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Even the Bible itself can become an idol, when it becomes an end in itself. Some examples of people that can become false gods are: parents, children, teachers, athletes, entertainers, clergy, government officials, authors, employers, and friends. Any potentially good thing, person, or relationship becomes a false god when it, he, she, or they become our ultimate concern for a moment or longer.
Basically evil idols such as tyrants are easier to recognize. Because our ultimate choices affect our lives directly, the Christian religion cautions humanity about its fundamental allegiances. Commitment to the true God or to false gods determines, shapes, and sets borders on our feelings and relationships.
False gods prevent our fullest abilities to love and be loved and can even generate hatefulness or indifference. One Christian theologian has suggested that loyalty to an idol results in the exact opposite of what is expected. Yet, power used with an allegiance to the Creator can yield positive results. In Christian theology, the Creator offers redemption to humanity; he invites human beings to be delivered from the feelings and relationships caused by loyalties to idols.
In the Christian recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, Christians modify the Jewish messianic expectation that to this day includes a military and political savior who would establish an observable reign of justice and peace. Many contemporary Jews still await a Messiah who will fulfill this expectation; other Jews await not a person, but a Messianic Age of justice and peace. What is meant by a covenant with God? The Old Covenant is the one given by God to the Hebrew people. What did God promise them? God promised that they would be his people to bring all the nations of the world to him.
What response did God require from the chosen people? God required the chosen people to be faithful; to love justice, to do mercy, and to walk humbly with their God. Where is this Old Covenant to be found? The covenant with the Hebrew people is to be found in the books which we call the Old Testament. What are the Ten Commandments?
The Ten Commandments are the laws give to Moses and the people of Israel. What do we learn from these commandments? We learn two things: our duty to God, and our duty to our neighbors. What is our duty to God? What is our duty to our neighbors? What is the purpose of the Ten Commandments?
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The Ten Commandments were given to define our relationship with God and our neighbors. Since we do not fully obey them, are they useful at all? Since we do not filly obey them, we see more clearly our sin and our need for redemption. What is sin? Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation.
How does sin have power over us? Sin has power over us because we lose our liberty when our relationship with God is distorted. What is redemption? Redemption is the act of God which sets us free from the power of evil, sin, and death. How did God prepare us for redemption? God sent the prophets to call us back to himself, to show us our need for redemption, and to announce the coming of the Messiah. What is meant by the Messiah? The Messiah is one sent by God to free us from the power of sin, so that with the help of God we may live in harmony with God, within ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.
Who do we believe is the Messiah? Sources for this task have always been limited; no biography of Jesus exists. Instead, the Christian Church must rely on the New Testament and later insights. The Church selected the writings now known as the New Testament, written in Greek, during its first three hundred years. At that time Lord was a title of deepest respect. In a Jewish context, it meant that like the kings of Israel Jesus was chosen for a unique role in history.
These and other titles contribute to the New Testament portraits of Jesus primarily as they signify his acts. Thus, the various New Testament titles of Jesus remain powerful signs of the acts of his ministry rather than exhaustive explanations of his essence. It is wishful thinking to believe that all religious leaders offer the same basic teachings or point to the same God.
Many elaborate interpretations of Jesus have been proposed as theologians try to be precise. Some have been excluded as being too one-sided, others as incomplete. The Christian Church as a whole has never chosen one elaborated view as the one, true and complete explanation of Jesus and his relationship to God. Whatever else Jesus was and is, he was fully human. He was born of a human mother, a Jew named Miriam Mary. Others accept the passages literally and believe in the biological virgin birth of Jesus.
Christianity has consistently viewed Jesus as unique. His relationship with God was very special.
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From a historical perspective, we know that Jesus was born sometime between 2 and 8 B. To blame all Jews for the Crucifixion makes no more sense than holding all Italians responsible — because Pilate was Roman! The cross is proclaimed as somehow resolving the human predicament; but the predicament and its resolution can be understood in quite different ways. Mankind is shown that Jesus was totally loyal to God even though his loyalty resulted in his conviction for treason, in torture, and in death.
The Cross is an example of the extent to which human beings can hate a non-conforming, loving person. The Cross is a symbol that Jesus asks nothing of us that he has not demonstrated. Jesus sacrificed himself; he offered himself fully to God. Alone he has fulfilled the intention of God for human life, and God accepts the offering of that life. Our imperfect offerings are now acceptable when joined with his one perfect sacrifice.
Because of long-standing human sinfulness, the very fabric of the universe had become corrupted; the sacrifice of Christ to God brought about redemption restoration of all created reality. The Resurrection is a point of transition for human history: a new order of life based on love not rules, procedures, or ceremonies and based on being part of a joyous, loving fellowship, the Church, not being alone or part of a lesser fellowship has been established.
With a new meaning, Jesus is viewed as the awaited Messiah, one who brings to humanity deliverance from hardness of heart, one whose focus on love can liberate all of life, including the political.
Schillebeeckx, Edward 1914-2009
Everlasting life, begun as individuals enter the New Easter Covenant focusing on Love, continues beyond death. Without Easter, the story of Jesus would be a dismal failure; as a mere footnote at most, history would mention an unbelieved and unbelievable executed rabbi living and teaching love! Easter is in a sense celebrated whenever Christians gather for worship. Other sources include R. Norris, Understanding the Faith of the Church , pp.
Thomas, Introduction to Theology , pp.
Related Unbroken Communion: The Place and Meaning of Suffering in the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx
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