowing, as he did, the fate that awaited him? But he never flinched, only prayed that this fate might be averted. He knew, as did his disciples and followers in coming times, that there would be many martyrs, Saints of the Faith if you will. There will be many more. Christianity, even more than the Judaism from which it sprang, is the religion of the oppressed, the underdog, the person who never got a fair shake in this world, the sovereign individual made in God’s image. All you have to do is: Remember the Mission and take care of your people. The shepherd of the flock. And that is more than most of us can do consistently, without God’s help, because it is one of the most difficult missions ever entrusted.

Do not fall into the trap of triumphalism, earthly glory leads to nothing but trouble. I think most of us know this instinctively. What is the thing we remember about George W. Bush? He had many faults, which most conservatives can recite from memory. But, and it’s a huge but, he was a humble God-fearing man. To me, that is a lot of the difference between him and Barack Obama. Obama wants lives for the acclaim of the crowd, the earthly glory, one could easily call it the cult of personality. In some ways, he reminds me of Flavius Josephus, a man who (in the 3d century, I think)  managed to turn some of Christ’s miracles into mere magic tricks, for glory and money.

And so the lesson for me from this Palm Sunday is the old one that the US Air Force taught me long ago and far away:

First the Mission

Second the People

Last Yourself.

 

 

A Yuge Difference

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”

That’s right. Government does not exist to make us equal, but to treat us equally. It does not exist to make life fair, but to treat us fairly. Most importantly, it exists to secure our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Only in liberty can we treat each other ethically, because only in liberty can we make the choices that are the necessary condition for ethical life.


Here is a funny thing about the human mind: when we didn’t see something coming, we often can’t see it came. There’s a good reason for this. Wrong predictions are an indication that there is something off or unrealistic about your worldview. When your predictions are vastly incorrect, you have to choose: will I paper over my mistakes and pretend to myself I was actually right in some way, or will I admit the error and adjust the way I look at life?

People almost never adjust the way they look at life. It would mean risking their sense of their own wisdom and virtue.

This is why so many pundits both on the left and right are completely blind to what happened this year in politics.

Donald Trump — a political neophyte, a New York loudmouth who plays fast and loose with the truth, a massive egotist and a not altogether pleasant human being — has delivered conservatives one of the greatest years in living memory and has made our government more moral in the process. The left and many on the right didn’t see it coming because they hate the man. And because they didn’t see it coming, they won’t see that it’s come.

The first assertion is easily proven. After a year of Trump, the economy is in high gear, stocks are up, unemployment is down, energy production is up, business expansion is up and so on; ISIS — which took more than 23,000 square miles of territory after Obama left Iraq and refused to intervene in Syria — is now in control of a Port-o-San and a book of matches; 19 constitutionalist judges have been appointed and 40 more nominated; the biggest regulatory rollback in American history has been launched (boring but yugely important); the rule of law has been re-established at the border; we’re out of the absurd and costly Paris Accord; net neutrality, the most cleverly named government power grab ever, is gone; our foreign policy is righted and revitalized; and a mainstream news media that had become little more than the information arm of the Democratic Party is in self-destructive disarray. If the tax bill passes before Christmas, it will cap an unbelievable string of conservative successes.

Now you can tie yourself in knots explaining why none of this is Trump’s doing or how it’s all just a big accident or the result of cynical motives or whatever. Knock yourself out, cutes. For me, I’ll say this. I hated Trump. I thought he’d be a disaster or, at best, a mediocrity. I was wrong. He’s done an unbelievably great job so far.

{Update} Yikes! Forgot the link here it is: Trump Has Made Our Government More Moral by Andrew Klavan. Thanks, Unit.

Read the rest, but you know, there’s not a lot to add to that. It’s simply true. Trump is a decidedly imperfect instrument, but he’s getting very good results. Perhaps greater than Reagan of sainted memory did, perhaps as good as Coolidge. Think about that for a while. Like many of you, I find him an abrasive personality, not somebody that I’m overly willing to have a Diet Coke with, even though I detest Diet Coke, but he has gotten results that perhaps no one else could have.

I’m reminded that George Patton was not liked in the army between the wars, too much money, too outspoken, not a very good team player, all those things and more, but when war came again, he was indispensable. Trump is like that too. But it is hard to see in the belly of the beast, whether it was the old army or today’s Washington swamp.

I’ve come to believe that the worst features presented like the unstatesmanlike Twitter feed is his method of ‘holding them by the nose’ while his policies are ‘kicking them in the ass’.

Klavan speaks to the fact that immoral people can do moral acts, and that if every senator is grabbing women inappropriately, then the senators are immoral, but if the legislation conforms with that opening paragraph then the legislation is moral irregardless.

We are exactly 11 months into a four-year term, and as the list above indicates, the US is on a roll, all systems are increasingly ‘Go’. Gonna be an exciting, occasionally bumpy, trip I think, and where we’ll end up, well I don’t know. But I know this, it will be better than the boring, gray, bureaucratization and tyranny of pettiness that Hillary promised. I’d say it likely that we once again will be the envy of the world, talked about from Trafalgar Square to Tiananmen Square, by people who do not have such effective leadership, or the freedom that it provides.

Well done, us. 🙂

Starting the Week.

Now that is a nice start to the week. The opening ceremony from last weekend’s Army-Navy game. If you haven’t heard, Army went, Beat Navy, in a very good game.

To Hell and Back

Tyler Durden tells us

Well informed sources have said the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Brigadier General Haj Qassem Soleimani sent a formal verbal message, via Russia, to the head of the US forces command in Syria, advising him to pull out all US forces to the last soldier “or the doors of hell will open up”.

“My message to the US military command: when the battle against ISIS will end, no American soldier will be tolerated in Syria. I advise you to leave by your own will or you will be forced to it,” said Soleimani to a Russian officer. Soleimani asked the Russian officer to make known the Iranian intentions towards the US: that they will be considered as forces of occupation if these decide to stay in northeast Syria where Kurds and Arab tribes cohabit together.

Well, it seems to me that American forces have received such messages before, leading to some of the best quotes in American history. My favorite is also the shortest.

“Nuts,” The American Commander.

Melanie Phillips did truth-telling on the Palestinians as well.

The Palestinians’ violent reaction also demonstrates beyond doubt that, far from wanting to share Jerusalem with the Jews, they won’t permit the Jews to be there at all. Trump’s speech did not foreclose the option of a Palestine state, nor the prospect of the Palestinians having control of part of Jersualem. Their fury at the endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at all shows how much they depend on the west facilitating their strategy.

Which is why the reaction of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is so stupid. She is far from hostile to Israel; but clearly, she hasn’t got the faintest idea of what the Arab war against Israel is about. It is not, as she appears to think, a conflict about the division of Jerusalem or the land. It is about destroying Israel altogether, and to that end an attempt to write the Jews out of their own history.

If Britain and Europe west followed Trump’s lead and moved their own embassies, and moreover told the Palestinians they no longer believed their lies or that their intentions were benign and started instead to treat them justifiably as pariahs, the war against Israel would end. Yet to its eternal shame, even though the US Congress is now passing legislation which will end American funding for murderous Palestinian incitement, Britain is continuing to fund the Palestinian Authority, thus making Britain complicit with incitement to hatred and murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel.

The Palestinians now find themselves in a fix. Saudi Arabia and associated Arab states will simply not allow them to get in the way of the all-important US and Israeli alliance against Iran. America has now shown it will no longer be manipulated in the campaign to destroy Israel.

So all the Palestinians are now left with is British and European support, and the old tactic of ramping up murderous violence against Israel to provoke it into actions which will cause the all-too reliable British and Europeans to try to punish Israel yet again.

British Prime Ministers should, I perceive, refrain from getting off airplanes with scraps of paper, far too often it has the result of encouraging enemies and discouraging friends. Right, Neville?

The Week: This Year in Jerusalem Edition

Welp, that time again, lots going on so let’s dive into the swamp.

Al Franken thinks we need to have a ‘National Conversation’ about sexual harrassment, I don’t see why, as far as I can see it only needs a short statement from such vermin’s employers. For instance, “You’re fired.” Perhaps followed with the suggestion that they don’t use us as a reference, ever. Sorry, but I’ve found that only the incompetent make excuses.

Will the second edition be titled, “Giant Jerk of the Senate”?

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The Colossus of Freedom

Real Socialism

I need one of these!

Then there is this guy

My kind of lawn mower

And, of course

As usual, most (but not all) from PowerLine and Bookworm.

%d bloggers like this: