Everything begins with a Creator. If we deny this essential starting point, we have already thrown away the road map for the journey. After that, we wander “lost” in an uncharted wilderness, having to discover everything for ourselves and to find our own meaning for everything. We become subject to all kinds of fancies and whims about “who, what, where, when, why, and how”. We create all our own answers to all the basic questions of existence. And we are tremendously proud that we can do this and have done it, like fully matured and emancipated adults.
As long as the human race lives, we will not just “lie down and die” and meekly submit to “the inevitable”. We are not made that way. We are made to rise, to overcome, to create, to renew, to enhance. Our innermost soul tells us this even in the midst of the worst. Most often, our soul tells us without words, but nonetheless with great clarity through our drive to live, to repair, to make better.
Evil has a personal face, all the time. A natural process is not “evil” of itself, but can evil effects on the living creatures sometimes caught in its path. Since we do not control these processes, we call them “acts of God”.
But the Creator is not “evil” for creating a cosmos in which its elements and processes may bring pain and suffering on the beings inhabiting it. Those beings are also part of that cosmos, but the difference is that some of them are aware of how things proceed, what kinds of effects some actions can produce – both on themselves and on other creatures, and even on the non-living part of the cosmos. That is where the moral element enters.
Humans are creatures which bridge the physical and non-physical sides of reality. Unfortunately for we Westerners (and, via our invasion of every other culture, everyone else now too), we have cultivated and inculcated a way of seeing (or, more accurately, not seeing) without reference to the unseen. In other words, we have deliberately forsaken Insight, the very human and precious ability to See In. Thus, we have crippled our humanity.
Tradition is a way of acknowledging how much has been passed on to us by those who have preceded us. Traditions recognize that our forebears sowed into our lives and created things we enjoy. They gifted us, in many cases with loving intent, and with a faith that what they were passing to us would make our lives better, would enhance our ability to give back in the future. In our trendy phrase, they are saying “pay it forward”.
He said that his followers needed to be different from all this—to be like him! Everything he brought to the table as a new way, a Third Way, was bound up in knowing him and following him. It was not about a new set of rules or a new philosophical insight, or even a different way of performing religious rituals and routines—or not performing them, for that matter. He elucidated and illuminated what they already knew, declaring that the scriptures spoke about him. As we have said before, it will not do to confine him to being a sort of nice, peacenik guru saying “All you need us love, so stop being selfish and nasty.”
If Christ were not truly risen, his followers would long ago have abandoned his teaching, for it was centred on his own mission and identity as God’s final answer to humanity’s estrangement from the Creator, from one another, from our own true selves, and from the Creation we were made to care for and watch over as its intended caretakers. And if those followers had not been doing his works and were to cease now from doing them, however inadequately they have been done and are being done now, the human condition would be immeasurably worse and more hopeless.
The records as we have them certainly point to Jesus claiming divine status. As to “proof”, we must acknowledge that the Gospels in themselves do not satisfy everyone, especially in a culture now immured in scepticism. Those who accept the Gospel accounts are a dwindling minority of people. Now, when actual historical and archeological research is affirming their substance more and more, after hundreds of years of systematic (and often spurious) deconstruction and relegation to the “religious” sphere, they are seldom admitted into the rank of truly reliable historical source-documents.
Citing eye-witnesses who had nothing to gain by lying, and in fact risked their lives to testify that Jesus resurrected,Christians and the Christian Church have declared since the very first that Jesus really and absolutely died on that cross, but did not stay dead! Thirty-Six hours later, he was alive again, and he is still alive, with a real physical body, to this day. No human agency participated in his resurrection in any way. And, Christians say, he will remain alive forever.
… it very much appears that after all this enormous expenditure of scholarly energy and resources, those very sources have stood up against all of this scrutiny and profound scepticism. They have come through substantially verified and validated in great detail. How are we then to maintain with integrity this posture of automatic dismissal and ridicule of Jesus and his claims about himself as outlined in those very sources? How are we to, with integrity, summarily to discard the Jesus Movement now called Christianity which is founded on faith in those claims?