Easter and the battle of the intellect

The BrothersJudd blog digs out the archives and examines Easter.

In The Essential Tension, the tension between “Greek philosophy and Jerusalem’s spiritual aspiration” is described,

An enormous amount is at stake here. “Athens” stands for the view that truth is discovered through intellect. “Jerusalem” stands for the view that truth is delivered through the insights of recognized genius. “Athens” stands for cognition, philosophy, and science. “Jerusalem” stands for the spiritual aspiration to holiness, or purity of soul.

The Thin Gruel of Experience cites a story about Thomas and the problem of a tangible source for belief.

Thomas believed because he saw. But our Lord did not call him blessed. He had been allowed to “see,” to see the hands and the side, and to touch the blessed wounds, yet he was not blessed!

Perhaps Thomas had a narrow escape from a great danger. He wanted proofs, wanted to see and touch; but then, too, it might have been rebellion deep within him, the vainglory of an intelligence that would not surrender, a sluggishness and coldness of heart. He got what he asked for: a look and a touch. But it must have been a concession he deplored having received, when he thought on it afterwards. He could have believed and been saved, not because he got what he demanded; he could have believed because God’s mercy had touched his heart and given him the grace of interior vision, the gift of the opening of the heart, and of its surrender.

Men by Themselves Are Priced looks at the implications of how we see our faults.

Our unwillingness to see our sins as they really are, as God sees them, leads us to embrace another falsehood: that is, that we can make things right. Even though our culture is, in many respects, post-Christian, it still clings to the idea of redemption. However, just as with our ideas about sin and guilt, our ideas about redemption are pitiful and impoverished. … One need not believe directly in this truth to understand that it is the only basis for a decent state.

The, at Slate, Larry Hurtado takes a historical perspective about Why Was Jesus Crucified? that touches on the efforts to sanitize the process as a means of trying to come to grips with the horror.

In fact, Jesus’ crucifixion posed a whole clutch of potential problems for early Christians. It meant that at the origin and heart of their faith was a state execution and that their revered savior had been tried and found guilty by the representative of Roman imperial authority. This likely made a good many people wonder if the Christians weren’t some seriously subversive movement. It was, at least, not the sort of group that readily appealed to those who cared about their social standing.

Jesus’ crucifixion represented a collision between Jesus and Roman governmental authority, an obvious liability to early Christian efforts to promote their faith. Yet, remarkably, they somehow succeeded. Centuries of subsequent Christian tradition have made the image of the crucified Jesus so familiar that the offensiveness of the event that it portrays has been almost completely lost.

The intellect is in a battle. It demands, like Thomas, to see tangible evidence and to have an understandable hypothesis – one that we can model in terms of our everyday experience. There are times when this demand is not met and this is one of them.

Comments are closed.