Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christianity and "Religion" 2

I think we'll all agree that no one has ever successfully thrown a surprise party for God. He knows the end from the beginning, so of course he knew about denominations and religious wars before the Incarnation. Perhaps he thought it was worth it.

So in answer to the question, Did Jesus come to found the religion called Christianity? I would ask in turn, Did God bring Israel out of Egypt to found a monarchy? From Deut 17:14-20 we know he was aware they would choose a king eventually, but when they actually got around to it (1 Sam 8:5ff), God wasn't pleased. Now, a lot of that had to do with motives--they wanted to depend on a human leader for military victory, not God. But if you look at the history of Israelite kings, they were generally not good. Hardly any in the eventual northern kingdom were godly at all, and few of the kings of Judah were more than nominally devout. Yet God knew there would be a monarchy, and he did chose David's line for the Messiah: it wasn't all bad.

So did God bring Israel out of Egypt to found a monarchy? No--at least, that wasn't the main idea. Was the monarchy an entirely bad, human-devised idea? No--God allowed it; it was the motivation that was the issue, and God brought good out of it, including the Messianic line.

I consider the cases analogous: God did not set out to establish a religion or a monarchy, but he didn't set out not to establish one. They were acceptable and inevitable consequences of what he was out to do.

You may agree that, given sinful human nature, they were inevitable, but acceptable? I'll try to demonstrate that next.

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