Friday, January 30, 2009

Who would want to execute a man such as this?

The great mystery of liberal Christianity is not the rejection of the horrific Old Testament accounts of mass killings decreed by an angry God.

Or that it then follows that the far more horrific idea of eternal punishment in hell for the sin of disbelief must be rejected—even though the bulk of that teaching comes to us not in the Old Testament but in the New, from that nice fellow Jesus who would make a great son-in-law. A red-letter sampling:

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt 5:22)

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. (Matt 5:29)

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matt 23:33)

But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! (Luke 12:5)

Since a liberal Christian’s Jesus would not be so unloving—those verses and similar inconvenient passages: away with you!

And then there are those pesky miracles. Not of the Old Testament, but of the new. Bishop John Shelby Spong, the poster child for liberal Christianity, writes:

Moving closer to the life of Jesus, scholars now suggest that miracles were added to the Jesus story only in the 7th and 8th decades of the Christian era.

The Virgin birth and the suggestion that resurrection meant physical resuscitation are products of the 9th decade, and the account of Jesus' ascension enters the tradition only in the 10th decade.

And on the Resurrection, where Bishop Spong writes:

Those [liberals] who waver on this foundational truth [the Resurrection] of Christianity have, according to this perspective [of the fundamentalists] abandoned the essential core of their faith tradition. Well, my only comment on this would be to borrow the words from an old song and say, "It ain't necessarily so!"

As for the divinity of Christ:

The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes the divinity of Christ, as traditionally understood, impossible.

Try wrapping your head around that. Now to be fair, Spong is not a Christian at all. He is a Gnostic. But he claims to be a Christian, and liberal Christians welcome him as one of their own, so we'll accept him for the sake of argument.

So: No hell. No miracles. No Divinity. No Resurrection.

The great mystery of liberal Christianity is this: after all that is removed, who would want to crucify such a Jesus? It would be like crucifying Mr. Rogers.

Spong's answer to this mystery is that Jesus was executed--because he was behaving like a threatening combination of Cesar Chavez and and Che Guevara. (Of course without being the murderer that Guevara was. Just the good parts. Though I'm not sure Spong would consider Guevara to be a murderer.)

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