Skip to main content

The Uniqueness of Jesus

Recently I have been re-reading a book that I read a few years ago focusing on Jesus.  The book Who Do You Say That I Am? Christology and the Church is edited by Donald Armstrong and combines essays from Anglican thinkers from Alister McGrath to N.T. Wright.  While I was reading the last chapter entitled Christ and His Church by the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, I came across a statement by Carey that was particularly illuminating.  Carey writes, "The true Jesus who is exposed in the Gospels is a far more complex character.  His cryptic sayings, his elusive parables, his mysterious silences, his commanding presence - this extraordinary ministry was punctuated with a language of violence against the callousness of the conventional world" (127-128).  At one hand, Carey hints at the truth that Jesus couldn't be nailed down as to his philosophy, his sole mission, or his specific teachings.  Jesus was elusive in the sense that the people whom he ministered to were utterly perplexed at many of the actions and words that Jesus said and did.  Carey points out something that is very apparent in the minstry of Jesus, none other than Jesus' challenge to the prevailing systems, authorities, and ingrained practices of religion in the areas surrounding Palestine.  It would not go far enough to say that Jesus way of life and teachings rivaled the prevailing Roman and Jewish philosophy and practice of the day.  Rather, Jesus brought an entire new ethic to bear on all existing theological and philosophical structures.  The uniqueness of Jesus here is not a brand new idea or set of beliefs but a radical new condition that he calls his followers to focus on himself (Jesus) as the fountainhead of all that is true (both in knowledge and in praxis).   If Cary is right that "our understanding of Jesus is central to the mission of the church" (128),  then we would do well to know the Jesus as he is seen in the Gospel narratives. 

The questions that we have to ask ourselves in relationship to the message and mission of Jesus are two-fold:  Have we succumbed to the cultural practices and beliefs of our age to such a great degree as to make the ethic and person of Jesus irrelevant to others?  In other words, have we made our image of who Christ is and what he did into the image of a Christ that conforms to our cultural tastes?  If the mission and message of Jesus are radical in both their content and application, how do we take hold of this in the church?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…