A Low-High Christology
(You’re here. Feel free to edit or add comments. Really. ☙ Joshua)
Christ became shame for us. We must fear no other shame. It was customary with mankind to heap shame on all kinds of offenses, both of one’s own doing and of others’; to heap shame on the sick; to heap shame on the victims of violence; to heap shame on the children of rape and the vanquished.
Consider the two ancient stories of Jesus’ birth. In one, Mary was immaculate, a virgin miraculously with child, which was the eternal WORD; and Joseph, though the child was not his, did not put her away. In the other, Panthera, a Roman soldier, fathered a child by Mary; and Joseph, though the child was not his, did not put her away. The Son of God could be no son of man, nor Mary any natural mother; but with God, all things are possible. For of course with God the events can follow the miraculous path: The question is whether the natural line of reasoning can be salvaged.
Son of God and Son of Man, two natures united in one body: consider for a moment two histories, at a place in time where the timeline actually came unraveled, torn apart by the immensity of the entrance of the WORD, so that two worlds were united, never to be distinguished again. (It is for our sake that this seem to be so, to make conceivable what we find strictly, logically, even mathematically impossible.)
Take a divine perspective. There are worlds that can be defined and, if they are good, given subjective experience, their beings endowed with souls and beauty. Ours was one of these potentialities, most beautiful in its fierce simplicity, but apparently bound for death. In order for the fleshly world to survive, it was necessary to find a way within its own rules for it to be lifted up. To add rules is to speak of a different world instead. And this is not a world altogether without miracle, though miracle is muted. It could be done simply enough, of course: Let the WORD dwell with us.
All of the sober histories are replete with miraculous events, from Greece and India through to the Middle Ages. One possibility is that these were fantasies; another is that they took place with such regularity as to warrant some curiosity but nothing more. Which was the case cannot be discerned from the record alone. But we have, in Christ, the historical person in whom were merged the worlds, in the subjection of them all to the lowest of them all. The Christians slew the dragons and cut down the height of Rome. By the modern period, when unholy tortures became commonplace, the memory was consigned to literature and fairy tales. But again, perhaps it never really happened; that is the point.
Worry forced wonder from the world. It was necessary that it happen. The LORD meant for us to enter into rest, where what work we do is full of meaning, like child’s play. In clutching tightly we made it impossible for God to work anything without hurting us; we hoarded today’s manna for tomorrow, transmuting free gifts into irksome labor.
So the Jews had their invisible god when everyone else had visible gods; their gods were gurus and idols and all manner of things that actually procure signs and wonders. The Jews had musty scrolls and an empty inner sanctum. But their God was a God beyond reference: however far you point to indicate Him, you have fallen short and invented a false god. So the Jews take care never to point to anything as god that is other than God.
Therefore to the Jews, Jesus must be thought the son of Panthera. To proceed otherwise would be the dereliction of the awesome faith entrusted to them, of forever pointing to the unpointable-to. Jesus had a claim to be, by this confession, by blood a Roman citizen, with Roman rights. Yet He would not speak a word in His own defense. Pilate saw in Christ a King and a God. It was unthinkable to kill Him: But no faithful way out remained. The law by which he ought to die, “because he made himself the Son of God,” was law as much for the actual Son of God as for anyone else: and Jesus was faithful to the operation of the law unto death. He forced us to kill Him.
Jesus was the resurrection and the life. If the resurrection die, what remains to raise it? We are told: It was the Spirit that was in Him that raised Him.
Dreams are miraculous, too. They are the smallest ineradicable light of the ineffable in the human being; even sleep we would have snuffed out if we could. However closely you look you will only find random neuronal firing — the biological brain finding an excuse for the substance of the dream. The working of God is so embedded in physics that even the most stringent cross-questioning amounts to nothing. Randomness is only an apparent fact: The LORD settles it all.
The LORD is such a basic fact of our reality that there is no speaking of physics without His operation. The mistake is to take Him for a machine, systematically carrying out laws, when rather He dearly loves the creatures He sustains. But we had to do it. We had to take reality for a machine so that one last reality — ours, now — could be folded in.
It was for the sake of our nature, the very definition of us, that this has all been done. Just as Moses could have spoken to the stone and had water, we could have asked for Sabbath and had rest. The most dangerous thing about this reality is that God’s power suffuses every corner of it. It really should have gone very badly: But what the LORD builds goes well.
Not two worlds, nor four, are joined, but all of them: the incommensurate subjective realities of all the conscious things. You do not have your way in all things because you are not alone. Rejoice in your travails.
The universe lies in bondage, and old and dead. Its natural life flourished and has passed. We are late and last of all: Ours is a second generation sun; Ours is an Earth reborn from the wreck of an older; and life has lasted long here because the impossible moon stirs tides. Here is life’s last stand. That moment in Jerusalem was the culmination of the hopes of mankind. Our hopes were dashed: For we had caught a bigger God than we ever dreamed we could. This is a mystery in which no one in all the infinite cosmos could quite believe — no one except the Jewess named Mary, whose son, the Son of God, she reared, and those who carry on the Faith.