Peter Wehner

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James Tissot, “Jesus Wept (Jésus pleura),” 1886-1896. Brooklyn Museum

Of all the qualities that the New Testament ascribes to God, compassion is among the most shocking.

Compassion has nothing to do with power, with immortality or with immutability, which is what many people think of when they contemplate God’s qualities. The Greek gods of myth who lived on Mt. Olympus were defined by many things, but compassion was not high among them.

“For much of antiquity feeling the pain of others was regarded as a weakness”, John Dickson, a professor of biblical studies and public Christianity at Wheaton College, told me. This comes to full flowering in the Stoics, he said, “on the grounds that this involved allowing an external factor — the emotions or plight of another — to control your own inner life”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well, by Annibale Carracci, 1594-95. Credit Bridgeman Images

“Get used to different”.

That line comes from a marvelous new TV series on Jesus’ life, “The Chosen”, in which Jesus, played by Jonathan Roumie, invites Matthew to become one of his disciples. Simon Peter, already a disciple, registers his fierce objection. Matthew is a tax collector, who were viewed as tools of Roman authorities, often dishonest and abusive. They were therefore treated as traitors and outcasts by other Jews.

“I don’t get it”, Simon Peter says to Jesus about his decision to invite Matthew, to which Jesus responds, “You didn’t get it when I chose you, either”.

“But this is different”, Simon Peter answers.…  Seguir leyendo »

"La incredulidad de santo Tomás", 1602-03, de Caravaggio Credit Bridgeman Images

¿Por qué, según Jesús, la fe es mejor que la evidencia? Esta es una pregunta que he luchado por responder desde que, siendo joven, comencé mi peregrinaje en la fe. A veces ha parecido más apremiante, otras no tanto. Puede intensificarse durante periodos de pena y dolor, cuando pareciera que la fe no ofrece mucho consuelo o siquiera tiene sentido en un mundo que parece azaroso y cruel.

Esta pregunta se intensifica durante esta temporada, cuando parece que la fe distorsiona la realidad en vez de aclararla, cuando se manipula con facilidad para propósitos bajos en vez de elevados y cuando algunos de aquellos que dicen ser gente de fe actúan de formas que la deshonran.…  Seguir leyendo »

“The Raising of Lazarus” by Eduard von Gebhardt, from 1896. Corbis, via Getty Images

Early in my Christian pilgrimage, as a young man struggling to understand the implications of a story I had only a surface knowledge of, I stumbled onto a theological insight. For followers of Jesus, salvation was based not on his life so much as his death. Jesus could have been incarnated as a man and been crucified within days. That’s all that was needed for his death to serve as an atonement, but that’s not what happened. God clearly wanted to instruct us about how we should live in this life, too.

He became not just the author of the human drama but an actor in it.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Christmas Revolution

Because the Christmas story has been told so often for so long, it’s easy even for Christians to forget how revolutionary Jesus’ birth was. The idea that God would become human and dwell among us, in circumstances both humble and humiliating, shattered previous assumptions. It was through this story of divine enfleshment that much of our humanistic tradition was born.

For most Christians, the incarnation — the belief that God, in the person of Jesus, walked in our midst — is history’s hinge point. The incarnation’s most common theological take-away relates to the doctrine of redemption: the belief that salvation is made possible by the sinless life and atoning death of Jesus.…  Seguir leyendo »