I believe I left off with Maryology. I love Maryology. I truly believe we are supposed to be (metaphorical) Marys for the world -- we are supposed to be the God bearers (theotokas) in the world. I heard once that we may be the only Bible that some people read. I believe that is our mission, to carry God, to carry the Word to the world. Anyway . . . I digress.
I believe it is essential that Mary was fully human. Jesus had to be born with all the trappings of original sin. Now, don't go saying that I said Jesus was born with original sin. That's not what I said. That's an entirely different topic. If God became human, I believe that shows an ontological shift for God. We were incapable of moving ourselves closer to God, so God moved closer to us.
While the divinity of Jesus is important, I believe we get that. I can understand that Jesus was God. We seem to have trouble understanding that Jesus was human -- like us. He laughed, cried, told jokes, went to the bathroom, had headaches, toothaches (poor dental coverage in the 1st Century). He got angry; he may have suffered bouts of insomnia. He was hungry, and thirsty. He was like us. He experienced what we experience.
But Jesus was also God. He loved like only God can -- fully, in your face, confrontationally, unconditionally. In truth, I don't think we know what do with divine love. I have a wonderful friend (a former brother in ministry) who preached the gospel -- he preached the love of God. When I had my spirit and my heart broken, he was there to pick me up, to show me God's love for me. And yet, he could not believe the love that he preached. He could not believe that God loved him, that God forgave him, even him, and he self-destructed. And the truth of the matter is that God's love is overwhelming. I don't pretend to understand how God could love me, how God could forgive me. I know what I've done. I asked in the last post about whether or not we could worship a God who could forgive us.
This is the question. How can God forgive us? I believe God can forgive us because God lived as one of us, because God felt our brokeness. God felt our hurts, our alienation, our lonliness, our shame. God took our brokeness upon God's self, and responded with love. When confronted with divine love, we (humanity) responded with the cross. Often, we fear what we don't understand, and we don't understand God's love. Moreover, what we fear, we often try to destroy, and so we tried. We tried all the way to the cross. I don't know have any theological weight to explain this, but somehow I believe that Jesus experienced every sin on the cross -- he felt every sin from mine to the Sho-ah. He took on every sin, all sin, Sin itself.
And it was enough to kill him. It's important to say that Jesus wasn't pretending to be dead. It's not like he was faking it, or just passed out. Jesus really, really died on the cross. Sin killed him. On the last men's Walk to Emmaus I worked, one of the pastoral team said something that really struck me as particularly apt. When we forgive someone, we take on the consequences of their action. The example (I think it was) Jason (or maybe Bill) was gave the thrown baseball. If you throw a baseball through my window and break it, you owe some money. If I forgive you of that burden, then I take on that burden -- I pay for the window. Don't push this example too far -- you'll end up back with St. Anselm and Cur Deus Homo.
But hear this, Paul wasn't kidding when he said that the wages of Sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin will kill us. Sin does kill us. In my head I always think of Sin as Mestophales -- so cunning, promising good things, but those same things we think we want, usually are not what we need and are often the very worst for us. As an example, consider this: I love junk food. I could live on hamburgers and pizza, but hamburgers and pizza will raise my bad cholestoral level, raise my blood pressure, and they will kill me. Morever, Sin alienates us from one another. We were created for relationship (with God and with each other). If I eat nothing but hamburgers and pizza, I'll be as big as my house, unable to leave my house, and I will have fractured my relationship with others. Moreover, science has shown that junk food like hamburgers and pizza release neurotransmitters of joy (happy feeling stuff) in our brains, like drugs, or dark chocolate. In essence, we can become almost addicted to this food. It can become our obsession, our God, and then we've fractured our relationship with God.
The wages of Sin is death. This isn't metaphorical. Sin kills. It killed Jesus. Jesus took on the consequences of Sin. He died. But that's not the end of the story.
Now for some undeveloped theories. Billy Abraham (google him) makes it a point to say that in atonement, God makes an ontological shift toward us. Schubert Ogden (google him) wrote that the Christ event (that is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) re-presents salvation to us. In the end, I would lump Ogden in the narrative theology of atonement group (I'm skipping some steps here; it's worth reading Ogden on your own). I find this inadequate. Yes, on one hand, the narrative of the Christ event does re-present the possibility of salvation to each of us individually. We all make the choice. But if God ontologically moved toward us, it's God who's done the work, not us.
Billy also goes on to say that atonement has to be bi-lateral. God moved toward us, and we move toward God. I like to think of the empty tomb accounts. The women come to the tomb. The women come toward God. In my mind (as yet, this is still an undeveloped theory), the women were the first to move toward God, even if they didn't know that was what they were doing.
I think somehow, all of us come to the empty tomb. Sin killed Jesus, but as I said above, that is not the end. Sin does not have the last word. Death is not the end of that story. We come to the empty tomb, like Peter and the beloved disciple, hoping to see for ourselves that the story isn't over. Some of us come, like the women, believing the story is over, ready to bury the one who took on our Sin, but he will not be buried. He lives. Some of us can't even bring ourselves to the empty tomb -- it's too much to believe. And Jesus walks through walls and tells us, like Thomas to touch the wounds. Each of us comes to a point where we have to choose to believe that the tomb is empty and Jesus is risen indeed, or we choose not to believe.
In exploring this with my theological sparring partner, Br Scot, I asked, but what if the women hadn't come to the tomb? What if we didn't move toward God? I don't know the answer to the 'what ifs' of this particular story, but I believe God would have found another way. Br Scot's answer to this was, do you have to know what God is doing for God to work in your life? But it still come down to this; we have a faithful step that we must take, an epistemic step to take. We have to choose to believe or accept that what has been told to us, or revealed to us is true. In that step, we are shifted ontologically (notice the use of the passive voice). We do not change ourselves, but we are changed. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever would believe in him would not perish, but have eternal life (paraphrase of John 3:16).
So can I worship a God who could forgive me? Yes. If I can be forgiven, if my sin is forgiven, then the worst of humanity's sin is also forgiven. Sin is sin is sin in God's eyes. Jesus forgave all sin -- even those we can't forgive yet. If I can accept my own forgiveness, then I can accept (even if I don't understand) that God's forgiveness is for all.
Well, bring on the hole-pokers. I want to be ready for questions, so seriously, ask me now, when I have to look for answers. I would rather hear them now, not in my mock-board of ordained ministry interview.