I guess I really kind of wrote my Easter post for this year Friday, but I will link back to the Easter manifesto post I wrote a couple of years ago.
I hope you and yours have a blessed resurrection day.
I’m glad that serious thought is being put into the subject of Klingon Jesus.
I read an article on io9 recently about a panel titled “Did Jesus die for Klingons too?” that addressed issues related to Christianity and alien intelligences.
Basically, the issue is this — if there are intelligence species on other planets in the universe, then, from a Christian perspective, there seem to be two possibilities: God becomes incarnate as messiah on each one, or Christ came once to Earth, and it’s the responsibility of humans to tell the galaxy about Him.
I’ve had this conversation several times over the years, beginning with a conversation with some friends in a Mexican restaurant in Jackson, Miss., during which one of my friends argued that this was why he believed there was no extraterrestrial intelligence — the theological implications were too daunting.
Interestingly, we ended up with the same nickname for the question that this researcher, and apparently some others have, all independently — “Klingon Jesus.” If there were Klingons, would God send them a Klingon Jesus, or would we have to tell the Klingons about Jesus? Why it’s not Vulcan Jesus or Wookiee Jesus I don’t know, but Klingon Jesus seems to be the inevitable name for the quandary.
The researcher tends to disagree with the “one Jesus for all the universe” hypothesis, arguing it would make humanity too special, but I personally don’t know that, in a universe in which interplanetary cultural interactions are common place, it would necessarily be any more of a big deal than it was sharing a Jewish messiah with the rest of the world over the last 2,000 years.
There’s a related issue that this article doesn’t get into — Christ had to become a man in order to die for men; can he become a human to die for Wookiees? Or does a Wookiee have to die for Wookiees for it to be equivalent? I suppose the same argument applies — how much different is it from a Jew dying for an aborigine? Answer: I have no idea.
The other issue that this article barely touches on that has been central to some of the discussions I’ve had is the issue of original sin and Jesus as the second Adam. One could argue that, for a human Jesus to die for the sins of other intelligences, they must have been without sin prior to the Garden of Eden on Earth; that no species anywhere was fallen prior to the Terran Fall. And that just seems unlikely, and thus a seeming argument for multiple planetary messiahs. (Which in turn begs for speculative Christian science fiction — what would have happened if a planet which was in its post-messianic era had made first contact with Earth between the fall and the coming of Christ — could humans have been saved by another species’ incarnation of Christ during that period?)
My favorite implication of this is that, really, until humans know that either there is no extraterrestrial intelligence in the galaxy or that the multiple planetary messiah theory is correct, it is arguably a Christian theological imperative to support space travel, lest aliens who need to hear not receive the word of Jesus.
“Go ye therefore for into all nations (on all planets) …”
So, what do you think? Are their aliens out there? And, if so, is there a Klingon Jesus?
Another Sunday teaching kids at Sojourn. This week, the lesson was about respect.
It was interesting timing; I came out of last week annoyed and frustrated at the lack of respect that a small number of the kids had shown to me and their peers during the lesson. Frankly, I really didn’t want to have to teach this particular lesson to that particular group; it seemed very much like a case of casting pearls before swine.
As it turned out, those kids weren’t there anyway. It was a much smaller group, and pretty much the opposite of the class from the month before — rather than being too disruptive, they were too quiet; it was hard to get answers to questions initially (though they eventually warmed up a bit).
The lesson was out of Matthew 8. A Roman centurion comes up to Jesus and tells him his servant is sick. Jesus says, “No problem, I’ll go heal him.” And the centurion says, “Dude, you don’t have to do that. I know you can just give the word, and he’ll be better.” The centurion explains that, being an officer over large group of soldiers, he gets the idea of authority. All he has to do is give the order, and what he orders will be done. He gets that Jesus has an even greater version of that sort of authority. “You give the order, Jesus, and it’s done.” Jesus is all impressed, saying that in all of Israel He’s never met anybody with faith like that. He tells the centurion he can go home, that He’s healed the servant like he asked.
It’s a cool story. I like the stories were somebody gets it. The stories where Jesus is happy, the ones where, without it being written, you know He’s grinning. I’ve written before that I think there are a lot more of these than we acknowledge; tone of voice can completely change the meaning of the same words. I think people tend to read Jesus as dour when there was actually a grin on His face or a sparkle in His eyes. I think Jesus had a huge smile when Peter fell in the water and Jesus called him “ye of little faith.” But all of that’s beside the point. There’s no question Jesus was proud of this guy for getting it.
The lesson was about respect, and we talked about that. For the centurion, life was about authority. If he had a problem, he gave the order for it to be resolved. If he couldn’t, he went up the ladder to someone who could. If he lacked the authority, he would go to someone with more authority. He expected respect from those with less authority; he gave it to people with more authority. Jesus had authority to do something he couldn’t, so he respected Him. The kids and I talked about ways they could show respect to God.
But the authority part of it is fascinating, too. The centurion had authority over life or death. At his word, he could cause someone to die. Conversely, he could allow someone to continue to live. He got that as Proverbs 18:21 says, “the tongue has the power of life and death.” He had no reason not to believe that Jesus could order healing for the servant. We fail with that sometimes. We believe in the theory of an omnipotent God, but we have trouble with the reality of it. We have trouble with the fact that a God who could do everything could do anything.
What can your God do?
This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This post’s topic is “Hell.”
Today’s post is going to deal with heresy that I think is actually a bit too far out there for me.
These are some things that I have trouble accepting myself, that I don’t see as being Bibically-consistent, but that raise some interesting questions or possibilities to use as diagnostic tools for examining what I do believe.
Because, you know, really, hell is a difficult subject.
I’m empathetic to the question of why a loving God would send people to hell. I disagree with it — I don’t believe God sends anyone to hell — but I’m empathetic to it. I believe He allows people to choose hell. He doesn’t want them to, but will let them if they’re so inclined. He throws us the rope to escape it, but won’t make us grab it.
But even then, I still struggle with it. People do stupid things. It’s in our nature. It’s unavoidable. And God, being omniscient, knows that. Free will is great and all, but eternal damnation is a high price to pay for making a stupid, human decision. How does a loving God allow us to bear so high a cost for a stupid and, in the context of eternity, momentary lapse? It’s not even, really, an informed decision; we’re called to make the choice without having experience with either heaven or hell or even the cognitive ability to truly understand them.
And I don’t claim to have the answer. Don’t claim to begin to understand. There are times when the most spiritually honest and mature answer you can give is “I don’t know,” and for me this is one of them.
But I’ll share three things I’m not ready to believe that do color my thinking; three fascinating bits of heresy to play with in your free time. Continue reading
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
OK, I wish I could lay claim to this insight myself, but, the truth is, a friend of mine talked yesterday about this passage, in a way I’d never thought about before.
What was Jesus saying in the last verse? Every time I’ve heard someone talk about this, and every time I’ve read it before, the disappointment is obvious. Peter could have done it. He knew it was possible to walk on water, and, yet, even knowing that, he faltered. There was no reason he couldn’t have done it if he truly believed, and yet he didn’t. His faith could be so great, and yet was so little. “Oh you of little faith.”
But just a slight difference in intonation of those few words changes the whole passage. Yes, Peter had little faith. But maybe that’s not a bad thing. At that point, how many people in the world had any faith in Christ at all? And how many had the faith to say, “If it’s You, call, and I’ll come”? Maybe Peter’s “little” faith isn’t in comparison to great faith, but in comparison to none at all. After all, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”* Peter’s faith was little, but even a little is incredibly powerful.
So what if the tone wasn’t disappointment, but pride and encouragement? Christ sees Peter moving along his journey from a world without faith to a man of great faith, taking another step along that journey — on the waves! He’s proud, and encourages Peter to continue forward.
“Oh, you of little faith! Why did you doubt?”
Strong praise, indeed.