Tuesday, January 08, 2008

gaudium et spes, baby!

I'm glad Jesse brought up Revelation (not plural). When one is depressed about how screwy the world is, it helps to read Ch 21 and remember that Jesus Christ will come again to establish the new creation - the octave of our chronotope, if you will. Islam's rise is a logical outcome in many ways to the failure of the West to truly embrace the Gospel and see our salvation in the person of Jesus. Israel had a covenant relationship with God that aspired to the personal but did not fully accept this as a true possibility. Read the Psalms or Song of Songs for a better picture of the dual love (eros and agape) that the Jews yearned for and knew existed in potential. However, the separation between man and Yahweh was bridged by the Law of Moses - the Word on paper. When we put word on paper, there is an immediate separation between author and work. And when someone reads what you write, there's an effort to know the author, but there is still a vast space separating him from you.

Islam took up the Word-based theology of Judaism, but expanded the covenant from with a people, to with the individual. That was and is it's primary draw, for it says that the God of Abraham is now asking the same level of sacrifice from all people. However, though Allah is a "personal God", he is even more distant than Yahweh because he demand pure submission without the hint of dual love characterized by Jewish yearnings.

Why do Muslims reject the Christ of Christianity? Because he called God "Father", declared himself one with the father and thereby brought the divinity down to the level of man and - what's more drastic - in SERVICE of man in a spirit of pure eros and pure agape.

Why did the Jews reject Christ? Jesus sums up the whole conflict of His mission to the Jews and the ultimate reason for the Crucifixion in Matthew 19:

And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to
have eternal life?" [17] And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is
good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
[18] He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not
commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, [19]
Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
[20] The young man said to him, "All these I have observed; what do I still
lack?" [21] Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you
possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come,
follow me."

When Jesus says "follow me" he inserts himself into the relationship between God and man. Not just as a judge or King (which the Jews had) but as the human Son of the Father, placing himself as the living fulfillment and purpose of both the Law of Moses and the yearnings for intimacy expressed by David and the prophets. Jesus is the living Word, so when we read Scripture from the heart of the new covenant we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit who allows us to share in the divine life through experiencing the trifecta of faith, hope and love. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians ch 1, "but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, " - and I would add "idolatry to the Muslims."

But worship of God is an ontological need. People can suppress it and dismiss it, but all creation MUST ultimately bow down before the Lord. In Christ we have the opportunity to embrace the Love we're offered now, in our sinfulness, as Mercy. We also have the template for understanding the universe, the purpose of existence, and the nature and destiny of the human body. But we have to humble ourselves before the man Pilate presented as a scourged and humiliated worm and profess him to be the one, true God. This is something Eastern religions have no common reference point with. It is something Jews found to be blasphemous, and something Muslims view as disgusting weakness.

So I say to Nate: have HOPE! Not the Obama kind, but the Revelation kind. No injustice today is greater than that which Christ himself endured. When he comes again we must be of John's mind and know that "every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen." Even when what we have done is shown to us on a mirror we say Amen, because we have faith in Rev 21:

Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.

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