Ecce Homo

eccehomopaintby Glenn Fairman   4/19/14
Behold the Man in Ruins  •  Because we have not drank deeply enough of God, this spectacle of Passion — bathed in blood and ribboned flesh set before us every spring, has been relegated by a bloodless Modernity as either a callow backdrop for children’s baskets or an abstraction of the primordial myth of death and re-birth.

And if we are therein guilty of transposing legend for substance, then it is as a result of our age’s worldly complexion – a temperament that has cunningly bled dry the transcendent character of Calvary’s full rich drama.

Nevertheless, there is truth in metaphors. Indeed, the thaw of winter and the return of the sweet fragrance from warm grasses and flowers are themselves the physical emanations pointing us to that great turning point in history: where the axis of humanity spun round in a three day succession from abject despair to exhilarating joy.  On that fateful Sunday morn, the character of life itself blossomed by virtue of the profoundest of revolutions: the final reconciliation of Divine Source with fallen creation…all through the heroic actions of a brutalized blood-stained Man.

Left to the introspection of humanity’s native reason, the world finds the Cross objectionable in so many ways. The mere suggestion that men are in need of deliverance scandalizes the Humanist heart.  Such a perspective rejects the existence of sin out of hand and answers humanity’s indictment with the half-truth that God’s character is solely one of abounding effervescent love. The rose-colored theology of liberal “Emergent” pastors, exemplified in Brian McLaren and Steven Chalke, flippantly dispose of the orthodox Doctrine of the Cross as a muddled and depraved misapprehension of the Gospel. For minds of this disposition, the over-brimming love of God could never have conceived such a horrible propitiatory retribution for His Only Begotten Son. This sanctioning of the Cross’ terrifying and bloody redemption would make God more human – nay, more diabolic than divine. Out of hand, they pronounce that this understanding of God is akin to a vengeful Father participating in “Cosmic Child Abuse” – and emblematic of a twisted view of justice more rooted in the demonic than the beatific. But in weighing their sweeping accusations against what we know from scripture: we are not convinced.

It is written: “Cursed is everyone hung upon a tree.” Nonetheless, such a curse would have been irrevocably our own had not the Son of Man voluntarily submitted Himself to answer for horrific crimes that were never His to bear.  And those who take the Cross to task with the allegation that it is but a primitive expiation of bloodguilt, more fitting for a barbarous pagan mystery religion, have their eyes affixed purely on the carnal reckoning of things.  They are blind to the revelation, that in the grand mechanics of creation, it is God crucifying God – taking Man’s penalty upon Himself to satisfy both the necessity of justice and the outreach for love that is so utterly incomprehensible to the seditious nature of the fallen mind.

The Dying God dies not in annihilation, but in sweeping conquest over Death itself – and graces restitution for the crimes of His wayward children. He makes intervention, not because humanity possesses any intrinsic worth or are themselves deserving of such a magnanimous sacrifice, but precisely because they do not….they cannot.  To offer up one’s life for a good man is noble beyond words; but what can we say of One who steps out from His unapproachable Holiness for the sake of: a brigand, a liar, a murderer, an enemy to every good and glorified thing that God had ever knew? In truth, it is unfathomable for the unregenerate heart to reconcile and process the full implications of such sacrifice.  And yet, in God submitting to the unspeakable violence of the Cross, the Author of All Things does just that, and much more.

At the onset of those three pivotal days that were meditated upon and grieved over before the Pillars of the Universe were poured, a Roman procurator presented before humanity a scourged and bloody remnant of a Man crowned in a cruel web of piercing thorns.  In pronouncing Ecce Homo – Behold the Man – Pilate offered unto us the mirror of our choices.  By championing the Murderer over the Lamb, mankind set into stone, for all of history to meditate upon, its preference for the two stark alternatives placed before it. And in doing so, revealed to us forever the Cross’ indisputable logic.

Every morning that we awaken, the dilemma is laid out before us anew as we struggle between the Light and the World.  In stepping faithfully towards Golgotha, we share in His mortification that leads the way towards Life and Beauty; and in turning our backs to Him, we paradoxically participate in His execution from afar: washing our hands of Him as Pilate did so long ago.  Through encountering and assenting to the Man, a great stone rolls away — unleashing that infinite richness of Life that we have so longed for.  In denial, that burdensome stone rolls shut — encasing us within that self-imposed absurdity of despair that comes as we sink into the human will’s mad labyrinth.

Though a flaming sword drove a stiff-necked mankind from its paradise, at the climax of the long road before us awaits rest for the prodigal heart.  There will never be a better time than now to lay aside that burden and one’s rebel arms. Know this: You are prized above many things; not by virtue of meriting such favor– but because He loves you and bore your figure upon Himself when He consented to that Tree of Woe — just as if that wretched sign nailed in tears and blood was inscribed with your name alone.
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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (3532 views)

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33 Responses to Ecce Homo

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Left to the introspection of humanity’s native reason, the world finds the Cross objectionable in so many ways. The mere suggestion that men are in need of deliverance scandalizes the Humanist heart.  Such a perspective rejects the existence of sin out of hand and answers humanity’s indictment with the half-truth that God’s character is solely one of abounding effervescent love. The rose-colored theology of liberal “Emergent” pastors, exemplified in Brian McLaren and Steven Chalke, flippantly dispose of the orthodox Doctrine of the Cross as a muddled and depraved misapprehension of the Gospel.

    That’s what I like about you, Glenn. Even if we don’t exactly share the same faith, we do share the same adversaries. People such as McLaren are devotees of Leftism, not Christianity. The reigning conceit seems to be, We don’t really believe that God requires man to act one way rather than another. It’s hardly different from the road that the Anglicans have gone done where the church hierarchy commonly admit that they don’t really believe in the core elements of their own religion.

    Instead, this “inclusive” type of Christianity is just the cult of Dionysus wrapped up in Christian garb, infused with a modern “I’m okay, you’re okay” psycho-babblized creed. And all of this is permitted and sanctioned by the knowledge that somewhere someone is holding up a sign on the side of the street that says “God hates fags.” This then justifies their non-judgmental good-time-rock-n-roll “inclusive” meme.

    At least I’m honest about where I am. But the fact is, it’s possible that I’m more Christian than these good time rock-n-rollers are. I just don’t dress up in Christian garb. But if I did, who would be the more authentic Christian, me or those who, for all intents and purposes, have substituted Leftism for their authentic Christian beliefs?

    • Rosalys says:

      “…the Anglicans have gone done where the church hierarchy commonly admit that they don’t really believe in the core elements of their own religion.

      These people are frauds and they will be judged all the more harshly for it. Find the right parish and it’s a pretty lucrative gig! Silly me, I must be awfully old fashioned, but I would think that the minimum requirement for anyone desiring to become a Christian priest, minister, elder, or deacon is they he be a believer in and follower of Christ. It makes me cringe when I hear Desmond Tutu announce that he could never worship a homophobic God. First of all God is not a “homophobe” (which is a ridiculous word to begin with!) but He does have His standards and rules. Desmond Tutu had better read his Bible a little more thoroughly while he’s still on the skyward side of the grass and has a chance.

      Thank you Glenn for this piece giving us a glimpse, because we will never be able to comprehend the fullness of just how much it cost both the Son and the Father and the Holy Spirit to redeem a seemingly worthless and undeserving humanity just because He loves us so much!

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      McLaren, Chalke and their like are to Christianity what the aliens were to people in “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.

      They take over the host as if they immediately showed their true selves, everyone would run. Once they have control of the host they can slowly work their destruction in a drip, drip, drip like manner. Suddenly, there is no more Christianity.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Recall that a few years ago, when Pope Benedict criticized Islam for relying on violence and coercion to gain “converts”, the APEC leader commented on the flaws of Christian — whom she referred to as “they”, not “we”. But there are Anglicans/Episcopalians who still believe, and who have considered separating themselves (possibly under the Nigerian Anglican leader).

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    And those who take the Cross to task with the allegation that it is but a primitive expiation of bloodguilt, more fitting for a barbarous pagan mystery religion, have their eyes affixed purely on the carnal reckoning of things.  They are blind to the revelation, that in the grand mechanics of creation, it is God crucifying God – taking Man’s penalty upon Himself to satisfy both the necessity of justice and the outreach for love that is so utterly incomprehensible to the seditious nature of the fallen mind.

    I confess to being a bit mystified by God sacrificing himself to pay for other people’s crime. But that is the Christian religion, take it or leave it.

    But some have tried to have their cake and eat it too. In the Left’s conception of things, it’s unfair to have people be “excluded.” To them, the highest ethic is “inclusion.” I swear, I think Leftists are those who were the last picked on the playground when choosing up sides to play kickball. Their grievance is endless.

    God can presumably show mercy in any form that he wishes. Even earthly judges have much latitude in determining guilt and innocence and what punishments to mete out. This therefore is nothing strange or new.

    But what is strange or new is Christians falling for this weak “inclusive” stuff where nothing is sorted by kind. But if there is a God who writes his laws Large, then not everything is included. Oh, it’s certainly fine to take to heart “Let those who are without sin throw the first stone.” But Jesus did not say that there was no such thing as sin because if there was, some people would be “excluded” from being sinless. (Not to mention that his answer was in regards to a legal trap that others were trying to set for him. One would not think he was trying to set a Cosmic precedent other than how to hoist others by their own petard).

    Whatever one thinks about Christianity (and it seems not many do much thinking, including quite a few Christians), the above critique of The Cross that Glenn is paraphrasing is a Leftist critique and should be recognized as such. One can question whether or not the Incarnation is real. After all, it is a stupendous claim. But to deconstruct it and run it down because it offends our sense of perfect equality and kumbaya is quite another thing.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      “hang up others by their own petard”

      One can be hoisted by one’s own petard, ala being literally blown up, but not hanged by it, unless in the in the exercise of gravity one is caught between two objects or some such thing.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I’ll try to remember my Shakespeare better in the future.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          A petard is a type of mortar. If you slip up (particularly in the earlier days of gunpowder weapons), you could somehow be launched by your own weapon — hence, hoisted by your own petard.

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    As for the mystification of redemption, perhaps this is instructive:

    When my son, the young Captain, arrived back from his recent stint in Jordan, he immediately received notice from my wife that his grandfather’s cancer had taken a turn for the worse. Rather than chance waiting and attending his funeral, he made a firm decision to come and see him while grampa was still in command of his faculties. While here, he used my car and had a minor traffic accident and my son accepted responsibility. Upon heading back east to attend the grueling SERE training, I told him that I would negotiate damages and he could pay me. With so much on his plate, he thanked me effusively.

    Upon paying the damages, I informed Aaron that I would absorb the penalty as a gift to him. While at first he would not have it, I informed him that it was my pleasure to do this for him……not to hold it over his head, but as a means to show him how much I loved and respected him. We both had a misty moment over the phone. Surely, I could have insisted on mere legalism and our relationship would not have suffered one bit. But in paying the price through love I was modeling what God did for us magnified exponentially to the umpteenth power. Mind you, the analogy breaks down a bit because my son is an honorable man and not a chiseler trying to evade responsibility, but I believe that this action will reveal to him something about our love that could not be arrived at from any other avenue. True love can transcend the law sometimes on earth, and in the economy of God it can create sons and daughters from servants who are bound only by the legal obligation of the “thou shalt not.” God is in the transformation business—-and for Him to be successful, the metamorphosis must begin at the heart.

  4. Anniel says:

    And the resurrected Christ died for us all if we but accept His gift. The gift is too great for men to fully comprehend so backs are turned as minds are closed.

    • ronlsb says:

      Anniel, the Scripture is quite clear as to whom Christ died for. He died for His sheep. The Bible also makes clear whom those sheep are–all that the Father gives Him. There are two classes of people among the human race–sheep and goats. Christ did not lay down His life for the goats. This may seem unfair to most; even most Christians have a difficult time accepting what Christ said concerning this matter. But we must accept the fact that God repeatedly says that He is the potter and we are the clay and that the Potter has the right to make from the same lump of clay both vessels of honor and dishonor. Indeed, He says “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion upon whom I have compassion”. That is the essence of what it means to be God. As fallen creatures, it is not our role to know nor does God reveal in advance which people fall into the two different categories. As creatures, our obligation is to accept the risen Lord or reject him. The believers role is to proclaim the glad tidings to anyone and everyone who will listen and leave the results up to God the Holy Spirit, for it is He that ultimately breathes life into the spiritually dead sinner, opening his eyes to the ugliness of his own heart, the wrath of God that awaits him at judgment, and the beauty of a Savior whose blood will wash away his guilt forevermore!!

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I think this explains why so many are so reluctant to believe today, and in particular are hostile to Christianity in particular. How many people want to accept that there is ugliness in their hearts?

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          As Deane wrote in her piece yesterday,

          “He shamed them without even trying to do so.”

          This, I believe, is one of the main reasons many anti-Christians are so rabid in their hate. I do not believe they are so worried about some modern theocracy. That is just a theme they have picked up for convenience and general advertising purposes. It sounds almost rational and for the illiterate and prejudiced among the population, it will do.

          What really motivates them is shame. When they see Christians leading decent lives, it is as if they are looking at a negative reflection of themselves. A type of Dorian Grey portrait, which shows them as they really are, and they don’t like it. It is a rebuke.

          Of course, bad is shamed by good, sloth by industriousness, hate by love, greed by generosity and despair by hope.

          • Glenn Fairman says:

            I had not considered that. When I consider the objections to the cross, I think more of pride and people believing that they can effect their own salvation through behavior or works.

            But at a more subterranean level, perhaps pride is a fig leaf to hide shame………..as at the fall in the garden.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I believe the reason one hears “don’t be judgmental” today, is because people wish to hide their shame and weaken the strength of this common emotion as a force for good. Most people would rather think they have something to be proud of as opposed to realizing they have much to be ashamed of. At least the non-sociopaths among us.

              Look at all the ways people try to hide their shameful deeds.But if they do something praiseworthy, they try to advertise.

              For some really serious cases, they try to turn their shame into something to be proud of, or at least into a neutral,by their tasteless flaunting of it before the public.

              And your observation about it’s presence in the garden, is a reminder that has been a part of man’s makeup, from the beginning.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I suspect you’re right. And unfortunately, the cry of “don’t be judgmental” (which the people who proclaim it ignore when it comes to political views they obamanate) leads to the dangerous concept that we have a right to behave immorally without being criticized. This is what leads to the peculiar libertinist notion that absolute sexual license trumps religious freedom.

          • john hartnett says:

            Kung Fu Zu:
            For a long time I had been puzzled by the vicious hatred of Christ’s enemies toward Him. It appeared that they could not debase, humiliate or torture Him enough to satisfy their hatred. After the beatings, the spitting, ripping out pieces of his hair and beard, a scourging that tore most of the flesh off His back, pouring dirt on His head in mockery of Madgalen’s previous anointing with precious oils, crowning Him with thorns, they still couldn’t show the slightest mercy, so malignant was the hatred. They battered and hounded Him all the way to Calvary. Such cruelty seemed senseless to me.
            But very recently I came to the same conclusion as that which you stated above.
            Shame.
            His perfection shamed them, forced them to see themselves as they really were and it was too much for them. He saw through them and they hated Him passionately for it.
            The very same element that drives such mindless hatred of Christians today.

      • Glenn Fairman says:

        With all respect, and I do not mean to get involved in a Calvinist-Arminian argument, but:

        “For God so loved the world that He gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting Life.”

        God died for everyman who lived at every moment of History past or future. It is the free will of man that decides whether he will take him up on that offer. Does God know who will avail themselves of Grace? Certainly. But knowing that something will occur is not the same as making something occur…….

        • ronlsb says:

          Glenn–You write eloquently defending the Christian faith and are clearly a very logical thinker as you make your arguments in all the articles I read by you. This is perhaps not the best place to discuss the issue so I will only make one last comment, and no more. The scripture you quoted tells us nothing about for whom Christ died, only that He loves the world and whoever believes in Him should not perish. I commend to you the Puritan John Owens’s famous work “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ “. In it he clearly responds to every text in the entire Bible attempting to validate the view that Christ died for everyone who ever lived. I leave you only with this analysis from Owen–If Christ death was for the sins of all men, then all men must got to heaven (a universalist view that no orthodox Christian holds), unless, of course, you don’t believe that unbelief is a sin. I know you do believe unbelief is a sin, but to be consistent in your view that Christ died for all the sins of all men, you must necessarily then believe he died for the sin of unbelief as well. One then must by necessity be a universalist. If you are, I have not read what you have written accurately. If you are not, then you should not continue to hold the view that He died for all the sins of everyone who has lived, for it is clearly not what the Bible teaches. Let God be God, the sovereign over all creation, including the salvation of His people. Have a most blessed Easter as we celebrate our risen Savior!!

          • thomas E. camfield says:

            My belief on this from a limited atonement perspective is that the atonement of Christ is sufficient for all but only efficient for some. People are born ” dead in trespasses and sins” so every one is going to hell from the get go , that god saves some is his prerogative. If Christ died for all then all must be saved or God would be considered unjust in condemning people that Jesus died for. The Arminian viewpoint , of which I used to be a proponent has too many logical catch-22’s therefore i embrace a more Calvinistic perspective.

            • Glenn Fairman says:

              I suggest that you split the child down the middle. William Lane Craig is a proponent of the Molinist approach, a third way that finds freedom in sovereignty

              • thomas E. camfield says:

                I am a reformed Christian , I do not agree with the Molinist or the open view of god proponents. All I am saying is God saves people since he is the author and finisher of our faith. I was raised a catholic , alter boy etc.. If satan can get something as thin as a sheet of paper between the believer and Christ he has won. I will not gain the upper hand in engaging in Christian philosophical debate with a man of your intellect and education and I know I will not bring many to Christ either. Peace Brother. Keep up the good fight or should I say ” God speed”

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I have withheld comment on this subject because it was Easter and I generally prefer to stay out of religious discussions. But after several posts, I have decided to join in.

              Thomas, you state, “If Christ died for all then all must be saved or God would be considered unjust in condemning people that Jesus died for.”

              This does not hold water logically. Let’s say I died and left all my worldly goods to all the people within a certain distance from my home. The inheritance is there for all those people, subject to a certain requirement, let’s say they must come to my home by foot to receive the inheritance. Those who walk to my home meet the requirement and receive their inheritance. Those who don’t walk, do not. But just because some didn’t wish to exert themselves by walking to my home doesn’t mean my gift was not available to them.

              More importantly, even if it were logically consistent, I would like to know how maintaining and arguing such a position has any effect on instructing people how to be saved? Does telling people that only a few will be saved make any difference to God? Does it influence his decisions? Does such a discussion help further the message of Jesus? What possible difference does it make to anything, other than causing discord and dissent. Can anyone tell me how such theological hairsplitting teaches an individual as to personal behavior or how to lead a Christian life? What does it have to do with salvation? In fact, such discussions about this and predestination, whence this dogma springs, are to be found nowhere in the Bible. Therefore, I would like you or anybody else to explain to me how believing or not believing in such suppositions has any bearing on salvation. As far as I can see, it has none.

              It is all well and good to try to understand God’s Will and what must be done to win salvation. But, in my opinion, such discussions contribute nothing positive to the here and now, much less to eternity. The Bible does not go into detail on all subjects and much is left unsaid. The formula for salvation is pretty simple and straightforward. Speculations beyond that are really nothing more than mind games, as the truth on such subjects cannot be known, I believe such discussions generally arise from the vain and disputatious nature of man, which is something I thought Christians were supposed to overcome. Such musings may be fun to those who indulge in them, but the arrogance and obstinacy of many who have maintained only they know the true will of God, when they know no such thing, has caused tremendous damage to Christianity and therefore to the world.

        • thomas E. camfield says:

          Divine sovereignty and human responsibility as has been mulled over in my mind is an issue that will never be resolved this side of heaven, I do notice in scripture that gods sovereignty and human responsibility are always placed together. a person can get into the logic of this issue and ask ” did Christ actually save people by his sacrifice on the cross or only make salvation possible ?” or ” if Christ died for all then all should be saved?” I think when we get to heaven it will be a no-brainer , but down here on the “cursed earth” we just can’t figure it. I ask myself sometimes ‘ do I deserve to go to hell ?” The answer is yes. People do not want to accept this so they look into the well of their own reason and see their reflection and align their theology accordingly. A person can lose their burden at the wicket gate but they still have to walk through it.

      • Ron — this is wrong. It is a part of Calvinist doctrine that doesn’t have a biblical leg to stand on. I don’t want to get into a spitting match, but, as per Timothy’s remark following, this heresy must stop because it is destroying the unbeliever’s ability to grasp the gospel. It makes God out to be unfair and capricious and makes Christ’s work on the cross of limited use. I could sight a long list of references here but this one will do —
        1 John 2:2: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

  5. Glenn Fairman says:

    I am not a Universalist. But grace is a gift. And a gift is contingent upon one’s acceptance of that gift. Therein the word “whosoever” does not imply a necessity but contingency. Since God is not a fool and knows the innermost recesses of our hearts, the mere chanting of an incantation means nothing unless it is accompanied by repentance and a sorrow for our sinful indulgences. We will never fully get it right, but we must begin that pilgrimage to Golgotha ourselves and in dying to the flesh. This is my understanding of the Gospel. I shall leave the execution of Justice up to Him and his sorting of the sheep from the goats.

  6. Anniel says:

    There is an atheist sign that begins “Christ did not die for my sins. . .” My thought was that that choice is pretty much up to the writer, so they’re probably correct. That denial of what He did, especially at Easter, is such a sadness to believers. Grace is truly a gift. But, like all gifts it can be rejected. I read several chapters in the Gospel according to Matthew last night and was struck again by the muscularity of Christ’s teachings about who He is and what he came to do.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      Men can not read the gospels and come away with ambiguity unless they are filtering his words as allegories or through a polluted lens.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Many years ago, we received a humorous item in which a recently deceased man is informed by St. Peter that he needs 100 points to enter Heaven. As he ticks off his moral assets and finds that he only has a handful of points, he finally realizes, “The only way I’ll get in is through the grace of God.” To which Peter replies, “100 points. You’re in.”

    • That’s the amazing thing about God’s amazing grace — Christ did die for the atheist as well as for the believer. Tetelestai — it is finished — and the Greek verb tense indicates finished with results that will last forever. I’ll refer again to the verse I cited above:
      1 John 2:2: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

      And Glenn — great piece obviously full of points that need discussing. dc

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Can anyone tell me how such theological hairsplitting instructs an individual as to personal behavior or how to lead a Christian life?

    Let me intrude on your conversation, Mr. Kung — such as it is. You haven’t gotten any response as of yet.

    When I’m out hiking in the hills, I talk to god all the time. And I never get a response. For being such a sociable fellow, god is strangely silent. But I suppose if god did talk back, I’d be wondering if I was a schizophrenic.

    Whatever the case may be, simply stipulating that there is a god is a major thing. Certainly reality itself is due a stupendous explanation. Regarding that idea, I have no quibble.

    But when it gets down to talking about things such as predestination, I can’t help thinking that we are no longer talking about god but about ourselves. We can imagine anything. Our clever brains can construct castles in the clouds with relative ease. But what is real?

    And to me, that aspect matters greatly. Castles in the clouds might be pretty, but if I don’t believe that they are real, what good are they to me?

    It’s the building of these castles, the endless parsing of how things really supposedly are in realms far beyond us, that deflates my sense of the divine. It doesn’t invigorate it. To say that god saves all, saves none, or that it happens according to this formula instead of that leaves me spiritually distraught and doubtful that there is anything more to all this than mere cloud castles.

    But if one does believe then one should just get on with believing. The ideas, as you stated, are pretty straightforward. But perhaps Christians have once again lost the path.

    Back in the 13th century, the Church had become completely corrupt. The Vatican was simply a political entity, at best, and many, if not most, of the local priests were examples of various forms of the seven deadly sins. The Church was feared — perhaps as on ongoing superstition that one perhaps ought not to ignore — but it was not respected or loved by the masses.

    And then along comes a guy named Francis of Assisi who actually lived according to the Gospel. One may or may not believe that the Gospel is divinely inspired, but it is a thing that can be imitated — or not. And when it was by Francis, he was the biggest breath of fresh air that hit Europe since anyone could remember. He was an almost immediate hit. He could be called the first Reformation. I wonder if we need a third.

    He based his mission not on hair-splitting but on three passages from the Bible:

    “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Matthew 19,21);

    “Take nothing for your journey” (Luke 9,3);

    “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me” (Luke 9,23).

    Again, one may believe or not believe that such words were divinely inspired. But they certainly do not add up to forever speculating over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

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