Dispatch One Hundred Sixty-Five

Posted: August 7, 2015 in Thirty-Seventh Bundle
Tags: , , , ,

JOHN 17:6-19

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Here we confront again the questions of theodicy. The term comes from two Greek words, theos (god) and diké (justice), and names the moral struggle in religiously thoughtful human beings over the relationship between the goodness of God and the injustice of human suffering and evil.

Where’s the benevolence of God, we must ask, in bringing Judas into being as a condemned man from the very beginning? As “the one destined to be lost,” was Judas without freedom to choose otherwise? Did God circumvent the betrayer’s free-will in something of a manual override, canceling out the very capacity that made him most human? If so, then how could Judas be held accountable for his actions? Is it just for God to damn a person who had no real choice in what he did? Finally, is such a God worthy of our worship?

No doubt, we are interrogating early Christian theology with questions that were not as critical and pressing then as they have become for us now. The old answer to Job’s protest against the suffering of human innocence – “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? (Job 40:9) – amounted to a suppression of the human cry for justice. In the ancient world it was not below God to do whatever he wished, however diabolical and inhumane it may be. Once the world discovered that “God is love,” the questions of theodicy have exercised the faithful.

One wonders if our condemnation of Judas has amounted to a betrayal of our own humanity.

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