Mainly a Question of Power
My Rhode Island Catholic column for April takes up the interaction of Jesus and Pilate, with its lessons about power:
The striking thing, if Jesus told Pilate to label Him as he did, is that Caesar’s representatives clearly had the power to kill the corporeal King of the Jews. Moreover, the fact that Jesus did not, after His resurrection, take Jerusalem by storm and expunge the Romans suggests that secular power over the material is not a force that Christians should deny.
American writer H.L. Mencken once quipped that “the god in the sanctuary” was proven “a fraud” by “fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world.” They faced no Earthly repercussions for their sacrilege, the thinking goes, so clearly, a god who promises to punish such behavior has no real power over them or does not exist.
Christians must own up to the individual and collective error of repeatedly reverting to a before-Christ understanding of God as a guarantor of eventual success in this world. To such lapses, those others who are skeptical, or even hostile, have replied, “Well look how much power we have over your God and His people — to deny Him, to ensnare them in dependency and corruption, to crucify the Risen Lord again and again with disproof of His existence.” On that particular cross, they inscribe “Faith, the Theory of Believers.”