Monday, May 4, 2009

Job and worship

April Deconick is asking the question 'How did a Jewish Rabbi become God?' She has had some commendation for asking this question. See the comment threads for details. Her intent is to look again at the Jesus of history "to determine from the written evidence what likely happened all those years ago".

I am not convinced - but I am not a historian. I like the approach in her first post. Leave the high and low Christologies - we need something new. The remaining 6 posts have left me shiverless. It seems impossible to lay down ground-rules without arguments arising.

Can one boil down reality to the answer to a set of questions? Here's my try: The end of our reality is for one thing only: worship. Reality can be boiled down to one word but why would we be interested? From a purely pragmatic point of view, we are or we become what we worship. (See Psalm 115.)

April finds in the second and third posts three triggers for the 'How' of her question. All three are located in the inferred minds of the followers of Jesus.

  1. That they had visions of Jesus
  2. They wanted meaning in the face of his death
  3. There were failed expectations with respect to his 'Anointing'
Is this sufficient to make a Jewish Rabbi into God? No - he is God only if we worship him. But why would we or how could we worship a man? We would worship if we loved him and if we were moved by him to an otherwise-inconceivable life of similar love, a life that would itself be given the name 'eternal'.

If we were so moved, it would not be
  1. by hallucination (or explicable visionary mysticisms), but by joy.
  2. nor by argument (or precise confession of unalterable inerrancies), but by presence.
  3. nor by failed expectations (we really didn't know we could expect what we got at all - a bridegroom of blood) but by a similar Anointing of hope.
This reaches back to the Anointed king and the saints of the Psalms (e.g. see this movement in the psalter from psalms 1-2 to 149). It reaches to the tabernacle of Moses and the Song of Songs. Effectively we would be moved in the same way that the psalmist or the prophet or the patriarch or the law-giver (or even those dysfunctional kings).

Joy, presence, and hope are measurable by their fruits. The fruits could be songs and psalms, declarations of revealed consequences in present injustice, care for the family, and the inspiration to law and order. The rest of us also judge these fruits.

If the Anointed Jesus is the promised monarch and we are monarchs and priests with him, where are the fruits of his redemption in us? This is a good question (posed to me by Mark Nanos in the halls of St Andrews in 2006.) If the fruits are hidden, they had better come to light, or those who say 'Lord, Lord' will find themselves on the receiving end of a 'Huh? Who are you?'

Suppose we are not so moved?
  1. Perhaps we prefer anger - I know about this
  2. Perhaps argument triumphs - it's everywhere
  3. Perhaps there is no response from the whirlwind - who can deal with that silence!
Perhaps that is why that death was so necessary. Job eventually found such an encounter - and that was largely through science and mythology! Not at all from the religious theory of his comforters.

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