Saturday, June 28, 2014

Why Unpack?

As we were discussing in the last post, Jesus' original teaching to his disciples was slowly unpacked and developed over the following few centuries. Not changed or discarded, but filled out and explained.  But why should it be "unpacked" at all?

Why can't we just stick with "the pure word of the Bible" and ignore whatever happened after the last New Testament book was written? Or better yet (as some people say) why not go by Jesus' words alone. The Apostles never understood him anyway, you know.

One reason is this: People ask questions.

The appearance of a person like Jesus raised a lot of questions. Eventually they dawned on people and the early Christian Movement had basically two choices: either tell them to 'just believe' (which was tried), or come up with an answer. And not just any answer, not something off the top of your head. After all, you were handling a revelation from God, not just some good ideas devised by a philosopher. This required some serious thinking.

Just one example: here is a question asked by an early critic of Christianity named Celsus: If there is only one God, as Jesus himself taught, and you worship Jesus also as a God, how are the two related? "If," Celsus wrote, "these people worshipped one God alone, and no other, they would perhaps have some valid argument against the worship of others. But they pay excessive reverence to one who has but lately appeared among men, and they think it no offense against God if they worship also His servant," (Against Celsus, book 8 chapter 11 - 14)

It was this question, which Christians had already been asking themselves for awhile, that led 150 years later to the concept of the Trinity.


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