Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What I hope to accomplish

What is a Calvinist doing on a blog run by a Catholic? Perhaps some of my fellow brother Calvinists will be alarmed at my working together with a "Papist". After all, traditionally, Calvinism and Catholicism don't typically get along. I believe that calling the Pope the whore of Babylon caused quite a bit of consternation in Rome. And we are the strain of Protestant thought that has clung most closely to the principles of the Reformation.

But, relax my Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, Congregational, Reformed Baptist, and otherwise Calvinist kin, Ogden and I are not taking communion together, only running a blog. After all, even if followers of Calvin and followers of the Bishop of Rome have difference, we can always agree to criticize other sections of the faith!

Today, I'll begin by criticizing something that has become a trend in the modern evangelical movement, although I'm not sure if it has crossed over into Catholicism as well, the modern missions trip. A youth group, student group at a Christian college, or other form of young christian fellowship decides to take a trip to (insert third world country) in order to (build church, do repairs, distribute aid). They typically spend half a year raising about 3000 each to take 30-50 people to the third world for two weeks. Usually, none of the group actually speaks the local language. These sort of trips are perhaps the most wasteful, counterproductive type of missions going on today.

Take a group going to Nicaragua over Spring break. They have to spend 100,000 for the trip, and what is accomplished for that 100,000? A church is constructed in a town where most people don't even have a job, the town's clothiers are put out of business as the town is transformed from rag wearing to abercrombie and fitch hand-me-downs wearing, and the church is left, until the next group comes in to paint. These trips aren't good for the third world countries, and they aren't even beneficial to the young Christians who go on them.

For young Christians, promoting spiritual stability ought to be a priority. It is hard enough to be 16 years old in a country that is rich enough for teen angst to exist and even be promoted, but with the constant retreats, camps, and missions trips, the tendency is for closeness to Christ to rise and fall during and after these spiritual vacations. This leads to instability and a tendency to grow away from God when not doing "spiritual things". Young youth-groupers often have "life-changin" experiences in Haiti, only to come backand behave the same way they did before. Why? Because it reinforces the concept of church being "other" than every day life.

For the third-world churches, any kind of help is a blessing, but short-term missions may actually be counter-productive. In order to help a community, you really need to be considered a part of it. Outside help only encourages dependency on aid. A series of short-term teams may help the church look better aesthetically, but it does nothing to improve the church in the long term and may actually create more poverty though dependency. However, simply sending 5000 dollars to a long term missionary to help pay for the construction of the church would go much further. The money would be safe in the hands of a long-term missionary who speaks the language and knows the people and has become a part of their community. Instead of people from outside doing the work for free, local villagers could be hired to build the church, many of them would be desperate for work and a job that exposes them to Christ would be extremely beneficial.

Anyway, I had planned on my first post being about lapsarianism but this is what motivates me right now, so this is what my first post is on.

Doing Things Differently

So, I have been thinking lately ... how do I make this blog different from all the other Catholic blogs? We already have priests, lay men and women, professors, seminarians, and journalists among others. I'm just an ordinary person with an interest in theology particularly as it is connected to Scripture.

So, I got to thinking that in the spirit of Neuhaus and Colson, I would invite friends of mine from the other side of the divide, so to speak, to make contributions. The first contributing author is Stephen Hamilton, a member of Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia and a student at a New England college(so he can be closer to the Puritans, he says). Stephen and I are old friends, and have had many interesting conversations about our two different traditions: while I do not agree with his Calvinist theology, and he does not agree with my Catholic theology, we nevertheless have learned a lot from each other.

It goes without saying that even though he will be contributing that doesn't imply that he and I are in agreement on our posts. We agree to disagree (trite though that phrase is) in a spirit of Christian love. I think you will find his perspective interesting, and if this experiment works, then I might be inviting other guest authors from other traditions to also share their thoughts here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Resurrection, Baptism and Theodicy

We might be forgiven for thinking that today is Easter. Each of the three readings for today mentions resurrection in some form or another. Ezekiel speaks of opening the graves, Paul speaks of the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, and John narrates the raising of Lazarus. But upon closer inspection it becomes clear this is a different resurrection than the one in which we have hope.

This resurrection is the one for which ...

This resurrection is the one for which Judas Maccabeus prayed (2 Macc 12:42-46), and the one Martha mentions to Christ. It is the belief that those who died "in godliness," as 2 Macc puts it, would be brought back to this life. This is what Christ accomplishes in Lazarus; he is restored to this life. But it is not the same as the one Paul speaks of in 1 Cor 15:52ff. The Resurrection in which we have our hope is the raising of all who have fallen to face judgement. Those who died in the friendship of Christ will be "changed" clothed with light and given glorious bodies. But the important difference, other than the change, or indeed that is part and parcel of that change is the "immortality" that Paul speaks of. We aren't raised like Lazarus to go on living in this fallen world. But because of the Cross of Christ, we can be raised and live eternally with Christ in His heavenly Kingdom.

But since this resurrection is only one that brings people back to the life they lived it still leave us hungering for more. It is, as yet, incomplete. It is why these readings point us to Easter, which is now getting so close as to be palpable. These readings are a journey to Easter. This is why the Ezekiel reading is not just about resurrection, but the return of Israel into the land. We too are waiting to be restored, in a sense, by the Passion, Death and Resurrection. And this should give us tremendous hope. Because these readings tell is that we too are journeying to our own Resurrection. Christ did not rise from the dead selfishly. We too will also enjoy the bodily resurrection, and as I said, that is a cause of great hope.


There is another sense to these readings that bears being mentioned. My Missal rightly points out that these readings are also catechetical. They teach us about baptism. It is why these pericopes are selected for the Scrutinies. Lent is generally a time to focus upon our Baptismal vows, but when we are welcoming new people into the Church, these pericopes become especially poignant. The story of Lazarus in particular is dramatic demonstration that "we were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life." (Rom 6:4). Lazarus dramatically demonstrates this in his life, death and return to life. His example serves a didactic purpose for us. That also means that the reading from Ezekiel has more than just an immediate meaning. In an immediate sense it is a prophecy directed to the Exiles. But in a wider sense it is a promise to us about our baptism. The "how" of this promise is then articulated in the Pauline pericope. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we are called and then incorporated into the Body of Christ by baptism. Thus it is with joy and great anticipation that we yearn to eat at the same table with the catechumens, which we will do on the Vigil of the Lord's Resurrection.


I want to change tacks for a second, and reflect on the fact that from a certain point of view Christ can seem pretty monstrous in the Lazarus story. He knows ahead of time that His supposed friend will die. And yet, He lifts no finger to stave it off. As Martha asks, and skeptics like Dawkins and Hitchens ask, "how can a loving God let this happen? If He's so powerful and so good, why doesn't He just stop it?" The whole pericope is the response to this theodicy question as much as last week's pericope was.

Why did the man need to be born blind? Why did Christ need to let Lazarus die? It would be tempting to simply say so that Jesus could demonstrate powers and serve didactic purposes. But that's not really the case. Take the man born blind, if it was really simply to serve a didactic purpose or let Christ manifest some of His power then then story would have ended when the man was cured, and the lesson demonstrated. But the story goes on. It is the same reason the Lazarus pericope actually takes place before the washing of the feet pericope it mentions in the first few verses.

God permitted these things to happen because of two reasons, those things which He moved eternal to free ends have to remain free. And ... He nevertheless moves all things, free or otherwise, to Himself and to greater things. He takes all suffering and makes of it/them greater things beside. All the sin that Man visits upon his fellow in sometimes quite horrific fashion, Christ took upon Himself so that what could come after His Death and Resurrection was greater than anything that had gone before or since. If you took a hundred billion sufferings and poured them all into a container and compared it to the container that contained the fruits of the Passion, Death and Resurrection, you could not even see the container of the sufferings when held against the other, because the other is so much vaster than the sufferings.

Christ did what He did in both the case of the Man Born Blind and Lazarus to give greater glory to God and to use suffering to a greater purpose. If you could assign a numerical value to the suffering of the man born blind and the suffering caused by the death of Lazarus, what Christ did was greater by far and always is.

But the skeptics would still object, I am sure, that this still seems a cruel way for a loving God to behave. To which one points out that they are assessing "loving" based on their own human, finite experience. An infinite God with access to all possible worlds knows whether His staying His hand or His intervention is the "best" possible choice at any time. What we might perceive as a relief from suffering, might in the end be a greater cruelty still, because we cannot appreciate all the possible eventualities from that relief. But at the same time, it would be wrong to think of God as being only concerned with macro problems. Instead, He still takes notice of all His children individually, personally. How God deals with each person's sufferings is indeed a personal choice which must be viewed in the context of that individual relationship between Creator and Created.

For me, anyway, I draw great comfort from this.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Question of Nature(s)

A friend asked me on another site:

Which reminds me, Oggerz -

I guess that's the hardest thing for me to grasp about the Trinity. There's a few sequences that seem to indicate a disconnect between the substance - will or knowledge of the Father and Son. Sometimes, upon further examination, there's a perfectly sensible reason ("Eloi Eloi lema sabachthani" being a reference to Psalm 22), but I haven't found one for the cup of suffering sequence ("nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt"), or the difference in knowledge between the Father and Son of the date or the end times, or "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God" from the story of the rich man.

I promised him a fuller answer ...

I promised him a fuller answer than the one I gave him, which for reference's sake is:

I think you must remember that Christ had two Natures that were neither co-mingled nor subordinated to the other. And yet, in the words of the Athanasian Creed "Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood." Once you appreciate that, and you begin to reflect on the rôle He was playing in Salvation History when He said those lines, I think it becomes clearer.

But perhaps that wasn't as clear as it could be, and so I will try to do a better job of explaining it. I also hope that some of my theological friends will help me out if I still seem to be lacking in the perspicacious department.


One of the first things to remember is that there were numerous purposes to writing Scripture and numerous layers and levels in which to read it. My chief beef with Christians who believe that Scripture is perspicacious is that claiming it is so robs Scripture of much. If you read a Scriptural passage and come away thinking you understand it very well, you have missed something. Now, granted, some passages are clearer than others, and some are more opaque. Otherwise, why would Peter have observed "in [the writings of St Paul] there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures"? (2 Pet 3:16) So this is the first lesson to keep in mind: Scripture is meant to be challenging and to challenge, but it isn't really supposed to be "clear."

So, I think I want to take some of these scenes independently before wrapping it up.

Let's take the introduction from Rich Man scene:

Matt 10
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"18 Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.

If we read it carefully, we realise Jesus isn't denying He's God. Rather he senses that the rich man is calling Him good for other reasons. Rather than list all the possible ways, it should be clear rather from context that the man is trying to worship someone he fully believes to be a human like him. His kneeling down is a kind of attempt to flatter and honour someone in the way one ought to do so for God. Christ's rebuke of the man is therefore, pretty easy to grasp. We perceive it, removed from it as we are, as ironic. But I think the lesson for the man when it happened was more immediate: there's no need to flatter me, give due honour to God. Or you are right but for the wrong reasons. Was Christ being Kantian here, judging the man's intentions?

So that episode seems the least challenging to me on this subject. But what of the episode with the cup being taken away?

Mark 14
36 He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will."

The NAB has a note calling us to take heed of the complete surrender of Christ's Human will to the Divine Will of the Father. I think that's the answer to my friend's difficulty. Note that even as the thought ends, the two wills willing become one will willed. But there's more to this scene, too, and it's why I picked the Marcan version. Earlier in this Gospel, (10:38) Jesus makes reference to this cup. It will be a cup of baptism - his suffering on the cross will be His baptism, that washes away the stains of everyone else's guilt. But this cup, as understood from the OT, is one of punishment. Christ is also mentioning here His innocence. He is asking to be taken note of as the innocent lamb, who does not deserve death, but will do so "as the Father wills."

Similarly, I think there is much more going on in the "has not been revealed to the Son" episode:

Matthew 24
36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

It is worth noting that many textual witnesses are divided as to whether "the Son" should be in this text. Mk 13:32 omits it. But let us suppose this quote is authentic, because I am certainly comfortable with that. Again, aside from the Human will versus the Divine will, I think something else is also going on here. Mark and Matthew present Christ differently for a reason. In Matthew Christ is the new Moses, the new Lawgiver. It is important in Matthew that none of the New Dispensation be "Man-made" so to speak. So, even the "hour" must be ascribed totally to the Divine will for Matthew. In Mark, the context is different, being more immediate and visceral. In Mark, Christ wants his disciples to be mindful (as does Matthew, to be sure), but Mark lacks Matthew's need to present Christ as a lawgiver. In Mark, Christ is the Messiah plain and simple. So to Mark, the Son's ignorance or lack thereof it not the point whatsoever, rather that the disciples must be mindful takes centre stage.


I hope that answers the question in greater depth than did my quick response to my friend. It is true that Scripture lacks the conciliar articulations of Christology. All of John wrestles with this right up until the end. It is in John we get "The Father and I are one," "Before Abraham was I AM" and the like. The other Evangelists have much different perspectives and much different "points" they're trying to make. If they intended to present discourses about Trinitarian beliefs, they likely would have all four of them written the Gospel of John. But they didn't, because they each had four very different things to say about Christ.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Little Thomistic Humour

I really did find this quite funny. Enjoy.

The 5 Ways of Proving Santa Claus

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Translation Note

I touched on this in my last post, but one of the interesting things that I usually note in any translation is how κεχαριτωμένη is often translated. It is hard to completely convey the sense of this word. It means to have grace entirely bestowed on someone. I think Jerome got it absolutely correct when he translated it gratia plena, full of grace. The sense that Mary is highly favoured is not incorrect. Clearly if someone is fully of grace, by definition they are highly favoured. But highly favoured does also somewhat miss the mark, because it misses the Spiritual aspect that is underpinning the scene.

Now this is important ...

Now this is important to me for a number of reasons. First, it helps me judge the quality of the translation in general, but letting me know what choices the translators have made. Second, it also lets me know if the translators are aware of and have taken note of the Spiritual Complexities in the text. And by this I mean that the text is not a novel or a news report. It also plays a significant didactic role. In this instance, even if you don't accept the Immaculate Conception, there is still an important point about grace itself the text is making. As I demonstrated before, there is a whole movement, like an orchestral piece that involves God, His gratuitous gift, Christ's Incarnation, Mary's free acceptance and so on. The κεχαριτωμένη is a vital link in that chain.

Now, whereas there are legitimate arguments on the side of "highly favoured," I do find the GNT's decision to translate it as "peace be with you" to be indefensible. Normally, I have very few beefs with the GNT. I have, in truth, a certain fondness for it, as it was the first "Catholic" Bible I encountered before and after conversion. So it does have a special place in my heart. Ordinarily, the translators of the GNT made choices to simplify the language without resorting to paraphrasing, so as they themselves explained, to make it easier for younger people and those who do not speak English as a first language to understand the text. And yes, I agree, the Bible in any language can be intimidating, much more so if you do not possess fluent command of the language in which it is written. But to me there is no defence at all for "peace be with you," because I do not see how "highly favoured" is not simple English, whereas "peace be with you" is completely wrong.

Unfortunately, that is the price we pay in any translation: none are perfect. Some are clearly better than others, but all fall short in one way or another.


Now there is another level of importance to translation. It is important for us to be able to have a translation for personal reflection that ties us to the liturgy. And so this reminds me of an observation (in 2001) by Father Richard John Neuhaus:

At present, three translations are approved for Catholic liturgical use: the New Jerusalem, the RSV, and the New American Bible (NAB). The lectionaries and the several publishers of Mass guides, however, use only the NAB. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a wretched translation. It succeeds in being, at the same time, loose, stilted, breezy, vulgar, opaque, and relentlessly averse to literary grace. The bishops had the NAB updated to the Revised New American Bible (RNAB), but Rome had objections to that and hurriedly appointed a committee to fix it up into what might be called the Amended Revised New American Bible (ARNAB), which will soon become mandatory in lectionary use. Technically, the RSV and New Jerusalem are still permitted but, with ARNAB as the mandatory translation of the future, nobody has any interest in printing lectionaries or Mass guides using those versions. There is the additional oddity that you cannot buy an ARNAB Bible, since only the pericopes (liturgical readings) exist in ARNAB-talk. So Catholics do not have a Bible for personal or group reading that uses the same text that they hear at Mass.

The matter of translation is therefore not trivial. Since we lack a good translation that corresponds to the liturgy, we are robbed of that experience. It would be nice to go home from Mass and read the wider context in the same language as the pericopes.

RJN favoured the RSV-CE, and it is a good one, although it too suffers defects. It, after all, is one of many that does not translate almah as parthenos. Ignatius Press may one day get their wish of being able to use their update of the RSV in liturgy (in the US), but either way we should pray that some good solution presents itself ere long.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Laetare, Light and the Annunciation

On another place, to which I might or might now link due to some unpleasantness, I described what Laetare and Gaudete Sundays were and why the rose coloured vestments were so appropriate. After delving into that briefly, I began to think more about it, and then to come to some interesting conclusions about "light." This in turn lead me to think about today in the calendar.

After that little introduction ...

After that little introduction I should first lay out the explication I gave on that other site:

Each of these Sundays is a hopeful reminder of the goal we're moving towards. They are to their Liturgical Seasons what the Transfiguration was to the Apostles, a foretaste of the Resurrection. So too the Rose vestments remind us "Hang in there, the great and wonderful thing we're moving towards is almost here! Rejoice! Be glad! Exult!" Because, these Seasons, without a Laetare or Gaudete can very much become the opposite of what we want to achieve. They can be overwhelming with our self-reflection, when we should be overjoyed at the great gift that was (in the case of Lent) Christ's sacrifice for our sins.

Now, the important thing to note about these two Sundays, and we'll just focus on Laetare going forward, is that they are like the Transfiguration in a sense. The Transfiguration gave the Apostles a foretaste of the Risen Lord by way of His Glorified Body. How particularly appropriate for Lent then is Laetare Sunday since it is precisely the Resurrection we're moving towards celebrating.

It is no surprise that of the three cycles' readings, the two that come from John make much of this concept of "light." In cycle A, which is also used whenever we welcome new brothers and sisters into the church, Christ declares in the story of the Man Born Blind that He is the Light of the World. In cycle B, Christ tells Nicodemus much the same thing. Indeed the word "φῶς" appears in the Gospel of John numerous time from beginning to end. The Gospel of John is suffused, in fact, with the light of Christ. That is why it is so apropos that we use John on Sundays like Laetare and extensively throughout the Easter Season. What I said in my previous Laetare post should come to mind: the Gospel of John is predominantly concerned with Christ's Divinity. Which is why it is so suffused with the Light of Christ.


Now, it was a convoluted line of thinking on my part, but I did begin to think a lot about the Light that came into Mary's life at the Annunciation. I think about this, because today we hear the reading as the Greek correctly states it. In order words, the greeting of the angel is "full of grace." Now, "highly favoured" and so on are not incorrect per se. The Greek means to have grace fully poured out into someone, but grace can also mean favour. I have always taken the position, much to my chagrin, that the translators want you to hear the word play with "you have found favour with God." But for today, the reading from the Gospel serves the purpose that I believe the text is actually saying. Mary was completely and irrevocably filled with grace.

Mother Theresa noted that Mary was full of grace just by carrying Christ in her womb. Christ's Incarnation after all is a grace. But it is more than this. When Gabriel came to her, she was already full of grace and the perfective was used to describe her. Her conception was a future tense at the precise moment of the Annunciation. The promise by the angel was already efficient, it was going to happen. And yet there is a sense that her "may it be done to me according to thy word" was not unnecessary.

Now, I see in this story numerous things. I see the grace of Christ's Incarnation. IN this whole tableau between angel and Virgin, Christ is ever at the centre. The whole narrative happened to give Him the glory. God's will, His desire to pick this poor Nazarene Virgin out of any others was irrefutable. Yet her free will was never diminished. God remained sovereign, but Mary remained free. As a Thomist, and especially as a Bañezian Thomist, I find a perfect example of how God can predestine things without overriding free will. In the beginning, He moved all determined things to their determined ends, and all free things to their free ends. This seems to me a perfect example of that very fact. God's will could not be undone here, and yet Mary clearly had a choice she freely made.

Now, a good Thomist (as I aspire to be) points out that the being full of grace made her completely free to make the right choice, that is, whatever is the will of God. Why? Because it healed her will. And in a way that was akin to, no indeed was the state of Original Justice (hence her conception most immaculate). The way St Thomas described this in the Summa was to say that God moves all things to Himself according to their natures and it is human nature to have free will; ergo, the freedom of Man's will is paradoxically used to move Man to predestined ends. It seems to me logically necessary, although I know others disagree, that Mary had to be completely healed so that her free-will could be in complete accord with God's in this matter. That might not get everyone all the way to the Immaculate Conception, but it goes a ways (and yes, I understand full well some of the immediate objections. Interestingly, St Thomas dealt with those too, but in different contexts).

And this brings me back to "light," the Light of God's grace, which heals, frees us and turns us to God. It is appropriate on these two days, Laetare and the Annunciation to give great joy for the bounty of God's grace, not least of which was His own Free Gift of Himself to us and for us.

Annunciation Teaser

I'll do something on the Annunciation later. But before that some conversations I have been having about Laetare need to crystalise into a blog post. Specifically, I'll talk about the connection between the lighter liturgical colour and the idea of "light" in the Johanine Gospel.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The man born blind

Today's Gospel reading was the man born blind (Jn 9:1-41), which for us is a rather long pericope. The usual practice is to butcher it down to something shorter. What it gains in brevity it lacks in perspicacity. As a result, I was overjoyed when Father read the entire pericope from start to finish, all forty one verses. His homily was also masterly. I agree with everything in it, but I did want to explore something he didn't mention.but I did want to explore something he didn't mention.

One of the things that strikes me most about the Johanine Gospel is that more than the Synoptics it is concerned with Christ's Divinity (but not at the expense of his Humanity). But what is also equally interesting is the way in which John explores this. Had he used explicit formulary means, we might not have needed the great Oecumenical Councils, but then much would be lost in the poetry of the text. Its simplicity is one of the main sources of its beauty.

But its ability to convey this message is not lessened by being more implicit. Indeed, more than the other Gospels, John isn't just Christological in some academic sense, it is Christological experientially. To put it another way, John doesn't so much as tell as he shows. The whole structure of the Gospel is meant to show us Christ and teach us about Him.

If we consider the greater structure of the Gospel, this will help serve as illustration. The Gospel, as we all know, famously begins with a hymn that lays out Christ's eternal Divinity, coequal with the Father. The hymn makes clear what Christ later states "the Father and I are one." Then the Gospel goes on to show this to us. Each episode teaches us one or more important aspects of Christ, building a puzzle piece by piece to illustrate carefully the point that Christ was fully Divine while being fully Man.

The baptism shows His relationship to the Trinity and also serves as a Prophetic and Royal anointing. The Wedding at Cana demonstrates His power over the created world. Nicodemus illustrates that Christ is a gratuitous grace of Love. The Samaritan Woman illustrates He is the Water of Eternal Life. The Sixth Chapter, which my friend Charlie masterly covered in his sermon for today, shows that Christ is the Bread of Life. (I am aware I am skipping some stories, but that is not because they do not illustrate the point, but because I don't want this to just become a laundry list of Johanine pericopes. Also it is meant to tie into the Liturgical readings of the Lenten season.) And this pericope that we read today signifies that Christ is the Light of the World.

And there's an interesting and almost paradoxical quality to this light. This light, which should illuminate everything, is also by so doing a source of dissension. Almost like (but not like) Plato's Cave, the officials in the story cannot appreciate the light, because they have too long spent their lives in darkness. This is ironically touched upon when they rebuke the man born blind for daring to teach them when he was born mired in sin. From our perspective we know in fact that they too were mired in sin from birth (as were we all).

Just as Lent points us to the Cross and through it to the Resurrection, so too these pericopes. It is why John is such an appropriate Gospel for Lent. Each pericope of the Gospel points to Christ's Divinity, but for a purpose. It isn't just meant to answer some proto-Docetists. It is meant instead to say "Ok, so He's God, why is that important?" It is what Paul tells us in his Doctoral Dissertation, his Epistle to the Romans. What John shows us is that Christ's Divinity was essential for the Cross to have any saving power. That's why I believe so much of the Gospel is actually taken up with Resurrection pericopes, such as the Doubting Thomas or Christ's Three-fold admonition to Peter. These pericopes that lead to the Cross and stem from the Resurrection have Salvation as their focal point.

Which is, after all, what we're supposed to be reflecting on this Lenten Season.