Thursday, 14 September 2017

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 741 14/9/17 GOD’S TRIAL


‘I wish to file a lawsuit against God’, a Jewish student told his Rabbi. The scholar first shuddered then froze, as if struck by a thunderbolt, but said: ‘I will summon the Sanhedrin. Come back tomorrow’. Next day, before a court of scowling Rabbis, the student indicted the Ruler of the Universe.

‘Why are the Jews hated and despised and persecuted everywhere? Why are our goods confiscated? Why are we discriminated against? Why continuing holocausts? We, who are his Chosen Ones! Does he lack the power to help? Then he is a worthless deity. Does he not want to act? Then he is wicked and therefore guilty. I rest my case.’

The court withdrew to decide. As they reassembled to render the inconceivable verdict, the earth shook. A supernatural voice spoke out of the heavens…

A tale adapted from Kafka, with blasphemous charm. Yet, what works in fiction is false in reality. Because, as philosopher Alvin Plantinga points out, if you really went to court against God you wouldn’t stand a chance: ‘God would be the judge, the jury and the executioner, all rolled into one.’ This is exemplified in the Bible, the surreal book of Job. Despite his righteousness, wretched Job is suffering horribly and doesn’t understand why. (Well, Satan comes into it but that’s another angle.) He rebels, he want to take God to court until he realises it is hopeless. At the end of the book the Lord appears and Job beholds the Creator in all his beauty, goodness and power. ‘I don’t know why God allows my pain but he must have a very good reason, even if I don’t comprehend it’, Job concludes. A satisfactory solution? Hhmmm…

Imagine a human analogy. Figure the Queen had committed a crime. Like, it was discovered she had ordered the assassination of Princess Diana, as some actually believe. That would be a charge of murder. But how could a lawsuit be formulated? British courts are Queen’s courts, they act in the monarch’s name. Could they try her, let alone find her guilty? Of course, in English history a King was once tried for treason – warring against his own people - and sentenced to death. That was Charles I, judged by a so-called High Court of Justice, established by Parliament. However, that Parliament had been purged of dissenting voices. Cromwell and fanatical Army leaders were pulling the strings. The whole thing was a travesty of justice. It cannot be a lawful precedent.

Blessed Diana apart, some fusspots claim the Queen violated her coronation oath to maintain ‘the Protestant reformed religion’. That comes down to upholding the Bible, the core of Protestantism. But when the General Synod of the C of E resolved to ordain women priests, the Queen acquiesced. Female priests are contrary to the Bible - the Old Testament, as well as the New. Did the Queen violate her oath? If so, she is technically a traitor. But can you imagine a modern British Parliament, after Cromwell, taking steps to try and depose her? Forget it!

Naturally, given her great age and status, the monarch would be declared insane and so immune from prosecution. The ultimate trial could only take place first in her conscience and then in Heaven, before the Supreme Judge. Nobody could second guess the verdict.

Why engage in counterfactual scenarios? God’s trial did in fact take place on earth, nearly 2000 years ago. In Palestine, amongst God’s chosen people. All the Gospels mention it. After Judas’ betrayal with a kiss in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was seized by officers, bound and taken before the Jewish High Priest, the supreme legal authority of his people. ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ the High Priest demanded, according to St Mark. In St Matthew and St Luke the question is more pointed: ‘Are you the Son of God?’ In both cases the Messiah’s reply was indirect, elusive. ‘You say that I am.’ Or ‘You have said so.’ Explicit enough for the outraged High Priest to rend his robes and pass a death sentence for blasphemy. St John adds the detail of the High Priest’s servant striking Jesus. Interestingly, Christ did not turn the other cheek. Instead he asked for a reason: ‘If I have done wrong, bear witness to the wrong. If not, why do you strike me?’

Was Christ’s trail legal? False Messiahs – like false Mahdis in Islam - are not lacking in history and, religiously speaking, only a Sanhedrin or a similarly authoritative rabbinical court has the authority to adjudicate. St Mark states that the witnesses spoke falsely and disagreed amongst themselves. Clearly, the High Priest should have detected that and judged accordingly. Providence had determined otherwise, however.

So the second person of the Trinity, the Christ, the Son of God, was driven to the Cross and executed. God’s scandalous trial was followed by a more scandalous God’s death. However violent a paradox, it is a moral step ahead from old Job. He angrily screamed at God for his unjust pain whereas God, in Christ, took the penalty upon himself, for the salvation of all. Such is the outrageous, salvific faith of Christians.

‘It is more expedient for a man to die than the whole people to perish’ the High Priest Caiaphas reasoned, to justify himself, forgetting whose death he was planning. A grim utilitarian argument, exposing the falsity of that shameful doctrine.

Revd Frank Gelli


** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized)
| ** friend on Facebook (#)
| ** forward to a friend (

Copyright © Fr Frank Gelli
Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp
** unsubscribe from this list (
| ** update subscription preferences (

No comments: