Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Do not be Misled by the "Fifth-columnist in the soul"

Much of my days are spent with my mind busily engaged in solving work related problems or in conversations with students and co-workers. The business of travelling from spot to spot either on foot or by vehicle takes up a small fraction of time, and after getting home, I have a set schedule of completing office work, Bible study, and at least an hour of practice on my 88's. During its idle moments, my brain prefers to "veg out" ingesting some mindless nonsense from the idiot box,

Most of us can probably count on one hand the minutes in a day that we think about existential questions or the time that we have set aside to spend with God.

When we do think about God, all too often we do so when drawn to read articles with "grabber" headlines that promise something new and different such as this one that recently appeared in the Huffington Post,
"The Bible Unlocked: It took Two Jesus Children to Make THE Jesus"
Now that title should turn a few heads. The problem is that it might also turn a few minds away from Christ. Let me quote from the article,

"I have written about this in detail in my book Who is Jesus : What is Christ, Vol 1. Why mainstream theologians do not explore this information is a mystery. Others have written about it and some artists have painted the two Jesus children. In this painting Raphael has painted them with John the Baptist and the Luke Jesus’ mother."

Madonna Del Duca di Terranuova by Raphael (Wikipedia)

"Not only that but also these children were born at different times. The Matthew Jesus was older, born at the time when Herod ordered all male children to be killed To make sense of this story we also need to keep in mind that Jesus and Christ are different beings. Matthew states it clearly when we read the original Greek. Immediately after the genealogy he writes: 'Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.' In the original Greek it says, tou de iesou christou he gennesis outos ne which more accurately translates as ‘of the yet anointed Jesus the origin thus was’. Christ comes from christos, a Greek word meaning ‘anointed.’ Matthew is saying Jesus is yet [to be] anointed, Christen-ed, which points to the future baptism."
Before that can happen, these two Jesus children will become one. We read about this event in Luke when his parents lost track of him. They found him three days later and he was a changed person.
In our busy world, people want the new and controversial. Nobody wants to take the time to look up traditional interpretations such as this one,
Why are there different genealogies for Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3?
There are differences of opinion with two main options being offered. The first is that one genealogy is for Mary and the other is for Joseph. It was customary to mention the genealogy through the father even though it was clearly known that it was through Mary....The Bible should be interpreted in the context of its literary style, culture, and history. Breaking up genealogies into male and female representations was acceptable in the ancient Near East culture since it was often impolite to speak of women without proper conditions being met: male presence, etc. Therefore, one genealogy might be of Mary and the other of Joseph even though both mention Joseph. In other words, the Mary genealogy was counted 'in' Joseph and under his headship.
I am not going to go any deeper into the debates over the two genealogies, and the controversial stance of the author of the Huffington Post piece is provided to show how we can be easily led down rabbit trails once we are tempted to leave the traditional path.

Is there something inside us that is working to keep us away from traditional Christianity? Is there something trying to draw us away from God, the very person that we should desire more than life itself? Is it our own highly touted "Reason"?

There may be, as C.S. Lewis once put it, a fifth-columnist at work within us. A fifth columnist is defined as a person within a country at war who is sympathetic to or working for its enemies.
Just as the Christian has his moments when the clamor of this visible and audible world is so persistent and the whisper of the spiritual world so faint that faith and reason can hardly stick to their guns, so, as I well remember, the atheist too has his moments of shuddering misgiving, of an all but irresistible suspicion that old tales may after all be true, that something or someone from outside may at any moment break into his neat, explicable, mechanical universe. Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that….
He is pointing out a difference between conviction and Faith. Conviction obtained through reason will not sustain you in the spiritual battle. You must have Faith, and Faith has to be practiced until it is a habit. Daily prayer, regular corporate worship remain vitally important to the Christian because there are forces (like articles in the Huffington Post) constantly at work whittling away at our convictions.

Lewis continues,
Reason may win truths; without Faith she will retain them just so long as Satan pleases. There is nothing we cannot be made to believe or disbelieve. If we wish to be rational, not now and then, but constantly, we must pray for the gift of Faith, for the power to go on believing not in the teeth of reason but in the teeth of lust and terror and jealousy and boredom and indifference that which reason, authority, or experience, or all three, have once delivered to us for truth.  
C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids, MI, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), pp. 41-43.
Here, he says that Reason itself is dependent on Faith. Without Faith our Reason will eventually succumb to the power of "This fifth-columnist in the soul."

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