I read a post and the comments that followed it. I will not quote the post nor will I quote the entire comment. The post was about a scientist being denied tenure at a university, i. e. a permanent position, because he felt God had something to do with the creation of our universe. Basically, the comment was about “Jesus’ words about people thinking they are serving God by killing believers…”
We do not live in a perfect world. Terrorists wrap bomb(s) around themselves and wreak destruction in the name of God. In short, we have killed thinking that we were “serving God” (the Crusades, Jews, sorceresses, etc.).
Jesus and the Christian Church as an Institution
Yes, we have killed in the name of God. Jesus, however, did not leave a sacred text and he talked in “parables” which is what a fabulist does, according to La Fontaine (see his Preface to his first volume of fables (1668), paragraph 6. Jesus, Isa ibn Maryam, did not write a sacred text nor did he found a Church. There were followers of Christ before 325 AD (CE), but the Christian Church was not founded until the First Council of Nicaea, which took place near the current Istanbul, Turkey. The Christian Church was founded under Roman Emperor Constantine I (27 February 272 CE – 22 May 337 CE), Saint Constantine or Saint Constantine the Great, Equal-to-the-Apostles, in the Eastern Church (Orthodox). (See Constantine the Great, Wikipedia.) Istanbul was first named Byzantium, It was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. On 11 May 330 AD, it became Constantinople, the holy see of the Christian Church. (See Constantinople, Wikipedia.) Constantinople was renamed Istanbul after the Turkish War of Independence, fought between 19 May 1919 and 24 July 1923.
The Sermon on the Mount: the Beatitudes
I have asked several theologians about the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. After studying the Gospels, reports not sacred texts, they have concluded that Jesus taught what is often summarized as “unconditional love,” (mercy, compassion, etc).
Matthew‘s account (5: 3-12 KJV) of the Sermon on the Mount discusses the Beatitudes, expressed as “blessings.” (See Beatitudes [a list], Wikipedia.)
“In almost all cases the phrases used in the Beatitudes are familiar from an Old Testament context, but in the sermon Jesus gives them new meaning. Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction[.]” (See Sermon on the Mount, Wikipedia)
French Enlightenment writer and philosopher Voltaire (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778) advocated two freedoms, “freedom of religion, freedom of speech,” and the “separation of church and state.” However, although he attacked “the established Catholic Church,” he could not deny God a role in Creation:
« Ce monde est une horloge et cette horloge a besoin d’un horloger. » in Poésies et « L’univers m’embarrasse, et je ne puis songer / Que cette horloge existe et n’ait point d’horloger » in Les Cabales de Voltaire (1694-1778).
“This world is a clock and this clock needs a clockmaker.” in Poésies and “I am intrigued by the universe, and cannot help thinking / That this clock should exist and there not be a clockmaker.”
There is “candour” in Voltaire’s statement. He is the author of Candide (1762). If God is good why did He allow such a calamity as the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon. It destroyed the city and its surroundings. (See 1755 Lisbon earthquake, Wikipedia.)
One can also say that, if there is a God, why did He allow Otto Warmbier to die. Not only is nature cruel, but so are certain human beings. Evil is a problem.
These are the “big” questions. The human condition is a “big” question. We are born and we give birth, but we die. One accident can shatter our dreams, take away a person’s dearest, perfectly legitimate and realistic expectations.
On the day my mother died, I sat next to her and spent hours telling her that she would see her dead children, her mother, her brothers and sisters, and angels everywhere. On that day, had there not been a God, I would have invented a God, a clockmaker, and an afterlife, which is perhaps the finest gift nature has bestowed upon us. We die, poor or rich, but we also live and can make our life and the life of those we know a happier passage. We can create and overcome what is otherwise absurd (see Albert Camus, Wikipedia). We compensate.
No, we should not kill in the name of God. We must protect our planet, be good and spread what happiness we can.
Sources and Resources
- Fables de La Fontaine, I – VI, Gutenberg [EBook #17941] FR
Haydn – The Creation (Die Schöpfung, Hob. XXI:2) – The Heavens are Telling
© Micheline Walker
30 June 2017