ELIJAH, AMOS AND JEREMIAH
The Prophets as Uncomfortable Critics/ Prophets since Jesus of Nazareth
By Dieter Potzel, www.theologe.de
[This article is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.theologe.de/theologe.20.htm.]
The prophets in the Jewish and Christian world had a hard lot. They proclaimed messages to people who heard them in their interior as “mediators” to the spiritual world. Outwardly they led a modest life according to the commands of the “Creator God,” for example the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus of Nazareth. Prophets often endured arduous inner battles until they finally carried out their task. Trust and experience were central. They heard “God’s Spirit” in their interior. They could serve as God’s megaphone or channel for God’s message to people. That was always a heavy burden for people because a genuine prophet of God had to fulfill himself what he passed on to others. Prophets quickly come into conflict with the ruling priests and scribes.
The following essays about three prophets of the Old Testament, Elijah, Amos and Jeremiah, are also representative for other prophets like Isaiah, Hosea, Daniel, Ezekiel and many others. The fundamental question about the origin and nature of prophecy will not be thematicized here. The author assumes the original prophecies of these men were genuine prophets of God and that only one whose consciousness is somewhat in harmony with God’s Spirit and commandments can receive prophetic messages from this source… In this sense, Jesus also taught knowing true prophets and false prophets “by their fruits” (Matthew 7,15ff). Jesus said: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot hear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16,12ff).
Different from Jesus, the churches teach that prophecy or “revelation” completely ended with Jesus and the age of the church began. If a prophet should speak, the prophecy must agree with the canon as fixed by the theologians of the church according to church doctrine.
“How long will you limp on both sides?”
“Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you!” So spoke an angel to the prophet Elijah who sat under a broom tree and asked that he might die there, according to the narrative in 1 Kings in the Bible (1 Kings 19,5). However his prophetic commission did not end. A strengthened Elijah set out to assist his people in a helping way.
Elijah lived in the 9th century B.C. in Israel. The people had turned away from their God in whom they believed until then and worshipped a god “Baal.” The name “Baal” stands for a “fertility god”… The royal house under Ahab where Baal was also worshipped allowed killing out of avarice. The vineyard owner Naboth was killed because he he refused to cede his land – the foundation of the social equality of families and tribes – to the royal house.
GOD’S PROPHET DID NOT KILL
According to the biblical tradition, Elijah later killed the Baal-priests but that is probably a falsification of historical facts. Later generations accused him to justify their own murders with the “example” of the prophet. A true prophet of God holds to the Ten Commandments and does not kill. He unsparingly uncovers injustice and calls people to conversion. Therefore Elijah was also persecuted and had to hide again and again. He announced a severe famine that would come to people according to the law of seed and harvest (“What a person sows, he will harvest” also called the “action-reaction connection” in Old Testament theology). Elijah was fed by a raven at a brook. Later he found a shelter with a widow and her son.
“HOW LONG WILL YOU GO LIMPING WITH TWO DIFFERENT OPINIONS?”
At the peak of the famine, the prophet called to the people: “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18,21).
The words of the prophet were effective. After the turning away from the “fertility god Baal,” it is said it rained again in the land but Elijah still had enemies who did not really carry out the inner conversion. Elijah escaped to the wilderness and did not want any more. But God called him – through Elijah’s inner voice – to Mount Sinai where Moses once received the Ten Commandments for the people.
A powerful hurricane made mountains tremble and rocks break but Elijah did not hear God’s voice in his interior. The earth swayed but Elijah did not hear the voice again. Finally there was a fire but the fire could not be understood as God’s word and passed on to others. After the fire, there was a “still small voice.” The prophet heard God’s voice for his next task (1 Kings 19,11-13).
“SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT”
At the end of his earthly life, Elijah met Elisha, his successor as prophet (cf. 2 Kings 2). They both stood at the banks of the Jordan. America’s dark-skinned slaves in the 19th century told what they happened in a long “Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home.” A fiery “chariot,” a chariot with fiery steeds, came and brought God’s messenger back to the “heavenly realms” according to the gospel song, “comin’ for to carry me home.”
With Elijah, the holy book of Judaism known as the “Old Testament” ends. In its last sentences, it announces that the prophet Elijah will come or speak again before the last grievous time on this earth (Malachi 3,23-24). At the time of Jesus, many people believed the prophet Elijah had reincarnated in John the Baptist. According to the words of the Bible, he will “turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons and the hearts of the sons to their fathers” and bring peace. Who knows whether he has spoken in our time? In any case, the mockery of the theologians is certain.
“His words are unbearable for the land”
In the 8th century B.C., the Israelites lived in a divided land. The northern kingdom “all the tribes except Judah) was hostile to the southern kingdom. Then a prophet was called in the South. He had the task of announcing the downfall to the northern kingdom if its people did not change their behavior.
THEY ABHOR THE ONE WHO TELLS THEM THE TRUTH
Amos denounced the corrupt and unjust conditions in the land: violence, bribery, exploitation of the poor, the eating- and drinking-bouts of the rich with sexual excesses and alienated religion. Justice is “turned to wormwood” and righteousness cast down on earth (5.7). With this message, the foreign prophet met with embittered resistance everywhere in the land. The people “hate him who reproves in the gate and they abhor him who speaks the truth” (5,10). That was the prophetic word. The priests opposed him and told the king: “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land; the land is not able to bear all his words” (7,10).
The terrible conditions in Israel would have consequences. With vivid comparisons, Amos referred to the law of cause and effect. “Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing?” (3,4). Amos prophesied: “The houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end” (3,15). “Behold the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fish-hooks. And you shall go out through the breaches and be dragged away, says the Lord” (7,10). The prophet also set his action in the context of cause and effect: “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid?” (13,6) He is the trumpet himself and triggers shock. As a prophet, he showed what would happen if the people were not converted. At the same time, he showed the way that conversion could begin and how people could still escape the threatening disaster.
READY FOR THE END
The word of the Lord came through Amos to the people “Seek me and live” (5,4). The horns of the altar in Bethel consecrated by the priests shall be cut off and fall to the ground (3,14). Therefore do not seek Bethel and do not enter into Gilgal (the sanctuary of the priests) for Gilgal shall surely go into exile and Bethel shall come to nought. Instead seek the Lord and live” (5,5-6). “Seek good, and not evil that you may live and so the Lord will be with you… But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (5,14.24).
Amaziah the priest of Bethel said to Amos: “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah and eat bread there and prophecy there, but never again prophecy at Bethel for it is a temple of the kingdom” (7,12-13). However Amos was faithful to his task. One last time he humbly confessed to the high priest: “I am a herdsman and dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from tending the flock, and the Lord said to me, Go, prophecy to my people” (7,14-15).
But the high priest consecrated by people as a “mediator to God” did not allow God to speak through the mouth of a prophet. How did the prophet then act? In his interior, Amos the farmer and prophet saw a basket with summer fruit and heard God’s voice again. He wrote: “The Lord said to me, the end has come upon my people Israel” (8,2). So he announced death to the high priest and destruction to the people. Then he had to flee from Israel’s northern kingdom.
A LITTLE TIME FOR CONVERSION
Israel had a few years left, enough time to hear the prophet and carry out an about-face. However the people were not converted. Instead they took the time to rearm militarily. The Assyrian kingdom should be kept from conquering Israel with force of arms. The animosity of the North was directed at the southern kingdom. Israel marched into war against Judah, the “disloyal” tribe in the South. Amos and his prophecies seemed over. Contrary to the prophecies, Israel had the desired military success. Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah’s southern tribe, was surrounded by the united army of Israel’s northern tribes and the Armenians allied with the North. However “God’s mills grind slowly,” as the well-known proverb says. Jerusalem did not fall (see 2 Kings 16,5). Then the war turned. Instead of being conquered by people from the northern kingdom, the tribe of Judah in the South called on the great power Assyria for help. This cry for help coincided with the plans of the Assyrian king. The Assyrian army was mobilized again and set out against Palestine. Northern Israel with its capital city Samaria was the goal of the violent war campaign.
Now the aggressors became the attacked. Israel had made military provisions. The little land Israel could resist the Assyrian army for several years. However the land could not be defended militarily. The end came in 722 B.C. The capital Samaria was besieged and conquered. People were dragged away. “None was left but the tribe of Judah alone” (2 Kings 17,18). Amos could not stop the destruction of the northern kingdom with his warnings. The Israelite tribes of the North were destroyed as Amos once prophesied. Some of the people who remained mixed with the neighboring people.
HUNGER FOR THE SPIRITUAL BREAD
The prophet showed the outward course of things and also appealed to the interior of people, the longing for God and for the true nature of the person. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, not a famine of bread, not a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (8,11). At first this prophesy was joined with inner unrest and despair as it says about this hunger: “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord but they shall not find it” (8,11). Still the turn of an era occurred in the midst of the suffering time. At the end of his revelation, the fig farmer from the southern kingdom had an expanded view of the future with a promise: “In that day I will rouse up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches and raise3 up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old” (9,11). “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land which I have given them,” says the Lord your God” (9,13-15). Some said this went too far and was long past. Others said it had not gone far enough. Still others said this time begins now.
Ignored, tormented and killed by those he wanted to help
The year 600 B.C. was a fateful year for Jerusalem and Judah, the only tribe left in Israel. The great power Babylon replaced the Assyrian empire and could not be stopped militarily. Babylon conquered land after land and annexed them in the new empire. Judah, what remained of Israel’s former southern kingdom, was still independent. How would its leaders and the population act?
At this time, God’s word was given by the prophet Jeremiah. It was politically clear: Israel should not resist Babylon with force. God would lead his people through the hard time until Babylon was overtaken by its fate and Israel could live in freedom again. However the political and religious authority in former Israel resisted the prophet, fought him and armed for war against Babylon. But God comforted Jeremiah and picked him up again and again. For nearly 50 years, the prophet Jeremiah sided with the people of Israel. He did not give up and was faithful to God and humanity. His reward was ingratitude and unthankfulness. At the end, according to the tradition, he was even stoned by a furious multitude. God allowed him to look into the future. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah… I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (31,31.33).
JEREMIAH IS IMPRISONED AND STANDS ALONE
Against Jeremiah’s warnings, Israel’s politicians and priests decided for a defensive war against Babylon. This decision was a judgment against the prophet. The upper class of the Israelites said to the king: “Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them” (38,4). Thereupon Jeremiah was thrown into a mud hole to die of hunger as a traitor.
However “there was another man who prophesied in the name of the Lord, Uriah the son of Shemaiah. He prophesied in words like those of Jeremiah (26,20). He was also to be killed. When Uriah learned of his death sentence, he escaped to Egypt. But Judah’s rulers pursued him and demanded his surrender from the Egyptians. They yielded. Back in Jerusalem, the prophet was to be stabbed to death on order of the king. Jeremiah should die a slower and more excruciating death than his fellow-supporter Uriah. But an employee of the Jewish royal house had mercy on the prophet. He gained a partial pardon and the death sentence was lifted. From then on, Jeremiah was locked up in a watchtower of the royal house.
BUY A FIELD BEFORE THE LAND IS CONQUERED
Jeremiah received the commission to buy a field in his home village Anatot. Jeremiah sighed but remembered the promise of the land and prayed to God: “Thou gave them this land which Thou did swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey… Thou, O Lord God, said to me, `Buy the field for money and get witnesses ‘ – though the city is given into the hands of the Babylonians” (32,22.25). And Jeremiah received the answer: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me?” (v.27).
So Jeremiah bought the field for 17 pieces of silver as a signal for the others and a symbol for the future. “Fields should be bought for money and sealed in this land of which it is said, It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hands of the Babylonians” (32,43).
Militarily Judah had no chance against Babylon. Vast amounts of blood flowed on account of its militant resistance. To break the resistance, the Babylonian superpower acted brutally. The houses and walls of Jerusalem and Judah were torn down. Most survivors were abducted. But Jeremiah was freed from his imprisonment by the conquerors after the Babylonian troops marched in.
DISDAIN AND INSULT OF THE PROPHET
God knew it would be better for the people to remain in the Promised Land and rebuild the land: “If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up… I will plant you. Do not fear the king of Babylon, says the Lord, for I am with you to save you and to deliver you from his hand” (42,10-11).
A clear unequivocal word was given by the prophet. As confirmation, Jeremiah had bought a field. What would the others do? The first answer heard by Jeremiah from the assembled multitude was: “You are telling a lie” (43,2). Great unrest arose and the assembly took the following course. More and more citizens saw him like the first voice crying in the wilderness. The firm belief not to hear the prophet prevailed again in the population. The people of Israel (of whom only the tribe of Judah was left) set out toward Egypt. Whoever wanted to remain in the land and hear “God’s word” had no chance. Everyone had to join. Jeremiah was also forced to set out for Egypt.
THE “QUEEN OF HEAVEN” DID NOT HELP
However life in Egypt was very different than the Israelites had hoped. It was a hard daily struggle for naked survival. In this situation, people questioned their faith. Why not pray to God like the Egyptians? If we pray to the same God like the Egyptians, our fate will be averted and life will be good again. More and more Israelites thought that way. Finally the priests and authorities of the people decided. From then on, the queen of heaven. Egypt’s “great goddess,” should be worshipped. In this situation, the prophet abducted to Egypt against his will heard “God’s word” again in his innermost being. He warned the population of new disaster if Israel supported this idol cult and completely rid itself of the God who spoke through Jeremiah and would lead his people to peace and happiness. What would be the reaction to the warning? Would the Israelites at least reflect, abandon their project and ask God what they should do instead? But nothing like that happened. Egypt’s “great goddess” should help Israel. That was the decision. However the new religion did not help. On the contrary, a famine and plague soon broke out instead of an improvement of their lives. One sacrifice after another was demanded. The Israelites became more and more brutalized. Violence and murder increased. The days of the prophet were now numbered. Jeremiah was killed under unknown circumstances according to the tradition. Finally only a little band of impoverished Israelites was left.
But that was not the complete end. The few survivors reflected and resolved to drag back to Israel. The first abducted ones from Babylon met them there. The great Babylonian empire had fallen into the hands of Persia, as the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied. Much time was lost that could have been used to bless the land and its people. But Israel was given a new chance to build its land and its society according to God’s commands. As once promised by the prophet Jeremiah: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you and you shall be built. O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tumbrels, and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit” (31,3-5). Would this chance be utilized?
PROPHETS IN THE LAST 2000 YEARS
The churches teach Jesus as “God’s Son” was the last prophet through whom God spoke directly to humankind. Jesus did not teach that explicitly. He warned of the “false prophets” and explained how to recognize “true prophets of God”:
“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. Thus you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7,15-17.20). In another passage, Jesus speaks of the “Spirit of truth” that will proclaim even more far-reaching truths than those that Jesus brought into the world: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come…” (John 16,12-13). Paul obviously knew of more prophets when he wrote: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers…” (1 Cor 12,27-28).
Different from Jesus and Paui, the churches teach that prophecy or “revelation” completely or mainly ended with Jesus and the age of the church began. In other words, the church does not want or need any prophets. For the church, there is the Bible interpreted by the church scribes or theologians. This situation can also be illustrated practically. Can anyone imagine that a pope, cardinal, regional bishop or deacon hears a prophet when “the spiritual world” may correct the dignitary through a prophet? Can anyone imagine he may change one of over 2000 doctrines in the catholic catechism or that he may change something in a single protestant confession? Never in my life. But if a prophet should be recognized by the church, the prophecy must agree with the “canon” (the binding church “guiding principle”) of the Bible as the theologians of the church settled it. Still the prophets were always uncomfortable admonishers and directed their words again and again against the institutionalized – office – Christianity. Only the “house- and court-prophets” are endured who only prophesy what is identical with the teaching of church theologians and priests. This was also true at the time of the Old Testament when the prophesies of Jeremiah the prophet of God were opposed by “court prophets” and the priest assistant Hananja (Jeremiah 26). Comfortable and stubborn contemporaries believed Hananja but Jeremiah was right in the end. The population did not utilize the chance to avert disaster. In the time after Christ, it was even worse because the church from the first was against the prophets while prophets in the Old Testament were at least heard initially. Prophets or persons with prophetic messages were insulted, mocked or persecuted again and again by the priests and theologians of the church and executed at the stake. In this way the prophets after Christ endured like t hose of the Old Testament. Their life was constantly threatened.
Prophets spoke to Christians again and again in the last 2000 years. These prophets were seldom accepted by the church. This happened sometimes after their death when they cou9ld not resist any more. These prophets were sometimes endured and often silenced to death, slandered or put to death. In our time they are made ridiculous from the start. In the mass media, all are thrown into one pot as “screwballs” or “sectarians” who did not suit the church. Many contemporaries are dragged through the mud and neutralized with character assassination.
One could ask: Where has the church led Christendom? What did the Bible bring to people in 1700 years? Time and again people appealed to the Bible to justify wars and exploitation of the earth. The Bible was always interpreted as the perpetrators needed. The condition of our earth and societies show the fruits. What could the prophets have accomplished if people had listened to them?
In several examples, every prophet can be tested in the criterion of “fruits” about which Jesus spoke: Montanos, Mani, Marcion, Bogumis, Girolama Savonarola in Florence, the Zwickau prophets Markus Stubner, Thomas Drechsel and Nicolaus Storch, Hans Bohm, Sebastian Franck, Jakob Bohme, Johann Georg Gichtel, Emanuel Swedenburg, Birgitta of Sweden, Hildegard von Bingen, Theresa of Avila, Katharine of Siena, Joachim of Fiore or in our time Gabriele Wittek and countless prophets and messengers of God not known by name who lost their lies on the stake of the church.
Literature on the Prophet and Priest
Walter Nigg, Prophetische Denker, Loscht den Geist nicht aus (Do not put out the Spirit, Rottweil 1986
THE RETURNING CHRIST – THE GREATEST ENEMY OF THE CHURCH?
Modern Ideas on an Uncomfortable Theme
“Jesus is returning,” it says in the confession of the churches. But woe if he really comes! Jesus did not bless or advocate church dogmas, confessions, rites or ceremonies. He would not journey to the Vatican to thank his supposed representative that the pope and his predecessors held their position so bravely in the last 2000 years.
If he would come stealthily, he would point out that his life as Jesus of Nazareth was wrongly understood. He would urge corrections of church doctrine. With this position, he would make himself the adversary of this church. In its essential foundations, church doctrine is now again “infallible” and not open for any correction. This is true for Roman Catholic doctrine and for Protestant teaching. Both churches teach that God spoke definitively in the Bible. Thus a returning Christ cannot say more than what is already in the Bible, a man who continuously quotes Bible passages and nothing more. That the church erred for 1700 years was impossible.
If Jesus would return, the conflict with the great churches would be unavoidable though he would be very cautious at first. The great churches would have to listen to him if they would really be the church of Jesus Christ. But they would certainly not hear him. The churches in the course of their history have developed too much in opposition to Jesus of Nazareth. The whole doctrines of just war and salvation are in sharp contrast to Jesus who spoke again and again of just conduct. Jesus never spoke about these dogmas or instituted the sacraments. Along with the church hierarchy, the civil service machine, international treaties, the treasury vaults, the many reliques, the mammoth church assemblies and the many thousands of pages written by church jurists of all generations, there is the tradition, the show and splendor and great big fuss, the “silly behavior” and acting of office-bearers, the world youth meetings and church days for youth and so forth. But what does all this have to do with Christ and with God? God is mysterious, the lords of the church say. The church justifies all its bustling activity as “God’s mystery” that no one can fathom but which the theologians of the church come closest. If the faith of people existed, the church through its sermons and sacraments could mediate heaven to the faithful, even if they did not understand much of that.
What will happen when Jesus returns and finally reveals “God’s mystery”? What will happen when he explains everything important to people? Little contradictions to church teaching would make him a “false teacher” about whom we were warned. The people would believe him if the end of church power occurred with his return. The church knows this and therefore fears him. But the lords of the church and their assistants would not quickly strike him. With claws and teeth, they would fight for their institution, their power and their privileges as always in the last 2000 years. How will the church react when it is suddenly opposed?
If he were not cautious any more, he would take the mask from the pope in Rome. He would repeat his “woe warnings” as against the theologians and scribes of his time. “But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men and neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in” (Matthew 23,13). The hypocrites with their stand-up collars, crosses around their necks and cardigans would come together again and deliberate how they could remove him: the “sect leader,” the “self-styled Christ,” the “false Christ,” the “totalitarian guru,” the “charlatan,” and the “false preacher of salvation.” An unerring “proof” would be cited to “unmask” Christ. The proof will be Christ does not hold to the church dogmas and confessional writings. These contain the proven tradition of countless generations. What is even worse, this “mad one” does not hold to their Bible. He would only pick out the passages that suit him – as he did as Jesus of Nazareth when he contradicted the holy tradition at that time and countered theologians of that time with his words: “But I say to you…”
In all confessions, the Bible is regarded as the uncontested worldwide “foundation of all world Christendom,” say the experts of the church. The dogmas and confessional writings are described as the only legitimate interpretations of the Bible. On the other hand, if the returning Christ does not arrive, he is a “pompous ass” presumably mentally very sick and driven by delusional megalomania “But I say to you…” We pray for him and if that does not work the police will take him away… His teaching is not compatible with the commercial rules of the publisher.
The church urges its people everywhere to trace the returning Christ. The church could try to “enlighten” its critic, the Christ, or where the church considers it necessary act against him politically or legally or simply call the police. The officiating politicians would respectfully bend down again before the power of the church. As one of the church leaders said right after the end of the 2nd World War: “The church does not need to change. Most see this as a reflection of eternity” (deacon Georg Marz from Wurzburg, quoted according to C. Vollnhals, Evangelische Kirche und Entnazifierung, Munich 1989, p.134). Breathe deep. So it was, is and always will be. The church is the reflection of eternity. So the lords of the church think and believe they can continue for ever.
For nearly 2000 years the rulers and governors came and went. But the church remained – on the side of the present or – farsightedly – future rulers. Again and again the church was befriended with wealth, privileges and favors. But whenever a prophet of heaven inclined to the earth, the Holy See (the chair of Peter) in Rome began to totter imperceptibly and its many little protestant footstools would tremble. But if Christ comes, the Holy See may totter visibly for everyone and the footstalls would fall down! What danger could start from the returning Christ? There is no greater danger for the concrete churches. Woe when he comes. Woe if he really comes a second time! Woe, woe! Wasn’t he nailed to the cross? Wasn’t he largely silent after his resurrection? Hasn’t the “heretical” Christ and prophet of God been successfully silenced in the last centuries? Hasn’t the church always resisted “heresies” and “sects” and always “put them ou9t of action”? Will he now really return? Will he even provoke the church to the “final struggle”?
The church does not need a returning Christ. The church has become a powerful institution, the most powerful institution of the whole earth. It is not a playground for strange itinerant preachers. The church has the Bible. The church has dogmas and its believers recite the Apostles’ Creed week after week. The church has the pope. Its “Urbi et Orbi” presses powerfully in the palaces of this earth and in the last huts at the edge of civilization. The people acclaim him when he comes to them over and over again. Money never matters to them when it is for the pope and his princely retinue. This man gives them hope. He is their model. He gives them strength, even Protestants. Obviously the church takes him, the Christ, lovingly in their protection. The church accepted him as the silent God, helplessly babbling in the manger or silenced on the crucifix. There he redeemed us. Woe, if he really comes again.
This text can be cited as follows:
“Der Theologe” journal edited by Dieter Potzel, Nr. 20: Elia, Amos und Jeremiah – die Propheten als unbequeme Mahner fur das Volk/ Propheten seit Jesus von Nazareth, 1996, http://www.theologe.de/theologe20.htm, 9/25/2009
“The Dangerous Doctrine of Justification” by Dieter Potzel
“Luther and Jesus of Nazareth Compared”
Video-Book TV: “The Narcissism Epidemic” by Jean Twenge, 2009