Monday, November 14, 2005

Jesus Ain't No Ghost

Sometimes, I confuse people. And sometimes, they're confused because I'm not making sense. But other times, particularly when it comes to what I believe about Jesus vs. what I believe about politics, for me it feels like they're the ones that are confused.

Take as an example an article from, pointed out helpfully by Christianity Today's Weblog (Ted Olson's page that nearly everyone who tracks religious stories checks out regularly). "How the Christian Left Can Get It Right" purports to reclaim Jesus, and starts off doing a pretty good job. But then the author begins to drift into that vague, airy land of vacuum-packed spirituality where no one is sure about who Jesus is, much less why he's admirable. Todd Huffman, the article's author, puts Jesus into black and white:

Americans who consider themselves Christian can be generalized as thinking about Jesus in one of two distinct ways. For many, Jesus was a divine spirit who died for their personal sins. To accept him as your savior is to be saved, and the pursuit of one’s personal salvation is paramount to all other concerns. One’s personal and exclusive relationship with Jesus matters far more than his admonitions to care for the poor, the weak, and the oppressed.

For a smaller number of Americans, Jesus is believed as a peasant revolutionary who lived by example, and died for grace and compassion. To model your behavior after his is to bring heaven closer to earth. To turn away from your fellow human beings is to turn away from his teachings, and from God. This is the Jesus I believe in.
Uh, are there any other options? I mean, really! And when the author reveals he has stepped out of Christian tradition to embrace the Unitarian Church.... well, forgive my right knee, which doesn't get much exercise, from jerking just a little bit.

I am a political liberal more often than not precisely and only because I believe in a historical, real, flesh and blood Jesus who was both God and man and who did indeed come to earth to bring humankind -- one at a time -- into his kingdom family. Yes, this version of Christianity has been bastardized by an invasive, pernicious American nationalism that goes right to core of evangelical self-identity. But the way to cure the disease is not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ is either who the Bible says He was and is, or He is nada. And if he is nada, why bother with caring for one another? Build your theories, but without the singular form of Divine Love that the biblical Jesus is and gives, I for one find religious verbiage both a bore and an idiocy. Kill God and you've killed morals. That's what Neitszsche said. And I for one agree.

Or as an old song I heard once said, "Jesus ain't no ghost."

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