Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jesus and the Scandal of Self-Reference

It is characteristic of great religious teachers that they are self-effacing.  Jesus seems quite different.  He was constantly remembered as saying outrageous things about himself, like: "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).  "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:27).  These ring with absurdity unless there is a plausible premise behind them that can help them make sense.  One of the most shocking aspects of the New Testament is the frequency with which Jesus makes reference to himself, his mission, his sonship, his coming kingdom.  No wonder he is regarded as delusional by some amateur psychiatrists whose naturalistic assumptions rule out taking seriously his own explanation of himself.

Compounding the irony, all of this was said by one who most earnestly taught humility and urged others to "become as little children."  Preaching meekness, he warned his hearers against self-centeredness, and when they quarreled over who would be the greatest, he corrected them (Mark 10:35-45).  Either he did not follow his own teaching at all, or there must have been something utterly unique about him that enabled him to teach from a very different premise of authority than anyone else.  The most shocking hypothesis is simply to suppose that he was telling the truth about himself and that reports of him were substantially accurate.  This is the faith of classic Christianity.

~ Thomas C. Oden, Classic Christianity (2009)

1 comment:

Thesauros said...

Of course Jesus' humility is completely obvious when on considers that this was Creator God, Lord of lords and King of kings who stepped down from His throne and became one of us.