And now for something completely different…
I’ve had some time now to further clarify my thoughts regarding THE hot-button known as Christianity. Even before the last few weeks, I’ve been knee deep studying Jesus for some time. If anyone is looking for books that are sure to become known as the standard, I suggest picking up A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. So far John P. Meier has written four volumes, and a fifth is promised within a few years. Comparing these books to those I read in college, I’d say they are written at a master’s level, with doctoral level notes. The point being, that they are not page turners. The other book, which happens to be remarkably similar in message, I’ve been reading is The Gospels In Brief by Leo Tolstoy. Yes, Tolstoy himself took up the task of evangelizing. (I’d love to chat with any Tolstoy fans who have a gut-reaction to this information.)
My thoughts on the matter come as the result of reading these books and my experiences. I find myself agreeing nearly 100% with Tolstoy’s introduction. If you can read it, please do. It is astounding.
In short, when I express my desire for a resetting of Christianity, I think what I really mean is a better expression of the concept I grew up with, that being that Jesus met people where they were. I’m not talking about supernatural Jesus, but literally Jesus of Nazareth. According to Meier’s research, the historical record shows that he was on a mission, and he wanted everyone to join. One activity that set him apart from others on their own mission was that he seemed to seek out the dregs of society. Tolstoy’s re-working of the text leads the reader to conclude that the dregs of society are closest to God anyhow, but my point is to simply highlight that there is no evidence that Jesus of Nazareth ever avoided a group that was willing to listen to him. That they killed him in a public execution only emphasizes his persistence.
At least in the America that I’ve been a part of, this isn’t the feel I get from churches or Christians. If I believe that evolution is a fact and that the creation story is a myth, I know I’m not going to be welcome in a church. I know I’m going to disagree with a Christian. After reading these books, however, I’m not so sure I would feel this unwelcome-ness from Jesus of Nazareth. What do you think?