Sunday, 6 March 2011

More on Being Mistaken

Thanks to Rachel telling me, I see that my most recent blog post has been picked up by the theologian James McGrath and is related to such a post as this. (I'm afraid that my only cartoon of McGrath is of Alister McGrath, the open evangelical chap.)

There is a dilemma in following someone you disagree with regarding important things he said that are judged mistaken, and clearly a further dilemma if you then aggrandise that person into something more cosmic, incarnational and all the rest. I don't have that dilemma, because I am not a follower of Jesus.

I stopped doing this exercise even while I was reciting Anglican liturgies, because it was no longer a workable dilemma. Liberal Christians may indeed do it (criticise and follow), but generally I see more of a taboo at work among liberal Christians so that they can retain the package deal. They clearly treat Jesus as human, but then don't criticise as they then go in for all the theology-speak about someone who constitutes 'the body of Christ'.

My former adopted parish priest used to tell us about a former posting where his neighbour over a hedge was some sort of Prot fundy, who said that Jesus knew everything, including, for example, all about nuclear power. He knew this because he was God. This seems to me to be a logical position, but clearly bonkers. But then there was another position, in which Jesus being God could have known all about nuclear power but, in effect, chose not to do so when he 'took on' humanity. Now we all know about deinventing the nuclear bomb - you can't do it - so how you choose not to know what you do know seems odd.

Actually there was a very good Dr Who episode about self-emptying in which the good doctor put himself into a timepiece and became a humble schoolteacher and even gained an emotional relationship with a woman. In a later episode he was also able to resurrect himself from having been aged and from his prison of a bird cage against the power of the land (also resumed from a timepiece) thanks to a lot of people reciting the Doctor's name through the existing satellite network (thus a version of praying).

Back in the non-fiction world, however, people do not 'take on' humanity, but are human. They and we are limited and framed by biology and culture, and by what we can test. I don't therefore join in with the 'cult of a personality' as it has been called. Humans are born, and die, and we all make mistakes.

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