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Re: Krishna and Prophets

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Tue Feb 28 1995 - 12:22:27 PST

Re: Jesus being God

Well, in the end, a quotation here and there from the Bible
do not really matter in this discussion, since Christianity
has as its *fundamental* tenet that Jesus was "fully God" as
well as "fully human".  Sound contradictory? It may on the 
face of it, but much theological discussion on this topic
has occurred over the past two millenia, so what may seem
contradictory to outsiders seems as clear as day to orthodox
Christians.

Nevertheless, here are some quotations.  The most obvious
examples of Jesus's divinity occur in the Gospel according
to John, found in the New Testament.  Here, Jesus as the Son
is represented in Greek as the Logos, which translates to 
"Word". But the Word is the same as God.

John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was 
          with God, and the Word was God.

1:3:  All things were made by him; and without him was not 
      any thing made that was made.

Furthermore, in the Jewish tradition, the only person who
can absolve humans of sins is God himself. Jesus very clearly
takes on this role, and declares himself as the redeemer. The
Jewish people of his time react to this as an implicit claim
that he is equal to God. We have to view the Bible and the 
story of Jesus from the cultural perspective of the Jews of
that time. I would ask you look at passages such as Mark 2:7,
"And who can forgive sins but God only?" 

There is a file on the network for about this question, directed
mainly at people who are not familiar with the Bible.  The difficult
thing for non-Christians to understand is the Trinity concept of
Christianity, where there are three persons in God, but they are
of one essence. Therefore, Jesus is not simply God; he is more 
properly the *incarnation* of God, since, unlike in our religion,    
the Incarnation is a unique, one-time special occurrence.

It is very hard to properly convey Christian ideas about the 
nature of God in so short a manner, but trust me on this one:
their entire religion is based upon Christ being the redeemer,
Christ being God, and Christ having died to absolve us of our
sins.

Re: The Painful death of Christ -- why?

This is another difficult question for non-Christians to understand,
but let us go back to the time of the early Jews, where it was 
thought that any digression from "the Law" of God (equivalent to
Dharma-Sastras) was considered a great offense. The Law included
minute details (equivalent to "aachaaram") of observance, and they
believed that God was appeased through regular sacrifices, etc.
This was the so-called "Old Covenant", a contract of sorts between
the Jews and God.

So, all the while they are waiting for the Savior, who will restore
them to righteousness, lead the out of slavery, etc.  The
exact nature of what constituted the Savior was in great debate
at that time. Anyway, according to Christian belief, Jesus came as
the Incarnation of God to show people the "new way", the New Covenant
that God wanted to strike between people and the Lord.  But, again
according to Christian belief, the wonderful paradox which shows 
the great condescension of the Lord is that he incarnated in a way
that made him "fully human" -- he was perfect, no doubt, and "fully
divine", but fully human in that he was flesh and blood. (This is 
a very deep theological issue which I do not properly understand).

To perform the last sacrifice necessary to redeem all people, 
Jesus underwent great suffering in the name of the Lord. This is a  sign
of his great mercy. Jesus is therefore seen as the "Lamb of God", 
sacrificed to absolve all sins of the people if they simply put their
faith and surrender to him.  The mystery of Christ is that three days
after his crucifixion, he was resurrected -- this is the heart of   
Christian belief, that if we believe in Christ, we are granted everlasting
life in heaven and we shall not die in an inert way or go to hell, or
any such thing.  Salvation is attained.   

Just as westerners find it hard to understand our belief system since
they do not come from our cultural perspective, we will find it hard
to accept all these beliefs since we do not understand the basis of
Christianity. This is in fact why Indian Christianity is in many ways
more like a bhakti movement than like Western Christianity.

Mani