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Thursday, July 14, 2016

I'll Take a Helping of "Jesus," but Hold Off on the "Christ"

((NOTE - This is by Keith Drury, and I first posted it in 2006...rather prophetic, huh?))

There is a big competition coming - a playoff between Jesus and Jesus Christ  The rivalry has already started and I expect the coming decades to be a knock-down drag-out contest.  What's the difference, you ask?  There are two competing stories, one about Jesus and the other Jesus Christ

The Jesus story presents a wandering peasant teaching profound lessons in how to live life meaningfully.  

This Jesus showed love and acceptance to all kinds of people and was a perfect example of tolerance and compassion.  

This Jesus worked the fringes of society and spent most of his time with the outcasts.  

He was eventually killed by none other than the leaders of organized religion, who are the bad guys in this story. 

This Jesus story is both a romance and a tragedy-he was a really good man we all liked who got screwed over by the people with power. 

The bad guys in this story are religious and the heroes are all rebels and outsiders led by the radical religion-hating Jesus.  

The lessons are about how to treat others and live a meaningful life.  

The Jesus story gives a model or example to follow in the genre of WWJD.  

Those who tell this story make the synoptic gospels primary sources and downplay the epistles and John (and also church history).  They are "Jesus people"through and through; trying to fashion their lives after the example Jesus gave when he was on earth long ago. ((2016 note from Jack - nowadays they'd be called "red letter christians"))

The rival is the Jesus Christ story.  Jesus Christ did not only live an exemplary life but he also was resurrected from the dead.  

Jesus Christ was much more than a wise Middle Eastern guru back in history but is the risen son of God today and the coming King of the future.  

More, He is very God Himself. 

Jesus alone may give a model for following to become good persons, but Jesus Christ is a savior to take away the sins of the world, including mine. 

Those who tell the Jesus Christ story do not abandon the earthly Jesus and his teachings but rather take them to be the very teachings of God and therefore all the more meaningful and compelling.

Jesus Christ is the promised messiah of the Jews who now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.  

When Jesus Christ returns as Judge he will not come as the accepting-approving-affirming psychologist we want to make him into, but as a mighty judge who will dare to condemn some to eternal punishment. 

Will Jesus edge out Jesus Christ in the future?
Can anyone read the above without immediately seeing why Jesus is more popular than Jesus Christ?  

Jesus is eminently more salable.  

Tell a person on the street the Jesus story and they will love it-a poor guy who did what was right and got trampled down by the corrupt leaders of organized religion. Amen! 

It reminds them of themselves.  

Jesus sells better than Jesus Christ.  He is more likable to consumers than Jesus Christ, and He's less rigid.  Once you add Christ you've got religion, and theology, and judgment, and eschatology and you've got the church: the body of Christ.  

These things are all liabilities to selling a religion.  

Then too, Jesus is a better amalgamateĆ¢ - he is more easily fused with other religions than Jesus Christ.  Jesus and his teachings have a lot in common with Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. After all, they too fully accept the basic Jesus Story - it is Jesus Christ story that is a stumbling block. 

I expect Jesus will become quite popular in the coming decades while Jesus Christ fades and is put on the back shelf (maybe even returned to inventory "in case anyone asks"). I sense a rising bull market in Jesus stock and a coming decline in the stock of Jesus Christ.  

In an increasingly pluralistic marketplace where toleration and acceptance are the primary virtues Jesus might sweep the deck. 

Jesus Christ will be a hard sell in the future in the world's bazaar of ideas.  Jesus is going to outsell Jesus Christ in the coming decades.

So, the question is this.  Is this new packaging of Jesus real Christianity?  Is it orthodox? Does it matter?

Is a Christ-less Jesus just as good as Jesus Christ? 

So, what do you think?

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