The Curmudgeon


Sunday, October 07, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: John 17 viii-xii

Immediately before His arrest, Jesus addresses a long prayer to His Father, in the course of which He pronounces His mission on earth complete and states that He is praying only for the elect, who belong both to His Father and Himself.

Having informed His Father that His work is done, and that He has acquired disciples who believe in the Father, Jesus hastens to make clear that He is praying for these disciples only: He has no interest whatever in saving anyone whom the Father may have destined for outer darkness with wailing and gnashing of teeth. This is a shrewd and necessary manoeuvre to protect Himself from the Father's notorious jealousy, which has always led to the most unfortunate consequences for anyone who provokes it.

Jesus proclaims that the disciples belong both to the Father and to Himself, and boasts that He, Jesus, is glorified in them. This is normal enough rhetoric for an ambitious heir to a powerful ruler: while ostentatiously acknowledging the Father's supreme authority, Jesus also drops a hint about His own capabilities. In linking His glory with His work of recruiting disciples, Jesus reminds His Father of the reward which He feels He has earned by completing His errand of proclaiming the approaching purge of the Father's flawed and sinful creation. Jesus informs the Father that although He is no longer in the world, His disciples are still there, and requests the Father to look after them. The Son and hopeful heir thereby demonstrates His personal concern for the disciples as newly-acquired assets of the family business.

Emulating His Father, Jesus takes no responsibility for the flaws which the Father has built into His creation. Far from seeking to redeem the world, Jesus regards it as entirely separate from Himself, and as something from which, by His ministry, He has redeemed not quite all of His disciples. The exception is the betrayer, the "son of destruction" as opposed to the Father of fire and brimstone, who has damned himself throughout eternity for the evidently unforgivable crime of fulfilling the holy scriptures.


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