Re: [asa] Saving Christianity WAS Appeasing TE?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Fri Dec 26 2008 - 17:18:57 EST

Dave -

I did not say that it would have been helpful to add a brief phrase about the character of Jesus' earthly ministry "apart from the crucial matters presented in the creeds,"
nor did I suggest that the purpose of such an addition should have been to present Jesus as a model of Christian life. As I said in my first paragraph, it is the character of his life and ministry that tells us what the resurrection points to. Claims that Nero had been raised (which in fact were floating around the empire in the late 1st century) would have been bad news because they would have implied that the type of life typified by Nero had eschatological significance.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
  Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 4:28 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Saving Christianity WAS Appeasing TE?

  I come at the content of the creeds from a different angle. Of Christ we have birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, nothing between birth and crucifixion. The birth is that of the incarnate deity, the only being whose crucifixion produces salvation. You noted correctly that esteeming Jesus as a great teacher adds nothing, though no end of people from various cultures admire him as such, while rejecting the content of the creeds. Admiring his teaching, affirming "I try to follow his teaching" is not salvific, though it should follow faith. What would adding "He went about doing good" add? "I try to follow his benevolent example without being a Christian"? One of the common ideas is that doing good is the key to entering heaven. It seems to me that "great teacher" and "doing good" have similar effects apart from the crucial matters presented in the creeds. It seems to me that the minimal statements have special benefits. How one acts because of faith in Christ is a different matter entirely.
  Dave (ASA)

  On Fri, 26 Dec 2008 08:23:21 -0500 "George Murphy" <> writes:
    John -

    The question you raise of the extent to which the Christian message should focus on the life of Jesus as well as on the cross--resurrection event, is one that's gotten a good deal of attention recently. You certainly have a point - what happened on Calvary was not simply the crucifixion of some someone about whom we know nothing further but of a man of Israel who proclaimed the nearness of the kingdom of God and the forgiveness, lived out of complete trust in & obedience to God as his Father and who showed unqualified love and care for those in need. He was killed because of that kind of life, and the eschatological significance of the resurrection means that that kind of life gives us a glimpse of God's purpose for creation. It's unfortunate (though understandable in view of the process of their formation) that the creeds jump immediately from "born of the Virgin Mary" to "crucified under Pontius Pilate," vital as both those confessions are. It would have been better to include some brief phrase summarizing Jesus' life like the one in Peter's sermon in Acts 10:38, "he went about doing good." (I'm not proposing a formal amendment of the ecumenical creeds.)

    At the same time we have to be aware that some folks who want to give more emphasis to Jesus' life and teachings do so because they don't think that his death had any redemptive effect. (In addition of course the resurrection, in anything like the sense that Christians have believed, may be denied.) Jesus can't be allowed to be made simply a member of the Great Teachers Club. While Jesus' teachings and actions during his life should be examples and motivations for the lives of Christians, the reason that we are Christians stems from the faith that the one who taught and did those things was crucified and raised.


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Received on Fri Dec 26 17:19:24 2008

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