Christian Tradition Term Paper

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¶ … dialogue with my dorm mate "Doubting Thomas"

The night before a Theology 101 final

Thomas: It's all so easy for you, Christian! (My name isn't Christian, but Doubting Thomas has nicknamed me Christian, because of his devout agnosticism)

Christian: Studying?

Thomas: No, not studying. (Thomas picks up Martin Luther's book on Faith and Freedom) Believing. Although I guess it must make studying easier if you can say a few words and think the man upstairs, or JC, or whatever you call Him can help you out on the final exam.

Christian: Actually, you'd be wrong on that one -- I don't mean the studying but the believing. Heck, even Martin Luther said: "I have no wealth of faith to boast of and know how scant my supply." I pray for faith, I don't think that saying a few words like a chant is going to make me ace this final, or succeed in life.

Thomas: Huh?

Christian: The point of faith isn't that you just raise your eyes and say, 'save me.' The point of the Christian faith is that believing in God is difficult and easy at the same time. It's easy in the sense that, for example, St. Augustine had studied some of the most difficult Roman authors of his day, but found Christ when he was reading in a simple passage in the Bible, after being told by a child's voice to pick up the book and read. The simple, truthful, reality of Christ enabled Augustine to relate to God, not thinking or doing anything on an intellectual level. But believing hard as well, because you have to let God into yourself, even when your heart is hard and bitter. The nature of God and God's relationship to humanity is that God and the possibility of salvation is always there, you just have to be open to God's gift of grace and you have to be willing to believe.

Thomas: Wasn't Jesus really some Jewish rebel who was put to death by the Romans back in the first century? Haven't anthropologists pretty much proved that fact?

Christian: Of course, Christians believe that Jesus Christ was a real, physical person who walked the earth. The nature of Christ and His role in salvation is partly due to the fact that Christ lived and died for our sins, yet is immortal in the spirit. Every human person, "has a twofold nature, a spiritual and a bodily one," in the words of Luther. Christ's body can die, but He is still immortal, just as a human body can be hungry, sick, or injured, but those facts do not harm the soul.

Christian belief is not about pinpointing that Jesus walked the earth on a particular day in time. It is about Jesus' existence throughout all of human history, both before and after He was alive. That is why Luther also puts such a strong emphasis on the fact that human beings are saved by faith alone. In fact, Luther even goes so far as to say that going through the motions of going to church or contemplation, meditation, and fasts do not buy salvation. Doing the right thing and following the right laws are not enough. This is also seen in Mark's stress upon the messianic nature of Jesus' message -- the world may be corrupt, the flesh may be corrupt, but God saves the spirit.

That is also why Paul is so adamant in his letter to the "Galatians" that Christians don't need to follow Mosaic Laws. The message of Jesus was that the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law was what was important.

At first, human beings maybe needed law to behave, back in the days when an eye for an eye was considered compassionate. But now, after Christ, since humanity has evolved, humans can understand that believing with the right faith and heart results in the right behavior, not the other way around. Being told what to do doesn't make you good. It's the internal life not the external life that matters.

And Christ, not the law, was always there. This can be seen even in the Hebraic scriptures, in the words of Nathan's prophecy… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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