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Aut Deus, Aut Homo Malus

Carl Bloch, "Healing the sick at Bethesda"

This is the second part of Jesus and His Time and I will therefore not repeat the considerations therein contained.

The second argument was that if Jesus really existed, he was in part wise and in part deluded.

This is simply illogical. Let us see why.

What makes Jesus absolutely unique among all religious leaders is that Jesus: a) was announced, and announced in a way which made it possible for his followers – even if shocked at the subversive content of His teaching – to reach an intellectual certainly that he was, in fact, the One they were waiting for, and b) claimed to be God.

On a), I suggest the reading of some instructive books. Once again, Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ makes a wonderful work of it. What I would like to deal about today is point b), and its necessary implications.

As I have already written in another blog post, the Jews had to learn by heart, already during childhood, a long list of attributes of God. This was in order to avoid being accused of blasphemy once – after the bar/bat Mitzvah – they were considered old enough to willingly blaspheme. Among the many attributes of God was, say, the fact that God alone can create food (not in the sense of processing or cooking of course, but in the sense that God creates the Earth and the plants and animals that produce it). By miraculously creating bread out of sheer nothing, Jesus already sends the message that He is God. We modern Westerners may have lost, in a sense, this direct correlation between creating food and divinity: to us, Jesus is God, therefore He could perform miracles. But to a Jew reading Matthew’s Gospel in the first century AD, and who had the long list of God’s attributes learned by heart, the meaning of the feeding of the five thousands must have caused the contrary logical process: this man can create food, therefore he can only be God. Matthew’s Gospel is full of such references, that to a Jewish reader immediately say: this is God. God only can give life, therefore Lazarus’ resurrection directly points out to Jesus’ divinity; God only can take away (without violence, of course) life, therefore the “killing” of the fig tree directly points out to Jesus’ divinity; only God can forgive sins; only God can command the winds, & Co, & Co.

Jesus’ claims are, then, extraordinary and, to the Jewish orthodoxy blind to the Truth, even blasphemous. But even the high priests were fully aware of the huge potential of Jesus’ works, and claim. Someone who says he is God is not the person who can be partly right and partly wrong. He will be either completely wrong (because he is not God), or completely right (because He is). If he isn’t, nothing he says counts. If He is, what He says is all that counts.

The Latin saying you read in the title has been used for centuries to explain the attitude the intelligent person has in front of Jesus’ claim to divinity. Bar madness (but we know Jesus was not mad. The high priests did not consider him mad at all, they actually greatly feared him; nor did the masses; not did the Romans) there can be only two possibilities: either God, or an evil man. Only an evil man would want to push other people to the cult of a man he deceived into believing he is God, for the pleasure of knowing he will cause countless deaths after his own, just because of his grip on the multitudes. Only God would, on the contrary, claim to be God without being mad, or evil. Once again, it is not that sane people claiming to be God grow on trees, much less that they generally end up creating new religions. What defies every logic, and actually would be a great challenge to believing the human race as a thinking race in the first place, is that a person who could then only be either a madman (which no one ever says) or an evil man (which basically no one says, either) could manage to create the biggest, most powerful religion the planet has even seen. Visit as many madhouses as you like, you won’t find anyone who can rightfully boast of such a claim.

The only logical position is, actually, the one already taken by our ancestors: if Jesus wasn’t God, he was an evil false prophet leading countless – beside himself – to a horrible death for the sake of his morbid desire of self-aggrandisement. The idea, on the other hand, a person could claim to be God and be, in a way, a “right sort of chap” on many other occasions is totally bonkers. That’s just not how people who claim to be God come. One just can’t be a nice chap full of nice ideas, loving of neighbours and full of wisdom, with the only strange character trait of believing he is God. The place for such one would still be the madhouse, and very rightly so.

The implications of this are, of course, huge. Christ claims to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. If he isn’t a madman or an evil man (and I wonder how many would argue this) then He truly is it: the only Way, not an optional one. The entire Truth, not only the part we like. The entire Life, not a vague promise of it.

This idea of “Jesus, the nice chap with a lot of sense and some misconceptions” is not grounded in logic, but purely a reflection of the madness of our times; times in which everyone is taught that he can decide about right and wrong to an extent that not even God seems to be an obstacle to the exercise of this “freedom”.

We need to recover sound thinking, humility, and a prayerful attitude. When these get in from the door, absurdities like the one mentioned above go away from the window.

Mundabor

De-Christianising Christianity

Jacopo Bassano, "The Feeding of the Five Thousand"

Another beautiful blog post from Father Longenecker, talking about the banalisation of the miracle of the feeding of the Five Thousand.

Even if I have never personally heard anyone trying to banalise the miracle in such a way, I remember reading something similar. In my case too, my reaction was of disgust at people who have lost their faith to the point of not believing in Christ’s miracles anymore, but want to teach the faith to others.

To want to explain away Jesus’ miracles is a clear sign of lack of faith. Jesus’ miracles are the direct consequence of his Divinity. Without the miracles, you can’t justify his claim of being the Messiah, nor his further claim of being God, nor his claim that he would take away our sins by dying for us, nor his claim that He would come to us in the miracle of the Eucharist. Without Jesus’ miracles there can simply be no Christianity.

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand has, in my eyes, another very important significance that is often lost today: the Jews had to learn by heart, already during childhood, a long list of attributes of God. This was in order to avoid being accused of blasphemy once – after the bar/bat Mitzvah – they were considered old enough to willingly blaspheme. Among the many attributes of God where the fact that God alone can create food (not in the sense of processing or cooking of course, but in the sense that God creates the Earth and the animals that produce it). By miraculously creating bread out of sheer nothing, Jesus already sends the message that He is God. We modern Westerners may have lost, in a sense, this direct correlation between creating food and divinity: to us, Jesus is God, therefore He could perform miracles. But to a Jew reading Matthew’s Gospel in the first century AD, and who had the long list of God’s attributes learned by heart, the meaning of the feeding of the five thousands must have caused the contrary logical process: this man can create food, therefore he can only be God. Matthew’s Gospel is full of such references, that to a Jewish reader immediately say: this is God. God only can give life, therefore Lazarus’ resurrection directly points out to Jesus’ divinity; God only can take away (without violence, of course) life, therefore the “killing” of the fig tree directly points out to Jesus’ divinity, and so on.

All this is lost on modern liberals. They don’t believe in anything else than their own liberal ideology, and must therefore explain away Jesus’ divinity. They do it because when they have done so, they will be able to explain away everything else they don’t like. They will tell you, for example, that Sodom was destroyed because its inhabitants weren’t “hospitable” (or was it “vegetarian”; I never can remember which); that Jesus talked very, very harshly about Sodom because, well, no one knows anymore at this point; that he would, say, only have male apostles in order not to hurt the Jewish sensibilities. The list goes on and can become very long, I remember the sermon of the Canadian Anglican/Episcopalian claiming that Jesus overcomes his own racial prejudice by dealing with the Syrophoenician woman.
It really doesn’t get more blasphemous, or stupid, than that.

To attack Jesus’ miracles is to attack Jesus. It’s as simple as that.

Mundabor

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