What is common to all these positions is a remaking of Jesus in one’s own image. The political conservative makes Jesus into a capitalist warmongerer. The theological conservative makes Jesus into a preacher of penal substitution. The Emerging Church leader makes Jesus into a casual suburban moderate who is relevant to contemporary youth in the Western world. The liberal makes Jesus into an ancient Che Guevara—hence Hendricks’s use of violent imagery and his anti-Yoderian reading of the NT, despite the title of his book. More significantly, the Emergent and liberal views of Jesus end up endorsing a decidedly low christology. Both of them dispense with notions of atonement and soteriology and speak almost exclusively of Jesus as a model for ethical behavior. Hendricks, for his part, explicitly separated God from Jesus—a tactic common among liberals who reduce Jesus to the role of human prophet and want their abstract notion of “God” to be inclusive of, say, Allah. “God” becomes a cipher for whatever people think they worship, and Jesus becomes a model for how we should live socially and politically today. Jesus is a revolutionary, but not a savior.
The above paragraph was taken from a rather long post at the blog of The Fire and the Rose. But I was struck by the truth of this particular observation. I think all of us need to be concerned about the problem of wanting to make Jesus in an image that particularly speaks to us. Not that I think that in itself is wrong, but it becomes wrong when that is the only image we can see of Jesus.
A look back: December 11, 1996...
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