New kinds of Christianity

I believe in Jesus, and I believe in the resurrection. And the longer I believe, the more wonderful and meaningful … Continued

I believe in Jesus, and I believe in the resurrection. And the longer I believe, the more wonderful and meaningful those beliefs become for me. Every year, it seems, I find a more amazing surplus of meaning overflowing the rim of the old, old story of crucifixion and resurrection. These truly are saturated sacred events for me, more so as the years go by.

I wonder if the same might be true of the Christian faith as a whole. I wonder if just as my own understanding of Jesus grows richer the longer I live and the more water passes under the bridge, I wonder if the Christian community as a whole is intended to deepen in its appraisal of the saturated events of Holy Week year by year, century by century, millennium by millennium.

If that’s the case, then we might ask what we’ve been learning lately. In my recent book, I try to do just that in “The Jesus Question.” In the aftermath of modernity and colonialism and industrialism (three sides of the same coin, if I can mangle a metaphor), have we Christians gained any new understandings of Christ crucified and Christ risen?

For students of liberation theology, eco-theology, feminist theology, process theology, and social trinitarianism, among many other important theological movements of recent decades, the answer is surely yes. Let me just mention a few dimensions of insight that I’ve gained from these rich and rewarding recent contributions to the historic Christian conversation.

1. From liberation theology has come the simple realization that the primary narrative in the Bible is the story of Exodus, celebrating the truth that the living God is on the side of oppressed people. For those of us who were trained to see in Jesus only a solution to the problem of original sin, this insight opens our eyes to Jesus as a new Moses, seeking to expand liberation into new realms of human experience.

2. From eco-theology, I learned to see sin not just as the breaking of a moral law, but also as breaking faith with the rest of creation. That insight opened my eyes to see Jesus restoring people to harmony with creation – calling people to learn from the birds of the air and flowers of the field, calming a storm, doing some of his most important work in gardens.

3. From feminist theology, I learned to notice Jesus’ dynaic interactions with women and to see how again and again he broke convention to elevate women to unprecedented status.

4. From process theology I was given permission to consider that God has a life, and that into God’s life, human life has been assumed or caught up. This possibility adds profound meaning to the Christian mysteries of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

5. From social trinitarianism with is emphasis on the perichoresis of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I’ve begun to envision how “one-anotherness” can be inherent to the very nature of God, and I’ve seen how through Christ, all humanity is invited to share in that feast of fellowship and solidarity.

These are a few of the new resources that will be enriching my experience of Holy Week this year. I hope you too will find ever-new rooms of meaning within the old familiar house of Holy Week, 2010.

Brian D. McLaren
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