What about you?
By: Hank Hasse
Which is it? – A Summary Given for Your Consideration
4th century credal divine incarnation of the Galilean “human one,” whom it is so confessed had acted on behalf of humanity’s salvation, suffered, died, rose, and returned to his sky-father while humans wait for his return in judgment of their “faith” in the sky-god’s plan. According to the creed he will then send unbelievers to an everlasting hellish punishment. Refusing to confess the above has led to massive and gruesome acts of punishment of untold millions of humans, heinous acts performed in the name of the church’s sky-god and his sky-god son. This history alone should jolt us into testing our self-consciousness concerning “doing the right thing” to and for our neighbor.
Instead of the ancient Summerian messianic apocalyptic plan as formulated into creeds by the official Christian Church, a plan which had been adapted by Judaism during their Babylonian captivity, and then turned into Paul’s Christology during the mid-1st century, there is still another choice to consider.
Jewish Prophets before and during their captivity encouraged a different mindset, one which said that humanity should live God’s real justice, offering inclusive compassion and forgiveness to all, no matter what. This was totally opposite to a sky-god seeking revenge for humanity’s disobedience. Religious leaders would hear none of such “blasphemy” against their “eye for an eye” standard of justice and against their sky-god’s holy word. They soon murdered the Prophets in the name of their sky-god and his holy law.
The following seven+ centuries brought on difficult times for the Jews. Did they “reap what they had sowed?” You decide. Jerusalem and their holy Temple were destroyed and they were either killed or carried off as slaves into Babylon. When Persians defeated the Babylonians, the Jews were allowed to return home to rebuild their city and Temple. But not long after, the Greeks took control and turned the Temple into a home for Greek gods instead. Then the Romans took control. During this time the Jewish Maccabees staged several unsuccessful rebellions which always made things worse for the Jews. Rebels were quickly arrested and publicly crucified.
Do we bring on our own troubles and suffering? Sometimes, yes we do, just like the Prodigal son. Other times they are just part of life’s opportunities to learn something better. Jesus’ early experience may have been exactly that.
Living during such a rebellious time and surrounded by an apocalyptic mindset, the Galilean “human one” made a giant leap in understanding. His transition into “doing the right thing,” the loving thing, instead of using payback as a way of justice was unusual to say the least.
Perhaps it was his horrible experience of growing up as “Mary’s bastard son,” (the neighbors and his siblings kept calling him that), that was the constant reminder that many think caused him to reject all such payback apocalyptic thinking and its vengeful sky-god, even cousin John the baptizer’s message. And it may have been that Joseph’s compassionate and loving acceptance of him, as if Jesus were his own son, that helped Jesus to better understand the comforting words of the OT Prophets always heard in the Synagogue after reading the Torah.
Jesus learned about an ever-present Fatherly God, a generous Abba, One yearning to spread unconditional forgiveness and mercy to all his daughters and sons, no matter what their past may have been. This, then, soon became the message of the Galilean Peasant. His message together with his living were examples of the presence and justice of this Infinite Goodness in the here-and-now (Abba). But this disturbed the religious leaders because it “blasphemed” their holy words and the “just” ways of their pay-back sky-god.
But Jesus’ message was short lived. He was murdered for teaching it. His chosen followers scattered for their lives. Some returned to Galilee and some supposedly returned to the Jerusalem Synagogue to find reasons for Jesus’ early demise in the Torah. During 50 – 55 CE, Paul spread his vision of an apocalyptic Christ-Messiah among the Greek-speaking Gentiles. He obviously turned Jesus into someone he never was nor ever intended to be. By 70 CE, during another rebellion, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, they rebuilt the Temple, and either killed or disbursed the Jews throughout the Empire.
But Jesus’ sayings still influenced many early followers who spread them orally and tried to live them. Many now think that the spirit of his core message can still be found in several of his parables like the Prodigal Son, the Generous Landowner, and the Good Samaritan. Also, see Matt 5:38-48. These diamonds found among all the apocalyptic weeds of the NT (written two and three generations after Jesus was murdered and one and two generations after Paul’s letters) cannot be found in any of the Christian Creeds. Obviously the official church elected to subscribe to Paul’s ideas of a saving “Christ” instead of Jesus’ discovery of an always present and unconditionally loving Abba.
None-the-less, “doing the right thing” because that is what Abba would do is like an echo still ringing in my ears. As for the Christian creeds and their threats… Well, I no longer fear them! Why? With a loving Abba always nearby, I know that the Christian sky-god and his sky-god son are myths and will never return in judgment and their apocalypse will never occur!
How about you?