Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jesus Brainteaser

In honor of Jesus' impending birthday, I've decided to offer yet another lame poll. Yes. Even more lame than the last, which despite a last minute rally conducted by the Sgt. Gracy fan club, declared comic book super-detective Dick Tracy a bigger Crimebuster than greenbelt enthusiast Sgt. Paul Gracy of Seattle's West Precinct.

So, Jesus. The problem with Jesus was that his dad was already God. This creates a bit of a problem for those who would just as soon leave polytheism to the pagans. Christianity, as you recall, is distinctly of the monotheistic persuasion. So, as the saying goes, hilarity ensues. There are various solutions.

Trinitarianism is far and away the most popular choice, and perhaps the most bizarre. This, says Wikipedia, "the doctrine that God is one being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a mutual indwelling of three persons (not to be confused by "person"[3]): the Father, the Son (incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth), and the Holy Spirit. Since the 4th century, in both Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, this doctrine has been stated as "three persons in one God," all three of whom, as distinct and co-eternal persons, are of one indivisible Divine essence, a simple being. The doctrine also teaches that the Son Himself has two distinct natures, one fully divine and the other fully human, united in a hypostatic union.

I totally love the hypostatic union part.

The simpler solution is Binitarianism, which says that God is absolutely one being, and yet there is twoness in God. That being the Father and the Son. I think of this as the Occam's razor solution, but oddly, this was always very much a minority position and now more so than ever.

Then we have the eminently sensible Unitarian position, which avoids the whole mess altogether by holding that Jesus was a great man, perhaps even supernatural, but not God. Unitarians, if they pray, do so to God, not Jesus, or some combination thereof.

On the other hand, God might be a turnip. So I thought I'd include that possibility as well.

So, in honor of the baby Jesus, what do you say? God is 3 in 1, 2 in 1, or just 1? Or a turnip? As always, vote at top right

Of last week's 852 visitors, a full 31 felt moved to weigh in on this thorny theologixal dilemma. By 2-1 margin, the turnip wins!


donna said...

Realize you're being sardonic, but feel like taking the bait and responding lamely in kind:

Dogmas are embodied—they come from a particular place, time, and mindset. They are culturally embedded. The concept of the Trinity developed out of Greek thinking in the 4th and 5th centuries.

Main problem with the trinitarian dogma developed at the Council at Chalcedon (451 CE) is that in our language today, the concept "person" means something significantly different than what it meant back then. Thus the doctrine necessarily breaks down.

Language limps anyway when we try to talk about divinity.

How you ask questions, such as in your blog poll, shapes what you will find.

Given that, the turnip is a tempting choice, but I'm feeling a little constrained by the available options and so abstain from voting at the present time.

Dr. Wes Browning said...

If Christianity were any normal religion, one that minded its own business like a proper religion should, I, not being Christian, wouldn't presume to answer the question posed. But, since Christians by their own presumptions have made themselves and their beliefs a huge inescapable part of my life and culture, I have a stake in their business that they foist on me, and I think, "What the hell?"

OK. I AM a polytheist, so my first thought is, what's your problem? You got three gods. Enjoy.

But then I realize that if you have three gods, it does away with a lot of the fun of being monotheistic. There goes the hammer you hold over the non-believers heads, the one that says, there's only one god, and He is Ours. You've opened the door. If there's three, why can't there be 30?

So I am going to tell you what to do. Tell everyone there is but one God, and He is the Turnip of all turnips, and, if you do not believe in Him, you are doomed to be eternally cut-off from the Great Turnip. You will be a Great Turnip snip.

Sally said...

God may or may not be a turnip. I hope not because I don't like turnips. If indeed he is a turnip, then he is not god. If he is not god, then it doesn't matter what we think; it would be like voting on whether gravity exists, which I think has been proven. However--or, rather, anyway, or something--I fail to see how trinitarianism can be reconciled with anyone's view of one god. The several centuries the early Christians spent killing each other over that conundrum ended up with the last group standing owning the dogma, but not really proving anything. But then I'm not Christian and don't have to worry about it, and as far as I can see, that's the ideal state.

Mark said...

You forgot to put on the voting list God is water. H2O. Without it there would be no life on earth, and it seems to be everywhere in the universe. It is chemically densest/heaviest at 4 degrees C in liquid form, without this feature the earth would be frozen. Has no calorie's when consumed.Water

Tlazolteotl said...

Ha ha ha! It looks like all of your respondents (including me) watch way too much Blackadder!

bill said...

reductionism as revealed in polling simply creates the same boxed-in view of (G)(g)od that you lament. Belief is the conundrum for everybody; yea verily, even the Unitarians. Reading an interesting book by a woman leaving behind church (yea, verily, she is christian, and was clergy), who hangs onto the words from said Jesus, said often btw, "behold." It means, "look at, regard, see," and can even include, "respect, honor, trust." Maybe, Tim-on-the-faith-crusade, you ought to break outta the belief box (get outta card comes free with every breath)and behold what's lived as faith,... figure a poll for us ordinary humans that, as this writer suggests, is about not ink (in sacred texts) but about blood (spilled or flowing or both).

Tim Harris said...

I take it that's a vote for the Trinity? Hate to see God's Tripod lose out, even on a dumb Blogger poll, to a root vegetable? Maybe you could start a campaign to put the three-in-one solution out in the lead?

Faith is a feat I haven't been able to pull off in 47 years, so, compelling as your arguments may be, I'm still the theological train wreck of an existentialist I was five minutes ago.

Marsh Terry said...

What would Jesus Christ say if he came back for his birthday party? He’d say: JESUS CHRIST ! ! ! ! !

1-2-3? (Was/is there a female monotheistic deity or is the office not only anthropomorphic but a guy thing as well?)

Question: Before we could count to 9 wasn't it all virgin birth?

Look, somebody’s got to say it, . . . .God is love. There. Not turnip, not water, not cosmic muffin, not a solo, a duo or a trio, but the better angel(s) of our nature (god damn but I feel better).

Sally said...

Can we have a week after C'mas when everyone doesn't obsess about the J word? Or even the G word; my reading of God (and yes, it IS texts because humans have always written what they think about) doesn't present the necessity to constantly discuss whose belief is right/wrong/likely/attractive/quirky/"hot". In whatever form you wish to view the god phenomenon--even the lurid vision of a murdered god--the unavoidable conclusion from this miasma which surrounds us is that we are the only animals in the world equipped to be stewards over it. We can clearly see how well that's worked out so far. In kabbalistic terms, we haven't been trying hard enough to find the shining shards trapped among the gross particles and put those damned vessels of light back together again.

Bill said...

on eof my favorite religious works isn't religious at all,... Sheldon Kopp's, "If you meet Buddha on the road, Kill him!" In the back he has his 100 plus or minus "realities" that is a large way make more sense than much of what we profess/confess/obsess over. Without the copy in front of me, the most remembered line is, "This is it!" It is very Kazantzakis' Zorba,... live like nothing else comes next.

Anitra said...

All of the above. Everybody is a heretic; some of us are honest heretics who recognize that nobody has the same image of God -- or of Life, the Universe, or Anything -- and yet we all live in the same reality, whatever It truly is.

All of the most long-lasting wisdom traditions stress the importance of how we treat each other, over all dogma. You are loved, so is everyone else, act like it -- this is the sole, repeated message, and if we aren't living that way, God might as well be a turnip. said...

This cannot have effect in actual fact, that's what I consider.