Monday, September 1, 2008

The Philosophy of Jesus

"Having a clear faith... is often labelled today as a fundamentalism. ...
Whereas relativism... looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's
" Pope Benedict XVI

Relativism pervades every aspect of our thinking; it is the rejection of any notion of absolute truth, or absolute right or wrong. Upon objective examination, most eastern religions and modern philosophies can be seen to have this philosophy at their core. It may be found in the Yin and the Yang of the ancient Chinese, or in the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre.

However, before going any further down this philosophical road, I believe it is important to mention that the Jesus of the Bible rejected this world-view when he said things like “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” and, let’s be clear, no 4th Century fanatic put these words in His mouth; it was precisely this sort of statement that got Jesus “into trouble” with the religious authorities of His day, and led to his execution by the Roman Occupiers: When brought before the Roman Governor of Judea, Jesus said “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me”, to which Pilate responded “What is truth?”. You can easily imagine the cynical or even sarcastic tone of his voice, but this is indeed, the biggest question of all – and sitting on the fence all your life is just not good enough and – anyway - it is a very precarious position in which to remain.

Many Christians may not be ashamed to admit that, were it not for Jesus they would sometimes find it hard to believe in God (even though the Bible says that evidence for God is all around us). Nevertheless, saying such a thing may not be so much of an admission of weakness, but of this spiritual blindness. Most importantly, however, it highlights the importance of objectively assessing the claims of Jesus and responding to them (rather than side-stepping them) if one wants to reach a position of true enlightenment.

Having said all that, some readers may be inclined to say “How can you ask me to be objective, or to consider what you say to be objective, when it is quite clear you have already decided what you think?” But, surely, atheists are guilty of the same sort of prejudice; in that many have decided what they want to believe, and have then found satisfying evidence to back up their position...

Someone once questioned why Voltaire, the famous French atheist, took off his hat as a mark of respect when a funeral procession went by, to which Voltaire was heard to respond, "Although God and I are not on speaking terms, we can still acknowledge each other..."

That is truly a sad, self-inflicted, and unnecessary predicament in which to be.

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