On Christian Fundamentalism’s Ongoing Effort to Win Custody of Jesus

Interesting take on responses to Reza Aslan’s Book, entitled Zealot. Her final sentences are most striking: “When a god begins to require the custodial protection of those who worship him, he is no longer a god. He becomes an idol. May we all find the courage and wisdom to never make ignorance the aim of religion, nor idolatry the replacement for faith.” There remains a careful balance between what Crystal St. Marie Lewis proposes and correcting error. Christians have a commission to proclaim the message of Christ, when this is compromised by others, correction of the message must take place. However, we many times are distracted by side-bar conversations about who retains the authority to write about Christianity. Seen in this way, Ms. Lewis has a point.

Crystal St. Marie Lewis

tug of warI’ve been watching the controversy surrounding Reza Aslan’s new bestseller fairly closely. The book is called Zealot and it’s the latest of many titles to argue that Jesus was a revolutionary teacher, a man of prophetic vision, a political rabble-rouser and a devoutly religious Jew whose only real claim to divinity is found in the identity imposed upon him after his death. The author of this book has done what a variety of scholars have attempted to do: Separate for us the historical Jesus (the pre-myth person who lived a natural life in a real time and place) from the Jesus of doctrine—the eternalized celestial figure identified for generations all over the world as the Son of God.

I was first introduced to Dr. Aslan’s book one Friday morning while getting ready for work with the television within earshot. I was distracted by the protest of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough

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Filed under New Testament, Theology

3 responses to “On Christian Fundamentalism’s Ongoing Effort to Win Custody of Jesus

  1. Tom LJ

    Well said.

    Certainly Jesus can withstand attempts to discredit or defame Him. His disciples wanted to take up arms to defend Him, but Christ would have none of it. His kingdom is a different kind. Christians should not be shy about presenting the bible, and the reasoning of their faith.

    In this way, Christian behavior should be more like Christ, and less like the Muslims who are whipped into a frenzy with outrage at perceived insults to their faith. That behavior does seem to undermine claims of a powerful god.

    As far as the book author, given his identification as a good Muslim, it is not surprising that he denies the perfection of Jesus, or His divinity. The core components of Islam specifically deny God as a Father, and deny that He would have a Son.

    But given that standpoint, I think it is appropriate to suggest that he can’t be objective about Christ, any more than a Christian can be objective about Islam. Once we have declared to believe some things, that doesn’t make us the best commentator on things that are at odds with what we believe.

    Oh for want of an objective man…

  2. Tom LJ

    Oops, the other thing I was meaning to say…..

    The more that I read about Islam, the more I come to realize the tight-rope its followers must walk concerning Jesus. On the one hand, they esteem Jesus to be a prophet, like Mohammed. And they apparently are willing to recognize much of the Bible narrative about Jesus.

    On the other hand, they cannot accept the whole Bible story of Jesus, nor can they accept all of Jesus’ words from the Bible. Because He claimed to be the Son of God.

    So they must somehow, both esteem Jesus, and discredit Him. Not an easy task.

    • Good comments, I think you nailed it with regard to the narrative and enjoining in it as followers of Jesus. Kevin Vanhoozer suggests, “The disciples vocation is not to play-act but to tear off the masks that occlude one’s true identity in Christ. Those who play their parts well are witnesses to reality, to the word of promise and truth fulfilled in Jesus Christ. To play our part well, however, we need to play with others.” (The Drama of Doctrine, 397) This seems to be one of the largest issues, how can Islam join in their disjointed narrative?