Sunday, April 27, 2008

In which I am a heretic

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man!), Antonio Ciseri, 19th c.: Pontius Pilate presents a scourged Jesus of Nazareth to onlookers: a very popular motif in Christian art.Image via WikipediaAs an undergrad, I was a Theology minor. The first college theology class I took was pretty basic intro-level stuff; I was already familiar with much of it, so I could engage and had a really good time.

One day, there was a small debate. The question: assuming (if you would for the moment, please) that God is perfect, why did God give the Israelites the Law and have to send Jesus? After all, if the Law was good enough, Jesus wouldn't have been necessary, but if God knew the Law wouldn't be good enough, why bother? Why not skip right to Jesus?

Two of my classmates got into a pretty heated discussion. I don't recall what the exact positions were, but they were doing a pretty good job of splitting up the opinions of the class. At this point, I had an idea.

I used a parable. See, the professor tended to use Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches in his metaphors, so I followed suit. "Let's say that God wanted to reveal that Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches are the best sandwiches," I said. "Human understanding is limited, so this revelation wouldn't make sense unless the people knew what a sandwich was. So God gives us the revelation of sandwiches, then once we've had time to absorb this information and assimilate it into our society, God reveals the Ultimate Sandwich to us. Likewise, God had to reveal the Law so that Jesus would make sense. It provides context."

There was a moment of silent though. The professor asked each of the debaters if this satisfied their points. It did. He asked the class if they had any problems with it. After asking a few questions to clarify, they were satisfied, as well. I was happy. The professor seemed happy too. He was smiling as he said, "Class, this is how heresies get started."

So I'm a heretic.

But you know what? I'm not actually convinced I'm wrong.

The good
Proof that I'm a free thinker who can come up with solutions to ancient problems is always nice, of course. And I have to say, it's kind of cool to be a heretic.

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