Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jesus's Second Coming In the Jefferson Bible

Who knew?  This was about the last thing most modern people would expect: Thomas Jefferson's razor blade cut out everything except Jesus of Nazareth's philosophical wisdom, right?

But there's Jesus, Bigger Than Life on Judgment Day, with angels in tow and everything:

Courtesy: The Smithsonian's Interactive "Jefferson Bible"

Does this mean that Thomas Jefferson believed that Jesus Christ would come again on Judgment Day, to judge the living and the dead, to separate "the sheep from the goats?" Nobody can know. Thomas Jefferson is dead. And was he a sheep or a goat?

Some believe salvation comes from good works, being "a good person."  Jefferson did.  Others believe we are saved sola fide, by faith alone.   And as the universalists believed then and believe now, God loves both the sheeps and the goats anyways.

Who goes to heaven and who goes to hell---if there is a Hell, perhaps it's empty, everyone reconciled to their creator---is above the pay grade of this blog.  Above Jefferson's pay grade too.  Me, I don't think much of TJ the man, and if he were in charge of the Second Coming instead of Jesus, well, I'd rather take my chances with Jesus. Thomas Jefferson as my judge wouldn't think much of me either.

What I like so much about the era of the American Founding is that regardless of what answers we come up with today, they were always asking the right questions way back then.

It was an era of great confusion, but compared to our own era, it was a time of great clarity.


Setiyono said...

Hello... Good Blessing You

Jonathan Rowe said...

This is one of my favorite posts of yours. A pleasure to read.

Over at First Things they discussed the Economist on Hell and noted even very secularist and atheistic thinkers wish Osama Bin Laden rots in Hell. I left a comment noting I hope OBL rots in Hell; but I don't even think he deserves to stay there forever.

Jonathan Rowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx, Jon. But the problem with universalists is when they tell somebody to go to hell, they don't really mean it.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well I would tell someone to go to Hell for as long as they deserve. And that, to me, means a settling of cosmic accounts. You internalize and work off all the unjust pain you've caused others, minus the unjust suffering you experienced in this world. If someone molested OBL when he was a kid, he's got that on his (credit?) side (I'm not a numbers guy).

Tom Van Dyke said...

What you describe seems closer to

Jonathan Rowe said...

It could be; though the view of theistic cosmic justice that resonates with my (if there is a God, God-given) conscience, though perhaps "Judeo-Christian" in some sense, may be outside of the orthodox Christian genus, of which Roman Catholicism is a species (the common ground that Catholics have with orthodox Anglicans, reformed Protestants, and capital O Orthodox churches).

And it has to do with the "why do bad things happen to good people" question. Or perhaps, a better way of phrasing it is, why do some people UNJUSTLY suffer.

I know the orthodox evangelical Protestant response is there are no good people. Maybe. But even if I am a not, relatively speaking a "good person" (compared to Jesus) it doesn't follow that I deserve every bit of suffering that I've got (and I know, I haven't gotten nearly as much as some folks; see below).

The 5 year old victim of a molestation, in the ICU, in the war zone, in the concentration camp, did not, in a cosmically JUST sense, "deserve" this.

They have unjustly suffered, and are thus owed. Now maybe they go on to do great evil which outweighs what they are owed.

But I'm adamant on first principles. And that first principle is that folks DO unjustly suffer and thus get a credit in their cosmic bank account.

As it were, Jesus was all credit. He was perfect and deserved none of what He got. And in THIS sense the folks who get what they don't deserve here on Earth have a connection with Jesus in that He too, along with them, unjustly suffered, but just to a much greater (arguably infinitely greater if He Is God) degree.

Now that might be a starting point for to accept Christianity. But I'm not sure if this starting point accords with the orthodox genus.

Tom Van Dyke said...

One should never be satisfied with "normative" theology unless he is looking only for something to reject. It is said that Hans Urs Von Balthasar was Pope John Paul II's favorite theologian.

padraig said...

I always was a fan of Purgatory.