Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Sign at Cana

John's account of Jesus turning water into wine in John 2:1-11 was the subject for our Deacon's sermon today. Deacon Rick briefly alluded to alternative explanations for how Jesus did it, but wisely did not support those explanations. I have heard it said that the water jars in the story must have held wine before, and that is why the water tasted like wine. This and other such explanations are said to help the modern mind accept the story because the modern mind cannot accept the supernatural. In this case, removing the supernatural miracle turns Jesus into a parlor magician and promotes His human nature over His divine nature. John's account leaves little room for these alternative explanations. There were "six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification." It is not likely that these jars were used for anything but water. Jesus ordered the jars be filled with water. Note that Jesus did not do the filling, so there was no room for a slight of hand trick. Then the "chief steward" checked the new wine out and judged it better than what they had been drinking. To my mind, the only thing a reasonable modern mind can do is either to deny the miracle altogether, or to believe that a miracle occurred.

There is of course a retired bishop of the Episcopal church who has gone beyond a simple denial of the miracle. +John Shelby Spong went so far as to suggest that the wedding at Cana was Jesus' own.

In 2000, David H. Lane President of the Wellington Christian Apologetics Soc. wrote in "APOLOGIA" The Journal of the Wellington Christian Apologetics Society vol. 7(2/3) 2000, an excellent piece entitled "Redefining God In Man’s Image (I), A Critique of Bishop John Spong’s Revised ‘Christianity’" and described Spong's theory,

"Jesus was quite probably married, most likely to
Mary Magdalene. The account in Scripture of the
Wedding at Cana of Galilee is a record of His own
marriage as ‘proved’ by the fact that He attended
it with His mother. His case is based on the fact
that the only wedding Spong has ever attended
with his mother was his own." (p.18)

It would take a miracle to make me believe John Shelby Spong.

Incredibly, the adult Sunday School class at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour is buying copies of Spong's latest book "Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell" to study this semester. (Chapter 1 is available here) I wish they all would read that entire 139 page "Apologia" vol. 7 and arm themselves with a strong defense beforehand.


  1. interesting...but may your narrow-minded tribe decrease...dramatically and soon.

  2. I think the above comment sets a record. Four words before resorting to name!

  3. Incredible...your parish teaching Sunday School from a book written by a certifiable heretic. What idiot chooses the books to be used in your classes?

    Don't you have any traditional Anglicans who could lead a class?

  4. Pewster, you know I have liberal leanings, but Spong goes too far for me.

    Every community needs its gadflys, but some of Spong's inferences are so stretched that they surely must threaten to rend the pages they are printed on. Remember his "Was Paul Gay?" piece?

  5. John,

    The material for the class is chosen by the class itself.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Robert,

    I volunteer you to attend the class. Heresies must be studied and challenged for the sake of future generations. This is your chance to practice your apologetics. Sometimes when the liberal mind witnesses the terrible end result of thinking such as Spong's, that mind be opened to start studying the scriptures for the truth. Keep us posted.

  8. Forget the typos. After all it is Monday.

  9. Sigh

    Of course, removing the miracles removes the Deity, which makes Jesus just another philosopher, which allows us to pretty much pick and choose which tenets we follow, much as we choose appetizers at a cocktail buffet.

    Anyway, I suppose that pointing out the entire miracle points to Christ's role as God/Savior, would be too prosaic. That is, the guests drank what they suppose was the best until there was no more. That is, their earthly provisions were lacking. Yet Christ intervenes and through His intervention, mere water becomes a wine more satisfying than anything mere Man can provide.

    Parlor trick, indeed.

    (BTW, I always find it amusing that people bend themselves into such bizarre shapes to poo-pooh the miracles because, "that doesn't happen in real life."

    Well, duh. That's why they're called miracles. If they happened every day, they would not be considered a sign of the Incarnation.)