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God in Poopy Diapers

I like reading about a variety of opinions, and I often find religious debates invigorating. This week I am brushing up on eschatology, and I found some very interesting essays. But I noticed as I read, that many of them were hostile to interpretations other than their own. One Lutheran writer not only held the amillenial position, he regarded all others as "devilish" and "heretical", and went to so far as to say that anyone who wrote in defense of an opinion different from his own was working for Satan. Rather a strident tack to take in discussing the words of fellow Christians. I do indeed understand that the fellow is convinced that the subject is of great importance and that he has great confidence in his own interpretation of things, but I could not help but wonder if he had stopped to test his own assumptions, while denouncing such behavior in other writers.

That's not a knock on Lutherans, but on anyone so sure they are right that they figure it's time for the rest of the world to agree with them or just shut up. And as the last several thousand years of human history shows, that's been as common in religion as in any other place. The Gospel accounts warn us that the Jewish religious officials had become stiff-necked and legalistic, just as the Egyptians were during their day, the Babylonians during theirs, the Romans during theirs, the Roman Catholics before the Reformation, and so on. Pretty much every religious group which gets a bit of power, abuses it, whether the Baptists, the Lutherans, the Anglicans ... et cetera, et cetera ad nauseum. This is one reason why so many people reject religion altogether, being put off by the worse elements in the world of faith, but that ignores the great good done by people of faith, and to my mind the essential truth of God. Not that I have it all figured out, but I do respect the many works done by people who claim allegiance to a creator and holy person. If we should note those who claim God as if he were a possession of theirs or their employee, so also we should respect the humble yet worthy efforts to increase understanding and goodwill done by those who think and act in terms of love and compassion. Which brings me to Christ Jesus.

I speak from the perspective and experience of a Christian, and therefore my opinion is that the man Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, who redeemed Mankind from sin and evil for all time, the only begotten Son of the Most High God. I mean no disrespect to any other beliefs, but speak from what I know as true. Anyway, one of the great truths about Christ, but one which often is quickly forgotten by believers, is that despite His right to glory and power, Jesus lived a life of hardship and poverty, one He accepted without complaint, indeed one he specifically chose. I believe He did so for many reasons, including the proof that anyone can be truly good if their heart is pure, and money or power or influence are convenient luxuries, but not really essential for doing good works. I also think this ties in to something Christ warned His disciples about, that to enter what he called the 'kingdom of Heaven', that they must "become as little children". As in helpless, totally dependant on their parents, completely open and honest in all things. Imagine a toddler, unable to even change his soiled diapers on his own, and then imagine the Lord God deliberately choosing to subject His very person to such a condition, dependant on the creations to whom he had granted life and free will, and who had inevitably screwed up everything given to their trust. For all the doctrines of authority and power, of ultimate destiny and so on, the creator of all Creation once laid in a manger, wholly dependant on the love of humans for His own survival and welfare. He walked among ordinary people and shared all of their common experiences, including the ones which involved pain and loss. Jesus lived as a man, honest and without offense against any other person. The worst true claims His enemies could make against Him, included the admission that he helped people, as in 'Jesus healed on the Sabbath'.

This is the season Christians call 'Advent', when we might do well to consider Christ the child, who chose the life of a poor itinerant preacher as the model for true goodness.


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Comments (14)

DJ, Russ here...Re... (Below threshold)
russ:

DJ, Russ here...

Really liked the article "God in poopy diapers." You hit a chord in that we self-proclaimed Christ-followers often forget about Jesus's humanity. I would like to offer a disagreement, though, about your comment "...Jesus lived a life of hardship and poverty...."
Although I'm not a God-wants-us-all-to-be-Bill Gates-wealthy, I do believe that Scripture speaks favorably of material wealth. The major line of instruction is to use it wisely. Lots more on that, maybe in another post. My point with your comment is that I don't believe it is support by the historical account in the Gospels. No where does it say Jesus lived his ministry years in poverty. In fact, there is ample evidence to point to Jesus living what we would call "middle class." One, even though Joseph isn't mentioned in Jesus' later life, Jesus is referenced and "the carpenter" and the "son of the carpenter." Carpentry, then, was a small, family-owned business; Jesus worked that until he was 30. According to what I can find on cultural customs of those days, anyone could call themselves "rabbi" and begin preaching; but they had to be able to support themselves financially. No freeloaders. Two, in the accounting of the paralytic being lowered thru the roof, the word studies I've done lead me to believe that that was in fact a home Jesus bought in order to have a base of operations for his ministry in Capernaum. Third, and last, apart from the 12 disciples, Scripture indicates that many, many more traveled with Jesus throughout his itinerant ministry. Logically, you gotta feed all these people on a regular basis. I don't see any evidence that every meal was a "feeding of the 5000!" So, although the idea of a poverty-stricken Savior makes good sermons, I don't believe that is biblically accurate. Lots of historical, cultural and organized-church reasons to propogate and promote the poverty picture, but all in all, I think erroneous, and in some cases, manipulative. (think paying for forgiveness.)
But: keep up the good work at Wizbang. I ready it almost every day, and depend on it for balancing what I hear. You all are great.
Feel free to contact me at [email protected]

cheers

Thanks Russ, though I disag... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Thanks Russ, though I disagree with your position regarding Jesus' wealth, although I do agree that the Lord does not regard wealth as inherently evil (witness the wealth of Job, Solomon, Abraham, Joseph of Genesis and of Arimathea, etc.); it's simply that God de-emphasized wealth as either a necessary tool in order to serve God, or as evidence of God's pleasure.

We should be careful about economic generalizations too, I think. There was no real thing as a 'middle class' until the beginning of industrialization, for a number of reasons. The ministry of Jesus, using the gospel accounts for a framework, was essentially free-lance, modeled after John the Baptist. Jesus was called 'rabbi' as a sign of respect for his person and teachings, not because he satisfied any formal curriculum or appealed to the Sanhedrin for credentials. The Biblical accounts show that the number of followers rose and fell, and many times his disciples had to make do on their own - one reason they had to effectively "forsake" their families in order to follow Christ; there was no real money there, which would explain why Judas Iscariot could be tempted with such a small bribe. In addition to the feeding of the multitudes, there are additional accounts which support the lack of funds, most notably the Last Supper, which was donated miraculously - it appears that Jesus received donations on which he and his disciples survived.

As to owning property, recall that Jesus once lamented that he had no place to lie his head, making him more poor than birds and foxes, wild animals. Also, there is no sign that Jesus left any property to be inherited.

The Gospel is not about condemning wealth, but throughout the scripture the message seems clear to me that Jesus lived in deprivation and poverty, I think in order to show that he considered poverty no fault or sin at all, by example as in all other parts of his life.

Russ is correct regarding J... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Russ is correct regarding Jesus being far, far from needy in material things. Besides his family being carpenters and mechanics, they were of what we might term the gentry. Joseph was of the house of Judah and Mary of the house of Levi. Joseph was likely the chief of his tribe (Judah being the "king line")at the time, thus being chosen by God (as the eldest) to plant his staff against the other bachelors of the reconstituted Israelites (including the house of Benjamin) and to join the king line(Judah) and priest line (Levi) together through the maiden Mary (as per Mosaic etiquette: "eldest first" and also to fulfill the Priest-King status requirement of ANY Messiah). This is elucidated in extra-Biblical texts, granted, but it elides with Hebraic tradition of the time, and Christ cites extra-Biblical scriptures as His witness in the Bible more than once, example the book of "Enoch".

We also mustn't forget the Persian endowment of the Magi at Christ's circumcision ceremony. It was a fortune in gold and things as valuble as gold to finance the Egyptian foray and beyond. Luke and Matthew were very wealthy and there was that ubiquitous purse of denarii, etc. Judas was always fingering and eye-fucking.

Of course, the Roman soldiers gambling over Christ's expensive seamless cloak: If I'm not mistaken, Christ was crucified during the reign of Claudius Caesar, who was the first Caesar to lavish gifts and bribes upon the legions (at least 300 sesterces per man, several times per year, ABOVE their individual pay and grain allotments), so the legioneers were not desperate from any ordinary clothes. Christ's duds were expensive. Perhaps silver or gold threading, or silk, or purple.

A good post though, and short on the cloudy metaphysics of some past God posts.

One last thing: Jesus was harmless to the Sons of Adam, ie. mankind in general. But he was hell on the Sons of Cain, ie. the "scribes" and certain "Pharisees". When he called them the son of "the serpent", he was being literal because God cannot lie nor will he say a vain thing. Genesis, Chapters 1 - 6 sets the background for understanding Christ's reference point: the Tree of Knowledge and Eve and the snake that wasn't really a snake but made eve pregnant with Cain, wink, wink.

Anyway, Merry Christmas, which was formerly known as Feast of the Angels which actually signifies Christ's conception, which is very worth celebrating.

P.S. Joseph of Arimethea, who was allowed to claim the "criminal" body of Christ from being thrown in the town dump with dead horses: his ability to do so is proof (to the rules-obsessed Roman authorities) that there existed a blood relationship between them. Joseph of A. was a rich man and a member of the Sanhedrin. One more circumstantial bit of evidence of Jesus of Nazereth's high social status.

Re: your response to Russ t... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Re: your response to Russ that Judas was tempted by a small bribe:

Judas wished to hasten the overthrow of the system via the Vengeful Messiah arrayed in cuirass with battle ax riding a white horse. When Jesus explained that he was not "prone" to perform such a role (until he be killed and return) but would instead go meekly to be killed, riding the foal of an ass, Judas flipped amd tried to change history.

Peter's later response after hearing the same Word from Jesus (to strike off the ear of the policeman with his sword) shows the same (albiet less malign) failure to understand.

As for the Price: So it is written. So it shall be done. Players are interchangeable.

DJ, I too have a great inte... (Below threshold)

DJ, I too have a great interest in eschatology, and saying someone is a tool of Satan for not being an amillenialist is very harsh. I wonder, if he turns out to be wrong and the premillenialist view right, if he will charitably admit he was wrong when he is joined in Heaven with the Body of Christ!

bryanD,Please don'... (Below threshold)

bryanD,

Please don't pull any muscles stretching so far to make irrelevant (and not satisfactorily proven) points about Jesus.

"Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Matthew 8:20

. . .warned His di... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
. . .warned His disciples about, that to enter what he called the 'kingdom of Heaven', that they must "become as little children".

I don't believe becoming helpless like little children is the point, but rather becoming like little children in respect to their trust, humility, and faith.

Ahhh Mac, but did not even ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Ahhh Mac, but did not even the Christ need His diapers changed for Him?

DJ, I think you've made som... (Below threshold)
Scalia:

DJ, I think you've made some logical leaps in your criticism of the Lutheran amillennialist. His characterization of differing views is either correct or incorrect. If incorrect, then his statements should be evaluated for their lack of sufficient argumentation. His supposed introspection failure is irrelevant.

You say your statements are a knock "on anyone so sure they are right that they figure it's time for the rest of the world to agree with them or just shut up." Is that what he said? Was he telling them to shut up or was he saying the *doctrine* they espouse is false and Satanic? To label a doctrine as Satanic may sound harsh, but it may also be true. A statement's truth can be evaluated by the evidence, not whether it "sounds" harsh.

Either one can have religious certitude or one cannot. If not, then upon what can we be certain? How does one attack truth without simultaneously affirming it? And if we cannot be certain of anything, then your statements have no relevance to anybody but yourself. I am not accusing you of relativism. It merely appears you're attacking the amillennialist for the wrong reasons.

Kind regards,
Scalia

Scalia,I think the... (Below threshold)

Scalia,

I think the harshness is an issue based on the teaching of Paul, who wanted everyone to be convinced of what they believe, but also warned against stirring up unproductive controversies. If the issue had been the deity of Jesus, or the efficacy of his death for the forgiveness of sins, then the satanic label might be called for, since these are foundational articles of the Christian faith. But interpretation of prophetic texts should not be a religious battleground on which someone should be willing to die.

Hi, John! I think your obs... (Below threshold)
Scalia:

Hi, John! I think your observations are valid because you're making a coherent argument. You are saying the Apostle Paul taught against stirring up unproductive controversies; arguing prophecy with certitude is an unproductive controversy; therefore, the Apostle Paul teaches against arguing prophecy with certitude.

Further, you argue that it is only appropriate to label a teaching Satanic if it relates to foundational articles of the Christian faith.

All you argue is fine because your statements relevantly address the subject: Arguing prophecy with certitude. The only other thing you would need to do is defend your statements. In that regard I believe your task is difficult at best.

Best wishes,
Scalia

Ahhh Mac, but did ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Ahhh Mac, but did not even the Christ need His diapers changed for Him?

Certainly, but wearing diapers can't change the heart. The needs, functions and weakness of the flesh are not the point, but rather it's the childlike faith and trust that's important to God.

Very interesting and though... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

Very interesting and thoughtful essay AND responses, all. (Would that all were like this!)

bryanD, you make a good case, and the gifts of the Madgi are an interesting point, but you seem to assume that Mary and Joseph kept them and used them to live better. But remember, shortly thereafter they had to flee to Egypt, and the gifts from the Magi probably supported them in Egypt. (I'm speculating; the Bible is silent on this.)

The soldiers who gambled over Jesus' cloak were gambling over a garment they themselves put on Him to mock Him. Matthew 27:28: "They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him..." and Mark 15:17: "The put a purple robe on him..."

It wasn't Jesus' and most likely His clothes were already discarded. (Unlike most every depiction made of the crucifixion, most likely He was naked when it happened. Crucifixtion was the ultimate humiliation, and most likely, making them die nude just added to it.)

Also, Jesus' lineage does not point to a high scocial status. If it did, then Joseph would not have been a mere carpenter in Nazareth (even Nathaniel said "What good ever came from Nazareth?" which is equivalent to saying He came from Nowheresville). Instead, Joseph would have been a teacher of the law, the highest social status a Jew could achieve at that time.

There is also no evidence that Joseph of Arimatheia was related to Jesus. Instead, he was most likely touched by Jesus' ministry and unwittingly did what he did to fullfill scripture.

Jesus HAD to be poor because wealth and status would have stood in the way of His message of forgiveness and salvation for the saved and damnation for the unsaved.

Big Mo, you are correct:</p... (Below threshold)
Scalia:

Big Mo, you are correct:

II Corinthians 8
9. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Cordially,
Scalia




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