Tuesday, March 10, 2009

the new divide

Here are some excerpts from quotes from the back of the dustcover of a book called "Saving Jesus from the Church" by one Robin R. Meyers

"...The invitation to follow Jesus instead of worshiping Christ could not come at a more important time, or be issues be a more credible source...."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"With crisply prophetic joy, Meyers calls seekers and believers alike to leave belief about Christ behind in favor of becoming imitators of Jesus. We can save Jesus from teh church..."
Diana Butler Bass

I don't know when this started, this new divide. I've encountered something like it at least once, in a book by Marcus Borg, where he goes into his notion of the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus (basically, pre-Easter Jesus is a normal guy who said some pithy things, post-Easter Jesus is an early-church construct who did miracles and was God in the flesh).

But the first time I'd come on this distinction expressed so bluntly was in the chapter titles in Meyers' book, the one chapter called "Jesus the Teacher, not the Savior". And then there were those quote excerpts above, where we are encouraged to give up worshiping Jesus and to follow Christ.

For those who think Jesus and Christ are the same person (or maybe more accurate, Christ or Messiah is a title for Jesus), let me give this from inside the book to explain how Meyers and his ilk are making the distinction.

Jesus is the pre-Easter man, or what biblical scholars have long searched to uncover: the "historical Jesus". Christ is the post-Easter deity that had fully arrived by the time John's gospel was written, even though his evolution from Jewish mystic to supernatural Savior was already emerging in the synoptic gospels. For the remainder of the book, however, I will speak of "Jesus" when referring to the Jewish peasant from Galilee--from his birth through the writing of the synoptic gospels. I will use the exalted title "Christ" to refer to the preexistent divine Savior from John's gospel forward to the writing of the creeds.
p. 16

And you can see how Tutu and Butler Bass use the same language, the same distinction--how they say we ought to stop worshiping Jesus and follow Christ.

For the moment, I'll say little about the silliness of following what they consider merely an early-church construct. The point of this entry is merely to point out that this is where liberal "christian" thought is going, and to point out that Butler Bass is no slight Friend of Emergent (FoE).

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