The Jesus Paradox: Tempered Religion 03-17-2017

The Jesus Paradox tempers hierarchical social structures with universalism, reminding us that ultimately God isn’t limited or qualified in any way. This allows for mutual respect among world religions. This prevents us from taking hierarchical thinking to its tragic totalitarian end. This prevents us from thinking our race, class, gender, nation, or religion is superior.

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The Jesus Paradox tempers universalism. It reminds us that the religious form handed to us has a built-in primal orthodoxy that can’t be tampered with, without the risk of unraveling the whole tapestry. If we tamper with the basis of God’s particular testament to Christians (God’s human form), we twist our faith into something no longer recognizably Christian. The Jesus Paradox tempers God’s universal eternal essence with God’s distinct human form revealed in time. The Jesus Paradox tempers the infinite with the finite. It sets rocks around the holy fire. It sets a human cloak upon the Great Mystery. It reveals eternity in time.

Only foods that meet certain nutritional standards are edible and nourishing to the human body. That’s why the father advises his four year old not to drink paint. In the same way only ideas that conform to certain bare-bones standards of faith are nourishing to a faith tradition. That’s why the mystics advise against both absolutism and relativism. If Christian faith loses sight of the central paradox, Jesus, then our tradition is vulnerable to corruption. Then greenhorn Christians will drink the kerosene of fundamentalism and the paint of the new age. The mystics are clear. We can’t undermine the relationship between Jesus’ “full” Divinity and “full” humanity. The Jesus Paradox protects the two aspects, while loosely defining their dynamic interplay.[1]

Fundamentalism says Jesus is the ultimate reality. New age says God, who is beyond all names and forms, is the ultimate reality. The Jesus Paradox says God, who is ultimately beyond names and forms, came to us in human form.

 

[1] Christ’s Divinity and humanity is the key to the fundamentalist/new age debate. The economy of the incarnation keeps fundamentalism in check by always qualifying Jesus’ Divinity with his humanity. The economy of the incarnation also always keeps new agers in check by qualifying Jesus’ humanity with his Divinity…

This is precisely the point that will provoke fundamentalists and will incur their wrath. Because for most fundamentalists, Jesus is God, end of story.(Some Fundamentalists may take to a variation on the same theme—that Jesus is the only way to God. And here they will invariably quote the passage from John, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the God except through me” (John 14:6)). Yet, this scripture shouldn’t be taken out of John’s context. John’s second century church was trying to define itself over and against the Synagogue. There were many hard feelings because John’s church was persecuted by the Synagogue. So, passages such as this reflect animosity toward the Jews, particular to the context of John’s Gospel. . . “Hey, if you don’t accept Jesus, you’re damned! How do you like that?!” This passage is not in sync with the all inclusive love of Christ, reflected most clearly in the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Miaphysite gives the balanced view, which is more in keeping with the Synoptic Gospels—that Jesus is God in human form, not God in the unqualified sense. And here is where Miaphysites turn to Paul’s words—that Jesus “emptied himself” in order to be “born in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7). The idea here is the second person of the Trinity must have laid aside some powers and activities in order to take human form. This isn’t to say that God divests God’s self of any Divine properties in Jesus (God’s full Divinity remains in him). God simply limits God’s own activities in the incarnation. This is referred to as “the economy of the incarnation.”

 

David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings.  Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program  created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners, and then guides us experientially through core prayers and meditations.