“i’m not any extraterrestrial,” claims jesus christ
of the polish nun Faustina Kowlaska, 1938.
Extraterrestrial powers like Superman’s?
RACHEL The mobile unit of Emisoras Latinas moves today to the top of Mount Tabor. Below us lies Galilee in all its green splendor. Good day, Jesus. We understand that this is the place where you were transfigured before your disciples.
JESUS Good day, Rachel. Shalom!
RACHEL Even though I have a thousand questions waiting to be answered, I can’t refrain from asking the one that our audience is most anxious about. Who are you?
JESUS Me? … I am Jesus.
RACHEL Some have claimed that you came from another planet, that you’re an extraterrestrial.
RACHEL It’s not what I say, but writers like J. J. Benitez, who wrote about the Trojan horse. He says that at the moment of your death a flying saucer came to get you and returned you to the galaxy you had come from.
JESUS In my time also they were telling such stories, like the one about Noah’s Ark. But even the children knew that that’s what they were, stories. I was born in this land we are now walking on. I didn’t come from any star.
RACHEL In earlier interviews you told us details of your birth, your parents…. But, let’s be honest, you still haven’t made clear to us your true identity. Who are you, Jesus Christ?
JESUS Once I asked James and John and Peter that same question “Who do people say that I am?” They answered, “Well, some say the prophet Elias, others the prophet Jeremiah, …” “And what about you?” I asked them. “You are the Messiah,” they told me, “the one who is going to free our people.”
RACHEL Did you consider yourself to be the awaited Messiah?
JESUS I felt a fire in my heart. My words burned within me and piled up in my mouth. When I went to be baptized by John in the Jordan River, I had no idea of where God would lead me.
RACHEL But at that age you already knew what your vocation was, your divine mission. Or didn’t you?
JESUS How was I going to know that, Rachel? People find the right path only by walking along it.
RACHEL But when you stood before Caiphas, in the Sanhedrin, you certainly had a clear picture then, isn’t that right?
RACHEL Excuse the expression, … I mean, when Caiphas interrogated you, you admitted you were the Messiah. Or didn’t you?
JESUS I told him that yes, the Kingdom of God had arrived.
RACHEL But Caiphas didn’t speak only of the Messiah. He asked you if you were the Son of God, and you told him you were.
JESUS Of course, Rachel, we are all children of God. You also are a daughter of God. All your listeners are children of God.
RACHEL I’m referring to your divine nature, and don’t think you’re going to escape from me this time. I even have the date here. In the Council of Chalcedon, in the year 451, you were defined.
JESUS What do you mean I was defined?
RACHEL You are one person with two natures, a divine nature and a human nature.
JESUS And what does that mean?
RACHEL I’ll give you an example. You, as a man, did not know anything about Einstein’s theory of relativity, but as God you did, because God knows everything.
JESUS How strange, … because … how can somebody know something and not know it at the same time?
RACHEL Another example you as a man did not know that Judas was going to betray you, but as God you already knew it.
JESUS If I had known that about Judas, I can assure you that things would have turned out very differently. We would have returned to Galilee immediately.
RACHEL Perhaps I’m not expressing myself well, because I’m a reporter, not a theologian. What I mean to say is that …
JESUS Leave all that confusion for another moment, Rachel, and right now just look at this valley. Breathe in that air.
RACHEL Yes, I breathe it in, but … What about you, our listener friends, are you satisfied? I still am not. So I’ll just have to keep asking him about….
JESUS Later, Rachel. Now, just let yourself be transfigured by this beauty, and then you’ll to understand things much, much better.
RACHEL Okay, then, … From Mount Tabor and contemplating a truly marvelous landscape, this is Rachel Perez, of Emisoras Latinas.
ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
*More information about this polemical topic…*
An evolving consciousness
Like all human beings, Jesus grew not only in age, but also in consciousness. He learned from life and from the realities around him. When, speaking once in the synagogue of Nazareth, he applied to himself the Isaian text, The Spirit is upon me, he took an important step in developing his own consciousness of who he was. It was a way of acknowledging himself to be a prophet, following in the tradition of all the prophets who had preceded him. As a prophet, Jesus spoke out and acted boldly, feeling himself to be an heir of Israel’s tradition. As a prophet he consolidated his leadership in the movement that gradually formed around him.
After Jesus died and then appeared as risen to his disciples, the early church piled on him many titles to describe his mission: “Lord”, “Son of God”, “Christ”. The history recounted in the gospels, however, allows us to see that the title by which Jesus was unanimously acclaimed by his disciples and by the people was that of “prophet”.
The prophet is defined over against the institution. We should not consider Jesus to have been a theologian or a religious teacher within the institution, even if more radical than others. He could never have been such because he lacked what the formal theological studies that were required of teachers of his time. The formation of the religious teachers was rigorous; it began in childhood and lasted many years. When Jesus was addressed as “rabbi” (teacher), he was being accorded the treatment that in his time was usual as an expression of respect; it should not be understood as indicating that he was traditional teacher of theology. Rather, Jesus was judged by the teachers of the Law as being guilty of teaching without proper authorization.
“I am the truth”
Mystical experience allows people to experience what we might call “the democracy of the divine”, something very akin to Jesus’ novel message. It allows people to experience themselves as God and to claim, “I am God”. Such a feeling is not necessarily born of arrogance or madness; it arises from a depth of consciousness where the “I” and the “You” dissolve, and a person experiences complete identification with the All, with the One, with the Ultimate Reality, with what we call God.
In her book The Harem in the West, Moroccan writer Fatema Mernisi relates an exceptional story that illustrates how such religious experience can scandalize others, in this case in the context of Sufism, a mystical current within Islam.
In the year 915 the Abbasid police arrested Hallaj, a well-known Sufi, for proclaiming publicly in the streets of Baghdad something that he should have kept secret: “I am the Truth.” Since “Truth” is one of the names of God, Hallaj was declared a heretic. Islam insists on a strict separation of the divine and the human, but Hallaj believed that if you concentrated on loving God in your human condition, you could be fused with the very object of your love, namely, divinity itself. In fact, Hallaj declared himself to be made in the image and likeness of God, a claim which caused confusion for the Abbasid police, since arresting him would be tantamount to assaulting God himself. Hallaj was burned to death in March, 922. He also alarmed the Abbasid police with another of his famous sayings: “I am the one whom I loved, and the one I loved is I myself.”
Are these sayings not reminiscent of many of the words attributed to Jesus in John’s gospel, a text which had its origins in mystical Gnostic communities? A mistake has been made, however, in allowing such expressions of human consciousness to be petrified into doctrines and dogmas which people are obliged to believe in.
The “divinity” of Jesus
The Spanish theologian José Arregui, in his text “Jesus in the Interreligious Dialogue: Perspectives”, reflects on the current efforts in theology to reinterpret Jesus’ “divinity” in such a way as to preserve the core of the Christian confession without letting the “divinity” become an obstacle for interreligious dialogue. Arregui recalls that the French Catholic theologian Charles Perrot, in his book “Jesus, Christ and Lord of the First Christians” (Paris, 1997), gave a rigorous demonstration of the following points:
1) In the New Testament Jesus is considered “divine” in several sure texts (Hebrews 1,8; John 1,1 and 20,28) and other doubtful ones (Romans 9,5; John 1,18; Titus 2,13; 1 John 5,20; 2 Peter 1,1), but he is never identified as God himself.
2) The New Testament affirmations concerning Jesus’ “divinity” are analogous to Jewish affirmations concerning the “divinity” of other biblical figures and concepts (Moses, Melchisidech, Job, the Son of Man, the Angels, the Torah, Wisdom, etc.).
3) The “divinization” of Jesus first took place in the genre of liturgical hymns.
4) Such “divinization” was considered credible in the philosophical and religious setting of Hellenism.
On the basis of all this Arregui states: Other scholars analyze how theologians arrived at the Nicean definition of 325 (“consubstantial with the Father”) and the Chalcedonian definition of 451 (“two natures and one person”). The history of the doctrines starts out from Judeo-Christian and Hellenistic thought and follows a highly complex and hazardous course, one strewn with mistaken concepts and political interests. The scholars consequently recognize the need to reinterpret these council formulas, taking into account their origins and our own present situation.
The broth and the bull
In his book Believing in Liberty German theologian Eugen Drewermann shows conclusively how difficult it is for dogmatic theology to explain adequately the greatness and the originality of Jesus’ message concerning his own experience of God and the experience of God he wanted to share with the people in the movement he led.
In another of his books, Immediate God, Drewermann uses a homely comparison to contrast the warm vitality of Jesus with the cold rigidity of dogmas and with the sterility of many preachers’ efforts to “inject new life” and “find new interpretations” for the contrived Christian dogmas proclaimed centuries ago:
The irrationality of dogmas, to speak in that way, consists in wanting to set down in a fixed formula that inexpressible something which one day made possible a wholly new human experience, one that came as a complete surprise. Let me describe it with an image: the task of producing dogmas is like the process which transforms a living bull into a cube for making beef broth. Trying to shine light on the experience that gave rise to those dogmas is not at all an easy task; it might even be impossible. Aside from the fact that a lot of water is needed to make the beef broth, any attempt to turn the broth back into the live bull is impossible. It may be that a good broth refreshes the body, but if we want to see a live bull, we should not busy ourselves with making a broth. It would be better for us to go out into the fields in search of a bull.
The Christological dogmas removed the flavor of Jesus
Brazilian Catholic theologian Ivone Gebara also questions the abstruse Christological dogmas, and she expresses similar ideas in her book, Jesus from an Eco-Feminist Perspective :
The dogmatic Christology that comes to us from Nicea and Chalcedon, along with all the later “refinements”, took away much of the savory richness of Jesus’ words and actions, which were at times irreverent, surprising, disconcerting, bold, or affectionate. His conversations beside a well, the meals he shared, his gentle gestures, his decrying of injustices, his gratuitousness, the affection he gave and received – all these dogmatic theology has reduced to “organized reason,” “systematic theory,” “science”.
In effect, dogmatics has chained and imprisoned what was originally an invitation to freedom, what was originally poetry. Worse still, it has stationed at the doors of the “prison” armed guards dressed as priests, so that nobody could escape from lockup or think in a different manner. Dogmatics has established authorized teachers to declare the acceptable truths about Jesus, thereby killing off all the creativity of those gratuitous moments, informal gatherings, and friendly conversations that take place in the kitchen, along the roadway, or on the riverbank. Dogmatics, seen from a radical perspective, has reduced brotherly and sisterly “reasonableness” to hierarchical obedience; it has limited “the many ways” of truth to one sole road; and it has forced the many-splendored discourses of love into a single mode of expression. And it has constantly created fear: fear of disobedience, fear of thinking incorrectly, fear of not reproducing the acceptable word or the precisely formulated doctrine, fear of the authentic tradition that proceeds from Jesus himself.