Monday, July 22, 2013

The Absolute Boundaries of Jesus

I read a CNN review about Reza Aslan's new book Zealot.  To put it in a nutshell, Aslan was raised as a culturally Muslim in Iran, then came to California.  There he because an Evangelical.  He eventually went to seminary to study world religions and, left Evangelicalism . . . but not Jesus.  The point of the book is that the historical Jesus is a pretty neat guy, worthy of us following his example . . . and you don't have to be a Christian to do so.

A long time ago I sat through a wonderful lecture (via tape) by Francis Schaeffer on "The Absolute Limits of Christianity."  He tried to stake out the boundaries, outside which, you are no longer a Christian.  He placed the boundaries, on each side, in places that might surprise many. They were simplistic.  For example, you didn't have to adopt all the major Church (evangelical Church) doctrines.  But certainly you must believe that Jesus is divine. 

I caught the old movie Oh God on public TV the other night.  One of the questions asked of "God" (aka George Burns) was, "Was Jesus the son of God?"  To which he answered, "Yes . . . Adam was the son of God, you are my sons too."  So that is not what Dr. Schaeffer meant.

With this said, I have thought for a long time if we could take the historical Jesus, take away the layers and layers of religious packaging, you would end up with a very palatable personal hero and person that most people of our society would adore.  Eventually, it would beg the question . . . could he really be divine?

Yes Reza goes too far . . . but he makes a point that is worth considering.  Remove Jesus from the trappings, the eyes rolling in the back of the head, the incense, the halos, the WWJD bracelets, and the narcissistic "I'm at the center of Jesus' universe . . . he finds me parking places" thinking and you might find something wonderful.


Anonymous said...

I haven't read the book yet, just curious how does Reza goes too far?

j. Michael Jones said...

I've only read the reviews. The major point of where he went too far is to de-divine (no such word but you get my drift) the person of Jesus. He presents Jesus as a wonderful man, an enlightened man like the Buddha . . . but not the divine son of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Cheri said...