Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Christmas Conspiracy

"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him." (John 1:10 NIV).

Most Christians, even theologians, interpret this verse in such a way that the "world" represents only the Jews of Christ's day. Although fairly precise in their hermeneutics of the verse, they tend to overlook at least a couple of key principles in its application:
  1. The verse was written by the apostle John long after Jesus Christ had ascended into heaven. Note that John, who was Jewish, used the word, kosmos (world), instead of the word, Ioudaios (Jews).
  2. John intended this to apply to his current world, while the Spirit of God intends to apply it to even the 21st century.
To start appreciating what this verse is telling us, let us first assume that the "world" represents the Jews. The Jews were quite literate in their knowledge of prophecy. They knew the the Messiah was coming and that He would be their King and Savior. However, they had pre-conceived notions of how a king enters into his kingdom. They envisioned a king who would come in all his glory with heralds announcing his arrival and every step. They knew that the Messiah is the Son of God but they could only imagine that He would enter into space and time as a mature adult, handsome and dashing, regal and rich, etc, etc.

Christian scripture has shown at least a couple of errors in the Jewish expectations. First, they did not realize that the messiah would visit the earth twice and hence, missed the first advent. Second, they had a worldly concept of sovereignty and hence, missed the coming of the suffering servant. Hence, it is plausible to interpret John's writing of "the world did not recognize Him" as " the Jews did not recognize Him".

But lest we Christians start becoming content with our views or even arrogantly so, let us be reminded that mainstream Christianity today is vastly influenced by a neoplatonic form of classical theology which views the concept of God's sovereignty as no different than the expectation of the Jews before that first Christmas night. Isn't our concept of sovereignty such that God is in total control of everything, nothing happens that He does not know, He even knows, controls and has predetermined our futures up to a microscopic sense? Although it is true that God may opt to exercise His sovereignty as such, many of us, especially hyper-Calvinists, believe that that is what God has actually done, that He CANNOT (does not have the capacity or ability) to do less than exercise total control over His creation! Isn't it also true that many elitist theologians actually preach the absolute impassability of God...that God actually WILL not and CANNOT change His mind regardless of the prayers of His people or creatures?

It seems obvious that had Christ decided to be incarnate during our time, we (who may not be Jewish) would NOT have recognized Him at all! We would have expected, based on our theologies, a King whom we cannot hide even our thoughts from, who has an absolute will, and that we would be just a little more dignified than mere robots in His predetermined world? Such a far far cry from the Baby Jesus! This God-man who emptied Himself before the incarnation of all attributes that would make Him obvious as God and King. No omnipotence, he had to be carried in Mary's womb, Joseph had to flee to Egypt to protect Him, Herod could have killed Him had he caught up with His flight. He could not even talk in mature human language! No omniscience, the angel had to warn Joseph instead of the Baby Jesus all of a sudden sitting up and declaring to Joseph that Herod was coming with murder in mind.

Again, no omnipotence. Otherwise, he would have told Joseph that there was absolutely no need to flee to Egypt, since the Baby Jesus Himself could crush Herod with His bare hands, nay, with just a word or breath from His mouth!

No omnipresence! He could not be in Egypt and Bethlehem at the same time! Better, yet He was not in China during His birth in Bethlehem. Christ literally EMPTIED Himself as Paul declared in Philippians 2.

It must be noted that while the Bible seems to agree that the God it declares, indeed, has such powers, it is just as obvious to the open-minded reader that God has sovereignly chosen not to exercise His powers absolutely. This God is sovereign, yes! But John himself in his Gospel and his epistles has declared many times that "God is LOVE". Nowhere has he or it been declared as manifestly obvious or in the most explicit terms that God is Sovereign. Nay, there is not in scripture even a word that is closely synonymous to that declaration (except, perhaps "Almighty" which means something else apart from the classical concept of Sovereignty).

So what makes God, God? What makes Jesus God? It cannot be omniscience, omnipotence nor omnipresence! Otherwise, Christ CEASED to be God during the Incarnation. No, but Christ is Love since God is Love. Love is an attribute that Christ could not empty Himself of. Otherwise, Christ ceased or ceases to be God. Christ cannot empty Himself of grace, truth and faithfulness as well. These are necessary divine attributes. God ceases to be God if he lost these. Christ ceases to be God if He attempted to empty Himself of these attributes.

Yes, if Christ incarnated in our age instead of 2,000 years ago, we would not have recognized Him either, and mainly because of your misleading theologies and theologians. We have adopted the world's concept of deity which is mostly absolute power and sovereignty instead of the Biblical concept of divine love, faithfulness, grace and truth. We have long subscribed so willingly and completely to a God who crushes His enemies without compunction instead of a God who can turn the other cheek and actually LOVE His enemies as demonstrated by Christ during His suffering on the cross.

Let me interject that God had literally thousands of years (which an All-Wise God does not even need!) to plan the Incarnation and He chose not to book a suite at the Waldorf Astoria! Instead He picked a smelly barn with a worse-smelling manger seething with the odor of fermenting organic animal food. He did not opt to have a reception with all royal honors and high-ranking dignitaries and famous people in attendance. He chose to the poorest shepherds to be his reception party! What a slap in the face to classical values of Sovereignty. In fact, God's use of sovereignty was to chose the lowliest to highlight the highest divine value system! This value system, Christ faithfully demonstrated during His entire Incarnated existence, so there is NO MISTAKING what the value system of God REALLY is!!!

So if, as Kingdom children, we give the world the impression that we are impressed or highly value pomp and circumstance, we should begin to question whether or not we really belong to the Kingdom of God.

Webster's defines conspiracy as a "combination of people, working in secret, for an evil or unlawful purpose."

One would think that Christmas was a divine conspiracy where man expected one thing from God after all His series of divine revelations, and yet the triune God delivered something that would make the wisest of man completely miss out. In this sense, was it evil for God to concoct such a plan? Nothing can be farther from the truth!

It does seem like a conspiracy only because of the subtle way God seems to have covered up the truth about who God really is. However, Hebrews 1 is quite clear on the way God chose to reveal Himself to man. It is the way man has attempted to recreate His God through his theological concepts apart from the clear and simple revelation of Scripture that has actually misled himself.

The conspiracy was one from Satan and fallen man. Fallen man includes even theologians. God seems to have hidden from the wise and revealed to babes. But alas, really, it is man who has blinded himself to the real God because of his dignum deo concepts which redound to the creation of an idol instead of the unfolding of the attributes of the real God, finally revealed through His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

The role of Christmas was to expose this man-devil conspiracy and demonstrate conclusively what it has been declaring for ages through the pages of Jewish Scripture on who God is and what are His attributes.

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