In his latest book, After Evangelicalism, Baptist ethicist David Gushee argues that one of the sources of post0evangelicalism is the discontentment people feel with the distorted images of Jesus promoted by white evangelicals in America. Gushee presents four such distorted portraits of Jesus, of which, he argues, only the first one could be defended, partially at least, from within the New Testament framework. Here they are:
Jesus the Crucified Saviour This is the image of the Saviour, who died for the sins of humanity in order to reconcile it with God, as rooted primarily in the Pauline epistles. Gushee argues that this is a sort of ‘personal salvation’ Jesus, which still misses a lot of everything else that the incarnations of Jesus was meant to accomplish.
Hallmark-Christmas-Movie Jesus This is the juicy nice image of eJesus promoted in many emotionalist evangelical churches. Gushee says: ‘This is the Jesus whom we ask to “hold me,” one who is there “when I am weak and he is strong,” and “when I am down he lifts me up.” This Jesus is the best (platonic) boyfriend or bro-friend I could possibly have, the one who is there for me all the time, my comfort and encourager.’ And he adds ironically: ‘He also runs a really nice Christmas-related operation, so that’s a plus.’
Jesus Who Wants You to Succeed This is the made up image of the ‘corporate Jesus’ that dominates the pragmatic business and success oriented world of white American evangelicalism. It promotes the false ‘prosperity gospel’ in whether softer or hardcore versions.
Vacant Jesus Fillable with Any Content We Want This is the culmination of this process of distorsion of the image of Christ. Gushee describes it in this manner: ‘This Jesus, having been distanced so profoundly from his Jewish roots, his account of himself, and any New Testament depictions, is a mere shell, symbol, or totem. This is a Jesus always available to be filled with whatever content we might like to drop in there.’ This image, says Gushee is not only useless, but harmful. ‘He can be the Jesus of my tribe, my class, my race, my party, my all-important self, providing ultimate religious justification for every passion I might feel like giving myself to.’ So, it’s time for a reckon. Is any of these your Jesus? I hope not. At least not fully.
After a long correspondence, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Doug Phillips, and John Eldredge decide to meet at a bar to discuss whose view about Biblical Manhood is most biblical.
At Driscoll’s urging, they gather at the Red Herring Pub in Seattle to knock back a few adult beverages. Fog settles outside. The four men sit at a booth near the entrance, Piper and Phillips on the right, Driscoll and Eldredge to the left.
The bartender comes over.
“I’ll take a Rum and Coke,” says Piper, remembering his days as an Army Ranger.
“Hot buttered rum for me,” says Phillips. It seems a manly Colonial drink.
“Give me a Margarita,” Eldredge says, kicking off his sandals. He wears a loud Hawaiian shirt, untucked.
Here is just a fragment from a very interesting interview given by Bono to Michka Assayas, which can be found in his book called Bono:
Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.
Michka: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love”?
Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross. Continue reading “Bono on Jesus – An Interview”
I sincerely hate to say it, but I fear that Platonic philosophy has had more influence in Christian history than Jesus. The Jesus and Christ event says that matter and spirit, divine and human are not enemies, but are two sides of the same coin. They, in fact, reveal one another. For Plato, the body and the soul are mortal enemies and largely incompatible. Our poor sexual theology and our lackluster history of care for the earth and its resources, our disrespect for animals and all growing things, show that Christians have not seen matter and spirit as natural friends. Much of our history, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant, has created Platonists much more than Incarnationalists or Christians.
Matter and spirit have never been separate. That’s really the ultimate Christian heresy, and what Jesus came to undo. At its best, religion did try to put matter and spirit together (“sacramentalism”), but you can’t put together what is already together. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Plato or Jesus?”
Here is a very daring case for the necessary understanding of the humanity of Christ. I paste below the first part of an article published on the CNN belief blog (I thank David Neff, from Christianity Today, for this link.). I am sure some people will be scandalised; and they should be. Sometimes that’s the only way you can make people think.
Ce que nous savons de lui, nous le tenons des Evangiles, de brèves notations chez des historiens romains et de découvertes archéologiques. La connaissance de l’époque et le recours à l’exégèse historico-critique éclairent l’ensemble. Enquête sur le Jésus de l’Histoire.
La fascination du public – croyant ou incroyant – pour le personnage de Jésus est profonde. Sans doute témoigne-t-elle d’une quête de sens et de spiritualité dans une société largement sécularisée, où s’effondrent les connaissances de base que dispensait naguère la catéchèse traditionnelle. Cependant, le trouble s’installe dans les esprits. Mis à part des travaux spécialisés de haute qualité mais d’abord difficile, la plupart des ouvrages publiés chaque année sur le sujet sont empreints pour le moins d’ambiguïté. Ce sont soit des livres de fantaisie, avides de scandale ou de sensationnel, soit des écrits à prétention scientifique qui déforment le vrai visage du fondateur du christianisme sous prétexte de le démythifier. Continue reading “Jean-Christian Petitfils – Un homme nommé Jésus”
In yesterday’s blog post we expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the contemporary obsession with leadership training.
Yet, there is hope in this field, and it can be found in the way in Christ Jesus himself formed his disciples.
This is the topic of Geoff’s second post. Here are the first three lessons he finds in the ministry of Jesus.
* * *
Jesus spent time observing potential leaders
He spent time interacting with potential leaders in a variety of situations before tapping them for further development
Jesus hand-picked his leaders
No one self-selected into his group. Anyone could follow Jesus, but his inner circle was by invitation only
Jesus taught leadership along the way
Rather than classrooms, books and exercises Jesus used birds and lilies and farms to teach leadership. Leadership development was a natural outgrowth of hanging out together.
“Research into Jesus himself has long being controversial not least among devout Christians. Several people in the wider Christian world wonder if there is anything new to say about Jesus, and if the attempt to say something fresh is not a denial either of the church’s traditional teaching or of the sufficiency of Scriptures. I want to grasp this nettle right away and explain why I regard it, not as permissible but as vitally necessary that we grapple afresh with the question of who Jesus was and therefore who he is.
I see the historical task, rather, as part of the appropriate activity of knowledge and love, to get to know even better the one who we claim to know and follow.” N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus, Rediscovering who Jesus was and is.
Three major books on Jesus have been published this past year in French, not to mention a number of other books about the sayings of Jésus, The Parables of Jesus, etc. The three that I want to mention here are: the book written by Joseph Ratzinger, the actual pope, Jésus de Nazareth, a translation of course, the book written by Max Gallo, the most popular French historian of our time, “Jésus, l’homme qui était Dieu”, and the book I want to talk about in what follows “Jésus” by Jean Christian Petitfils. Continue reading “Maria Istoc – The Forth Quest for the Historical Jesus?”
Lumea evanghelică este dominată de iconoclasm, deşi există, din fericire, şi excepţii, mai ales în luteranism şi anglicanism. Acesta este moştenit din teologia Reformei, mai ales pe filiera Calvin-Zwingli, şi se bazează pe o interpretare restrictivă a poruncii din Decalog care spune “să nu-ţi faci chip cioplit”.
Lumea creştină antică nu a avut însă asemenea constipaţii teologice. Pentru greci, mai ales, ca şi pentru alţi orientali, simbolul era esenţial pentru imaginalul religios uman.
Newsletter-ul săptămânal Sightings, editat sub autoritatea cunoscutului sociolog creştin Martin Marty de la University of Chicago Divinity School, tratează de această dată, sub “pana” (aş fi spus “tastatură”, dar este lipsit de poezie) lui Joseph Laycock, student la Boston University, un text în care analizează două încercări de emancipare a creştinismului american de sub efeminarea care-l domină în ultimele decenii.
Cei doi protagonişti sunt cunoscutul (şi controversatul) pastor evanghelic de la Mars Hill Church din Seattle, Wa, Mark Driscoll, şi Justin Fatica, un lider laic catolic, fundator al organizaţiei Hard as Nails.
Aţi văzut probabil, nu odată, acele brăţări cam stupiduţe care conţin iniţialele WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? – Ce ar face Isus? – purtate de adolescenţii evanghelici americani. Dincolo de teologia îndoielnică din spatele acestei foarte eficiente strategii de marketing, aşa cum sugera nu demult şi Marius Cruceru pe blogul său, întrebarea pusă nu este chiar lipsită de sens, dacă răspunsul dat acesteia trece dincolo de literalism şi sugestia la imitaţie decerabrată.