The Curmudgeon


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Mark 10 xvii-xxvii

A wealthy man approaches Jesus and asks what he should do to inherit eternal life; Jesus replies that he should keep the commandments of Moses. When the man responds that he has kept these commandments since his youth, Jesus tells him to sell everything he owns and give the proceeds to the poor, in return for treasure in heaven; and then to follow Him. The man departs in sorrow, and Jesus proclaims that the wealthy will find it extremely difficult to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples ask who can be saved, Jesus replies that it is impossible for human beings, but that everything is possible for God.

Addressed by the young man as "good teacher", Jesus rejects the title and states that only God is good. He thereby admits His own moral imperfection as a preliminary to claiming that the only way to attain eternal life is to follow Him. The combination of false modesty with brazen arrogance is of course characteristic, as witness the many occasions on which Jesus demanded that His followers do the will of His Father in Heaven, without troubling to indicate how His Father's will might diverge from His own fallible and no doubt infinitely humbler predilections.

All things are possible with God, but not with humanity. This is because God created human beings in such a way that certain things are impossible for them. Indeed, God made it so difficult for certain human beings to avoid the fires of Hell that it would be easier to force a camel through a needle's eye than to herd certain people through St Peter's gates. The argument that humanity is free to choose God is therefore an irrelevance, since Jesus explicitly states that salvation is unattainable for human beings without the whimsical intervention of His Father.

Attaining the kingdom of Heaven is so difficult as to be humanly impossible according to the judgement of God's own Son, who presumably ought to know. Since all things are possible for God, it was undoubtedly possible for Him to have created a humanity more susceptible to redemption; but He did not choose to take that merciful course, preferring instead to consign the vast majority of His creation to eternal torment as a penalty for the imperfections with which He personally endowed it.


  • At 3:23 am , Anonymous Brian M said...

    If Nature did not take delight in blood,
    She would have made more easy ways to good.
    We that are bound by vows and by promotion,
    With pomp of holy sacrifice and rites,
    To teach belief in good and still devotion,
    To preach of heaven's wonders and delights —
    Yet, when each of us in his own heart looks,
    He finds the God there far unlike his books.

    Chorus of Priests.

    Oh wearisome Condition of Humanity!
    Born under one law, to another bound:
    Vainly begot and yet forbidden vanity,
    Created sick, commanded to be sound:

    -Baron Fulke Grenville

  • At 6:21 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    "He who orders his slave to do things which he knows him to be incapable of doing, and then punishes him, is a fool."

    Abu 'Isa al-Warraq


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