Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Gospel According to Oddball

Sgt. Oddball from Kelly's Heroes is obviously a Christian:


Theophilus said...

Father Hollywood:

This is a follow-up to a previous conversation in which you gave me a long list of Bible verses to check out which you thought proved the divinity of Jesus.

Of all the verses from the Gospels you presented as testimony to Jesus’ deity, the words of Thomas are for me the most difficult to refute, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:19-29) But let me try, looking at this story through the lens of Jesus’ covenant-gospel.

After Jesus’ resurrection we find the disciples coming together to try to understand what had happened. “Jesus came and stood among them.” I take this to mean that the disciples began to call back to their memories and discuss with one another the words Jesus had previously spoken to them, his covenant-gospel message. Hopefully, they would find comfort and hope in those words.

It is important here to be reminded that Jesus embodied the message he received from his heavenly Father. This means that Jesus and his message cannot be separated. They are one. Proclaiming Jesus means proclaiming his word. Proclaiming his word means proclaiming Jesus.
“Jesus came and stood among them” in the sense that his word was recalled into their presence. Where Jesus’ word is present, he is present. “Peace be with you” is a very brief summary of Jesus’ entire message. Jesus’ recalled message restored peace and joy in their hearts.

Thomas was absent the first time the disciples gathered together, but present the second time. He wanted what Jesus said “a wicked and adulterous generation” wants – visible proofs. (Matthew 12:39) Thomas would not be given visible proof, however. He would be reminded of Jesus’ word. That would be sufficient. After hearing Jesus’ word, he too was convinced that Jesus was truly raised from death by his heavenly Father. Yes, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” It would have been completely contradictory for Thomas to have been given visible proof. We are not given visible proofs today either, for we too live by faith alone.

There are some corruptions in this story, scribal interpretations inserted during the process of copying these Gospels, originally. “He showed them his hands and side” and “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side” are corruptions. These are visible proofs which Jesus stated clearly he would not give. Visible proofs rule out faith. What was true for Thomas is true for us: “Blessed are those who have not seen [visible proof] and yet have believed.”

Therefore, I conclude that Thomas’ exclamation of wonder and awe, “My Lord and my God,” was directed to his heavenly Father, and not to Jesus.

Theophilus, "Follower of the Way"

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Theo:

There are some gaping holes in your theory that make it dead-on-arrival:

1) Your claim that "There are some corruptions in this story, scribal interpretations inserted during the process of copying these Gospels, originally. “He showed them his hands and side” and “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side” are corruptions." is not supported by any evidence.

I checked the critical apparatus for such variations among the earliest manuscripts, and they simply aren't there.

We have to look at the proof. Otherwise, any person could simply line out any words of the Bible he doesn't especially like, claiming that such things must have been scribal errors. It reminds me of the old Saturday Night Live sketch in which Bill Clinton was using a similar kind of logic to deny the commandment against adultery.

The text says what it says. If a passage is disputed, I could see your point. But this is pure conjecture and fantasy on your part. It would be like reading the original constitution and claiming that the three-fifths clause was added later by a scribe, because it is simply inconceivable that men devoted to liberty would allow such a thing to go in the document.

A hypothesis like that has to cite some evidence. And you're offering none, other than that the incident with Thomas doesn't fit your theology.

2) The problem with your theory that the apostles are not seeing the fleshly Jesus after His resurrection, but are rather only *talking about* Him is that it makes no sense according to the text.

In verse 19, we are specifically told that the doors were locked. If they were just having a nice round-table discussion, this information would not be relevant. They were started to hear *and see* Jesus. Look at the verbs: *came* and *stood.* This is incarnational, physical language. Words on a page or called to mind cannot "stand."

3) When Thomas exclaims: "My Lord and my God," he is not simply blurting out "OMG!" like a 13-year old girl with a BlackBerry. Look carefully at the text: "Thomas *answered* (apekrithe) and said *unto Him* (auto)..." (John 20:26).

He *answered* and said *to Him*. He did not *exclaim."

Do you have evidence that the Gospel of John as we have it has been corrupted? Of the 5,700 early manuscripts of the New Testament, are there any that support your "scribal addition theory"?

And again, Theo, you have claimed that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead physically and literally, and yet you interpret John 20 in the same way that atheists do, that Jesus "appearing" to them is just a nice way of saying they remembered His words in their hearts, and so He "lives on" in a figurative, and not a literal, way.

You can't have it both ways.

Did Jesus physically rise from the dead and appear to His disciples in the flesh, or not?

Theophilus said...

Father Hollywood:

I appreciate your passionate response, as always.

Four brief points here:

1. The disciples behind locked doors are not talking ABOUT Jesus. They are recalling his actual words to them. Where Jesus’ word (actual message) is present, Jesus himself is present, not physically, however. If Jesus were physically present today, we would be able to see him with our eyes of flesh

2. It is inconceivable that Jesus would contradict his own words in Matthew 12:39, where he states that it is a “wicked and adulterous generation” that seeks visible proofs. Therefore, he would not grant visible proofs to Thomas either. Visible proofs rule out faith. This Jesus would never do. Never!

3. St. Paul is vey clear about the resurrection in I Corinthians 15:50, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” When we die, our physical bodies will return to the earth. We will be raised with spiritual bodies, as was Jesus. “They” stole Jesus’ body and reburied it elsewhere, Mary Magdalene testified. She was right! Who, I ask, folded up the cloth neatly? And who just threw the strips of linen down in a pile? Two different grave robbers, it looks like. (John 20:6-7) What is important here is that at the moment of death, Jesus committed his “spirit” into the hands of his Father. That is what I intend to do as well.

4. Where there are obvious contradictions in the Bible (like Jesus saying that he would not give visible proofs, but then he does it anyway to Thomas), it is legitimate to try to determine what is authentic and what is a corruption of the story. Atheists do not do this. Atheists are turned off when you insist that the contradictions are both true. “You cannot have it both ways” – Jesus teaching Thomas to live by faith, and Jesus giving Thomas visible proofs. Both cannot be legitimate! One has to be a corruption.

It is good to be back in contact with you again. I find these exchanges challenging and most interesting.

Theophilus, "Followers of the Way"


One-of-Us said...

When I first met Bill Cwirla, I immediately thought of this exact clip from this very movie.

Theophilus said...

Father Hollywood:

One more comment, and I will be silent regarding Thomas.

I encourage you to read my two previous comments above CAREFULLY. I do not think that you understood what I said.

I perceive that you are setting forth consistently the party line, what your church body officially teaches and what you are expected to believe. Believing that every Gospel story must be interpreted literally is apparently one of them. It would be refreshsing if ministers could be free of that bondage, free to think for themselves on occasion. This might be risky, institutionally, but refreshing for the people in the pew.

Theophilus, "Followers of the Way"