Tuesday, March 16, 2010

very early constitutionalists

By now, I hope you can anticipate my three-part answer...Second, he seems to be working from a constitutional approach of the Bible, which privileges him to pass judgment as if he were a Supreme Court justice...

Instead, this image of Jesus as a conqueror (in Revelation 19:11-16) reassures believers that the peaceful Jesus who entered Jerusalem on a donkey that day wasn't actually weak and defeated; he was in fact every bit as powerful as a Caesar on a steed...

To repeat, Revelation is not portraying Jesus returning to earth in the future, having repented of his naive gospel ways and having converted to Caesar's "realistic" Greco-Roman methods instead...

Revelation celebrates not the love of power, but the power of love. It denies, with all due audacity, that God's anointed liberator is the Divine Terminator, threatening revenge for all who refurse to honor him, growling "I'll be back!".
Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, pp 120, 124-125, 126

McLaren is dealing here with someone's quote, which clearly seens Revelation 19 as being a prophecy of Jesus' return, and one that is literal--Jesus will return as a conquering king, to being judgment to some people.

McLaren doesn't like that. He likes a pacifist Jesus, and hates it when Jesus just won't conform. So, he has to go to some lengths to try to makes the other person (isn't it against their code to disparage the other?) he quotes seem ridiculous.

Now, I think the one he quotes is someone who's around today (McLaren attaches no name to the quote, neither in the contents of the book nor in the footnotes, which seems rather iffy to me). And since it is someone who's around today, he may think he can get away with his interpretive shenanigans.

But I find it interesting that he appeals to the ancient church (a bit I did't quote here) in support for his reinterpretation, because some in the early church agreed more with McLaren's critic than with McLaren.

emphases mine
“So that you ought rather to desist from the love of strife, and repent before the great day of judgment come, wherein all those of your tribes who have pierced this Christ shall mourn as I have shown has been declared by the Scriptures. And I have explained that the Lord swore, ‘after the order of Melchizedek,’ and what this prediction means; and the prophecy of Isaiah which says, ‘His burial is taken away from the midst,’ I have already said, referred to the future burying and rising again of Christ; and I have frequently remarked that this very Christ is the Judge of all the living and the dead. And Nathan likewise, speaking to David about Him, thus continued: ‘I will be His Father, and He shall be my Son; and my mercy shall I not take away from Him, as I did from them that went before Him; and I will establish Him in my house, and in His kingdom for ever.’ And Ezekiel says, ‘There shall be no other prince in the house but He.’ For He is the chosen Priest and eternal King, the Christ, inasmuch as He is
the Son of God;
Justin Martyr, dialogue with Trypho, ch 118

For the prophets have proclaimed two advents of His: the one, that which is already past, when He came as a dishonored and suffering Man; but the second, when, according to prophecy, He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils.
Justin Martyr, First Apology of Justin, ch 52

If the Father, then, does not exercise judgment, [it follows] that judgment does not belong to Him, or that He consents to all those actions which take place; and if He does not judge, all persons will be equal, and accounted in the same condition. The advent of Christ will therefore be without an object, yea, absurd, inasmuch as [in that case] He exercises no judicial power. For “He came to divide a man against his father, and the daughter against the mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law;” and when two are in one bed, to take the one, and to leave the other; and of two women grinding at the mill, to take one and leave the other: [also] at the time of the end, to order the reapers to collect first the tares together, and bind them in bundles, and burn them with unquenchable fire, but to gather up the wheat into the barn; and to call the lambs into the kingdom prepared for them, but to send the goats into everlasting fire, which has been prepared by His Father for the devil and his angels. And why is this? Has the Word come for the ruin and for the resurrection of many? For the ruin, certainly, of those who do not believe Him, to whom also He has threatened a greater damnation in the judgment-day than that of Sodom and Gomorrah; but for the resurrection of believers, and those who do the will of His Father in heaven. If then the advent of the Son comes indeed alike to all, but is for the purpose of judging, and separating the believing from the unbelieving, since, as those who believe do His will agreeably to their own choice, and as, [also] agreeably to their own choice, the disobedient do not consent to His doctrine; it is manifest that His Father has made all in a like condition, each person having a choice of his own, and a free understanding; and that He has regard to all things, and exercises a providence over all, “making His sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sending rain upon the just and unjust.”
Irenaeus, Against Heretics, Book 5 Chapter 27

Who knew that, so early in the Church, they had the Greco-Roman constitutional view of things, even before there was a Greco-Roman constitutional view around. Too bad they didn't have McLaren around as something like a prophet, to keep them from it.

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