Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Which Jesus will you follow?

There has been a lot written and read and said about The Rev. Forrester's elevation to the Episcopate. Many are concerned that He is a "Buddhist Christian" because he practices Zen Buddhist meditation techniques. Many are concerned that his (s)election process was uncanonical and some are concerned about his Christology and Theology.

Also in the news is the impending deposition of Ann Holmes Reading for trying to be both a practicing Muslim and an Episcopal Priest.

The problem is not just with them. While both are responsible for their beliefs and actions, they are also the results of formation gone very wrong.

Too many clergy that I've read about or corresponded with and too many "liberal" or reappraising books I've read speak Jesus as a person who is just like us, but knows God's love for him much more than we do. In their theology, Jesus is simply a person with hightened spiritual awareness.

This Jesus is very attractive to many people. He shows that we, too, can aspire to special divinity by becoming mor aware of our natural divinity as children of God.

The problem is that this Jesus doesn't require our death. This Jesus doesn't require a whole lot from us. This Jesus doesn't judge us or himself. If we are divine, then there is no judgement.

This Jesus has the power of a warm fuzzy. Something that makes us feel good about ourselves and about our lives, but doesn't change us.

You have a choice in which Jesus you will follow. Will you follow the Jesus - the Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father - the Second Person of the Trinity complete both in human nature and in divine nature - the unique Incarnation who suffered and died for us to reconcile us to God and then rose victorious from the grave after defeating death and sin? Will you come and die with Jesus so you can be raised in New Life and participate in his victory over sin and death?

Or will you follow Jesus the warm fuzzy. Will you let this Jesus make you nice and a warm fuzzy yourself?

Warm fuzzies are not stronger than death.

Phil Snyder


Bryan Owen said...

Good posting, Deacon Phil. Perhaps the only thing better than a warm, fuzzy Jesus is the religion described over at Stuff White People Like:

White people will often say they are “spiritual” but not religious. Which usually means that they will believe any religion that doesn’t involve Jesus.

Popular choices include Buddhism, Hinduism, Kabbalah and, to a lesser extent, Scientology. A few even dip into Islam, but it’s much more rare since you have to give stuff up and actually go to Mosque.

Mostly they are into religion that fits really well into their homes or wardrobe and doesn’t require them to do very much.

plsdeacon said...

Notice that these are all "esoteric" religions. In their Western form, they are concerned with "Spirit" and not with the person or behavior. To the person who is "spiritual, but not religous," behavior doesn't matter (except that the behavior be politically lefward leaning or that the behavior enjoin others from their freedoms). Only the "spiritual" matters. Thus, my greed is OK but your's is not. My greed serves a "spiritual person" while your greed serves yourself - obviously a carnal person. My lust is OK - your's is not because I am a spiritual person and I am just being authentic to my divine nature.

Such people have no place in the leadership of a Church.

Phil Snyder

Dale Matson said...

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Rev 1:12-16. Does this sound like the warm fuzzy Jesus?

Andy said...

Thanks Br. Phil. Too often, we need to be reminded that the Jesus who said "Come unto me", is the same Jesus who told us to "Take up his[her] cross and follow..."

Andy Terry
Diaconal Candidate

plsdeacon said...

Thank you Andy,

We need to remember that the call to "pick up our cross" is the call to die. We need to die to self before we can be reborn.

We need to surrender and cease our rebellion to God and let Him kill our sinful nature so that eternal life (the gift of the Holy Spirit) can grow in us.

Phil Snyder

Robert said...

To practice a purely psychological practice which may have religious roots, such as meditation, may not be necessarily problematic IN ITSELF. But like eating food sacrificed to idols as described in the New Testament, it presents a gravely troubling appearance.

For a leader of the church however, it is even more troubling, and such a person should either publicly affirm Acts 4:10-12 - there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

Re: warm fuzzy Jesus, I would consider this one of the main problems of the Church today. We try to neutralize Jesus' message.

Jesus is challenging to ALL of us, in different ways. Even preachers I think often shy away from saying things to their congregations that would "upset" them, but we all need to be confronted by the real Jesus or we are simply wasting our time and in peril of wasting the grace God gives us and our opportunity to be saved.

The same Jesus who taught against sexual immorality is the same one who said that it was easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than enter heaven. Jesus teaches a gospel that is challenging and life-changing for every single human being on the planet. If someone is not having their favorite applecarts overturned in some respect, they are following themselves not Christ.

Take care bro

The Underground Pewster said...

I agree with your assessment, "the results of formation gone very wrong."

When I scanned your post title in my caffeine deprived brain this morning, I transposed the words and read, "Which Jesus will follow you?"

This made me think of all the various ways we think of Jesus, and how easy it is to make God in our image, and then what an easy step it is to try to get Him to follow us.

Humble submission to His Word as contained in scriptures and tradition is not being produced by the current formation process.

After a lifetime in TEC myself, I have had to learn this lesson from outside of the church's walls and Sunday sermons, so it is no surprise to see "reason" appear to trump scripture and tradition time and time again.