Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's not all the same...

Almost got to the beach today, but it was too overcast. Having some very quiet days. I'm sure that the thrill of these will wear off, but I've had so long with having to do a lot each day that I'm quite contented.

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Had a chat with someone today - one of those religious types ;) - about, well, a lot of things, but one thing particularly stuck - he mentioned that he greatly enjoyed hearing about other denominations and their different perspectives on various religious issues, on the basis that it's the 'same Jesus'.

If a person (in my mind an Orthodox person, but it could probably be said for any denomination that believed in the truth of their denomination) comes into contact with many Pentecostals, they'll find this said with some frequency. And there is some justification for it - after all, God sent His only-begotten Son (note the singulars) who was incarnate at a specific time in history; in a sense, yes, there is only one Jesus.

Of course, this is not the point that anyone is trying to make. If we take the assumptions that Jesus is both God and man, and that this hasn't happened at any time in history, before or since, then it is a fairly logical conclusion that this would take some getting used to. If we haven't seen a lion before, at least we can say 'well, that's kinda a big cat with a massive mane'; with Jesus, we don't really have the same luxury, because we can say 'well, He's God, and He's also human' or 'He's immortal, and He died for us' and all we do is present contradictions. It shouldn't be surprising that humans don't understand God - it's more of a tautology.

Trying to understand God as much as possible is kinda what the Church has been trying to do for 2000 years, and between holiness and intelligence (both gifts of God), we've mapped out a bit and we've left a lot as a mystery. But, one thing that was a huge contention was Christology. Of course, most Christians accept the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which maps out Christology fairly well, but - as I pointed out in the referenced conversation - there's actually a different pneumatology (i.e. about the Holy Spirit - pneuma meaning spirit) between the Orthodox and most of the rest of the Church, because of the change in the Nicene Creed by the Western Church, saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as the Father.

Which brings me to another commonly-used axiom - it's all the same God. This one is mainly used by mainline Protestants and secularists, and without wanting to be nasty, it's a copout because of a lack of desire to evangelise, or a failure to see massive differences. The most obvious in current events is between Christianity and Islam - Triune God, with the Son human, crucified and resurrected, against a monad God with a prophet - but Buddhism comes in (having no deity as such) along with Hinduism (which has a debatable number of deities) and Judaism (monad God with the expectation of a messiah), and we can see that none of the world religions have the same God as the Christians, because Christianity is the only religion where God became human. The closest to 'it's all the same God', we must say, is between Judaism and Islam, and we just have to go to Israel or Palestine to see how close they are.

Perhaps at some point I'll blog about how, if there's one God, it doesn't make sense that He should put many ways to him - but this post is big enough :)

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