And Then There Were Three…
So I’ve been gone a while, but I have a good excuse, I just became a dad. I have the cutest little boy in the world, and I’ll fight you for disagreeing. I’ll lose…but I’ll do it anyway. Now, enough with the pleasantries…
Comment from evagrius on The God Who’s Always Known Me:
Hypostasis was the original Greek term. It was translated into Latin as persona using prosopon, mask, as the term, ( which was only used in Christology basically) rather than hypostsis, ( which got translated as substansia).
Ousia gets translated as esse, being, but it’s not completely accurate.
Self-contained here means ego. God is not an ego, nor three egos in one.
Ok, I love the definition of hypostasis. It is an articulation of the idea that I have had in my mind for years: “a term in linguistics to describe the relationship between a name and a known quantity.” I love the concepts involved in the process of communication.
Thoughts are fluid, they aren’t always quantifiable. So we use a common set of symbols to communicate those fluid thoughts. But just as something is always lost in translation between languages, something is lost whenever we communicate. Our fluid thought is encoded as a word, and that word is passed to another person who must decode it, and – we hope – associates it with the same thought that we had.
Imagine a little nametag attached to a cloud as the relationship between a thought and the word that goes with it. The two are different, but very much related. That quality of being loosely related to a partial description is a great concept.
As far as “self-contained” meaning “ego”: I do not accept that as a given. I argue that God must be self-contained, because there is nothing in creation that could contain him, and there is nothing outside of creation. How could God be anything but self-contained?
Back to Borg…this is from his On Faith archive:
I see the pre-Easter Jesus as a Jewish mystic who knew God, and who as a result became a healer, wisdom teacher, and prophet of the kingdom of God. The latter led to his being killed by the authorities who ruled his world. But I do not think he proclaimed or taught an extraordinary status for himself. The message of the pre-Easter Jesus was about God and the kingdom of God, and not about himself.
Rather, I see the grand statements about Jesus – that he is the Son of God, the Light of the World, and so forth – as the testimony of the early Christian movement. These are neither objectively true statements about Jesus nor, for example in this season, about his conception and birth. To speak of him as the Son of God does not mean that he was conceived by God and had no biological human father. Rather, this is the post-Easter conviction of his followers.
He claims throughout this post to be in line with “most mainstream scholars” in his assertion that Jesus never claimed to be any of the great things the early Christians said he was. But what does that word – “mainstream” – mean in this context? It certainly doesn’t mean Christian. I’d give you my last dollar if you could show me that 51% of Christian scholars agree with him and the Jesus Seminar. What does it mean? “Mainline”, “theological”, “secular”? There’s no indication.
One of his problems, even with “most mainstream scholars” on his side, is this:
A high Christology is discernible within the minimal core of Jesus’ sayings whose authenticity is approved by the radical critics (the Jesus Seminar, for example) themselves…
…the Christology implicit in the approved core of sayings is indistinguishable from the high Christology of the more explicit sayings attributed to Jesus throughout the Gospels and repudiated by radical critics
(Geivett & Phillips, Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World)
For example, most progressives, liberals, and emergents love the end of Matthew 25. I don’t know if it’s on the “approved” list or not, but I’ll assume for the moment it is. This is a passage that I have most often heard used by the social-justice-first crowd to say that anyone who cares for the poor will go to heaven. So they would be loathe to lose it as an “authentic statement of Jesus”.
But there is a high Christology found there. Who separates the sheep and the goats? Who sends the sheep to paradise and the goats to torment? It’s Jesus. The straw man element is there, I know; it’s just an example from my own experience. But it’s there, nonetheless.
The problem with positions like Borg’s is that the basis is always very, very shaky. In his case, as with John Hick and I’m sure a host of others, he rebelled against a view of God that was incorrect in the first place, and ran amok in the opposite direction.
He tells the story of how, when confronted with the proposition that God was both in heaven, and omnipresent, he rationalized out the omnipresence so that He could understand God being in heaven. It makes sense – he was 9. But his adult response was to run full-speed in the other direction, rather than to walk, reconciling his ideas of God with the God presented in Scripture.
He goes on to say that God is both transcendent and immanent, here and out there, which is exactly what he rationalized away! He was taught a proper understanding, but he ignored it, then used his misconception to characterize all evangelicals. Well, not all, but the majority of “traditional” positions.
The second problem with the position is that notion that “historical Jesus” scholarship is scholarship at all. It’s skepticism, pure and simple. In order to even conceive of a difference between a historical Jesus and a Biblical Jesus you have to come to the Bible with the presumption that the Biblical narrative could not be true (for whatever reason). Then you must explain how the movement began in the first place, and are forced to concede that Jesus lived and was crucified. From there you try to explain how Christianity came into being from a man who was not, and never claimed to be, God.
But no matter how logical it seems, it just doesn’t add up. How could it? Basically the process involves removing or ignoring all of the evidence against the hypothesis, in order to accept as a given a presupposition that can’t be proven, only implied by the (engineered) lack of evidence against. It’s circular.
UPDATE: I’ve stalled on The God We Never Knew. I don’t know if I’ll ever get through it. I hope to, so that I can get the review up. More to come.