What Is Truth?
In church this week, our parish had the privilege of having the bishop officiate mass. At the beginning of his sermon, he passed on a news item that I had missed. Apparently, Pope Francis made an announcement that the Roman Church accepts evolution, and this news was reported on all the major news outlets. Just as I was feeling all smug about having known this, the went on to explain that this was not news. The Roman Church has never really had a problem with evolution; nor did the Anglican/Episcopal Church, or most of the other mainline denominations. I knew this because the parish priest (or my religion teacher; don’t exactly remember which) had told me this when I was in high school a number of years (OK, it was decades) ago. I was told that the Church had no problem with evolution as long as you believed that God was the ultimate mover behind the process.
Before church I was having a coffee at the local Starbucks and the minister of the Baptist Church that is more or less next door to my Episcopal Church came in. We had had an encounter last spring which led to an exchange of blog addresses, so he came over and we chatted. I was reading (and taking notes on) Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God, and we discussed some issues related to the growth of the various traditions that developed after the death of Jesus. And this is, essentially, what I’ve been talking about in this blog from the beginning: how the set of beliefs that originated (more or less) with Jesus ended up as the Christianity that we know today. And, basically, this is what Ehrman is doing in How Jesus Became God.
So, from reading Ehrman, to having the discussion with Jonathan, to listening to the bishop talk about the view on evolution held by the Roman and Anglican/Episcopal (etc) churches, I was struck by something. Christianity did not spring, full-grown and clad in shining armour, from the forehead of God, or Jesus, or Paul, or the evangelists. In scientific parlance, we could say it evolved. Or, to put it theological terms, we could say that Christianity came to be through a series of revelations. Step-by-step, the higher Truth was revealed to the successive authors until the corpus of what we call the NT culminated in the Gospel of John. And this is exactly how the Origin of Species was revealed to Darwin: through a series of small discoveries that led to a greater conclusion. And note that “discovery” is a viable translation for “apocalypsein”, which literally means something like “unhiding”.
Funny how different paths, different metaphors can lead to the same conclusions.
And here’s the address for Jonathan’s blog: http://theosnob.blogspot.com/
Now, since he’s an ordained minister, his take will naturally be a bit different from mine, but he writes some interesting stuff.
Posted on November 2, 2014, in epistles, General / Overview, gospels, Historical Jesus, mark's gospel, Matthew's Gospel, Paul's Letters, Special topic and tagged Bible, Bible commentary, Bible scholarship, biblical scholarship, epistles, gospel commentary, gospels, Historical Jesus, mark's gospel, New Testament, religion, St Mark, St Matthew, St Paul, theology. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.