Today’s New York Times contains a conversation between Nicholas Kristof and Rev. Timothy Keller. Ego maniac that I am, I imagined myself in the midst of their conversation. Please read the original and see what you think for yourself: nyti.ms/2hfqjlP
Kristoff: Is the Virgin Birth essential to Christianity?
Keller: A religion can’t be whatever we desire it to be.
Rami: Of course it can. In fact it always is—we create religions and Gods in our own image.
Keller: If we did away with the Virgin birth it would damage the fabric of the Christian message because Jesus was not just a great human being, but the pre-existing Creator God, miraculously come to earth as a human being.
Kristoff: And the Resurrection? Must it really be taken literally?
Keller: As St. Paul said, without a real resurrection, Christianity is useless (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Rami: With all due respect to Rabbi Saul, when we take things like Virgin Birth and Resurrection literally we dumb religion down. These are metaphoric truths not scientific facts.
Keller: Christianity is pretty much inexplicable if we don’t believe in a physical resurrection.
Rami: I would suggest you read Marcus Borg, John Spong, Raimon Panikkar, and Cynthia Bourgeault to see how vibrant and compelling a post-literal Christianity can be.
Keller: There is nothing unscientific or illogical about miracles if a Creator God exists.
Rami: That’s a huge IF, and it doesn’t prove Christianity. What if the Creator is Krishna?
Kristoff: I’m troubled by the evangelical notion that people go to heaven only if they have a direct relationship with Jesus.
Keller: The Bible is clear salvation must be through grace and faith in Christ.
Rami: Honestly I’d rather go to hell. Everyone I love and admire will be there. Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius, Simone de Beauvoir, Hannah Arendt, Erich Fromm, Ma Sarada, Ramana Maharshi….
Keller: Thanks for a great conversation. And, whatever my doubts, this I believe in: Merry Christmas!
Rami: I don’t even know what believing in “Merry Christmas” means. Anyway, have a happy Hanukkah though I don’t believe in that miracle either, and, given what I do believe, I wouldn’t have supported the Maccabees at all.