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TANATA is devoted to discussing the paradoxes and the mysteries of life, among which is the paradox of the coexistence of good and evil. “God is love,” John tells us. Evil exists, we would suggest, not because God is detached or unconcerned, but because free will exists which is required for true, unforced love to exist. Still, it is painfully hard to reconcile this paradox. We believe that all evil one day will be judged and destroyed, until then we must pray.

DANIEL 7:13-14

13 “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.

REVELATION 1:7

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

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Tuesday
Jul142009

Huh?

Is Jesus real? Did He actually live and do the miraculous works that a lot of people say He did?

One way to answer that question is to ask, What do people say or what do they not say in claiming that Jesus is not or was not ever really real?

Very significantly, people who say that Jesus is not or was not ever a real living entity (and there are learned people who do that) clearly deny the history of the Holy Roman Empire, which, after Rome had effectively executed Jesus, rethought what had been done and in time made Christianity, once severely persecuted by that society and government, its official state religion. Talk about a lot of important people being humble before the Lord and eating crow!

Important people and institutions don’t perform such reversals without cause. There was no strong rebuttal on the subject of Jesus’ actual existence and divinity, not enough to deny the faith its rightful place in western thought. There was no debate due to the credibility and validity of the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry expressed orally and found in the true Gospels.

Turning the Roman Empire on its ear is pretty good for a Jew, an itinerant teacher, whose public ministry, limited to Israel and Judea, only lasted three years … especially if he never existed. Is the whole Jesus thing a con job by overly zealous believers over the years, who have believed merely by faith that Jesus lived? I think not.

You couldn’t make up a blessed story like this nor the teachings of Jesus which overwhelmed his listeners, leaving a lasting impression for all history to read. We’re still overwhelmed by the Good News today. This Jew made a big impression on a lot of Gentiles wherever Christianity took hold. These early Christians, living in a time not too terribly far removed from Jesus’ own, accepted what was told to them and written down for them to read. Of course Constantine got the ball rolling on all of this. Good ol’ Constantine, who claimed to have had a vision … but we digress.

This is not to say that the Holy Roman Empire didn’t misuse Christianity or that Christian institutions haven’t misused Christianity and still do, because they have, and they do, but that wasn’t and hasn’t been Jesus’ fault. He is still the heavyweight champion of the world with no other serious contenders, though he and his followers are still hated, as Jesus predicted. 

Even people of other faiths who resent some Christians and/or reject Christianity altogether often admit that Jesus was a great teacher. Hating all Christians and the faith, while unfair, is understandable to the extent that Christians, like everyone else, can be jerks and dogmatic, having misinterpreted Jesus’ message and commission. But again that’s not Jesus’ fault.

Jesus died an innocent man. What must a man of love and forgiveness do to get a break in the world?

It can be argued that people don’t like Jesus because they don’t like the manner of his death or death in general, and consequently they don’t like the awareness that if they don’t believe in the grace offered by a man who died innocently they will die, too. That, it can be argued, makes people want to rebel even to the point of denying history. Such rebellion can be unconscious, arguably, so that a person opposed to Christianity can’t really say why he or she doesn’t like Jesus and Christianity other than just not liking Christians, whom they may believe parade and boast about their discovery of and achievement of eternal life. But that’s not really fair, is it (if this is a correct reading on our parts of the motivations of people opposed to Christianity)?

Saving grace and who is entitled to it is a controversial subject. The views which follow are strictly our own: 

Obedient Jews are covered by keeping the Law, because they have a covenant with God, and salvation is of the Jews, as Jesus said. As for people of other cultures whose cultures and families require different forms of worship and Godly obedience, making Christianity an opposition form of worship, we suspect that if these people culturally opposed to Christianity nevertheless have love in their hearts, they will naturally believe that Jesus was and is real and worthy of worship, and God will take the love in their hearts into fair consideration. God is love, so God is fair. But we don’t get a vote on these matters … and we could be wrong on this point. 

As for people who live in cultures receptive to Christianity who have heard that Jesus died for them … and persist in refusing to believe that Jesus was real or is real or worthy of following because of hatred in their hearts for those people who will be redeemed … that can’t be a good position to be in. Hatred will decide the question when the time comes for each person to be accountable for the content of their hearts and life. That presumably would mean that Christians who hate other people will have some difficult things to answer for.

So is Jesus real and worthy of following?

Of course he is.