INTERLUDE: Wednesday Thoughts on Luke 9

Jesus asked His disciples who the people thought he was. “They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.” A philosopher, some say, or a peacemaker, and some even a prophet. A wise man, a teacher, whom words were put into his mouth about angels and messiahs and God that just weren’t his. To some an activist, a protester, a radical. Even a crazy man, or someone who never existed at all, just the fabrication of hopes and dreams.

“He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

“Peter answering said, The Christ of God.”

The controversial phrase, “He that is not with me is against me,” from Matthew 12:30 is here delivered differently: “for he that is not against us is for us.” Fascinating! Could that mean other religions whose goals are in line with the church’s, even if the theology is different? Or any other political or philosophical cause that believes in pluralism and has no problem with the spreading of the gospel? What a marvelous rearrangement of those words! It makes people friends, rather than enemies. I wonder which version Christ actually said.

In the next verses, the apostles ask Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven on a village that refused them entrance. He rebuked them, telling them they were of the wrong spirit: “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

In the sci-fi television show Person of Interest, the character of Harold Finch says something very, very similar when his team is more willing than he is to kill a relatively innocent person at the behest of a godlike machine. Finch protests that the machine was created to save lives, not destroy them, but the rest of the team believes the machine gave them this person, like a drunken Laban, to kill so that many others could be saved.

At first I compared their situation to Nephi’s, and thought it best that the team actually murder this man. They weren’t desiring his death for personal gain, or vengeance, or bloodthirst, or anything like that. He wasn’t an entirely innocent man; he was in a position of power and abusing that power to the extent of letting very dangerous people gain even greater power than he had. Killing him would block off that channel, keeping the world that much safer. But was he, himself, worthy of death for such a thing? He might have been, I don’t know. His death might have been necessary. But the machine, and God, came to save lives, not destroy them.

Guess I’ll trust God’s word over a machine, even if that machine is as omniscient as a god.

We’ll be seeing more Person of Interest here on this blog, partly because it’s generally very thought-provoking, but mostly because after it reaches a certain point in its story, it can be seen as an almost perfect reconciliation of science and religion, showing the perspective of reasonable, grounded faith in a godlike being. How that sci-fi deity deals with mortals is shockingly parallel to how God works with us. To break into informality, it’s pretty rad.

But I’ll wait till my friends who are watching it are all the way caught up before going into spoiler territory. I’ve got to get caught up too.


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