Saturday, 2 January 2010


I think one of the challenges to Christianity is the Hebrew Bible. The god of the Hebrew Bible is in stark contrast to Jesus in many ways, but not every way. Did God change between his commands for conquest and genocide, and his commands to love one's enemy? Maybe Marcion was right in some respects; perhaps there are two different entities at work here.

The gospels are certainly in no doubt about drawing a continuity of thought between the Hebrew texts and the life of Jesus. Matthew identifies various prophecies that Jesus fulfilled (especially through his Christmas story), and is clear to point out that Jesus didn't want to abolish the law. John is equally as clear to make sure that Jesus is thought of as the I AM.[1]

They way through this is, as always, to start and end with Christ. What is God like? God is like Christ. And if we take that further, then it's fair to say that prophecy only gains value as future-telling if it is true in Christ. If we miss the vital step at the beginning, then we run the risk of mis-reading any other text we encounter.

1. Then again, drawing Jesus as the logos is a very Greek thing to do. By that logic, if Jesus were born into a taoist society, it would be fair to have written, "In the beginning was the tao ... The tao became flesh and made his dwelling among us."

1 comment:

vulpinoid said...

In the 6th Century AD, a series of Orthodox missions headed east to spread the word. I can't remember specifics but they maintained links with certain branches of eastern orthodoxy and sought ways to interpret the gospel in a land that had no understanding of the Judaeo-Christian Mythos. The Chinese at this time were open to the concept of other religions and hoped to learn more from them.

The missionaries/monks were allowed to establish a temple outside one of the university cities of the time. Here they translated the gospels in such a manner as to be legible to a Taoist mind. They also studied the Tao to see how it could be reconciled with their Christian beliefs.

Many of their teachings were lost, but recovered very recently through archaeological digs. Notably at a near forgotten stone pagoda with window openings in an east-west configuration (to catch the morning sun) which was a very Orthodox Christian thing to do at the time, unlike traditional Chinese pagodas with a north-south configuration. Another reference point is a carved stone stele in Xian province, dating to a period not long after the mission, it depicts a cross rising from a lotus, and a number of references to the "luminous religion" from the west.

It's a fascinating study that I've looked into pretty deeply. It's a fascinating historical sequence.

...your final comment is pretty similar to the types of phrases used by the Taoist christians who developed from that mission and thrived for several centuries thereafter.