If the concept of God varies a lot in the history of humankind, so does the portrait of Jesus. I think we can safely disregard the most hilarious one, namely that Jesus never existed and was the imaginary product of a cult whose followers got high thanks to a sacred mushroom. Why shouldn’t we take this kind of claim seriously? I wouldn’t even get into this if it wasn’t for all the nonsense that my son hears from his fellow atheists, nonsense that I feel I have to refute. We have as much historical evidence for Jesus as for all the accepted historical figures of the ancient world. Those who claim that the Gospels are not to be trusted because they were written a few decades after Jesus death, should take into consideration the fact that biographies of other historical characters such as, let’s say, Julius Caesar, were written two to three hundred years after his time, yet no one doubts his existence.People who assert that the evangelists are not trustworthy because their aim was to promote Christianity are obviously ignorant of the configuration of the early Church, which was a very controversial movement that didn’t exactly need to be promoted, for the many martyrs who were accepting torture and death in the name of Jesus were already taking care of the public relations.Christians were constantly in danger and they needed to be comforted, this much is true. So the job of the evangelists was merely to remind them of Jesus‘ life, death and resurrection, and they were not the only ones who embarked in this task. We have more than seventy documents that talk about Jesus, including the Gnostic Gospels, which are not included in the New Testament. We have two first century historians, the Roman Tacitus and the Jewish Josephus, who confirm that he was crucified under Pilate. Josephus describes him as a wise man and a “doer of startling deeds” who attracted the crowds. As proofs of Jesus’ existence we also have ancient Jewish sources, which did not deny that Jesus worked miracles but interpreted them as acts of sorcery.If one doesn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God, one should at least acknowledge that he was an exceptional human being. But if one can grasp his nature in all its magnitude, that person will call him Son of God. This could be the kind of derivative truth that resides beyond what we can prove (according to the standard notion of proof accepted by science).Jesus’ message, I believe, has survived across two millenniums not by fortuitous chance, but because it’s the only one that will prevent the human race from annihilating itself. In Jesus’ name horrible things have taken place in the past, yet his message is as clear as a diamond: The culture of “otherness” must end. Too many of us still look at their fellow human beings as “others”, namely as strange, inferior, or hostile. This attitude becomes especially dangerous when the “other” is someone who belongs to a different religion. The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches that no religion posses exclusive access to the Kingdom of God. We all must look inside ourselves to find the spiritual path that leads to salvation.Why do we feel so much more complete and fulfilled when we add a spiritual dimension to our lives? We become not only happier, but more HUMAN. I think we feel that way because we have recaptured a part of ourselves that we had forgotten, or put aside. The materialist will say that it all originates in matter and there is no other dimension to investigate. He will say that our spirituality is a biological fact, but this is a very unsatisfactory explanation for those who actually perceive this other dimension. It doesn’t make sense to maintain that, since one can’t prove its existence, one shouldn’t address his thoughts towards it. This is simply not possible for the human nature.Some of us turn their backs to religion, but all of us ask themselves the big questions: What is the meaning of our existence? Is it really contained in this earthly life? We are structurally made for asking, wanting, expecting something greater than what we already have. Ultimately, something that will not end. Love and success can end at any given moment, or never occur at all. But deep down we know there is more. What we look for is a mystery, and if we strive so much towards it, there must be a correspondence to it in reality.The grace experienced by the person of faith is unknown to the atheist, who explains it away with psychological paradigms. Yet grace is real, and it touches the entire personality and the entire life of the faithful. It doesn’t bring only comfort, but also patience, strength, love and a sense of stability. The devil could offer me all the wealth of the world, as he did with Jesus, but I wouldn’t give away my religious sense for it, because it’s the only thing that can bring true happiness.
Monday, December 3, 2012
at 2:44 PM