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Archive for March, 2011

In the Empyrean Moses and the Son discuss the transition to the public teaching career and some of the temptations which  might come up – both worldly and other-worldly.

MOSES:  Again, Sire, we know Father will announce his expressed approval of your incarnation in the presence of the Forerunner, but as to timing, he has not revealed whether this will come before or after your teaching mission, or during that mission.

THE SON:  Certainly it cannot come before I have proved my obedience to Father’s will in every aspect of the normal human walk with God.

MOSES:  Whenever it comes, the sign from Father is likely to present something of a crisis for you, Sire, from the perspective of your humanity.

THE SON:  So I understand.  The fullness of my human nature will be so complete that this sign will probably constitute my first real assurance of my divine pre-existence.

MOSES:  It’s going to be a lot to ‘take in’ in one afternoon.

THE SON:  Like I said, I hope to get away for awhile.

MOSES:  You will need both time and wisdom to decide whether to grasp or deny certain innate spiritual rights attached to your divine person.

THE SON:  Even with the dawning of my true self-awareness I doubt I will see the form of divinity as a thing to be grasped.  It should mean only a new phase of Father’s plan for the Incarnation.

MOSES:  The saints believe it will mean the beginning of the end, Sire.  Recognition of divinity will bring more problems than solutions.  Especially if there is resistance from the religious authorities.

THE SON:  We’re projecting a 1 to 3 year mission – probably no longer.

MOSES:  Right.  By the requirement of the No Thrones Rule you should always have in view some kind of fit termination of Father’s plan.

THE SON:  I expect to have this whole question of thrones thrust upon me soon after my recognition of divinity.

MOSES:  Sire, the issue of thrones will come up again and again.  Not only with your own self-recognition but every time somebody else recognizes your divinity – from the lowest demon to your closest follower.

THE SON:  But Moses, by that time, if anyone were to suggest that I go crashing kingdoms and playing messiah or prince, believe me I would get him behind me quickly.

MOSES:  I have no doubt that you will worship the Father eternally, and him only serve.

THE SON:  Even so.

MOSES:  There will also be immense pressure to satisfy human need by resort to your creative power.

THE SON:  Father has expressed a preference for No Bread and Circuses, but has not ruled out my discretionary use of powers.

MOSES:  if you get the people too miracle-minded, Sire, believe me you will lose control of the message in a hurry.  And miracles net you zero in the way of anybody’s saving faith anyway.

THE SON:  Right.  Well I wouldn’t think of it as far as a means of personal protection.

MOSES:  Good.  Don’t tempt the angels to get you out of a jam.  And no spectacles or crowd-pleasers.

THE SON:  It’s the ‘No Bread’ rule that’s going to be tough, Moses – tougher than Thrones, in my opinion.

MOSES:  Men do not live by bread alone, Sire.

THE SON:  Got it.  But I already feel compassion for the hungry and poor, and I’m not even one of them yet.

MOSES:  Look, Sire, if the people get a whiff of anything like mass feedings or the old ‘manna from heaven’ you are done, OK?  After that it’ll be earthly kingdoms all the way down.

THE SON:  You mean Father’s kingdom could be mistaken for a free bread program?

MOSES:  Oh verily, Sire.  And that is sure to pancake right back into Thrones.  You could get a popular groundswell to make you king, after which you won’t be able to show your face in Galilee without political harassment.

THE SON:  It really comes down to “No Circuses” then, doesn’t it?

MOSES:  Miracles and wonders are to be kept to a minimum, yes.  Solve that one and everything else should fall into place.

THE SON:  But Moses, the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf..., it’s going to be hard to stay on point.

MOSES:  I can’t tell you what do do with your compassion, Sire.

(to be continued)

Empyrean Dialogues 1 – the Annunciation

Note:  the Empyrean Dialogues is a recent experiment of mine to see if I can manage a piece of didactic fiction which both entertains a little and presents interpretations of the Bible I believe to be worthy of reflection and discussion from the standpoint of incarnation and divine pre-existence.

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In the Empyrean Moses and the Son discuss possibilities surrounding the transition to Phase 2 of Father’s plan of salvation.

MOSES:  You have convinced me, Sire, that you can be a man in full and still live in obedience to Father’s ‘No dynasties’ rule – his prohibition of your leaving any progeny.

THE SON:  You say ‘his prohibition,’ Moses, but in fact my Father has left the ultimate decision, in this and in all matters, to my own free choice.

MOSES:  Oh yeah.  As if…

THE SON:  Nay, hear me out – for example the ‘No thrones’ rule.  Do you think I will not have power on Earth to take a throne if I willed it, and to have dominion over all the kingdoms of the world – and the glory of them too?

MOSES:  That’s a devil of a question, Sire.   But a Messianic kingdom after the second-temple ideal?  I just don’t see it.

THE SON:  I am only speaking of the sovereign power to make it so, Moses.

MOSES:  OK, if you want Israel’s acceptance badly enough you might be tempted in that regard.  But it is my understanding, Sire, that your sovereignty waits upon a day of Father’s own choosing.

THE SON:  Yes, he has appointed a day in which he will make known to me in full his satisfaction with my conduct of life in the flesh.

MOSES:  A day that’s on nobody’s calendars except his.  Some of the saints hold that this ‘day of sovereignty’ won’t come until you have been obedient unto death.

THE SON:  We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, Moses …

MOSES:  Well most of us, Sire, believe Father may reveal his first sign as early as the transition to Phase 2 of his plan – as a judgment of your successful completion of Phase 1.

THE SON:  It’s controversial, but the end of Phase 1 makes sense to me also, if Father truly esteems the early walk with God in any man’s life.

MOSES:  In any case Father has made it clear that at some point, in some manner, he will have it known in no uncertain terms that he is well-pleased with his Son.

THE SON:  I understand it won’t be generally broadcast.

MOSES:    If Father has to repeat himself, it won’t be for your benefit.  But it won’t be a complete secret.  He has indicated he wants the Forerunner present for it.

THE SON:  Yes, John will be witness to our fulfillment of all righteousness.

MOSES:  All righteousness in so far as that can be reasonably manifest in a man’s life.   But the full requirement of the Incarnation is not met until you have also died a man’s death.

THE SON:  To return to my original point, Moses.  Once I have this sign from Father, I can’t imagine I will not recognize therein a confirmation of my own divine identity.

MOSES:  I see where you’re going with this.

THE SON:  Self-conscious recognition of my divinity will entail both a realization of sovereign power and absolute freedom of action.

MOSES:  Sire, whether you attain command of 12 legions of angels early or late doesn’t change the need to do the divine kenosis right – especially if you have not yet been tested unto the shedding of blood.

THE SON:  Let’s keep this about the transition to Phase 2.

MOSES:  Right.  Before Phase 2 gets underway, you will have some monumental choices to make in regard to your conduct of affairs in the business of bringing Father’s message to Israel.  Especially if Father has already vouched for your identity.

THE SON:  I hope I can get away for a few weeks.

(to be continued)

Empyrean Dialogues 1 – Annunciation

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if Jesus was in fact praying the Psalms on the cross, Mark supplies the origin (Ps 22:1) and Luke the terminus (Ps 31:5) of the Lord’s final conscious string of prayer.

According to Mark, Jesus is heard by bystanders to have spoken from the cross words which are found in Psalm 22:1, “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34).  Most commentators will admit (even if they disagree) that an old interpretation of this text claims that Jesus might well have been ‘praying the Psalms’ to himself in Aramaic during that last forsaken hour.

However, Mark further relates that these bystanders believed Jesus was calling Elijah, and offered Jesus a sop of soldier’s wine, waiting to see if Elijah would come for him.  It is not until after this interlude that physical death comes when, as Mark writes, Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last (Mk 15:37).

According to Luke, the addition at Mk 15:37 doesn’t tell the whole story.  Luke has reason to report that the last loud cry which Mark reports on the lips of Jesus just before he breathed his last was in the form of actual words:  “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!”  Unbelieving Jesus scholars won’t like this, but I think Luke’s report of more speech is easier to accept than the idea of Jesus letting rip with one of those hideous screams that actors use when playing the bad guy falling off the cliff – AAAAUUGH!  Seriously?

Luke has given us a beautiful devotional window opening onto the mind of Jesus at the hour of his death.  Because these words reported by Luke are also from the Psalms (31:5).  This means that if Jesus was in fact praying the Psalms on the cross, Mark supplies the origin (Ps 22:1) and Luke the terminus (Ps 31:5) of the Lord’s final conscious string of prayer.

For Lent, then, it might be worth a shot to try ‘praying the Psalms’ with Jesus from the cross (Ps 22:1 – 31:5).  In faith imagine that you are experiencing a bit of what was actually passing through the mind of the Christ in the last few minutes of his material existence.  Put a little cheap wine on your tongue somewhere in the middle of it all.

PS – My word-count 2,302 is based on an English version I found online and copied to word processing for tabulation (minus choir directions and verse numbers).  I don’t know what it is in Aramaic.

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[Revised 06 Mar 2011]

A year ago I mentioned that I thought arguments supporting the literacy of Jesus offered some surprising theological insights.  I touched on it again in May.  To me it is still a question with fascinating implications for the doctrines of faith, of spirit, of divine and secular history, and of the Word of God:

Granted a probability exists that Jesus was able to read and write – what might have been his reasons for deciding not to leave his own teachings, memoirs, etc., in written form?

My position has been that a literate Jesus could only have judged that the consequences of leaving such artifacts were potentially unfavorable for the spread of his Gospel.  That sounds paradoxical and counter-intuitive, but I think it is very interesting to ponder the negatives.

1.  Jesus was reluctant to quench the Spirit

What could possibly be wrong with sponsoring a permanently fossilized, absolute specimen of truth, to be revered by the surviving community even before his death (and resurrection)?  I hope you see my point.  I think Jesus is always looking ahead to the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.  A permanent and authoritative text in his name would be the one immovable historical force most capable of frustrating the higher mission of the great truth-seeking Spirit which was to come.

Jesus might even have seen at first hand the power of supposedly inerrant ‘scriptures’ to frustrate new life – in the negative effects of prevailing Jewish attitudes toward their scriptures upon his own mission.

2. Jesus was unwilling to risk corruption of the text

We might also postulate self-censorship for Jesus on the grounds that he recognized that no writing of the period could actually be safe from corruption over time.  Here Jesus would be making a very canny move to frustrate any chance that a document carrying the absolute weight of his personal authority might nevertheless be edited, manipulated, or falsified by later copyists and well-meaning editors.

Conclusion

Two things may be inferred from this one very non-miraculous feature in the life of Christ – that he could read and write his native tongue.

(1) Jesus was depending on the Holy Spirit for a kind of assistance that would be compromised by perfect character portraits and a verbatim transmission of doctrine.

(2) Jesus took a negative view of the suitability of ‘historical’ records (even scripture) to be direct purveyors of his transcendent Truth.

NOTE:  I’m celebrating the blog’s 1-year anniversary by starting a policy of revisiting topics from year-ago posts.  I think attachment of a ‘second chapter’ to some of those topics will allow me to develop my thoughts in the light of a year’s growth.  It will also keep me honest in some of those cases where I promised a ‘continuation’ which never materialized.

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In the Empyrean Moses continues to brief the Son on known elements of Father’s plan for the early phase of the Incarnation.  Moses wonders if Father’s ‘No dynasties’ rule will require too much of the Son as a youth ‘in the fullness of his humanity,’ and sees potential problems with temptations of the flesh.

MOSES:  I think it must be daunting, Sire, to know Father’s will in regard to your abstinence from marriage even as you contemplate a life in the flesh – including adolescence and young manhood.

THE SON:  So you are concerned that as very man I will be subject to temptation as to marriage?

MOSES:  It is difficult for me to see two things, Sire.  (1) how you will prevail without a direct revelation, and (2) if you avoid marriage, how your total experience will be compensated for this lack.

THE SON:  What you don’t see, Moses, is the wedding feast which Father has already prepared for me from before the foundation of the world.

MOSES:  I’m taking that to mean you’re fine as to compensation.  But it doesn’t tell me how Father’s will of abstinence for you gets into your human mind early enough to forestall the off-chance of a budding romance.

THE SON:  In almost every generation, Moses, we’ve seen young men forego present pleasures in the interest of a high destiny.  And my increasing awareness of my role and its dynastic implications should support my resolve in this matter as I get older.

MOSES:  But this whole business of ‘increasing awareness’ is really what has me flummoxed, Sire.

THE SON:  It’s a high subject, Moses.

MOSES:  I realize you’re not at liberty to divulge Father’s secrets in detail, Sire.  But I don’t see how he gets ‘very man’ in the flesh in a situation where you are so ‘very God’ that a cool-headed choice is assured in the face of any and all temptations, however early they might come up.

THE SON:  Honestly, Moses, what kind of society do you think the Jews are running down there?  The youth in the small towns are not off-leash.  With God’s help this kind of temptation ‘comes up’ with many young men without determining them to sin.

MOSES:  It is a fact, Sire, that with the present set of younger clergy and scribes we see a certain number married and some single.

THE SON:  And not all of them are transgressors against purity either inside or outside of wedlock.

MOSES:  Certainly not all, Sire.

THE SON:  So it’s not impossible for a man to order his life in accordance with the Law in this regard.

MOSES:  I agree that it’s not going to be an issue if you get enough time to realize it’s a matter of obedience.

THE SON:  Perhaps it is well then, that as the eldest son of a carpenter I will find duties of apprenticeship, and Torah study, and a dozen other interests close at hand.

MOSES:  All likely to postpone considerations of marriage.  And now you mention it, consider also the influence of your mother, Sire.

THE SON:  No doubt.  After her audience with our divine minister we cannot imagine she will not have something to contribute in terms of my self-concept and view of destiny.

MOSES:  A Jewish mother with an agenda is practically fool-proof, Sire.  I recall Hannah’s steady encouragement of Samuel, and his very early sense of mission.

THE SON:  I want to discuss issues of temptation and Father’s will in more depth in a minute, Moses.  But first, I notice you failed to see a second set of problems with my unmarried state.

MOSES:  Given that you can resist the usual temptations, what else could go wrong?

THE SON:  What could go wrong is that there are always going to be men driven to imitate me in externals.

MOSES:  I get it.  You’re worried that too many will imagine that a true ministry in your name requires they shun marriage.

THE SON:  I’m hoping to completely discourage the idea by calling married men as apostles.

MOSES:  Good.  And I also understand Father wants women in the ministry.

THE SON:  Absolutely.  Even in the days of my flesh – we see both ideas as a package which should provide unassailable proof that heaven has ordained not only a married apostleship but a woman’s ministry of equal status.

MOSES:  We’ll see how that works.

(to be continued)

Empyrean Dialogues 5 – God’s Plan, Phase 1

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