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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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How do we see Judas?

In the weeks before Lent, Judas Iscariot popped up in the news, sparking discussion about a man reviled for 2,000 years.

Some wondered whether Judas was simply playing his part in a divine plan when he betrayed Jesus. The Switzerland-based Maecenas Foundation said it would publish, at Easter, an apocryphal gospel attributed to the disciple. And the Vatican denied reports that it would “rehabilitate” Judas.

Janet Ramsey, associate professor of congregational care leadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., said the renewed interest in Judas masks deeper theological and human issues. God in Christ identifies with victims of evil and died for all—even perpetrators of evil, Ramsey said, so “we’re left asking: ‘Whose side is God on?’ ” But God can make even forgiveness that seems impossible, possible, she added.

In pastoral care, “where we sit with both victims and perpetrators,” Ramsey warned, there’s a great risk in “watering down evil. ... Might not this rob the Christian story of its power and relevance for people who carry painful stories of having experienced betrayal and injustice?”


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