Hi Edward. You make very clear the orthodox interpretation that always pictures Christianity as a 'once and for all' event. The great single moment worthy of our full honor is all in the past. A past which we are not a part of. And it also makes all else hinge on a big future event that will be the end of it all except for eternal bliss. No more will there be any resemblance of what we have been taught that the amazing life force is actually like and that living well and courageously is what we can all most admire. It says all of that will be gone. This is indeed a way, when so interpreted, that Christianity is different from the other competing religions of that day and part of the world. Of course this is always heralded as a 'good' thing and for its time it obviously won, for good reasons, the most hearts of that part of a very suffering world.
|It Is Finished.|
The other competing interpretations like some of the former 'nature' and 'knowledge/wisdom' religions did not interpret Jesus' death or resurrection as the final and 'end all'. But like nature Jesus' life went the full circle of birth, maturing, overcoming hardship, accomplishing its sacred purpose, dying and being restored or resurrected. He must have also gone through an inner spiritual development that had similar stages. We now can recognize those developmental stages through the advance of psychology and some supporting sciences. This matches what we all see in nature and what we each experience in our own lives and the natural life that is all about us. The orthodox interpretation by making it an 'end all' also had to claim that it was a superior world view for all time and the 'one and only' real ticket to harmony with and acceptance by God.
Others interpreted ,some still do , Jesus as gloriously and courageously(as you describe) 'finishing' his human/sacred journey. But they did not interpret this as him having also done it completely for us. It is less of a vicarious suffering than orthodoxy makes of it. It is a suffering that is far closer to us, and like us, than that. Jesus was seen as a reliable model for the general path of the successful human life... the faith that even orthodoxy brings to us is that we can 'be like him', not because he does it for us, but because he assures us it can be done. Because he was seen to be 'hungering, thirsting, cramping, fatigued in body and mind' and suffering to put it mildly, but still crossing victoriously the finish line....we can have confidence, for we in the very same humanity, carrying the same image of God, in a million different ways ALSO can complete this part of the cycle of life triumphantly. I personally cannot think of anything more to ask or expect from my experience of being alive and being certain to physically die. We each deserve, for Christ is our model, to have just as successful death and resurrection (actually many of them as no doubt Jesus did)as the story is saying that Jesus had. I truly believe that we need so much to see how the story tells us our own story, and the story of all of nature, as much as it does of Jesus' specific story.
|Oil gushing from the 12 inch riser pipe on the sea floor, almost 5,000ft down.|
I'm living with grief but hope now as the amazing pristine Gulf of Mexico gasps to stay alive. I'm not ashamed to use my understanding of the Christ story to see potential death and yearned for restoration happening there again, similarly as it happened with Jesus. This makes death and resurrection a very NOW thing. And it is happening Now in and around each of us. To relegate the actual power and dynamics of our religious belief to the past and future is a horrible waste, not to mention a sign and kind of death without hope of the present meaning of life.
It is in our own story that we actually find out what the story of Jesus is all about. We miss something very important I think when our religious viewpoint and our interpretation of Jesus is primarily about a past event and a future one. Then the present is hardly taken seriously at all. This is one of several downsides of the view of Jesus that prevailed without much questioning of its adherents,at least for more than a 1500 years. It seems to me that to help people think that Jesus necessarily said these exact words or the others in the gospel of John is actually another way that the past is made more holy than the present. This actually leaves the present as a rather dry desert and hardly worth a comment. The question that the story invites is ,' when and how do we experience saying, 'It is finished'? Jesus, we can likely agree, really lived in the moment, and really lived fully. He was not attempting to fulfill any specific religious story or expectation( that was the work of others who later wrote about him). As John puts it Jesus was all about having and sharing 'abundant life' NOW, as well as securing a good piece of the future for those to come. We can surely glean from the gospel writings just how fully and lovingly human he was and can take that as good evidence that we, living from the same Spirit, can do the same in our own unique way. The world is always waiting for someone to be that fully themselves which always means a good measure of honesty, courage and love. That is really the only thing, I suspect, we all totally admire and long to happen for us and others. None of us, I suspect, are really turned on to a future when there will be no need for courageous loving and living in our human context, yet that is exactly what orthodox Christianity points to. That is not, I suspect, what the post modern person is honestly looking for. It just isn't. I see this in all kinds of people including those coming out of every kind of church and temple on Sunday morning or Saturday. We think we 'should desire' that orthodox view of the hereafter but with just a little reflection we would see what we would lose and how bored we would quickly become. No, we do not need a 'one event did it all' interpretation of Jesus anymore. I know I don't. And what people say of such does not sound very convincing anymore. It sounds like a sermon but not like life.
|New Heaven And New Earth|
The 'new heaven and new earth' symbol of Revelation need not be an 'end all' but a reminder that the nature or creation and the Human is to always be moving into a truly new and different future from what anything has yet been. Christianity interpreted that way rather than a 'once and for all accomplished' symbol could help humanity embrace the twenty first century and beyond.
The spirituality that is a part of God's work as experienced in nature and our natural selves, and that comes forth in present day/night dreams and visions of all kinds of humans is never a story of ' a one time determining event', or a 'one and only and forever' interpretation of reality. I appreciate the orthodox Christian story and certainly have been blessed/informed by it but it has reached a time when it needs to be appreciatively transcended. Not by some superior 'one and only' religion as Christianity's most influential followers made of it, but by the very foundations that produced this amazing, but not final and only, redemptive turning point in God and Human's continuing story. The source still lives within us all because we are all still connected to the living 'Collective Unconscious' from which all that is has come, even the amazing Trinitarian description of the Godhead in Christianity. It is from this truly eternal source that we can get glimmers of how our treasured story of Christ came to be what it is and how it still calls and presses us to look at it afresh with the help of resources that God has placed within grasp of each of us. Thank you for your essay Edward and Blessings, Jim
On Tue, 04 May 2010 19:00:00 -0400 "Edward Fudge" <email@example.com> writes:
Edward FudgeJESUS' DYING WORD
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Might John himself have heard it, the final word of Jesus when he bowed his head and died? We cannot say for sure, although John reports it in the Gospel that bears his name. When we consider what Jesus has endured—the scourging and pummeling, the crucifixion itself, the cramping and hunger and thirst, the utter fatigue of body and mind—we might marvel that he utters any words at all. But despite it all, he does. He opens his mouth and says it: a single word in Greek, though in English three. He says it, and someone hears it, whether John or not. And John, sensing that it was important, writes it in his Gospel. “Tetelestai,” says Jesus: “It is finished.”
This is a cry of victory and not defeat. With this word, projected by his final breath, Jesus crosses the finish line. Though weak in volume, he claims a mighty triumph. With four syllables Jesus signals the successful conclusion of a life devoted wholly to the Creator. Faithful in life, he is now faithful in death. Through this faithful life and death, the divine Rescue is a reality. New Testament writers regularly use the past tense when speaking of the Rescue operation. God displayed Jesus publicly on the cross as an atoning sacrifice. He reconciled us to himself in Jesus’ fleshly body.
The Creator saved us and abolished death by the death and resurrection of his Son. Jesus made purification of sins and obtained eternal redemption. The Lion from the tribe of Judah has overcome—in the form of a slaughtered sacrificial Lamb. By his sacrifice Jesus has purchased people for God representing a cross-section of humankind. The gospel is news and the news is good: it is “the good news of your salvation.” The divine Rescue has been accomplished and the Creator has reconciled the universe to himself. Jesus did it and he declared it with his dying breath: “It is finished. It is finished! It is FINISHED!
(This gracEmail is condensed from chapter 37, "It is Finished," of Edward's new book The Divine Rescue (The gripping drama of a lost world and of the creator who will not let it go). To order a personal, signed copy, click here (or go to www.EdwardFudge.com/written/divine_rescue.html).
Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.