Saturday, July 11, 2009

Religiousless Christianity

Two books bring a raw Jesus, devoid of myth and legend to the Christian who has been wondering where Jesus is in his or her church. This Jesus is a fully-functioning and caring human who did not zoom down from the sky and who did not zip back 'home' after his 33-year visit. He was not from God, but of God. No miracles, no voodoo, no rising from the dead. Rather, a most perfect example of how a person ought to 'do' life.

The Future of Christianity: Can It Survive? by biblical scholar Arthur J. Bellinzoni is an assessment of the state of Christianity in which he advocates a radical rethinking of the
Christian message.

In the Amazon review of the book, it says: "Addressing four issues of central concern, Bellinzoni advocates a radical rethinking of the Christian message. First, he suggests that the God concept must move beyond obsolete notions of a personal God and take its inspiration from such diverse sources as science, Taoism, Moses, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Buber. Second, Bellinzoni urges a more sophisticated approach to the Bible, one that values its timeless elements but is not afraid to discard its many antiquated features. Third, he recommends a new emphasis on Jesus’ social ethic, arguing that this could lead to a dramatic redistribution of the world’s wealth and greater respect for the planet. Fourth, Bellinzoni criticizes the persistence of obsolete myth in Christianity, demonstrating that, without its mythical embellishments, Christianity still offers a relevant understanding of the meaning of human existence."

Surely the fundamentalist christian's underpants became knotted at those 4 statements, but then, who really cares about those believer-heads? Trimming the 'obsolete myth' ought to reveal a more genuine human being capable of much greater credulity. His ex-hocus-pocus image will no doubt be much more appealing and believable.

"Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus" by Robin Meyers is another book that wishes to strip the divinity myth from Jesus and look at Jesus as Teacher, not Savior. The Library Review says of the book and author, "in strong contrast to much of Far Right Protestantism, pastor/NPR commentator Meyers (philosophy, Oklahoma City Univ.) suggests with typical elegance that a recovery of true Christianity emphasizes compassion over condemnation, blessing over sin, and equity over individual prosperity. Highly recommended."

How will Christian churches survive this purge? Will they hold fast and blast these new authors with their canons of excommunication? Will they, like the Grand and Glorious Wizard of Oz try to scare literal Hell out of [or into] reformers such as these? Like Toto, the curtain on the shysters of the church has been pulled open for all to see. The scheme has been exposed and a new and refreshing light now is exposing those dark and stuffy dungeons where 'the truth' has been hidden for thousands of years. Jesus, the man, is being freed from his tomb deep in the vaults of the church.

Will we recognize him without all of the cinematographic effects? Without the razzle-dazzle? Void of tricks and miracles? Will we be able to embrace him as a man, hug him as a human just like us?

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