|Ted writes, |
Ah, so you make a distinction between "true believing Christians" and actual Christians, like one billion Catholics, and I don't know how many others, who hear every year in the liturgy how Jesus' full and flawed humanity was demonstrated by his unjustified anger and loss of control with the money changers? Maybe you could quote or cite the relevant theological writings, the "Christian philosophy" (in Rand's words) of these "true believing Christians"? What I meant by "true believing Christians" was simply those who believed in Christ's divinity. So are you saying that according to the Catholic Church, Christ was morally flawed -- that he was a hypocrite and didn't practice what he preached? Could you show me where the Church says this? Although I was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic schools, I never heard from any of my teachers, priests, nuns or Christian Brothers that Jesus was morally flawed. He was always presented as an ideal man. Now maybe he shouldn't have been, but at least in my experience, he was.
And you simply know that these "true believing Christians" would "approve" of Jesus using force and not turning the other cheek, because what? Because they don't believe that Jesus' actions were ideal, i.e., perfect according to some objective* standard, but because he was God and could get away with whatever he wanted? Well, I don't think they'd put it that way, but they do operate on the premise that since Christ is God, he can do nothing morally wrong. However, I did search on Google to see if I could find an acknowledgement by Christians that Christ didn't practice what he preached and that he was therefore a hypocrite. What I found instead was a rebuttal to your argument that Christ's driving the money changers from the temple was a violent unChristian-like assault. In Wikipedia on the page "Jesus and the money changers" is a link to "A Christian explanation of allegedly violent events in Jesus' life, including the clearing of the Temple." The incident with the money changers was defended as follows:
You can see how Christ's actions are being rationalized by those who regard him as an exemplar of Christian virtue. So, what is your evidence that, according to orthodox Christianity, Christ's actions betray a moral hypocrisy? Do you honestly believe that the pope would be willing to say that Jesus Christ was a hypocrite, because he didn't practice what he preached?
There are a number of elements in the story [of Christ's response to the money changers] that suggest that it is not as 'violent' as is sometimes visualized:
1. The fact that the Roman guards did not intervene--as they did with the riot over Paul in Acts 21--strongly suggests a "lower key" visualization.
2. The seats of the dove sellers and the counters of the moneychangers were simply parts of their merchant 'stalls'. The money-tables would not have had much loose coinage on them--the coins would have been in bags behind the counter, and so the common image of many coins scattering everywhere is likely false. And it would not have taken but one example of 'pouring out' of a money bag to get everyone else's 'cooperation' in leaving!
3. Jesus simply ordered the dove sellers out (and probably the merchants too, although they would have followed their larger animals out of the temple anyway), and the makeshift whip/lash was for the animals.
4. There was no indication that any human being was assaulted, hit, harmed, or hurt; and the "scourge" was hastily constructed of rushes/weeds pulled out of the cracks in the Courtyard floor/walls (not a whip of the sort He was scourged with).
5. Jesus forbade subsequent entry simply by his presence, to any non-worshipper who tried to enter.
6. The many OT/Tanach prophetic references are ample indication that Jesus was acting in prophetic confrontation/symbolic mode.
7. One should never confuse zeal, judgment, drama, prophetic symbolic action--or even forceful expulsion of destructive agents--with acts of unlawful physical aggression or 'violence' or 'lashing out at enemies'.
Perhaps William's assessment is the most realistic:
"First, then, back to the observation that it is reported as a "violent" act. Part of the reported action, blocking the way of traffic, perhaps involving the obtaining of animals for sacrifice, is more in the mode of nonviolent protest. Overturning the tables of the money changers may be viewed as "violent," but it should be noted that the entire protest is of very short duration. It is not narrated as though there is any intent to harm anyone, to maintain a long occupation, or to assert Jesus' power over the Temple and its dealings. It is clearly in the tradition of the prophets' dramatic representations of Israel's situation and God's word of judgment. In a situation of oppression and a brewing mimetic crisis, it is impossible to avoid the taint of violence if one is to act decisively. The word decision itself, a "cutting off" or "cutting from," already suggests that the harmonious reconciliation of all persons and elements in a situation will not take place. This is the human condition in the world of differences, especially when these differences no longer manage the mimetic desire and rivalry that are ever present and effective." [BVS:228f]
I would certainly say that God committed murder when he commanded Moses to stone a man to death for working on the Sabbath, and that in so doing God violated one of his very own commandments ("Thou Shalt Not Kill"), but I've never heard of Christians denouncing God as a murderer or a hypocrite for doing so. Have you?
Bill, your "argument" is based not upon any evidence of any actual teaching of any orthodox church, but simply upon assertions. (In case you haven't noticed I want evidence, not just more "Objectipinion."). Well, I was relying on my own interactions with Christians. I don't think that the allegedly orthodox view of Christ's morally flawed character which you refer to is recognized by most Christians, even if it is endorsed by Christian scholars. And I would again ask that you present evidence of any orthodox claim that Jesus violated his own teachings and was therefore a hypocrite. I'd be surprised if you could find it, but if you can, I'll stand corrected. In any case, I don't think that most Christians would agree with that interpretation, as I've never met any devout Christian who did.
And in your wrestling with straw men you seem not to realize that you have quite decisively disproven your own point. In claiming that Jesus could get away with whatever he wanted to do because he was divine you are outright denying that Jesus was an ideal man. I wouldn't say "get away with," because that implies that, according to Christianity, he is violating some legitimate standard of morality, when it is he, God, who sets the standard. Besides I'm not entirely sure, given the explanation on Wikipedia, that he did in fact resort to overt violence against the money changers. The Christian apologist who wrote that piece seems to think he did not. I guess it depends on your interpretation of scripture and I'm not a Biblical scholar. But, as I say, I have never met a true Christian (one who believes in Christ's divinity and moral authority) who accused him of being a hypocrite.