The Way. Word!

Really, as part of the Enlightenment, we just find it simpleton to read the Bible and that’s that; though some are keen to find that completely sufficient. The rejoinder is scholarship and theologians applying a systematic approach and textual criticism to get at the truth, not shy away from it.

An ignorance comes without it. For instance, a case in point is often found in quoting John about Jesus being the “Word” of God and Jesus being the exclusive “Way” (in which the presumption is ontology rather than teleology). Ignorant of Greek language and culture, many presume something about Jesus that simply isn’t there. It infects theology immensely and damningly. The only coherent view of both is that “Way” in the Greek, ἀλήθεια, ας, ἡ (Strong’s 255), and “Word”, λόγος, ου, ὁ (Strong’s 3056), describe Jesus only as representing the fullness of humanity as God intended us. It does not demonstrate any exclusive “means” to an end (ie heaven/hell, etc.); treating any person as a mere means to an end is immoral anyway. Who Jesus was ontologically is who we are ontologically and the claim in the passage of John is only rationally interpretable as “If you want the fullest life possible, being as I [Jesus] am is the only way you’ll experience it”. More, Jesus is representational of how things were intended. Further, all of John’s writings are theologies, not histories, and Paul’s, never having met Jesus, is a private revelation publicly articulated; both authors clearly influenced by Greek Platonism and exemplifying the ethics of Stoicism, from Cicero to Seneca to Rufus, and how we find Christ’s ethics is then a delicate cultural and textual comparison, or a removal of that Greek ethical stamp to find what’s left; that typically being limited to comments about grace, empowerment, and how to conduct Christian community.

Before rather paltry and shoddy Evangelical thinking, unthoughtful to the very core (a move no more better demonstrated than by its laymen), this was understood, as seen in the first theories of atonement; Recapitulation (which my comments actually begin to articulate along with Irenaeus) and Moral Influence (which are means-descriptive, Jesus’ likeness in understanding and action also beginning to be articulated in the above along with Abelard) looking nothing like the monstrosity of philosophy developed over a thousand years removed from Christ and after the heretical abandonment of the only historic Church in any way linked to Christ, however loosely it may be.

To have the flippant mentality that “It’s right there in plain English, y’all!” and “The Bible says it, so I believe it, and that settles it!” is to be monumentally illiterate. To say that some heresy is afoot because Evangelism has become irrelevant, and to characterize a returning to more traditional Christian philosophies and theologies as anything other than that is to be wholly and literally ignorant of the entire history of Christianity and its development.

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