Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Does Jesus Need Saving?

Yes, according to the Saving Jesus Redux DVD I recently purchased. "Kidnapped by the Christian Right, discarded by the Secular Left, Jesus needs saving." I'm enjoying the host of theologians that explore a more credible Christ for the 21st century and yes, I give a hearty "amen" to the program's premise.

In my experience within evangelicalism, the Christ of the scriptures (and of the original first century gatherings of followers), although honored as Lord in evangelical churches, was routinely used to espouse political, social, and "moral" positions that today I find are foreign to the gospel message. Pushing church hierarchy and programs, mandatory doctrines, acceptable behavior codes, and devotional rituals come to mind. As does condemning gays and lesbians, worshiping the Bible, preaching exclusive salvation, and twisting scripture to create a "last days" mentality that assumes we are on the cusp of the "end" with the world going to pot. These attitudes provoked an "us vs. them" approach to life and society that can be seen in religious right personalities today, including some of the leading Republican candidates (think Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman) and their supporters who come across like only their brand of Jesus is authentic.

On the other end, are secularists who mock all faith and ignore Jesus as an irrelevant religious teacher of a bygone era who has no claim on modern society. It appears they haven't twisted scripture, but have discounted Christ's teaching based on those who have.

This set of discussions on DVD is more evidence for the new trend that Harvey Cox explains as the Age of the Spirit--a movement where traditional Christianity is giving way to more grassroots and organic communities of faith (rather than institutions) who take Jesus seriously, respect biblical scholarship and historical evidence, and focus on the inclusive message of the good news, particularly that love, not religious law, is paramount. Yes, Jesus, and his teaching, need saving. Listen to Saving Jesus and see how you can help with the rescue.

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