Thursday, 14 June 2012

Mysteries of Christophanies

Was Jesus the son of God, and did he come to die for our sins?  I don't believe so, but most Christians do.

Some Christians also claim that Jesus - yes Jesus -  inspired the Old Testament of the bible even though it was written centuries before his birth.  Some also believe that Jesus even appeared in Old Testament times, and that he manifested himself as and angel or another character.  Examples commonly claimed as 'Christophanies' (as they are called) include the mysterious fourth character in the furnace in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and the angel that Jacob wrestled with.

A Christophany - the mysterious recognition of the son of god

Their logic is that Jesus is God and that God inspired the writings.  They see nothing illogical in this way of thinking.  The idea does not come from the bible itself as the trinity was only fully developed a few hundred years later.  Some of the blame for the idea of Jesus appearing in the Old Testament can be blamed on Gregory Thaumaturgus who said:

"There is therefore nothing created, nothing greater or less (literally, nothing subject) in the Trinity, nothing superadded, as though it had not existed before, but never been without the Son, nor the Son without the Spirit; and this same Trinity is immutable and unalterable forever"

If these unfounded assumptions are correct and Jesus inspired the writings in the bible, what are we to make of the following two verses?  Being God, he must have known how he would have to die on the cross to redeem sinners

Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16, NIV)

The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. (Ezekiel 18:20, NIV)

Apparently Muslims see these verses as confirming their beliefs that Christianity's doctrine of redemption is wrong. They understand these verses to mean that each person can only bear their own sin.  Its not often that you will hear me agreeing with the teachings of Islam, but you can see why they would think this.

The Christian counter-argument seems to be that this is not the case, because both of these verses are referring to a person living under the covenant of the Torah (the Law of Moses). Deuteronomy 24:16 is part of the Torah itself.

Wasn't Jesus living under the Torah then?  He was still a Jew when he died.  And anyway, didn't Jesus say that he had not come to change one jot or tittle of the law?

The more you read of the ancient texts, the more you realise that none of it hangs together.  Redemption is just part of bronze-age scapegoat thinking.

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