Thought Leaders Series: 2018
Did they fall from heaven? Were they passed on by Jesus?
By way of context let us examine some building blocks. First, systematic theology. This term which sounds like something out of an engineering lab, is a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith.
In other words, rather like a jigsaw puzzle, systematic theology tries to bring pieces together from the Christian bible to justify or qualify the superiority of the faith over other faiths or beliefs.
The problem however, is that unlike a jigsaw puzzle the pieces do not fit together. Hence the need for revision of doctrines overtime in light of new truths.
This problem is not unique to Christianity, it is also a problem with all written or coded religious Texts. Hence the reason why we have various sects, groups or denominations in the Abrahamic faiths for example.
In Christianity for instance, it is rather perplexing that The Binding of Isaac (the Genesis 22 story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac) was used as a argument for the formula of the Christian doctrine of Atonement.
Most ancient and modern Jewish scholars and thinkers agree that the story was used as a deterrent from child sacrifice, which was a common practise of Semitic people at the time.
In fact, the original folklore (the oral tradition before the story was coded in text after the Exile) had it that Abraham sacrificed Isaac to enact the Covenant. However, reformers like Ezra decided to remove the notion of a God who requires human sacrifice to stop the practise, by redacting the story after the Exile.
So, how do we justify a God that refused the sacrifice of Isaac, providing a substitute instead, with a God that later demands the sacrifice of his son as a substitute for Adam’s sin?
An all powerful, all knowing, all present, and all loving God would have no need to hold a grudge against his creation.
Perhaps a better idea of Atonement (if ever there is a need for one) could be found, not in the blood sacrifice of Jesus, but in the life and teaching of Jesus, for example, in John 14:9, Acts 10:38.
The implication of a God who seeks the blood of his incarnate son to forgive humanity, does not show the loving father that Jesus teaches about, for example, in Matthew 7:9-11.
If anything, it demonstrates a wrathful and vengeful God who holds malice against his creation. A God who requires ‘justice’ or “an eye for an eye” (Ex. 21:24) if you please, the very premise that Jesus challenges in Matthew 5:38-42.
In fact, when we take a step back in the sequence of the doctrinal chain, we arrive at the origin: The Fall (Gen. 3). The Fall is a doctrine closely related to the doctrine of Original, or Ancestral sin by one of the Church Fathers, Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyon). This doctrine itself is fraught with many gaps which I can not delve into for the sake of brevity.
Perhaps it goes to show that the Bible is not infallible, but rather, a task in theology. A quest to understand the dynamics of this world.
In fairness, these thinkers did their best with the knowledge at their disposal. But sadly we have pitched our tents where they stopped, instead of examining their writings, and addressing the ethical gaps in light of human development.
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