Archive for September 20th, 2005
In our last exciting episode below I discussed the controversy that convulsed the early church, “Can the man Jesus, who was clearly a man, also be God?”
In the end the Middle East never accepted the idea that the G-d of Israel could be man and that is a major reason it is now Islamic. There is one God, and he is God.
North of the Middle East the doctrine that Jesus was both God and man was accepted.
North of the Middle east the debate completely reversed itself.
Instead of asking whether the man Jesus was God, the debate became whether the God Jesus could have been man.
Let’s bring this right up to date. There is not a single church today which would not be offended by the idea that Jesus the man ever wanted to have sex with any woman.
THINK about it before you react to this statement. Can you imagine telling any conservative Christian that Jesus wanted to go to bed with any female?
Jesus was God. He had no lust.
Can a man with no lust be a man?
This concept of Jesus had very practical consequences. In the centuries following the Council of Nicea Jesus became more and more God. The people who had looked upon Jesus as the mediator between themselves and God began to see Jesus as being as forbidding and as unreachable as Jehovah.
That is where Mariology came from.
People began more and more to pray to Mary, the Holy Mother, as the person who could understand us lowly humans. Jesus was as far away as Jehovah.
For over a thousand years theologians denounced the “Cult of Mary.” Augustine fought it. St. Thomas Aquinas fought it.
But Western people wanted someone human they could pray to, like the old gods.
Finally Mary was accepted as the human mediator with God, as the human being who could understand both God and men.
Once the idea that Mary had a direct link to God was accepted, Mary began to become a part of God in the eyes of theologians.
So once again, the theologians asked, “If Mary is a part of God, can she be fully human?”
One thing all of the church fathers agreed on was that any human being conceived by sex was conceived in sin. Jesus was conceived to the Virgin Mary, so he was the only exception.
But what about the Virgin Mary herself? Was SHE conceived in sin? Finally in 1854 the pope declared The Immaculate Conception of Mary to be dogma, and anyone who denied it was a heretic.
Mary was not conceived in sex. She was part of God.
Mary was a part of God, and therefore she could not be fully human.
As I keep repeating, Buddhist theologians have been proving for decades that the Buddha could not have come from the “dirty” womb of a female. And Christian doctrine now holds that Mary could not have come from the “dirty” sex act and that Jesus could have had any thought of the “dirty” sex act.
In the world of Islam, a man cannot be God.
In the Christian world, God cannot be a man.
Both are heresies.
And as Screwtape said, Satan doesn’t care how you got Down There. He just wants you There.
An obsession with sex is great way to get somebody Down There.
It doesn’t matter if the obsession is with having sex or with not having sex.
As long as your obsession keeps you from seeing Christ as both man and God, it can be used to get you straight to what Screwtape referred to as “Our Father Below.”
This illustrates that people always get so obsessed with their own cultural concepts that they forget the basics. That is an excellent lesson, even if you have no religion at all.
I keep pointing out that church history is a fascinating guide to how the human mind works.
Gautama Buddha made it very clear that he was enlightened, but very much a man. But Buddhist theologians have developed complex theories to show how their Buddha did not come out of gthe “dirty” womb of a woman.
The gigantic community of Hellenized Jews who became the Christian Church still had trouble with the idea that Jesus, who was very much a man, could also be God. A majority of bishops believed that Jesus was above the angels, but below God.
Jesus the man had come back to earth and shown the Apostles that he was a man by eating a piece of fish and allowing the Apostle Thomas, the original Doubting Thomas, to put his hand into the wound in Christ’s side.
Jesus had sat and EATEN with the sinners, the tax-gatherers and usurers.
Every “Christian” loves to say, “We are all sinners” but he never BELIEVES it. The average self-styled Christian today would have led the mob to stone Jesus.
So when the Hellenized Jews accepted Christ they did not doubt he was a man, but the traditional faith of Hellenized Jews held to the idea that G-d was invisible. So Jesus was the savior and above the angels, but he was not God.
The Council of Nicea decided that Christ was both God and man. The idea that Jesus was above the angels but not God became the Arian Heresy.
There was an exact geographical split. The Hellenized world finally accepted the idea that Christ was both God and man, but in the Middle East, which had enough trouble accepting this savior in the first place, the idea that a man was also God was repeatedly challenged. The Arian Heresy caused constant rebellion against the church and kept it permanently weak.
In the end, a non-Christian faith took over the Middle East with astonishing ease. That faith said that Jesus was above the angels but below God, who stands alone.
That faith is called Islam.
If you a Christian, a Moslem or an athiest, this is a terrific lesson in human nature.
If you are not obsessed with labels, you discover that the thinking of the Middle East remained the same. If you are to understand the Moslem Shiites, you must understand that Iranian thinking is still in the Zoroastrian tradition.
Don’t get this backwards the way a theologian would. I am NOT saying that Middle Easterners were influenced by Arianism, I am saying that Arianism appealed to Middle Eastern thinking. Islam did not win out there because of unreconstructed Arians. Islam won because it appealed tot he same ingrained thinking that made Arianism so strong in the Middle East.
Middle Easterners want a G-d who is invisible, all powerful, and who regards men not as fellow men but as less than his slaves. There is only one God and he is God. There is no room for a God who is just another man.
Shiites do not exist because of a lingering memory of Zoroastrian wisdom. They are Shiites because of a mindset that their own Zoroastrianism appealed to.
It was not the theology of Islam that appealed to the Middle East, it was their natural mindset. This is a complete mystery to the theologian. He believes that mindsets come entirely from theologians. He believes in quotes, not in cultures.