Pilate and the modern Christian (Mondays with MacDonald)

“Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?'” — John 18:38a

Pilate thereupon—as would most Christians nowadays, instead of setting about being true—requests a definition of truth, a presentation to his intellect in set terms of what the word ‘truth’ means; but instantly, whether confident of the uselessness of the inquiry, or intending to resume it when he has set the Lord at liberty, goes out to the people to tell them he finds no fault in him. Whatever interpretation we put on his action here, he must be far less worthy of blame than those ‘Christians’ who, instead of setting themselves to be pure ‘even as he is pure,’ to be their brother and sister’s keeper, and to serve God by being honourable in shop and counting-house and labour-market, proceed to ‘serve’ him, some by going to church or chapel, some by condemning the opinions of their neighbours, some by teaching others what they do not themselves heed.

George MacDonald (from his sermon “Kingship”, published in Unspoken Sermons, Series 3, 1889)

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  • Kay

    Hey Steve! I was thinking about you the other day and the long gone days of blogging. (Not being on Facebook also makes it difficult to stay in contact with past blogging buddies.) All this to say hello and wondered if you were still blogging – which obviously you’re not. Hope you are doing well.

    • Sorry I missed this comment. I’m not really doing much writing of any kind in recent years, but I have lately been missing it. I’ve been reading through my old blog posts and hoping to kindle something again. I hope you’re doing well also!

  • mark45ful

    Probably not part of the current discussion but I haven’t been on site for some years. Heard this poem at a Richard Rohr Conference and began to weep. God wins! Interesting date! Mark Chapman

    The Fullness of Time
    By James Stephens (b. 1882)

    ON a rusty iron throne
    Past the furthest star of space
    I saw Satan sit alone,
    Old and haggard was his face;
    For his work was done and he 5
    Rested in eternity.

    And to him from out the sun
    Came his father and his friend
    Saying, now the work is done
    Enmity is at an end: 10
    And he guided Satan to
    Paradises that he knew.

    Gabriel without a frown,
    Uriel without a spear,
    Raphael came singing down 15
    Welcoming their ancient peer,
    And they seated him beside
    One who had been crucified.

    • Thanks, Mark! There was an explosion of this kind of thinking in the latter part of the nineteenth century, it seems. I’m not sure how literally to take the redemption of Satan language in this poem, but as a picture of the redeemability of the most vile of sinners it is certainly suggestive and picturesque. Even the esteemed St. Gregory of Nyssa believed that the originator of evil would be reconciled, but over the centuries it’s been rather an unpopular opinion to say the least!