Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 12: The Logic of Christianity

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. -John 1:1-5

For the longest time, this opening scripture from the Gospel of John confused me.  I knew they were talking about Jesus here, but why did they call Him "the Word"?  Was Jesus a Bible?  Was the Bible Jesus?  God the Father spoke lots of words.  Why wasn't He called "the Word"?  There had been a number of neat and tidy explanations that I had been given, such as just as Jesus was the light of the world, so is the Bible, which goes along with the verse, "your words are a lamp unto my feet".  Another explanation was that this verse was a way of saying that not only was Jesus there at the beginning of time, but so was God's scripture.  For me, while that could very well be true, it seemed like a strange thing to start an account of Jesus' life with.  Others said He was called "the Word" because Jesus was the fulfillment of Hebrew prophesy, or "words", and this was an allusion to that.  I had even seen an atheist website that quoted this verse as saying that the Bible itself admitted to Jesus just being a fancy myth, saying that all things were made because of the myth and without the Bible, "nothing was made" or that none of this truth actually existed outside of this story (that's quite a stretch,  but it is kind of hypocritical for them to use the scripture to prove their point about scripture not being true, don't ya think?).

It wasn't until I went back to the original Greek words that I found a satisfactory explanation, and the implications were so significant that now this is one of my favorite passages of the Bible.  In the original Greek, the word "Word" is actually the Greek word "logos".  Ancient Greeks used the word "logos" in a variety of ways, one of them simply referring to spoken words, which is where the traditional translation of "logos" as "the Word" comes from.  But if you study the secular writings of the time, you see the word "logos" used a number of different ways.  

One of the ways the word "logos" was used very often in Greek writing, especially among the educated and philosophers, was to refer to "a structured argument, reason or logic".  Let's reread the passage, substituting the word "Word" for the word "Logic".

In the beginning was the Logic, and the Logic was with God, and the Logic was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

To me, that was the key to making sense of the verse.  Christ is the logic.  He is the logic of the whole world.  Our lives, our existence, our function in creation doesn't make sense without the logic of Jesus Christ.  Without Jesus Christ, there are only two possible logical outcomes to our spirituality.  One is there is no reason why we are here, no meaning or purpose to our lives, and that is why many existentialists end up committing suicide.  Why go through rough times if there is no meaning in it?  The other logical outcome when you remove Jesus from the syllogism is that we are our own god.  We are the center of our universe, we are the reason for our living, and, as almost all other world religions teach, we are the determiners of our eternal fate based on how many good works we do in our life.

I don't know about you, but neither of those two outcomes makes sense.  I think the idea of being your own god is ridiculous.  I mean, if I'm my own god, I'm doomed, because I know how much of a screw up I am.  And it would be pretty depressing to live life knowing that all the better that will ever come is what I'm capable of doing.  I can't manage to get all my family's laundry washed, folded and put away in one would be depressing to think that my god was no bigger than that!  And to think there is no god, and that everything happens is random?  That leads to the devaluing of human life, which means next time I have pneumonia and feel like I'm going to die, there really is no compelling reason not to.  Or in a more sinister light, if you want a group of people out of your town, there is no compelling reason to not walk through the town and shoot them all dead.  What a bleak world that is!  It sheds a whole new light on John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son..."

So, as you prepare this Advent/Christmas season, when you think of what Christ coming into the world meant, add to it what it means for "the Logic" to come into the world.  Jesus was born to bring Logic and when He comes again at the end of the world, He will bring Logic once again.

Activity:  Look around today for examples of Christ being "the Logic".  Would it make sense to hold a door open for someone if the Logic of Jesus Christ didn't exist?  Would it make sense for an elderly person to continue living, even though they may be physically and mentally frail?  

Prayer:  Pray for the people in your life whose syllogism of life does not include Jesus, in other words, non-believers.  Chances are, their worlds look a lot like the worlds described above, where they have the pressure of being their own god or where there is little value in human life.  And pray that God gives you the opportunity to present to them the missing axiom in their reasoning...that Jesus Christ came, died and rose again for the remission of their sins.  

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