Many Christians are happy (or at least willing) to recognize that Jesus had ignorance of certain matters. For example, he couldn’t have told you that London will host the 2012 Olympics or that Transformers 3 would clean up at the box office. But that willingness to embrace Jesus being ignorant suddenly seems to exaporate when it comes to theological matters. Ryan poses the question quite directly: “Was Jesus also influenced by incorrect theological concepts of the day?” In other words, could Jesus have given the wrong theological answer?
That is certainly a question worthy of some reflection. So let’s climb into my time machine, make sure our “Automated Aramaic translation devices” (AATDs) are in place (thereby allowing immediate seamless communication with speakers of ancient Aramaic) and travel back to Judea, c. AD 30.
It starts with a whirring sound. We are spinning. Sparkling lights. An array of ghostly images streak by. The whirring sound builds to a fever pitch and then slows down. We feel the heat of the sun and can taste the dust. We’ve arrive in ancient Judea.
We climb out of the time machine, make sure our AATDs are on. Oops your battery is dead. I guess I’ll have to do the speaking. Sorry about that.
After five minutes of walking we find Jesus teaching a small group. We walk up. The group seems not to notice that you are wearing a mesh muscle shirt that says “Hawaii 80” and cut off jeans. When there is a lull in the conversation I ask Jesus a question.
“Rabbi, is the filioque doctrine correct?” A gruff looking fisherman (is that Peter?) looks at me with a quizzical expression. When no answer is forthcoming, I continue. “Also I was wondering whether God exercises his special divine action by collapsing quantum wave packets. Oh, and is the pope really infallible? And should I believe your mother arose bodily to heaven? And was your atoning work an act of penal substitution? And is it appropriate for a denizen of the early twenty-first century to use female pronouns when referring to the first person of the Trinity? And why is the 2nd human chromosome fused? Does that mean common descent is true? Does the Spirit spirate from the Father, and if so can you give me an idea of what that is supposed to mean?”
The fisherman is clearly starting to get irritated but I persist.
“Is God the primary cause of human free actions? Is election rooted in God’s foreknowledge of future free human choice? Could God the Father have become incarnate? Are you impeccable? Is God atemporal? Strongly immutable? Metaphysically simple? How do you resolve the omnipotence paradox? Is Anselm’s definition of God as a perfect being correct? If so, what is the set of maximally compossible great making properties that God exemplifies? Is transsubstantiation true? Do the deuterocanonical books belong in the canon? Is the verbal plenary inspiration theory correct? What about amillennialism? Is tongues the sign of the infilling of the Holy Spirit? Can women be pastors? Bishops? Should churches be episcopal or congregational?”
“Enough already!” the fisherman barks. “Let the Rabbi answer!”
“Yes,” I reply with a blush. “I’m sorry.” I sit down on the grass and wait.