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Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Controversial Figure

Sometimes I have a yearning for absolute proof that Jesus walked on water and did every miracle mentioned in the Gospels including rising from the dead.  But I have no confidence that should such evidence be forthcoming that it would make Jesus any less a controversial figure.  For what makes Jesus controversial is what he represents.  The more you could prove he was who he said he was, the more the tempest would rage.  It remains the message that wrangles. For starters, he affirms the virtue of humility.  I can think of powerful people who would fire him on the spot from any leadership role based on that preference alone.  His stance that legalisms arise from a motivation of self-righteousness would inflame many confident in their rectitude. His refusal to embrace worldly power and position would confirm many in their belief that he is unfit for the world of realpolitik and the dirty things that must be done to succeed. To forgive your enemies and pray for them rather than destroying them sounds like something from an alien planet.  His belief that hypocrisy is not a given to be lived down to seems to be affirmed only by hypocrites.  Insisting that love should have something to do with public life and that everyone should be considered a neighbor would offend those with a high level of status consciousness.  Jesus would be controversial today for the same reason he was controversial two thousand years ago.  Considering his locale, he had the misfortune of taking holiness seriously.

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