Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Because Jesus Beats the Devil at Martin Luther’s Game

Reading my daily gospel chapter (Matthew 4), I started out thinking, "So why four Gospels?" Islam has one Koran, one truth never to be challenged, on pain of death. By approving a canon of four Gospels, the Church Fathers opened themselves to, nay invited multiple interpretations. As though the story of Christ's life among us had been made by Akira Kurosawa and the four Gospels were a Greek "Rashomon."

In that 1950 classic starring Toshiro Mifune (pictured), the story of a crime is told from four conflicting viewpoints. So with the Gospels and its story of the answer to a Great Crime, original sin: Did Mary hear an angel's voice and visit Elizabeth, as Luke has it; or did Joseph hear an angel in a dream and flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt, as Matthew tells us? Or both?!

What exactly happened after the Resurrection, and in what order, and how long did it take? I'm sure you Bible scholars (Frank?) can give far better examples. I'm just a po' largely unchurched, unBibled Episcopalian gone Roman.

But you see my point? The structure of four Gospels makes interpretation required. So sola scriptura, the "Reformation" "creed" that only Scripture is infallible, has an inherent self-contradiction at the outset.

Then you come to Matthew 4, and the three temptations of Christ. Jesus and "the tempter" have what amounts to a Scripture Slam, fending each other off with passages from what we now know as the Old Testament. The second temptation is the kicker. The devil uses Scripture (the 91st Psalm in this case) to tempt Jesus. And what does Jesus do? Contradicts the devil with Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:16)!

Now, I'm sure the "Reformers" have an answer for this quandary of mine, and I hope to hear from a few of them. But for now, I'm just a po' Catholic boy scratching my thinning white head. Was Kurosawa Catholic?