Jesus and Time and Eternity
“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.”
Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2.
Buy the book on Amazon. $5.95. Author: Michael H. Ducey
A Prefatory Note
The argument in JTE can be summarized as follows:
First, contemporary science eliminates certain traditional features of Christianity;
Second, the scientific rationale for these removals,
Third, we can replace these features in a contemporary form of the legacy of Jesus of Nazareth.
Three features of traditional Christianity are eliminated by contemporary science: 1. Original sin, 2. The claim that Jesus “died for your sins”, 3. Transubstantiation.
Original sin is eliminated because the document hypothesis reveals that Genesis 1-11 is not historical, but rather a faith-based speculation about the beginning of human history. Such speculation was widely distributed in middle-eastern cultures of the time when it was composed. Furthermore, the paleontology of homo sapiens reveals that there were thousands of multi-local generations of humans before the revelation of Yahweh to Abraham.
The claim that “Jesus died for your sins” — enunciated in the “Lamb of God” declaration of John the Baptist in John 1, 29, and thereafter in Christian sources for the next 2,000 years – is eliminated because careful examination reveals that this declaration was the product of a popular Jewish belief in the animal sacrifice paradigm. This belief was not shared by the prophetic tradition in Israel, and is contradicted by subsequent human learning that forgiveness of sins is accomplished by the simple conscious human act of repentance.
Transubstantiation is eliminated because examination of its adoption reveals that it was a thirteenth century case of Orwellian doublespeak, the classic defensive move by a traumatized psyche to support an emotionally necessary choice. In this case the necessity was the pandemic trauma being experienced in Europe by the turbulence of tribal migrations.
Rationales and Implications.
Original sin is introduced in Romans 5, 12: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
This is wrong. There never was an “Adam”. Paul could not possibly have known this. In fact Christians in general could not have known this until scientific study of the Bible revealed the distinctive character of Genesis 1-11.
Once Adam is removed, original sin is removed, and the question of justification is rendered moot. All human beings have intimate connection with God by reason of the fact that they exist.
Paul declares the sacrificial death of Jesus in Rom. 3, 25:
“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.”
This is a transparent allusion to Leviticus 17, 11 where God tells Moses to tell the Israelites to perform animal sacrifice (a) to escape the tenth plague in Egypt, and (b) thereafter use it for the expiation of sins. This command dates back to the Exodus, about 1300 b.c.e.
Therefore, we can reasonably claim that Leviticus 17, 11 is a case of Origen’s “divine condescension”, whereby Yahweh permitted certain practices because they were the best that could be expected at that stage of cultural evolution. We can also state with certainty that animal sacrifice (and the temple tradition) were popular beliefs, but were not shared by the prophetic tradition. (And, as a case in point, King David did not perform animal sacrifice to get forgiveness for his sin of taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite and using state power to murder him. He simply admitted guilt, repented, and composed a Psalm.)
However, when John the Apostle came to composing his Gospel, he took extreme care to correct the Synoptics’ brief account of the Last Supper, where “forgiveness of sin” appears to be of central importance.
He gives a very long description (5 chapters, 4,000 words) of the Last Supper, and does not mention blood, a covenant, or the forgiveness of sin. But he does give multiple examples of Jesus making a reference to his resurrection: “I go to prepare a place for you.”
13 33 Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
So now, with hindsight from the 21st century, we can claim that the real reason Jesus died was to demonstrate that death is merely a transition from time to eternity, and eternity is the fullness of human existence.
[And by the way, to reveal for all human beings the ultimate nature of the universe in its totality, namely, that there are two and only two states of existence in the universe. One of them is time, which includes ALL material reality. The other is eternity, which created time, rules time, and is the ultimate destiny of all humanity.]
But there was no way that John the Baptist, or Paul, or Peter, or Christians down through the centuries, could have grasped that information because there was no collateral information to support it. The Apostle John understood, but his voice remained isolated. So, Jesus “let it ride”. Until now. For us. To take advantage of it.
Transubstantiation is easier to remove, and many Christian traditions have already done so. (But they have adopted alternative sedatives to replace it.) Contemporary trauma treatment therapies have fully developed methods to relieve the stress of PTSD without resorting to oxytocin and theatrical trance induction techniques.
The Real Legacy.
After the confused speculations of the past, the real Legacy of Jesus of Nazareth needs to have certain features.
1. Mastery of the story is the key (“Biblical realism”). Biblical realism is a reading that tracks all the nuances in any account and finds eternity and time in it. That reading leads to the conclusion that your existence is your ticket to eternity, and you cannot avoid that destiny. This is what I call Good News 2.0
2. It must be recognized that Good News 2.0 is a matter of awareness and a matter of social networks. There is absolutely no hierarchical organization to join. This way, the legacy can spread globally without social obstacles.
This will be in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah (31, 34)
“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
3. Those traditional beliefs I have described, and their institutional arrangements, must be abandoned.
3. We are still in an age when humanity is fragile. Under pressure of harsh child-rearing, severe ecological challenges (the desert, the mountains) and social turbulence, the human psyche can experience unquenchable personal pain that blots out social trust and creates a predatory narcissism.
So, rational techniques of healing must be pursued. The matter of emotional health is paramount.
But mastery of the story is the key.
“The truth of science is the work of God.”