At first glance, her view seems powerful in its simplicity. It is true that Jesus lives. But what does that mean? For some people it will mean that Jesus lives as a memory. For others it is a metaphor. For orthodox believers, it is that Jesus is literally alive.
While a simple statement is attractive, it is inherently insufficient. Jesus didn’t leave us with the option of such a simple, stand-alone statement. His last words to his disciples before he ascended back into heaven are clear:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”
(Matthew 28:19, 20, New Living Translation)
Simply saying “Jesus lives” doesn’t begin to fulfill this order.
- We are to make disciples. This could happen with some people simply by saying “Jesus lives.” I think, though, that people might want to know a little more about this man. Why do we say “he lives?” What did he do to warrant our interest in him?
- We are to baptize them. Here, Jesus states that we are to do so in a very special way—in the name of the Trinity. How are people to know what this means if we just say “he lives?”
- We are to teach these disciples everything that Jesus has commanded us to do. This is why we need all of Scripture. The Old Testament establishes the nature of sacrifice, which will be fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus’ teachings on the Law start with the Old Testament before they expand in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ teachings are filled with encouragement, admonitions, and commands. Simply saying “Jesus lives” will not teach such things.
I hear from a lot of people who, for some reason, reject traditional Christian teachings for simplistic statements like, “Jesus lives,” or, more frequently, “all we need is love.” (sounds more like a song than a theology). In my opinion, such folk reduce faith to such things in order to avoid teachings of Jesus that are more challenging.
For example, most people hate the subject of hell. Yet Jesus, more than any one person in Scripture, speaks frequently about hell.
Matthew 5:29 "So if your eye—even if it is your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even if it is your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. "
Matthew 7:13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way."
Matthew 10:28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
Jody seems very concerned that people such as I (or DrMom) are believing men’s interpretations rather than Jesus. All we know about Jesus, though, comes from Scriptures. Jody has said,
Anyway, Dr Mom, you’ve asked me how I give meaning to “Jesus lives”. I don’t. That is what it means to be “irreducible”. Jesus gives meaning to me. He gives meaning to my life, and to my existence. He gives meaning to meaning itself. The only meaning I get from life I get through him. The only meaning I get from scriptures I get through him. He is the source of all meaning, the beginning and the end. All that there is can be reduced to him, and without him nothing that there is would even be. (humm… seems like I read something like that somewhere).
Anyway, an irreducible statement is one you can use to say other things, but one that cannot be further explained or simplified. It stands alone. It just is. It is like the smallest brick you can find to build a house. A cornerstone. Oddly, it is one that many people overlook. (I think I read that someplace too)
In thinking about it, you have put your finger exactly on the real question of our debate.
“Do the Scriptures give meaning to Jesus, or does Jesus give meaning to the Scriptures?”
The answer to that question tells us who or what we worship as our god.
With Jodie's philosophy we could simplify all knowledge. In mathematics we could say "pi is." in geography we could say "Darfur is." Psychology could be summed up as "the ego lives." There is a lot more to these fields than these simple statements reveal. it is the same with faith.
Jodie’s argument is a classic tautology: which came first, the chicken or the egg? We live in a world with both chickens and eggs, so the question serves no real purpose. So it is in our faith: Scripture is the account of Jesus. Without it we have no knowledge of him. With it we can actually discern what it is that we need to say in order to make disciples, and what we need to teach them.
Keep praying—keep the faith,