Shuck and Jive

Monday, May 21, 2007

More on Pluralism

My post, Jesus Was a Pluralist raised some discussion. Of course, I don't know what Jesus was. The "Historical Jesus" is difficult to find. The Jesus Seminar spent a great deal of time seeking to separate the layers of memory and fiction applied to the historical person. Early Christian Writings has a nice (if incomplete) list of scholars who have differing views of the historical Jesus.

Not on that list are James Tabor, April DeConick, Amy-Jill Levine, Walter Wink, James Crossley, and others. I continue to find more each day! I was a little tongue-in-cheek by suggesting that Jesus was a pluralist. Obviously, that is a modern term and it applies to our modern context. A key issue in our modern context is how Christianity relates to other faiths.

I think the real key is the purpose of faith at all, including Christianity. We speak of Jesus as savior, but savior of what and from what? I am not saying that neither faith nor Christianity has a purpose, by no means! But what is its purpose in a time in which the basic doctrines are being shaken (ie. the Fall, the existence of a literal heaven and hell, the "location" of God, and so forth)?

I think that JD Crossan has done a mighty fine job in understanding the scandal of Jesus in his time. The scandal was Jesus against Rome. I am not sure the historical Jesus would have thought in terms as we do about various faiths. I have no doubt that he would not recognize at all the dogma attached to him by the later church. But I do think he acted in a way contrary to the way of Rome and to the oppression of the "normalcy of civilization" to use Crossan's phrase. That is something we can participate in today, if we dare.

I don't think the issue for Jesus or for us is the religoius tradition we happen to be born into and/or decide to accept as a path to the sacred. I think the issue for Jesus (and for us) is whom we will serve (peace through violence, or peace through justice)--Crossan


  1. John,

    In your comments on your other posting about pluralism you stated that you respected my opinions. But I wasn't hoping for your respect, I was hoping, praying in fact, that you might acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. A subject you seem to be raising at the moment. That is, what does it mean in our contemporary world to say Jesus is Lord and Savior?

    I mean by my statement that Jesus is ultimate Lord, God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, the one for whom the universe was created as Paul writes in Colossians. What do I mean by Savior? The one who died on the cross in order to refashion and recreate believers into new creations, to forgive our sins, to unite us to him so that we might share in his goodness and his blessings.

    I know that sounds so simplistic. But isn't good news generally both profound and simple.

    I love the way C.S. Lewis puts the exclusivity of Jesus Christ in his book "The Silver Chair."

    This is where in the book Jill first sees Aslan the Lion. She sees him by a stream and she is so thirsty but she is also scared of the Lion.
    "Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.

    "I'm dying of thirst," said Jill.

    "Then drink," said the Lion.

    . . . ." I daren't come and drink," said Jill.

    " Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.

    "Oh dear! said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."

    "There is no other stream," said the Lion.

    Later, after Jill has had her wonderful refreshing drink, when Jill tells Aslan that it was her and her friend Scrubb who had asked to come to Narnia, Aslan says, "You could not have called to me unless I had been calling you."

    This is just a children's story but it is so biblical. I have read about all kinds of religion on your blog. From the Jesus Seminar to a "Course in Miracles," (a rather pantheistic bit of religion), to the tales of goddesses, but a children’s story about a lion who is a metaphor for the Biblical Jesus is so much more full of life and truth than all of these other strange ways of seeing faith. Why do you keep pushing so much weirdness when you are supposedly a pastor called to faithfulness to Jesus Christ?
    I just have to ask.

  2. Thanks Viola,

    Very thoughtful. What does it mean to speak of Jesus as Lord is a key question for Christians in the 21st century. That is what this blog is about--a theology for the 21st century. Thanks for your view.

    It is of course a work in progress. Glad you are reading and sharing your thoughts.

    Your last line was a bit harsh:

    "Why do you keep pushing so much weirdness when you are supposedly a pastor called to faithfulness to Jesus Christ?"

    1) I don't "push" anything. I share ideas that sometimes contradict. The point is to think, discover, and explore.

    2) I am not "supposedly a pastor" I am a pastor.


  3. John, your tolerance and respect for people who show no tolerance or respect for your own views is remarkable. I guess that's why you're a pastor and I'm not. :)

  4. You are a humble and patient person John. Wish I had your demeanor when dealing with those who must feel it necessary to warn me that my views are not in line with mainstream christianity. Keep on keeping on.

    By the way, I am sure you do not mind me adding you to my blogroll

  5. Thanks Seeker and JP, for the kind words.

    Sure, put me on your blogroll! Got you both on mine. Great sites by the way!