Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The magic of existence

Some people talk as though it were totally barbaric and unworthy of Him that God should have created a world in which such a thing as sin exists, that has so corrupted His chief creation, Man, that He now must punish him with eternal torment in fire, unless he accept the bloody death of a unique Man, who is also somehow His only-begotten Son, who sacrificed Himself voluntarily to satisfy the requirement of His angry heavenly Father, whose Law demands blood to compensate for its violation, as a ransom for his sins, so that he can be regenerated in sinlessness as his first forefather Adam was originally created.

This is like saying that
God created a good universe
into which His chief creature, Man, was placed
with the expectation that he would always be of one will with Him,
while at the same time allowing an evil agent into it,
which He knew would corrupt Man’s will,
and then forcing Himself to eternally punish this Man
and all his descendents from their very births
to eternal damnation for breaking a Law
which He established and to which He is now bound,
when He could have either not created that Law at all,
or else overridden it for Man’s sake,
or else not allowed the evil agent to deceive Man
and cause the sin that must now be avenged,
since God is holy
and cannot tolerate sin.

Well, what would you have?
A good God who created a good universe
into which He placed a good creature, Man,
who sometimes acts against what he knows intuitively is right
by a standard he didn’t create
but which the good God did,
whose Son also entered that good universe
and somehow was accidentally put to death
but was rescued and resuscitated somehow,
so that His teachings could be learned and followed,
restoring Man,
if not to his originally perfect and righteous state,
at least to a state in which his moral failures
are somewhat in control,
allowing most men to live together in relative peace and safety
and to enjoy a reasonable level of freedom and happiness?


That would be nice!
That is how Man would like it.
That is how Man in his natural state would like to see existence
and give it meaning.

That is how a civilised and worthy God
would have set things up,
that is, if He exists.

Let’s have none of this sacrificial talk!
Away with the barbaric demand for blood by an angry God,
who is unfit to be called Father
if He has to send His only Son
to a humiliating, bloody, excruciatingly painful death,
to save His creatures from a sinfulness
He almost willed them to have,
to save them from an eternal and fiery torment
that He imposes on all who reject His love.

His love?
Would a loving God have such a plan?
Would He create beings only to torture them
for not being His robot slaves?

With all due respect to those
who try to prove God
loving, righteous, rational, and worthy of our praise
by departing from the words
of holy and divine scripture
to paint a picture of Him
in colors that are pleasing to our sense
and standard of right and wrong,
of what we call love, and mercy,
and what we would honor as holy

—I know what they are trying to do,
to make God lovable
so that we will love Him and believe in Him

This strategy in the end
does not produce the effect in us
that the Word of God was revealed to produce,
does not raise us out of our mortal, human reason
to immortal, divine faith,
does not deliver us from death and bring us to true life,
does not equip us for and acculturate us
to what we can only call
—because it is just the other side of our ontological “event horizon”
and we cannot express it any other way—
life eternal.

The real universe,
not the one that scientists explore,
test, measure and define by human standards,
not the one that sociologists and historians archive
and try to understand,
not the one that moralists and would-be theologians
devise as a frame of reference
to interpret the results of the studies
of the other two groups,

but the real universe
—what really exists,
what really operates and animates
all that we can see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel
and philosophize—
is so beyond our human capacities
as to be conveyable to us
only in what seems miraculous or magical,
or else so out of sync with what we should have expected
that it seems barbaric and primitive in the extreme.

Not that real universe,
but its Creator,
has told us about that existence
which lies just beyond our human nature’s “event horizon”
by taking up a literature as the vehicle of His Word,
and that is what we call the Holy Bible.

Why holy?
Because it is, like Him, totally other,
fully incomprehensible to those
who would fit it into the container of their minds alone.

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not grasped it.

The Bible teaches us,
as a mother teaches her toddler using baby talk,
how to take the first steps into that real universe
where there is no other map that we can yet read,
where there are features
that could harm or even destroy us
in our present state of being and level of maturity
if we met them without warning.

We must listen very carefully,
mimic and memorize the instructions
just as we receive them
even in the limited language that we know thus far,

because for us,
where we are headed,
where we have no choice but to be headed,
is a state that now can only seem to be
the magic of existence.

It will only be magic
until we find out and understand what lies behind it,
until we find ourselves actually and even factually
crossing that “event horizon”
that limits our mortal, human vision,
until by faith we come to
divine being.


But I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men to myself.

John 12:32 NIV

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