The “War” between science and religion is a misconception. Theists and atheists both believe we can discover much about reality by the scientific method. Both believe that our innate creativity and remarkable intellect can use the creation to bring into being things that would not exist without human invention.
Real hope is based on faith, and faith is not an empty leap in the dark – not even, in fact least of all – in Christianity. Despite the caricature of Christian (and “religious”) faith so often used by sceptics and critics, some of them even within the Churches, the Bible never suggests “blind” faith. The best definition of faith in the Bible, perhaps in all human expression in any language of any time, is this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In another translation, “It is what gives assurance to our hopes; it is what gives us conviction about things we can’t see.” (Book of Hebrews 11:1 – New Testament.)
without Jesus, beyond the binge and after the bloating indigestion, mega-sugar-crash, and fortified eggnog and other spirits hangover, what was it about? Fantasizing about Santa and goodwill to all people for some vague reason? Receiving some gifts that symbolize a love which is usually neglected in practice? Feeling a nice glow for a few days but then crashing back into the loneliness or shallowness of regular life for most of the rest of the year?
The central meaning of the story, as it swiftly emerged from the events of his life, death, and reputed resurrection from the dead, is simple when accepted as it was told by his earliest followers. The man Yeshua was in fact the incarnate Son of Israel’s God, the One God, the only God, the very Creator of the universe and all that is. He had been promised to the first human as a Saviour and Redeemer to restore humanity’s broken relationship with and estrangement from the Creator. As such, he was the heir of King David, the rightful King of Israel, but he was not to make Israel the new world superpower overwhelming all the nations with judgment and wrath, but to bring universal peace, reconciliation, and restoration between God and humanity, and among all humans, and between humanity and the broken creation.
The three brief references at the top of this episode point to the most important but most neglected truths about humanity that paying attention to history teaches us: (1) the Law of Karma is almost completely borne out over time, to the degree that it invites belief in the old-fashioned idea of fate; (2) everyone knows that we should learn from the past, but almost no one ever does – both as individuals and as societies from the smallest level (family) to the widest (nations, civilizations); (3) nevertheless, there is a way out of the trap of being the pawn of history and the mere victim of fate, – both personal and collective.
Regaining contact with our personal inner moral compass in our now largely morally bankrupt culture is very urgent and important. In the long run, it is even more important than taming COVID-19. At least if we believe that human beings are more than creatures who have only a finite existence defined by birth and death. And perhaps even then.
Most of what passes for commentary consists of dismissing the writer-commentator’s submission as mere strong bias or even some sort of incipient “Communism” or “Fascism”. Lamentably, those accusing “those other people” of being the bogeyman have little real understanding of the ideologies involved, and probably don’t care that they are ignorant thereof. In place of dialogue we are stuck with polemics, histrionics, and ad hominem denunciations of “those Nazis/Commies”.
The Kingdom of God is all about agape and entering it can only be by that road. Otherwise, we are once more trying to prove we can do it ourselves, trying to prove we don’t really need the supernatural power of the Creator to really love the agape way, the way the Creator loves each of us and everyone, and indeed the whole Creation that Adonai made in the beginning.
Yeshua speaking to Nakdimon about “spiritual rebirth from above” was talking about true radical change, because more of the same – using the power of the state, of religion, of fear and manipulation and control to compel outer conformity, whether by actual law or social pressure, cannot produce true readiness and willingness, let alone ability, to enter the Kingdom of the Creator.
Nakdimon was one of the elite. He, however, did not disdain or outright reject Yeshua. His opening remark, “Rabbi, we know it is from God that you have come as a teacher; for no one can do these miracles you perform unless God is with him,” shows that he had been pondering the contradiction in the elitist line of saying Yeshua was a sorcerer or a demonically controlled charlatan. By this point, the popular Galilean rabbi had a reputation and a following and his teaching was known and reported regularly to the Jerusalem Sanhedrin. It centered on the coming of the Kingdom of God.