Jesus  Introduction
- From: "* irenic *" <see_it@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2006 03:28:19 GMT
In these posts I'd like to share about 100 (and counting!!!) ideas,
questions, and theories, about Jesus.
(Please note that my aim is to promote/provoke enquiry, mutual understanding
and irenic discussion. I for one will be ignoring any adversarial
I grew up learning about Jesus primarily through the songs, stories and
example of my mother.
Which Catholic intellectual - was it Karl Rahner? - when asked 'Why are you
a Christian?' said 'My mother prayed for me'.
My mother prayed for me for 66 years (I'm now 68; she died a couple of years
ago) - more than I prayed for myself. One of the earliest songs she sang to
me was 'Gentle Jesus, meek and mild/ Look upon a little child/ Pity my
simplicity/ Suffer me to come to Thee'.
My parents belonged to a 'gentle fundamentalist' Plymouth Brethren
'assembly' (not 'church' please :-) and we sang hymns like 'Jesus thou joy
of loving hearts/ Thou fount of life, thou light of men/ From the best bliss
that earth imparts/ We turn unfilled to thee again'.
(Who wrote that? Probably Bernard of Clairvaux - yes, the 'saint' who
blessed Crusaders before they went off to slaughter infidel Turks!).
At Teachers' College I decided to re-examine my childhood faith, and read C
S Lewis' 'Mere Christianity'. His most famous statement about Jesus took my
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that
people often say about him: I m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral
teacher, but I don t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we
must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus
said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a
level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the
Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the
Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a
fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his
feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising
nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to
us. He did not intend to.
Now whilst I basically agree with C S Lewis here, I must add an important
caveat: 'It ain't that simple Jack!'
If you dip into 'The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions' where two New Testament
scholars - Marcus Borg and N T Wright - talk to each other, or 'The
Resurrection of Jesus' where John Dominic Crossan and NT Wright are in
dialogue (just out), you're left scratching your head and asking 'How is it
that some of the English-speaking world's best New Testament scholars read
the same documents - mainly the four Gospels - and come to such divergent
opinions about some important Christian doctrines?
We'll come back to that one, but at this point, here's a clue: they each
begin with different presuppositions! You mean biblical scholarship isn't an
exact science, and can be quite subjective? Right on. See
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/15091.htm for a little introduction to that
But are there some things about Jesus' life and claims and the historicity
of the events in the Gospels we *can* be certain about? I believe there are,
and in this series I'll try my best to unpack them.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an academic biblical scholar or a
professional theologian. My field is rather 'Practical/ Pastoral Theology.'
But as an ordinary Christian who wants to avoid the Scylla of blind/mindless
adoration on the one hand, or the Charibdis of a lifeless theoretical
liberal rationalism on the other, I reckon it's necessary to 'live an
examined faith' on all this...
So you can, if you like, ignore these posts as the ramblings of an old man,
or you can come with me on an exciting journey of discovery. We might not
always agree, but at least we'll know we've faced the tough questions.
This subject is not just interesting, but, I believe, very important. If
Jesus is who the earliest-to-(most) modern Christians say he is, your
eternal life is in his hands.
More tomorrow (if Jesus wills :-)
Rowland Croucher http://jmm.aaa.net.au/
'We are not human beings having a spiritual experience;
we are spiritual beings having a human experience.'
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man
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