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CONTINUATION OF THE TALK ABOUT THE DEITY OF JESUS.
32,1. (Says the wise man): "Friend, I must admit that I am unable to cope with your arguments, although you have not removed an atom from the unique deity of Jesus the Lord with their help. On the contrary, you have made me see even clearer that God must be also man, the highest and most perfect man, of course. Otherwise, we could not possibly be human, nor could we love God, if He were not the most perfect man.
32,2. Love is our most sublime possession, our life, our beatitude! Why then would it exist at all if we could not love God in a human form?
32,3. Do now whatever you want - but do not expect any more wisdom from me. I gave you all I had!"
32,4. Bishop Martin ponders the words of the wise man of the party, and after a while, speaks rather to himself than to the other: "Basically you are right, for if the pentateuch of Moses is correct, God had to be a man or He could not have made Adam in His own image, which presupposes also the same nature.
32,5. Although a watchmaker need not be a watch himself to be able to make one, he must have the concept of the watch in him.
32,6. But there is a snag again! If a man can have a concept of something quite different and separate from himself, no doubt God would be capable of it.
32,7. Consequently, the text of the pentateuch could read: 'God created man in the image of His idea', i.e., in exact accordance with His idea!
32,8. If this interpretation were correct, which is quite likely, it would not mean at all that God created man in His shape, or that He would have to have a limited shape to form a man. Since every idea as such is formless, God Himself, as the fundamental principle or idea, may also be formless.
32,9. Assuming that God would have to have a human shape in order to create human beings, if He wanted to make a bear, a shark, or any of the innumerable beings, He either would have to be able to change into the shape of all these or He would have to be part of all these beings, once and for all, so that all things and beings would have in him a permanent archetype.
32,10. To assume this would be the barest sophistry! Therefore, God needs no form to be able to create men as human beings. And least of all does He need to be human Himself! This supposition would be totally contrary to the idea of complete divine freedom. For how could you imagine complete freedom if there were limitation through shape?
32,11. Considering this, complete freedom must be formless, which also agrees with the text of the pentateuch, where Jehovah forbids Moses to form any kind of image of Him.
32,12. Yes, my dearest friend, from the viewpoint of pure reason, I am probably right, whilst you 'walk by faith,' according to Paul! That, of course, is also a sort of life, but one without discernment or opinion. I do not want to take it away from you nor make a proselyte of you. However, I have to show you clearly that a former bishop cannot be turned inside out like a hare's skin, and particularly not by those who used to be his sheep on earth!"
32,13. (The wise man): "I see now in what quarter the wind is! If you are the bishop who died only a few weeks ago, then it is easy enough to understand why you cannot comprehend the deity of Jesus. Ex trunco non fit Mercuriusl (A tree-trunk cannot become a Mercury).
32,14. I am the bookseller of the same town where you were bishop. I know only too well what you were like: outwardly a religious fanatic, but deep inside the sheerest atheist who used to read Kant, Hegel and Strauss with the greatest enthusiasm. And instead of the Vulgata, you had Voltaire, Rousseau and Helvetius on your desk - all the great minds you used to condemn from the pulpit and in your pastoral letters, but in your heart you greatly preferred them to Jesus!
32,15. I am well aware of all this because I had to supply these books to you, and you used to confide in me. But I was not influenced by you, and secretly pursued my own line by studying Swedenborg, whom you rejected as unsuitable for your Roman treadmill. Good that I know this now, for we might find some things to talk about!"
32,16. (Bishop Martin, in a startled voice): "That does it! Why the deuce did you have to turn up here?"
32,17. (To himself): "This bookseller chap knows of quite a lot of my tricks. Now there is going to be some washing of dirty linen in the spirit-world!
32,18. I only hope Jesus, who no doubt is the master of this house, doesn't come in now. It would be most awkward for he has already uncovered some of my dirty tricks and has given me a piece of his mind.
32,19. But if this man with the shiny hat should start revealing some of my most secret rascalities, I may not fare too well. I might find myself once more in a terrible ocean or on a seashore for a million years. Oh, oh, how terrible that would be!
32,20. Whatever can I do to avoid this calamity? Ha! Well, I might do it some way. And if I don't succeed, I'll just have to spend all eternity fishing from some seashore! But I don't care any more, by God! Why did I have to meet this chap here? However, it has happened, and I shall have to think of some way out."
32,21. (Here the bookseller interrupts him and says): "If you could share my well-founded belief, it would help you out of your dilemma. And do not take me for an informer, but rather for your friend whom you saved from the fire of his blind zeal, and whom you clothed when he was naked!
32,22. Believe me, Jesus the Lord does not need us for spies and informers. For He knows our innermost thoughts even before we have become conscious of them ourselves.
32,23. Look, brother, why shouldn't it be possible for Jesus to be the Lord of Heaven and all creation? Why couldn't He be God the Eternal, the Almighty?
32,24. Since God created all beings, limited by time and space, should not He be capable out of His love for us, His creatures, His children, to confine Himself in time and space without loss of His omnipotence, considering that time and space have gone forth from Him?
32,25. Or, should a painter or sculptor who reproduces a thousand forms and shapes in colors or formed matter, not be able to paint his own portrait or sculpt his own image? If a man can do that, though not in a perfect sense, why should we consider it impossible for God to do it?
32,26. Or, could God be the highest and most independent Being if there were anything at all He could not bring about? With your Hegelian principles, you only limit Him, making Him a prisoner of infinity, capable of creating primordial central suns with planets, men and beasts, but Who could not possibly have anything to do with infusoria. These, too, have life manifesting through their ingeniously devised organisms, but are much too insignificant for Him to be concerned with, the same as man until he has reached something like the size of a central sun. But how could he achieve this? Even Hegel and Strauss would be silent on that subject!
32,27. I, your friend, hope you will now understand and no longer object to giving Jesus the honor due to Him for ever and ever; all the more since He has repeatedly shown you great mercy!"
32,28. (Bishop Martin): "Brother, friend, I saved you from the flames, but you have now awakened in me a different flame - one of the most powerful light! Thanks be to Him and to you! But allow me first to collect myself, for this new thought is too overwhelming!"
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