Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Chosen Ones

The third discussion between Fr. Tischner and Jacek Żakowski centres on what it means to be chosen by God - the God who in the Old Testament asks "where art Thou?" to Adam (who hid) and to Abraham (who, in the desert, answered "here I am", before being tested by God). And Mary, who had her doubts watching her Son's crucifixion. And Jesus, who on the Cross, asked God why He had deserted Him.

Fr. Tischner then engages Żakowski on a thought experiment: "What if Jesus, who believed that he was going to die on the Cross, for the sins of all Mankind, to be resurrected as the scriptures had foretold - what if God hadn't given him the resurrection?" By holding up the central tenet of the Christian faith to question, Fr. Tischner speculates that in such a scenario - in which Jesus had lied or been tragically deluded - then God ceases to be a good God, but becomes a malicious Demiurge - an inferior, subordinate creator.

This is key. In such a circumstance (and did the Resurrection happen?) Fr. Tischner would rather suppose it would suggest the existence of a second-rate deity rather than none at all. I would concur, but would use this to question further the nature of God, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent - and God's long-term plan. But no doubt to the nature of God the conversations in the book will return.

Żakowski continues to speculate upon what an unresurrected Christ would mean for believers - a prophet, whose prophecies do not end up being fulfilled. Fr. Tischner asks whether it would be possible to show one's solidarity with a good man in the face of a malicious God. Żakowski says he could entertain such a notion. But the catechism? The catechism assumes the existence of a good God, but that human faith (in a good God) will be put to the test. "To that faith will come tests."

Żakowski then brings the conversation round to Martin Luther, who, outraged at the selling of indulgences and holy wars, rebelled against the institution of the Church, introducing schism and heresy. Was he, asks Żakowski, capax Dei? Was Luther called by God? Did Luther reply "here I am?" Fr. Tischner replies that indeed, Martin Luther, rebelling against the institution in the name of the Gospel, in the name of a good God - said "here I am".

Żakowski replies that here arises a space for dangerous subjectivism. For Martin Luther was one, and the result of his rebellion was crisis in the Church. If good faith was the reason behind Luther's actions, then can we not say that each one of us could be a Luther? What then of the institution of the church?

Fr. Tischner's answer is surprisingly liberal. Faith comes from choice, from freedom; by consciously saying to God "here I am" one is not alone; one is saying to God "here I am" as did Abraham, Luther and Christ - the Church is a collection of those with faith, those who say "here I am" to God. Faith forms the Church and in faith is the place of the Church."

Jesus is still central in Fr. Tischner's concept of faith in God; he is opening up to Protestants, but a universalism - a God that could be recognised by all forms of conscious, questioning, life across the entire Universe - requires a further leap of faith. Maybe this will be touched upon in further chapters (22 to go before Easter Sunday).

This time last year:
Fixies in the snow

This time four years ago:
Just the ticket (in praise of Warsaw's 20-minute bus/tram/metro ticket)

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